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Chapter 1

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Connie Boudens

Chapter 1 PSYB10 Chapter 1 What is Social Psychology? What is Social Psychology? Defining Social Psychology  The scientific study of how individual think, feel, and behave in a social context Scientific study  We can learn about human behavior from novels, films, history and philosophy  Social psych is a science  Applies the scientific method: Systematic observation, description and measurement to the study of the human condition How Individuals Think, Feel and Behave  Social psych looks at o People’s private, unconscious beliefs and attitudes o Most passionate emotions o Heroic, cowardly or mundane public behaviors  Look at a wide variety of attitudes and contexts (how people feel towards certain things)  Social psychologists strive to establish general principles of attitude formation and change that apply in a variety of situations  Social psychology focuses on psychology of the individual not exactly a domain A Social Context  Social psych looks at the social nature of individuals  Attempt to establish general principles of human behavior o Examine nonsocial factors to find this o Examine people’s thoughts about nonsocial things  Social context referred to in definition of social psychology does not have to be rela or present o Implied or imagined presence of others have important effects on individuals  Ex. Imagining other’s reactions to a performance Social Psychological Questions and Applications  Social psych is about learning about ourselves and our social worlds  Social psychology is an area of science that is gaining importance in various professions and fields The Power of the Social Context  Social nature of people may seem so personal (our sense of identity, how we value ourselves) o But this can be significantly influenced by society and others  This can be seen with how woman react or feel about their own body when they see models in the media o Woman are reminded that people are constantly judging them and their body Social Psychology and Related Fields: Distinctions and Intersections Social Psychology and Sociology  Sociologist and social psychologists share an interest in: violence, prejudice, cultural differences and marriage  Sociologists focus on the group level  Social psychologists focus on the individual  Social psychologists are more likely than sociologists to conduct experiments in which they manipulate some variable and determine the effects of this manipulations using precise, quantifiable measures Social Psychology and Clinical Psychology  Clinical psychologists seek to understand and treat people with psychological difficulties or disorders  Social psychologists do not focus on disorders; rather they focus on typical ways in which individuals think, eel, behave and influence each other Chapter 1 PSYB10 Social Psychology and Personality Psychology  Both personality psychology and social psychology are concerned with individuals and their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors  Personality psychology seeks to understand differences between individuals that remain relatively stable across a variety of situations  Social psychology seeks to understand how social factors affect most individuals regardless of their different personalities  Both areas compliment each other Social Psychology and Cognitive Psychology  Cognitive psychologists study mental processes (thinking, learning, remembering, and reasoning)  Social psychologists are also interested in the same processes o How people think, learn, remember and reason with respect to social information Social Psychology and Common Sense  Social psychology uses the scientific method to put its theories to the test  Although some theories may seem sensible, studies may show different results and studies and research is what prevails  Have to think critically about social psychological issues before experiment as well as after learning about them From Past to Present: A Brief History of Social Psychology  Until the end of the 19 century, there was no true scientific study of social psychology The Birth and Infancy of Social Psychology: 1880s – 1920s  Norman Triplett – credited with having published the first research article in social psychology at the end of 19 century o Cyclists raced faster in the presence of other people compared to training by themselves  Max Ringelmann o Studied effects of presence of others on the performance of individuals o Found that for simple tasks - people performed worse when they were in a group  William McDougall, Edward Ross, Floyd Allport wrote the first social psych textbook o Focus on interaction of individuals and their social context and its emphasis on the use of experimentation and the scientific method o Helped establish social psych as a discipline A Call to Action: 1930s – 1950s  Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and ensuing turmoil got people needing answers on social psychology o Needed answers on what causes violence, prejudice and genocide, conformity and obedience  Social psychologists in Europe went to Canada and the US in 1930s to shape social psychology  1936 – Gordon Allport and other social psychologists formed Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI)  1936 – Muzafer Sherif published an experiment on social influence and how powerful influences groups can exert on their individual members  1930s - Kurt Lewin – fled from Nazi Germany to US  Fundamental principles Lewin helped establish 1. Behavior is a function of the interaction between the person and
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