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All Social Psychology Notes-1.docx

Course Code
PSYC 2310
Saba Safdar

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Social Psychology
Chapter 1
What is social psychology?
Is about understanding our social connections to each otherhow they influence
and are influenced by what we think, feel and do
The scientific study of how people‘s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour are
influenced by factors in the social world
*social psychologists: study how people explain their own and other peoples
behaviour (attributions), how people influence others (persuasion and how people
connect with each other (attraction)
Gordon W. Allport (1954): defined social psych as an attempt to understand and
explain how the thought, feelings and behaviour of individuals are influenced by the
actual, imagined or implied presence of other human beings
There are many ways to try to understand and to present any phenomenom,
through artistic perspective, a documentary approach, folk wisdom, or a scientific inquiry
o Social psych explains phenomenon by using scientific inquiry
This includes: a commitment to collecting accurate and error-free
information, a commitment to objectivity and collecting data that are free
of bias, a commitment to verifying information empirically
Social psychologists follow the scientific method (research method for
investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, and evaluating and integrating
previous knowledge)
o Form a hypothesis (educated guess) about the relationship between
events, and then examine the accuracy
Scientific method: a technique for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, and/or
correcting previous knowledge
Hypothesis: a testable prediction about the conditions under which an event will occur
Social psychology: a scientific study of the way in which a person‘s thoughts, feelings, and
behaviours are influenced by the real, imagined or implied presence of others
Self-perception: how we think about ourselves
Our views of ourselves depend on our sociocultural environment
Self-presentation: how people work to convey certain images of themselves to others

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Social perception: how people form impressions of and make inferences about other people and
events in the social world
Social cognition: a type of social perception that describes how we think about the social
world, and in particular how we select, interpret and use information to make judgements about
the world
Social influence: the impact of other people‘s attitudes and behaviours on our thoughts,
feelings and behaviour
o Can be direct (eg. advertising messages) or subtle
o People‘s thoughts, feelings and behaviour are influenced not only by what other
people think or do, but also by what they imagine other people think or do
*social psychology also examines the impact of events (including thoughtscognitive events)
on our attitudes and behaviours
Self-fulfilling prophecy—the process by which people‘s expectations about a person lead
them to elicit behaviour that confirms these expectations
o First social psychology textbook was written by Floyd Allport (1924)
o Early research in social psychology was influenced by 3 major factors:
behaviourism, Gestalt psychology and historical events
o Social psychology is deeply rooted in the intellectual and cultural environment of
North America, and to a lesser extent, European societies
Behaviourism—a theory of learning that describes people‘s behaviour as acquired through
o Describes people‘s behaviour as being determined in a very straightforward way
o Behaviour that was followed by a reward would continuea process referred to
as conditioning
o Behaviour followed by punishment would not
Shown in work with animals (eg. B.F. Skinner trained pigeons to
turn in a circle, nod and play piano)
o The behaviourist approach explains some behaviour, but ignores the role of
people‘s thoughts, feelings, and attitudes—therefore it is too simplistic to explain other
Gestalt Psychologya theory that proposes objects are viewed holistically

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o Influence of people‘s perceptions of objects and events in the world, not simply
their objective appearance
o Means whole form
o Emphasized the importance of looking at the whole object and how it appeared in
people‘s minds, as opposed to looking at specific objective parts of the object
o Focuses on how people interpret their surroundings and the cognitive processing
that is involved in people‘s interpretations
o Key idea is that we sometimes experience more than what is supplied by
our sensory perceptionif we see a series of images in quick succession, we
perceive a moving image, not a series of static ones
o Kurt Lewin- the founder of modern social psychologywas trained in the Gestalt
approach (Jewish, in German Army in WWI)
o Had a keen sense of the importance of perception in determining
attitudes and behaviourhe offered one of the earliest theories in cognitive
social psychology
o Research focused on the role of social perception in influencing people‘s
behaviour, the nature of group dynamics and the factors contributing to
stereotypic and prejudice
Historical events
o Influenced other young social psychologists
o Muzafer Sherifoutspoken opposition to Nazi movement during WWII led to his
imprisionment in a Turkish prisonReleased following complaints from American
o Carried out studies on group influencein particular on how introducing
tasks that required cooperation between groups cold reduce group conflict
o Stanley Milgramconducted series of experiments demonstrating the powerful
role of authority in leading obedience (Nazi Germany)
o Has been used to explain many real-world events, including mistreatment
of prisoners during times of war
o Much of the early work in social psychology focused on explaining behaviour that
might be regarded as problematic, such as aggression, stereotyping and prejudice, and
misplaced obedience to authority
o Has also focused on positive behaviour, such as altruism, attraction and
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