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Chapter 1

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University of Toronto St. George
Jennifer Fortune

PSY220 F (Summer 2013) – Jennifer Fortune Chapter 1: Introducing Social Psychology (Page 3 -29) What is Social Psychology? The Science of Social Behavior  Social Psychology – the (4) scientific study of how (3) individuals’ (2) thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are (1) influenced by other people o Is a field dedicated to understanding the causes and consequences of social interactions b/w ind. & groups  Explanation of the 4 aspects of social psychology: 1. Influenced by Other People o We have experiences where other ppl can influence us w/o having to be physically present o So long as someone is being affected in any way by other ppl including their imagined presence or actions, the situation is relevant to social psy 2. Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors o Soc Psy are interested in how other ppl affect every aspect of individuals’ lives, including thoughts, feelings, and behaviors 3. Individuals’ Perspective o Soc. Psy take the perspective of individuals in a social setting, rather than focusing on only an objective feature  To understand beh, soc psy believe that it is necessary to look at the world through the actor’s eyes o To understand many social events, it is better to know individual actor’s subjective perceptions (Social Construal) of the situation rather than the setting’s objective features  Social Construal – how individuals personally interpret or perceive a social situation  Group actions are made up of many actions by ind 4. Scientific Study o Scientific evidence is necessary before a proposal will be taken seriously How Other People Affect Us 1. Other people affect how we interpret events o Bystander Interventions – experiments of fake emergencies to generate strangers responses o Individuals fail to intervene in emergency situations b/c they rely on other ppl to interpret the event 2. Other people affect how we feel about ourselves o Social Comparisons – comparing ourselves to other ppl to make judgments about the self 1 PSY220 F (Summer 2013) – Jennifer Fortune o We compare ourselves w/ others to determine if we are better/worse off them others in particular areas and traits (ex. Am I more generous than him?) 3. Other people affect how we behave o Presence of other ppl can elicit very different behavior than would have occurred if individuals were alone o Deindividuation – the feeling that ppl are unaccountable for their actions when in a large group Beware!  Social psychology is not just common sense o Common sense can provide competing predictions (i.e. “birds of a feather flock together” and “opposites attract”) o Intuition isn’t always right, we must conduct research to find out which ones are valid o Folk wisdom is normally vague and simplistic, but real life is more complicated  Even when there is truth, there are limitations and exceptions  Hindsight is not always golden o Hindsight Bias – tendency to think the known outcome was obvious  Can lead u astray when judging the importance and value of research findings  After reading the results you may think it was obvious Why Study Social Psychology?  Being an Informed Citizen o Making an informed and reasoned approach to dealing w/ social problems, we need to understand why ppl behave the way they do and the likely effectiveness of different solutions  Applying social psychological knowledge to everyday life  Understanding yourself Social Psychology’s Connections to Other Areas of Psychology  Personality Psychology o Personality psychologists study traits or dispositions that help to explain human behavior  Dispositions are consistent in thought or actions that characterize an ind across time and settings and that make him/her diff from other ppl  Identify the dispositions that are most useful for describing beh and for differentiating b/w ind o Related to SocPsy: ind differences that affect social beh (i.e. self-esteem) 2 PSY220 F (Summer 2013) – Jennifer Fortune  Developmental Psychology o Development psychologists study age-related changes in human abilities and behaviors, ranging from childhood to the end of the life span (social & cognitive development) o Related to SocPsy: social development – how relationship skills emerge  Cognitive Psychology o Cognitive psychologists study how the human mind works, including memory, info processing, consciousness, and decision making o Related to SocPsy: social cognition – how info about ppl is processed & stored  Clinical and Counseling Psychology o Clinical and counseling psychologists study ppl who are having difficulty coping w/ life’s demands or sometimes called abnormal psychology (=focuses on individuals who suffer from some kind of psychological or emotional problem) o Related to SocPsy: lonliness, shyness, and other relationship problems; depression and anxiety Social Psychology’s Connections to Other Disciplines  Sociology o How social and cultural forces influence human behavior o Related to SocPsy: focus on groups rather than individuals; measure relevant concepts rather than manipulate in experiments  Anthropology o The study of past and present cultures o Related to SocPsy: focus on cultures rather than individuals; rely on existing materials rather than conducting experiments  Political Science o The study of methods of government o Related to SocPsy: exclusive focus on the political domain; study existing systems rather than conducting experiments Historical Background of Social Psychology  SocPsy became a field distinct from other disciplines and from other psy sometime in the mid- 20 century (1950) o Psychological studies occurred prior to this time but few specialized theories had appeared and the field’s reliance on the experimental method had not solidified Social Psychology’s Roots in Philosophy  Earliest sources of SocPsy can be found in philosophy: 3 PSY220 F (Summer 2013) – Jennifer Fortune o Greek philosopher, Plato  suggested ppl experienced the world in 3 distinct ways: triumvirate of cognitive (cognition), affective (feelings), and behavioral aspects of experience is very old  Modern SocPsy  distinguish b/w thoughts, feelings, and behaviors o Aristotle  living a good life and achieving personal happiness are both dependent on providing benefits to other ppl in addition to the self  SocPsy  based on fundamental pt that humans are social beings  Self-concept  social relationships are important component of how we define ourselves o Social Norms – perceived rules/guidelines about what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable  Social norms can be traced back to one of the great ideas of social contracts  Social Contract – the idea that human societies have developed basic rules of social and moral conduct, which members of the societies implicitly agree to follow o Identity  SocPsy are interested w/ issues related to how ppl see themselves  Philosophy  human existence?  What is a person? What is the nature of consciousness  relate to self-perceptions Social Psychology’s Early History  Field of Psy separated from philosophy and became a distinct discipline in the middle of the 19 century o European researchers began to use scientific methods instead of introspective techniques (i.e. thoughts and speculation)  Earliest publication that is widely viewed as SocPSy appeared in 1898 in the American Journal of Psychology o The experiment addressed social facilitation  ppl perform better in group settings than when alone (ex. Bike race & fishing rod experiment – Norman Triplett)  Behaviorism - an approach in psychology that assumes that behavior can be explained purely in terms of stimulus – response connections established through experience and reinforcement o Behaviorist dismissed the importance of unobservable mental concepts like thoughts and attitudes o Influenced early work of SocPsy, particularly human aggression  Kurt Lewin – the father as modern SocPsy o More opposed to acceptance of behaviorism  Usually trained in Gestalt theory:  Gestalt Theory – an approach in psychology that assumes that people’s overall, subjective interpretations of objects are more important than the objects’ physical features, and that objects are perceived in their totality, as a unit, rather than in terms of their individual features 4 PSY220 F (Summer 2013) – Jennifer Fortune Chapter 2: The Methods of Social Psychology (Page 31 – 63) Theory – an explanation of why an event or outcome occurs; it identifies the underlying causes of an event or phenomenon Hypothesis – a specific prediction about what should occur if a theory is valid; it provides the means by which a theory can be tested Operational Definition – a specific, observable response that is used to measure a concept Socially Desirable Responding – a form of responding that involves fiving answers that portray the respondent in a positive light Unobtrusive Measures – assessments that are taken without the realization of participants, thereby minimizing socially desirable responding Psychometrics – a sub-discipline within psychology that is devoted to understanding and refining methods for psychological measurement Reliability – the extent to which a measure is free of “random” fluctuations, both over time and across judges Validity – the extent to which a measure really assess what it is supposed to assess- whether scores on the measure actually reflect the assumed underlying concept Correlational Research – studies in which investigators measure two or more concepts and see whether the concepts are associated with one another Survey – a correlational study in which the researcher asks questions to respondents, either in a printed questionnaires, on a computer, over the telephone, or during an interview Representative Sample – a group of respondents that accurately reflects a larger population from which it was drawn and to which the researcher wants to generalize the results Random Sampling – a recruitment process in which every person in a particular population has exactly the same probability of being in the study; it produces a representative sample Archival Research – correlational investigations that are based on pre-existing information obtained by researchers, such as historical records, newspaper articles, or other forms of public data Observational Studies – correlational investigations in which researchers watch participants and code measures from the observed behavior, either “live” or from videotapes Participant-observation Research – a special type of observational study in which a researcher actually joins an ongoing group to observe the members’ behavior Experimental Research – investigations in which researcher manipulates one concept (or more than one) and assesses the impact of manipulation(s) on one or more other concepts 5 PSY220 F (Summer 2013) – Jennifer Fortune Independent Variable – a concept or facto that is manipulated by the researcher in an experiment; its causal impact on one or more other variables is assessed in the experiment Dependent Variable – a concept that is measured by the researcher after the manipulation(s) in an experiment; it is typically expected to be affected by the manipulation(s) Extraneous Variables – potential sources of error in the experiment that should be controlled; they encompass everything in the experiment
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