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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

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Psychology 2070A/B

Chapter 1: Introducing Social Psychology The Science of Social Behaviour - field dedicated to understanding the causes and consequences of social interactions between individuals or groups - Social psychology: scientific study of how individuals’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influenced by other people - 4 aspects of definition explained below - (1) Influenced by other people o study of how other people affect us o common experiences show that other people can influence us without having to be physically present (e.g. preparing for date or interview) o as long as someone is being affected in any way by other people (even imagined presence or actions), situation is relevant to social psychology! - (2) Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviours o interested in how other people affect every aspect of individual lives o thoughts = cognitions, feelings = affect, and behaviours o Ultimate goal of science: understand why various kinds of actions toward other people occur or do not occur (conformity, aggression, discrimination, etc…) - (3) Individuals’ Perspective o take perspective of individuals in social setting (rather than looking at objective features of situation) o necessary to look at world through actor’s eyes and their perceptions of situation rather than objective features o social construals: individuals’ perception of a situation ; how they construe (perceive) the situation - (4) Scientific Study o collect data to test predictions How Other People Affect Us - key element of social psych: investigating how individuals are influenced by other people - Other people affect how we interpret events o One main reason individuals fail to intervene is b/c they rely on other people to interpret event - Other people affect how we feel about ourselves o Social comparison: process of comparing ourselves to other people to make judgements about self o Seeing very attractive people made participants feel worse about themselves (helps us understand media exposure to physically attractive models) - Other people affect how we behave o Look at bystander intervention studies o Presence of other people can elicit very diff. beh. than would have occurred individually o Reason for mob aggression: feelings of anonymity – feel unidentifiable when immersed in large group  Deindividuation – feeling that people are unaccountable for their actions when in large group o As lynchers became more numerous relative to victims, viciousness increased (breakdown of normal inhibitory self control) Beware! - Social psychology is not just common sense o Sometimes the absence of an attractive reward that produces greatest changes in attitudes and beh. o Common sense allows competing predictions, intuitions aren’t always right, folk wisdom is often vague and simplistic - Hindsight is not always golden o Things that seem obvious in hindsight may not have easily predicted in foresight o Hindsight bias: tendency to think that a known outcome was obvious Why Study Social Psychology? - Being an informed citizen o We need to understand why people behave the way they do and the effectiveness of diff. sol’ns o For AIDS, problem is unprotected sex and sharing of IV needles o Sol’n: Stop this… but it’s not as easy as it sounds  Should understand how people judge their own susceptibility to virus and how those judgements influence beh.  Situational factors can be powerful and emotions can override reason  Should have understanding of determinants of behaviour to design social policy - Applying social psychological knowledge to everyday life - Understanding yourself Social Psychology’s Connections to Other Areas of Psychology - Personality Psychology o Most closely related to social psychology o Study traits (dispositions) to explain human beh. o Dispositions: consiste
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