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Chapter 1

PS270 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Kurt Lewin, Social Neuroscience, Naturalistic Fallacy

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Camie Condon

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Chapter 1: Intro to Social Psychology
Cinderella may seem to be an implausible folk tall but it demands that we accept power
of the situation, at home she was a coward and at the ball she felt beautiful
French Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre (1946) would have had no problem accepting
Cinderella's premise
we humans “are first of all beings in a situation”
What is Social Psychology?
Is a science that studies the influence of our situations, with special attention to how
we view and affect one another
it is the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to
one another
social-psych is an environmental science; it reveals how the social
environment influences behaviour
compared to sociology, social-psych focuses more on individuals with methods that
more often use experimentation
it focuses less on differences among individuals and more on how individuals view and
affect one another
it is still a young science
first experiments happened barely even a century ago and first text appeared just
before 1900 in France, Italy and Germany
Not until the 1930s social-psych assume its current form
social-psych studies our thinking, influence, and relationships by asking questions like
the following:
How much of our social world is just in our heads?
Social behaviour varies not just with the objective situation, but with how we construe it
social beliefs can be self fulilling
ex. a happily married couple will attribute their spouse's acid “can't you ever put that
where it belongs?” to a frustrating day
Would you be cruel if ordered?
Think about Nazi Germany and the killing of 6 million Jews
acts like this happen because people follow orders
in Chapter 6 we look at the experiment were people agreed to administer more levels
of shock when ordered
To help others? Or to help yourself?
ex. $2 million spilled onto the road and only $100 000 was returned
ex. man injured: one other man went over to help him and another man went over and
robbed him
what situations trigger people to be helpful or greedy?
Do some cultural contexts breed greater helpfulness?
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Major Themes in Social Psychology
at a broad level, the fundamental principles of social-psych can be captured by a
classic statement by one of its founders: Kurt Lewin
“behaviour is a function of the person and the situation”
the following will unpack from this idea
We Construct our Social Reality
humans have an irresistible urge to explain behaviour, to attribute it to some cause and
to make it seem orderly, predictable, and controllable
you and I might act differently because we think differently
in a way we are all intuitive scientists as we all try to explain people's behaviour on a
daily basis with great speed and accuracy
we also see that our beliefs about ourselves matter
how we construe the world and ourselves matters
Our Social Intuitions are Often Powerful but Sometimes Perilous
our intuitions shape our fears, impressions, and relationships
psychology reveals a fascinating unconscious mind – an intuitive backstage mind
thinking occurs backstage and out of sight and can either be conscious or
unconscious (“dual processing”)
intuitions are powerful but also perilous
ie we misperceive others and often fail to appreciate how our expectations shape
our evaluations
ie we sometimes trust our intuitions more than we should
ie we sometimes mispredict our own feelings
Social Influences Shape our Behaviour
relationships are a large part of being human
as social creatures, we respond to our immediate contexts
sometimes the power of a social situations leads us to act in ways that depart from
our espoused attitudes
your situation matters
your culture helps define your situation; your standard regarding promptness,
frankness and clothing vary with your culture
ex. whether you prefer a slim body over a curvy one
Hazel Markus: “people are malleable”
we adapt to our social context, our behaviour is shaped by external forces
Personal Attitudes and Dispositions
Internal forces aso matter
our inner attitudes affect our behaviour
ex. less likely to be pressured into smoking if your attitudes toward it are negative
personality dispositions also affect behaviour
different people react differently
ex. some people seek revenge and Mandela seeks reconciliation
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