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Canada (161,798)
Psychology (9,695)
PSYB10H3 (611)
Chapter 1


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Elizabeth Page- Gould

Introduction to Social Psychology and Social Cognition   CHAPTER 1 - WHAT IS SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Phenomenon of social influence: everyone is influenced by other people The scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people The Power of Social Interpretation How people are influenced by their interpretation, or construal of their social environment It is more important to understand how people perceive, comprehend, and interpret the social world than it is to understand the objective properties of the social world itself It is an experimentally based science that tests its assumption, guesses and ideas about human social behaviour empirically and systematically Construal – the way people perceive, comprehend and interpret the social world Some Alternative Ways of Understanding Social Influence Folk wisdom/common sense A great deal can be learned about social behaviour from journalists, social critics and novelists Because these turn out to be wrong or oversimplified, people tend not to learn from previous incidents It is difficult for most people to grasp the power of a cult Often people blame the victims themselves, accusing them of stupidity or mental illness. Fixing blame may make us feel better by resolving our confusion, but it is no substitute for understanding the complexities of the situations that produced those events Social Psychology Compared with Sociology Social psychology is rooted in an interest in individual human beings, with an emphasis on the psychological processes going on in their hearts and minds In social psych, the level of analysis is the individual in the context of a social situation Sociology focuses on a society at large The goal of social psych is to identify universal properties of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of social class or culture Social Psychology Compared with Personality Psychology Personality psych focuses on individual differences – aspect of people’s personalities that make them different from other people Social psych believes that explaining behaviour primarily in terms of personality factors ignores a critical part of the story: powerful role played by social influence Social psych is located between sociology and personality psych It shares with socio an interest in situational and societal influences on behaviour It shares with personality psych an emphasis on the psychology of the individuaL Social psychology compared with related disciplines Sociology Social Psychology Personality Psychology Provides general laws Studies the psychological Studies the characteristics and theories about processes people have in that make individuals societies, not common with one another that unique and different from individuals make them susceptible to social one another influence THE POWER OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE Fundamental attribution error – the tendency to overestimate the extent to which people’s behaviour stems from internal, dispositional factors and to underestimate the role of situational factors Underestimating the Power of Social Influence When we underestimate the power of social influence, we experience a feeling of false security By failing to appreciate fully the power of the situation, we tend to oversimplify complex situations; oversimplification decreases our understanding of the causes of a great deal of human behaviour Oversimplification can lead us to blame the victim in situations where the individual was overpowered by social forces too difficult for most of us to resist Social and envi
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