Social Psychology Full Textbook Notes.docx

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Social psychology: the scientific study of how individuals thoughts, feeling and behaviours are influenced by other people
oImportant aspects: influence by other people, thoughts, feelings and behaviours, individuals’ perspective and scientific
Study of how others influence us; doesn’t have to be interacting with them to actually influence them
Psychologists interested in how people affect the lives of others in terms of their thoughts (cognitive), feelings (affect) and
Ultimate goal is to understand why various actions toward people occur or don’t
Psychologists take perspective of individual in social setting; whatever you believe to be other persons motives will dictate how
you behave
Important to know individual actors’ subjective perceptions of the situation than to know setting’s objective features
oSocial construals: how individuals personally interpret or perceive a social situation
Social psychologists show people influence how we interpret events, how we feel about ourselves and how we behave
oExample: the reason why people fail to intervene during emergencies is because they rely on other people to interpret the
oSocial comparison: the process of comparing ourselves to other people to make judgments about the self
Bill Thornton and Scott Moore found seeing more attractive people made people feel worse bout themselves
Deindivuation: people are unaccountable for their actions when in a large group
oEx. Large mobs tend to be more vicious
Social psychology is not common sense even if there’s a great overlap between intuition and social psychology
Hindsight bias: tendency to think that a known outcome was obvious
Studying psychology benefits: helps us understand and how to approach social problems, can provide insights about our close
relationships and can help us understand ourselves and social worlds better
Social psychology is most connected with personality psychology (individual differences that affect social personality)
oAlso related to developmental, cognitive and clinical/counseling psychology
oConnected to sociology (focus on groups rather than individuals), anthropology (focus on cultures rather than
individuals) and political science (exclusive focus on political domain)
History of Social Psychology
Social psychology emerged most clearly in 1950s; earliest sources of social psychology is found in philosophy
oPlato suggested that people experience the world in thought, in emotion and in action
oSocial norms can be traced back to the philosophical idea of a social contract
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
oSocial psychology and philosophy involve the concept of identity
Psychology began in middle of the 19th century when European researchers began to use scientific methods; earliest publication
viewed as social psychological appeared in 1898 in American Journal of Psychology
oAddressed the experiment where presence of audience improves individual’s performances
In 1908, two textbooks with social psychology appeared; one by McDougall (psychologist) and the other by Ross (Sociologist)
oMcDougall’s text relied on concept of instructs vs. Ross who focused on imitation and learning
oBehaviourism: an approach in psychology that assumes that behaviour can be explained purely in terms of stimulus-
response connections established through experience and reinforcement
Kurt Lewin regarded as father of social psychology; opposed behaviourism and trained in Gestalt theory
Gestalt theory: an approach in psychology that assumes that peoples 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
oGestalt theorists interested in peoples internal representations of objects
Central issues investigated in early social psychology: prejudice, discrimination, totalitarianism
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1950s and 1960s was time when social psychology was explored by researchers and many theoretical models were developed
Categorization: the process of recognizing and identifying something
Social cognition: the study of how information about people is processed and stored
Schemas: the building blocks of the mind
Schemas: mental representations of objects/categories, which contain the central features of the object/category as well as
assumptions about how the objects/category works
oSometimes called concepts
Mark Baldwin found people have schemas for specific interpersonal interactions; called relational schemas
Child’s early learning involves formation of schemas
oBasic function of schemas is to categorize objects in ways that impose meaning/predictability
oMust categorize it before we can effectively behave toward it
Going beyond the info given
oWhen we categorize something, we assume that it possesses the characteristics of the schema
oInferring nonvisible characteristics about the object on the basis of our categorization
oAllows us to form impressions and make decisions quickly and efficiently, without having to think about every object we
oAllows us to direct our attention to those aspects of the environment that are most important
Selective information processing
oIn an experiments, the schema that was activated for the woman influenced what participants noticed and recalled from
the videotape, whether recall was assessed immediately or up to a week later
oSchemas influence interpretation of info; ambiguous info is interpreted in accordance with the schema
Anything that contradicts our expectancies will grab our attention; lead to attempts to understand why object is
exhibiting characteristics that are inconsistent with its category
Accessibility: What’s on your mind
Factors influencing whether a particular schema will be used
oSchema will be activated when the object’s features match the features of the schema
oAccessibility: the ease with which a schema comes to awareness
More likely to use those highly accessible to them
Priming of Schemas
oInitial event activates schema and because schema is on your mind, it’s more likely to be activated again
oPriming: the process by which the activation of a schema increases the likelihood that the schema will be activated again
in the future
oCharles Carver’s experiment found that participants exposed to the hostile videotape in the first task rated second man
more hostile in second task than participants who viewed nonhostile video tape
Chronic accessibility of schemas
oChronic accessibility: the degree to which schemas are easily activated for an individual across time and situations
Cultural difference in accessible schemas
Individuals from Western and Eastern cultures are likely to differ in the schemas that are most chronically accessible to them
oCanadians are more likely to categorize people in terms of individuals achievements
oChinese people are likely to categorize people in terms of group memberships
Study where students sorted 27 events found that Australian students tended to organize different events in terms of how
competitive events were whereas Hong Kong students grouped events in terms of amount of people involved in the event
Stereotypes: Schemas in the Social domain
Stereotypes: a set of characteristics that a perceiver associates with members of a group; schemas for a human groups
Going Beyond the Info Given
oAssumptions about human groups tend to be oversimplified/wrong
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oGroup in which perceiver belongs to: ingroup; group they don’t belong to: outgroup
oStereotypes of ingroups are generally favourable and outgroups are unfavourable
oOutgroup homogeneity effect: tendency for people to overestimate the similarity within groups to which they do not
Selective Information Processing
oStereotypes can change how we interpret ambiguous behaviour
oExperiment regarding girl named Hannah found that: those who thought she came from a wealthy background assumed
she was much more intelligent; those who watched the second video rated her much more positively than those in
negative expectancy condition; expectancies were much stronger when participants watched video rather than judge
based on her background
oSame performance was interpreted differently based on expectancies derived from social class stereotypes
Automatic vs. Controlled Processes
Automatic process: a judgment/thought that we cannot control, which occurs without intention, very efficiently and sometimes
beneath our awareness
oEx. categorization
Controlled process: a judgment or thought that we command, which is intentional, requires significant cognitive resources, and
occurs within our awareness
oDeciding how to behave toward another person is often an effortful, deliberate process
oFunction to correct errors from automatic processes if we suspect that errors may have occurred
Social cognition theorists assume that retrieval occurs by using schemas to search memory
Reconstructive memory: the process of trying to rebuild the past based on cues and estimates
oMany things in memory are less concrete and verifiable
oSchemas might influence income while you try to retrieve info and estimate the answer
Autobiographical memory
Comprises our knowledge about the self
Autobiographical memory: stored information about the self, such as goals, personality traits, past experiences and other qualities
oImportant component of our memory system
Involves estimating what we were like in the past; can’t actually retrieve concrete info; can be influenced by motives/beliefs
Study regarding college students to rate themselves on variety of traits found that they rated the current self more positively than
past self
oParticipants might’ve been guided by their beliefs about the effects of time
oMany of participants might’ve not really accessed valid memories abut themselves in the past but instead estimated the
past self based on desire to see current self positively
Another study showed that differences between the ratings of current and past selves don’t necessarily reflect improvement
Another study showed that perceived improvement over time for the self, but not for acquaintance, suggesting that the ratings of
the self were caused by desire to see current self positively
Some studies suggest that you can tamper with autobiographical memory
oPutting irrelevant info may confuse their real memories
Human memory is not infallible; possible to have seemingly real memories of events that we simply heard about/imagined
The Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony
Eyewitness identification can dramatically affect the course of investigation and the trial; human memory is fallible especially
when eyewitness was emotionally fearful/upset
Numerous research found that people exposed to an event and later asked to identify the perpetrator often select the wrong
oBut there’s an ingroup advantage; members of a particular racial group tend to be better at identifying people from their
own racial group
Research shows confidence with eyewitnesses identifying perpetrator is not strong indication of accuracy; only small correlation
between confidence/accuracy
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