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Chapter 1

PSYB10 Chapter1.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Elizabeth Page- Gould

Chapter 1 Intro to Social Psych Construal: the way people perceive, comprehend and interpret the social world Folk Wisdom:  Commentary made by journalists, social critics, and novelists  One problem with reliance on these: - more often than not, they disagree with one another, and there is no easy way of determining which of them is correct - one of the tasks of the social psychologist is to make educated guesses about the specific situations under which one outcome or the other would occur - another task: design experiments sophisticated enough to demonstrate the specific situations under which one or the other applies Social psych:  is rooted in an interest in individual human beings, emphasis on the psychological processes going on in their hearts and minds  for the social psychologist the level of analysis is the individual in the context of a social situation  Goal is to identify universal properties of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of social class or culture - sociology looks at society as a whole Fundamental attribution error: the tendency to explain people’s behaviour in terms of personality traits, thereby underestimating the power of social influence - by failing to appreciate the full power of the situation, people tend to oversimplify complex situations  oversimplification decreases our understanding of the causes of a great deal of human behaviour  leads us to blame the victim in situations where the individual was overpowered by social forces too difficult for most of us to resist - Kurt Lewin  first scientist to fully realize the importance of taking the perspective of the people in any social situation to see how they construe this social environment 2 important motives of social psych:  the need to be accurate  the need to feel good about ourselves - when in situations where these two motives pull in opposite directions, is when Leon Festinger believes we gain our most valuable insights into the workings of the human heart and mind Self – Esteem Approach: The Need to Feel Good about Ourselves  most people have a strong need to maintain reasonably high self- esteem - the need to see themselves as good, competent, and decent  hard to see major deficiencies in ourselves, even when the cost is seeing the world inaccurately - consequence: it decreases the probability that the individual will learn from experience  people like to put a slightly different spin on existing
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