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Chapter 1

PSYB10 - Chapter1

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University of Toronto Scarborough
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PSYB10 – Social Psychology Chapter 1: Intro to Social Psych Social Psychology: the scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feeling, and behaviours are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people. Using social influence -not concerned w/ social situations in any objective sense but how people are influenced by their interpretation and construal of their social environment ( how they perceive and interpret the world) -ex: in a murder trial, it depends on the jury and how they construe the evidence which influence the outcome of the trial. - distinctive feature of soc. Psych. Is that is an experimentally based science that tests its assumptions, and ideas about human social behavior empirically and systematically rather relying on folk wisdom, common sense, the opinions and insight of philosophers, novelists etc. Common questions: - What factors cause aggression? - -how might people reduce prejudice? - -what causes two people to like or love each other? SOME ALTERNATIVE WAYS OF UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INFLUENCE FOLK WISDOM -aka Common Sense -Problem with w/ full reliance w/ such sources: more often than not, they disagree w/ one another and there is no easy way of determining which is correct -ex:” two birds of a feather flock together” and “opposites attract” -depends on the power of the situation (ex. The solar temple – when people in cult killed themselves due to folk theories) [normal functioning people] -because so-called common sense frequently turns out to be oversimplified and wrong, people tend not to learn from previous experiences. - fixing blame may make us feel better by resolving our confusion but no substitute for understanding the complexities of the situations that produce those events. - social psych make hypothesis about the situation -look at things under certain conditions to test them -ex: “birds of a feather flock together” it DOES happen but under certain circumstances SOCIAL PSYCH. COMPARED WITH SOCIOLOGY -For the social psych. The level of analysis is the individual in the context of the social situation -sociology looks at it in a group aspect (societal factors on a society) - the goal of social psychology is to identify universal properties of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of social class or culture. SOC. PSYCH. COMPARED WITH PERSONALITY PSYCH. -when trying to find explanations of social behavior, personality psychologists generally focus their attention on the individual differences: the aspects of people’s personalities that make them diff. from other people. -soc. psych is convinced that explaining behavior primarily in terms of personality factors ignores a critical part of the story: the powerful role of social influence. -social psych is in the middle of sociology and personality. -emphasizes on the psychological processes shared by most people that make them susceptible to social influence. THE POWER OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE - When trying to convince people that their behavior is greatly influenced by their social environment, soc. Psych is against formidable barrier (ex. Not based on personality) - Barrier called Fundamental Attribution Error: the tendency to explain people’s behavior in terms of personality traits, thereby underestimating the power of social influence. - By over simplifiying (not taking in account the power of social influence) we tend to blame the victim in situations where the individual was overpowered by social forces -- ex. Solar temple. Ex: Ross and Samuel
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