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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Introducing Social Psychology.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Jennifer Fortune

Chapter 1 Introducing Social Psychology What is social psychology? - our lives are social, they involve other people and we interact with other people Social Psychology: the scientific study of how individuals’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influences by other people - adapted from one given by Gordon Allport (1985) This definition has 4 key aspects 1) influenced by other ppl 2) thoughts, feelings and behaviours 3) individuals’ perspective 4) scientific study Influenced by other people - social psy is the study of how other people affect us - this social aspect is sometimes apparent ie while studying aggression vs not apparent ie thinking to yourself about how you will act with the fraternity brothers - 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 psy Thoughts, feelings and behaviours - how other ppl affect every aspect of individual’s lives, including thoughts (cognition), feelings (affect) and behaviours - to understand why various kinds of actions toward other ppl occur or do not occur ie conformity, aggression, helping and discrimination Individual’s perspective - take the perspective of individuals in a social setting vs objective features ie viewing the situation from the individuals eyes - Another aspect, to understand many social events, it is more important to know individual actor’s subjective persections of the situation than to know the setting’s objective features. Social construal: how individuals personally interpret or perceive a social situation Scientific study - social psychology is a science ie involves collecting date to test predictions How other people affect us Recall Social psychology: the scientific study of how individuals’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by other ppl - how other ppl affect us is a key element of social psychology - although individuals certainly do make personal decisions, most decisions are also influenced directly or indirectly y other people - Social psychology have shown that other people influenced virtually every aspect of life including 1) how we interpret events 2) how we feel about ourselves 3) how we behave Other people affect how we interpret events - Have you ever read about an accident or emergency where nobody stopped to help? - social psychology wondered why ppl often d not offer help - researchers have conducted experiments where they constructed fake emergences and observed how ppl responded who. Researchers determined that one important reason individuals fail to intervene is that they rely on other ppl to interpet the event. This study is called Bystander Intervention by Latane and Darley 1970 - Recall David Matt and Me walking down Dundas and we come across a man sprawled on the ground, because I was determined to help, David and Matt followed and the situation turned into one where we as a group were determined to help and we called the ambulance. It shows that they used my actions to interpet the event as that the man needed help - This analysis of emergency situations is classic social psy and provides a compelling example of how we use other ppl to interpret events Other people affect how we feel about ourselves - are you generous? Funny? Good looking? This usually involves thinking abut whether you are better or worse than other people ie rely on comparisons with other ppl and other ppl can have drastic effects on how we feel about ourselves - Social comparisons: the process of comparing ourselves to other ppl to make judgements about the self - Do attractive men and women in the media affect how we feel about ourselves? Yes, (Bill Thornton and Scott Moore) pg 9 found that participants who were exposed to attractive photographs rated themselves as less physically attractive and less socially compotent than did participants in a control condition who were not exposed to the poster board seeing very attractive ppl made participants feel worse about themselves and these effects occurred for both men and women Other people affect how we behave - the presences of other ppl can elicit very different behaviour than would have occurred if individuals were alone ie bystander effect, violent mobs - social psychologist have been very interested in how individuals can be transformed in group settings, including
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