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PSYB10H3 (611)
Chapter 1


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Elizabeth Page- Gould

PSYB10 FALL2012 | CHAPTER 1 | INTRODUCTION TO SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY WHAT IS SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY?  The heart of social psychology is the phenomenon of social influence o Influences by people  e.g. persuasion to change one's behavior like advertisement  Social psychology is more than direct social influence o Social influences extends beyond behavior--- includes thought, feelings and our overt acts  we can be influenced without the physical presences of people  e.g. wanting others to be proud of us  Social psychology - study of the way in which people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people THE POWER OF SOCIAL INTERPRETATION  Social psychology is distinct from other disciplines o understands how people are influenced by thconstrual - the way in which people perceive, comprehend, and interpret the social world o construal is important, has wide ramifications:  e.g. using DNA test to convince the jury that the suspect is guilty -> construal process produce different outcomes  E.g. ross lee's reasearch on Israeli and Palestinian negotiators (p.6)  A construal called "naïve realism"- knowing that both side perceives an issue differently, and think that their perception is objective while other side's bias  Social psychology is an experimental based science o Use systematic experiments rather than using common sense o Scientists' goals are too answer questions e.g. what cause two people to love each other? SOME ALTERNATIVE WAYS OF UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INFLUENCE  Question: why people behave the way they did? Answer: ask that person o Problem: people are not always aware of the origins of their own responses 1. Folk wisdom o Commentary of journalists, social critics and novelists refer to as fold wisdom/common sense o Usually underestimate, oversimplify a situation -> turn out to be wrong o Problem with relying entirely on such source: disagree with one another, and there is no easy way of determining which of them is correct o e.g. folk wisdom on factors that influence how much we like other people  Simplest example we come up with: "we like people with same backgrounds and interest" or " opposites (with different backgrounds and interest )attract " BUT WHOSE RIGHT?? o Not reliable because people tend to not learn from previous incidents  e.g. followers of warren Jeffs - the person who married young virgin girls (sent by parents=followers) and claimed that he had orders from god to do that -> he was arrested for sexual assault  People then blame: usually blame victims first for their stupidity  Blaming: no understanding the complexity of situation that cause the event 2. Philosophy o Even Great thinkers can find themselves in disagreement with one another : sometimes philosopher A is right, in other situations B is right, so whose right?? o Social psychologist look at these questions scientifically, to find out : when a logic works and when it does not work  Hypothesis - make educated guesses about specific situations under which one outcome or other would occur  Then test it out by using sophisticated experiements o Major reason of conflicting philosophical positions : the world is complicated, small dif make dif effects SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY COMPAPRED WITH SOCIOLOGY Share disciplines: concerned with influence of social and societal factors on human behavior   Difference: Level of analysis: Social psychology: studies individuals and emphasize on psychological processes in their hears and minds  e.g. to what extend is aggression preceded by a state of frustration Sociology: studies individual in context of a social situation Sociology is more concerned with broad societal factors that impact events in a society Focus: social class, social structure, social institutions 3. Major difference: sociology looks toward society at large  e.g. more likely to ask: why murder rate in US is >>> than in Canada 4. Difference between disciplines (what they are trying to explain)  Social psychology: to identify universal properties of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of social class or culture  Come up with hypothesis that hold true for most of the people  Cultural expansion help us make more accurate predictions of human behavior SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY COMPARED WITH PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGY  Back to Warren Jeff's example: why would the parents send their daughters to jeff? o Personality of the people involved should be considered o People have dif traits: some bold, some timid o These questions should be answered by personality psychologists  Personality psychologists focus individual difference- aspects of people's personalities that make them different from other people o Back to cult sample: why would they end their lives + deny they are wrong? o Simply saying that they are all psychotic is not enough, a deeper explanation can be given by: understand kind of power, influence the leader has, impact of living in a closed society cut off from all points of view and other factors that contribute to this tragic (approach of social psychologists) o everyday example: customer has a hard time deciding what to eat, the waitress then roll her eyes and scowls at the customer  Fact: people tend to jump to conclusion that the waitress is nasty But when given info that the waitress is under enormous stress, people would think shes not  nasty o Fact: people always jump to conclusion that behavior was caused by one's personality, fail to look at the situation  Therefore, social psychology is in between personality psychology and sociology o Shares with sociology: situational and societal influences on behavior, but focuses more on psychological makeup of individuals o Shares with personality psychology: emphasis on psychology of individual but emphasizes on psychological processes shared by most people THE POWER OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE  Social psychologist is against a barrfundamental attribution error - the tendency to explain people's behavior in terms of personality traits, thereby underestimating the power of social influence UNDERESTIMATING THE POWER OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE  When we underestimate the power of social influence, we experience a feeling of false security o e.g. concluding that members of the solar temple cult are flawed human begins-> this gives us a feeling that these bizarre things will not happen to us  Over simplifying a situation will: o Decrease our understanding of the causes of a great deal of human behavior o Lead us to blame victims  Experiment: Liberman, samuels and ross (2004) o Proved: social influence have impact of human behavior o Asked dorm leaders to pick students who are cooperative and competitive, then students are asked to pick one game
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