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Social Psychology ch 1

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PSYC 308
Steven Barnes

Chapter 1  We forge our individual identities not alone but in the context of other people Recent research:  Close friends and staying in contact with family members = health benefits like protecting against heart disease, infection, diabetes, and cancer, also living longer and more actively  Children who are socially excluded suffer academically and socially  Experiencing social rejection produces activity in the brain related to physical pain and being treated well activates parts associated with rewards  A person is more than 20 times more likely than usual to suffer a heart attack within one day of the death of a loved one What is Social Psych?  social psychology  The scientific study of how individuals think, feel, and behave in a social context. Scientific study  Social psych is a science  it applies the scientific method of systematic observation, description and measurement to the study of human condition like other sciences  often emphasizes the power of the situation in affecting people  social psych differs from other sciences since social psychologists strive to establish general principles of attitude formation and change that apply in a variety of situations rather than exclusively to particular domains  social psych focuses on the psychology of the individual  unique because of the emphasis on the social nature of individuals  attempts to establish general principles of human behavior  examine nonsocial factors that affect people’s thoughts, feelings, motives and emotions  social psychological pursuits when thoughts, feelings and behaviors: o Concern other people o Are influenced by other people  Social psych provides insight that would be impossible to gain though experience alone The power of the social context: an example of a social psych experiment  Social connections can have a profound effect on our lives  Students from underrepresented racial or ethnic minority groups are especially vulnerable to such doubts about social belonging on campus  interfere with academic performance  Social belonging and GPA experiment: o Some students were given information designed to reduce their doubts about fitting in and socially belonging and others were not o Result: for African American students this manipulation had significant effects on their GPA figure 1.1 page 9 o Conclusion: the social context or perceived social context had a significant effect on students success Social Psychology and related fields Sociology  Sociology and social psych share interests on violence, prejudice, cultural evidence and marriage  Differences:  sociology focus on group level social psych on individual level  social psych more likely to conduct experiments and manipulate variables using precise and quantifiable measures Related areas of pscyh  Clinical psych seek to understand and treat people with psych difficulties or disorders  Social psych not focused on disorders rather one typical ways in which individuals think, feel and behave and influence each other  Both: address how people cope with anxiety or pressure in social situations  Personality psych  seeks to understand stable differences between individuals  Social psych  seeks to understand how factors affect most individuals regardless of their different personalities  Both complement each other  Cognitive psych  study mental processes (thinking learning remembering and reasoning  Social psych  how people think, learn, remember, and reason in respect to social information and in how these processes are relevant to social behavior  Also closely connected Social Psych and common sense  Social psych unlike common sense, uses scientific method to put its theories to test  many of the findings in social psychology would not be predicted by common sense.  Common sense can be misleading since it is often oversimplified  Common sense often makes contradictory claims A brief history of social psychology  Plato offered keen insights into many social psychological issues. The birth and infancy of social psych 1880s-1920s  Norman Triplett  credited with having publishes the 1 st th research article in social psych at the end of 19 century o Observed that cyclists tend to race faster when racing in the presence of others  marking the birth of social psych  Ringlemann studies the effects of presence of others on the performance of individuals o Found that individuals perform worse on simple tasks such as pulling rope when they performed the tasks with other people o This 19 century didn’t truly establish social psych as a distinct field of study o The credit goes to: William McD
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