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Chapter 1

PSYCH253 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Random Assignment, And1, Social Desirability Bias


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYCH253
Professor
Steve Spencer
Chapter
1

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Social Psych - concerned with how people think about, influence and relate to one another;
differs from sociology in that it's more concerned with experimental methods and individuals;
however not concerned as much with the differences between people as personality psych.
3 components studied by SocPsych
Social Thinking - how we see ourselves/others; what we believe; our judgements and
attitudes
Social Influence - Culture/Biology; conformity; persuasion; groups of people
Social Relations - altruism and attraction/intimacy vs aggression and prejudice
Social Beliefs and Attributions
Social beliefs can sometimes be self-fulfilling; treating someone poorly because you
fear they may be hostile can in turn elicit a hostile response
often we are the mercy of the fundamental attribution error which causes us to
attribute negative/unsatisfactory behaviours to the disposition (internal attribution) of
another individual rather than considering a situational (external) attribution. That guy
who shoved me was just plain rude!
Ideal and satisfactory behaviour from others is often externally attributed rather than
internally; So what if he aced that test... I could easily get a hundred if I got a tutor
myself.
Conversely we may treat negative/unsatisfactory behaviour on our part as the
consequence of the external environment and positive/ideal behaviour as the consequence
of our disposition (internal attribution); I knew I'd ace that test! I was always quite good
at that subject. vs If I wasn't feeling sick I'm sure that test could have gone better...
Central Themes in Social Psych; Behaviour is a function of the person and the situation -
Kurt Lewin
Social Thinking...
oWe create a social reality...
owe often try to explain behaviours of those around us and make certain
attributions in order to have some semblance of order or predictability in
explaining future actions of individuals (of course attributions can vary between
individuals as a consequence of different thinking); if we see consistency in a
person's behaviour we may tend to make a dispositional/internal attribution for
example.

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oOur social intuition can be powerful or problematic...
oSocial intuition can explain our fears, impressions and relationships; not only do
we consciously process the world around us but there is a great deal that gets
processed subconsciously (heuristics, implicit memories, non-verbal
communication etc.); thinking, memory and attitudes all operate on a conscious
and subconscious level (dual processing). Of course this intuition is not perfect
and we can misinterpret others but even ourselves (buyer's remorse for example
illustrates we can't even be certain about satisfaction with our purchases;
something we have far more control over)
Social Influences...
oSocial Influences Shape Behaviour
oOur situation can alter our behaviours in ways that depart from our
values/beliefs/attitudes. Sometimes this can be for the better and we commit acts
of generosity and compassion. Other times we commit atrocity without
comprehension. Part of this influence is the culture we are raised to uphold and
which in turn leads us to prefer certain standards.
oPersonal Attitudes/Dispositions Shape Behaviour...
oAttitudes on an issue can govern our willingness to engage in certain behaviours
(donating money to the poor or smoking is governed by our attitudes of the poor
and smoking). Of course our intrinsic character, our personality, can govern
behaviour as well (Are we compassionate enough to donate? Are we
careless/adventurous enough to consider smoking?)
Social Relations...
oSocial Behaviours Has a Biological Basis...
oRecall we are the products of nurture/experience AND nature/biology. Certain
behaviours exist today (suspicion of strangers) because they helped our ancestors
survive when faced with novel threats or situations. Furthermore every emotional
reaction and other social event occurs concurrently with a biological event. Thus
the study of neurological sciences helps better explain social behaviours and
outcomes.
oRelating to others is a basic need.
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oOstracism and prejudice leave us emotionally hurt where nurturing actions of
others serve to bolster our feelings of self-confidence and self-worth. So the drive
to fulfill this need will of course affect social behaviours (we are often willing to
seek out others to bond with and spend a substantial time ensuring that these
bonds remain intact).
Applying Social Psych
oSocial Psych principles are applicable to everyday life
oSoc-psych has implications for human health, legal proceedings, and encourage
humanity to pursue an environmentally sustainable future. At its core SocPsych
helps describe the various subtle forces that drive human thoughts and action.
How do values affect the practice of social psychology?
Obvious Ways
oSocial Psych research topics often reflect the current social issues of our
world and also where in the world we happen to be
oResearch into cultural diversity is a major topic in social psych as a result of
globalization. Cultural values lead to increased interest in certain topics of
research as well. European cultures take pride in nationality and cultural
distinctness and so a major research topic is "social identity".
oValues affect who is attracted to various disciplines
oHumanities majors may hold distinct values as compared to sci majors
Less Obvious Ways
oSubjective aspects of science
oPerception is affected by our preconceived notions of the world around us. This
means that our reality is only viewed through a filter and this means we interpret
the scientific world rather than truly observing it. When we share a culture with
others some shared assumptions go unchallenged until individuals with different
social representations (shared belifefs/values/ideas/culture) call attention to
them. Of course such individuals will also have their own shared assumptions
that may go unchallenged as well.
oHidden values in psychological concepts
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