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Chapter 1

PSYCO241 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Fundamental Attribution Error, Construals, Natural Selection

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Taka Masuda

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Social psychology is the scientific study of the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of
individuals in social situations. Looks at how situations determine behavior, “common
sense” usually attributes behavior to personality, called the fundamental attribution
Also focuses on the role of construal in understanding situations. People think
comprehension of situations is direct, but actually even the perception of simple objects
requires substantial inference, and the complex cognitive structures that carry it out.
Schemas are stored representations of numerous repetitions of highly similar stimuli
and situations. They are how we interpret situations and how to correctly behave in
them. Stereotypes are schemas of types of people. Stereotypes guide interpretation and
behavior, but are often inaccurate or misapplied.
Construals of situations are automatic and nonconscious. As a result, people often don’t
have a clear idea of how they reached a particular conclusion or why they behaved in a
particular way, because they have no need for conscious access to these processes.
Natural selection operates on behaviors, same as on physical traits. The evolutionary
perspective focuses on practices and understandings that seem to be universal and
indispensable, because they may be innate to the species. An example is language,
which appears at the same stage of development in all cultures. Prewiring doesnt mean
impossible, or even difficult to modify, human behavior is highly susceptible to being
Believing that because things are a particular way means they should be that way is to
commit the naturalistic fallacy. Even if humans have a genetic predisposition to behave
in particular ways doesn’t mean it’s morally right, or socially sanctioned to behave in
those ways, and so many behaviors are prohibited, and therefore not committed by
most people.
We have an innate theory of mind, which means that we understand that each
individual has perceptions and thoughts that are independent from our own.
Cross-cultural differences in behaviors and meanings involve the degree to which a
society is independent/individualistic, or interdependent/collectivistic.
These differences influence people’s conceptions of the self and the nature of human
relationships, as well as basic cognitive and perceptual processes.
Differences between males and females of any species, including our own, may be
explained by the differential parental investment or the extent to which they’re involved
in child-rearing.
Gender roles and sexual practices differ enormously across and within cultures,
including our own. Different theorists differ in the extent to which they believe this
variability is arbitrary, versus rooted in economic factors or some other aspect of the
situation involving the culture.
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