Psych*2310: Social Psychology 1
Chapter 1: What is Social Psychology
Social Psychology: The scientific study of how people’s thoughts, attitudes, and
behaviours are influenced by factors in the social world
How we think about ourselves
Self perception: how we think about ourselves
Specifically how out views of ourselves change with the environment
Self-presentation: how people work to convey certain images of themselves to
Many strategies to presenting ourselves to others, cars, clothes, etc.
How we think, feel and act in the Social World
Social perception: how people form impressions of and make inferences
about other people and events in the social world
o We form impressions easily and frequently
o We often make mistakes when we are assessing the cause of someone
else’s behaviour—usually focus too much on personal factors and not
enough on situational
Fundamental attribution error: the tendency to overestimate the role of
personal causes, and underestimate the role of situational causes in
Social cognition: how we think about the social world, and in particular how
we select, interpret, and use information to make judgements about the
Social influence: the impact of other people’s attitudes and behaviours on
our own thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviour
How our Attitudes and Behaviours Shape the Social World
Self-fufilling prophecy: the process by which peoples expectation about a person
lead them to elicit behaviour that confirms these expectations
Leads people to confirm any beliefs they already have, hard to disprove these
How Has Social Psychology Evolved over time?
Behaviourism: a theory of learning that describes people’s behaviour as acquired
Still influential in social psych—ignores that role of people’s thoughts,
feelings, and attitudes and is too simplistic to explain other behaviours.
Gestalt psychology: a theory that proposes objects are viewed holistic
Look at the whole object and how it appears in peoples minds rather than the
specific parts of it
Many psychologists fled from Germany because of the Nazis’—made them
interested in group influence etc.
Racial segregation also played role of social psychologists in the US- served
as expert witnesses on how it should be accomplished Positive Psychology: A recent branch of psychology that studies individual’s
strengths and virtues
Hindsight Bias: the tendency to see a given outcome as inevitable once the actual
outcome is known
How is Social Psychology Connected to Other Fields?
Links to Fields Within Psychology
Focused on the role of individual differences—explain how different people
feel and behave in distinct ways
Social psychologists examine how different people react to different
situations in distinct ways—focuses on aspects of personality in influencing
behaviour in a situation.
Diagnosing and trwating mental health problems—focuses on understanding
and treating people with psychological disorders
Social psychology examines issues relevant to it—looks at how presence of
skinny people in media can influence women;s attitudes about their own
body which may contribute to eating disorders.
Examines mental processes