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Chapter

CH1 Textbook Notes


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY220H1
Professor
Jennifer Fortune

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CHAPTER ONE Introducing Social Psychology
What Is Social Psychology?
The Science of Social Behaviour
- field dedicated to understanding the causes and consequences of social interactions between
individuals or groups
- social psychology is the scientific study of how individuals thoughts, feelings, and behaviours
are influenced by other people (Gordon Allport 1985)
- so long as someone is being affected in any way by other people, including their imagined
presence or actions, the situation is relevant to social psychology
- social psychologists are interested in how other people affect every aspect of individuals lives,
including thoughts (cognitions), feelings (affect) and behaviours
- ultimate goal: understand why various kinds of actions toward other people occur or dont
occur e.g. conformity, aggression, helping, discrimination
- it is necessary to look at the world through the actors eyes
- whatever you believe to be the other persons motive will determine how you behave
- social construals: individuals perceptions of a situation, how they construe (perceive, interpret)
the situation
- like any other science, social psychology involves collecting data to test predictions
How Other People Affect Us
- most individuals dont recognize just how much they are affected by others
- researchers have conducted experiments in which they constructed fake emergencies and
observed how people responded who didnt know that the situation was staged
- known as bystander intervention
- one important reason individuals fail to intervene is because they rely on other people to
interpret the event
- in ambiguous situations, a source of information people might use is how other people in
the situation are responding
- people may misinterpret the situation as a non-emergency based on the inaction of other
individuals
- we also rely on other people to make judgements about ourselves
- social comparison: the process of comparing ourselves to other people to make judgements
about the self
- social psychologists are interested in how individuals can be transformed in group settings,
including the tendency for some large groups to exhibit aggressive behaviour
- deindividuation: feeling that people are unaccountable for their actions when in a large group
- study by Brian Mullen (1968) on lynchings hypothesis that people in large mobs feel
relatively anonymous leading to a breakdown of normal inhibitory self-control
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