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Chapter 1

PS270 Chapters 1 Notes.docx

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Christine Zaza

Chapter 1 – Introduction to Social Psychology - Social Psychology – a science that studies the influences of our situations, with special attention to how we view and affect one another o It is the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another o Focuses more on individuals with methods that more often use experimentation o Not until the 1930s did social psychology assume its current form o Is an environmental science; it reveals how the social environment influences behaviour o Reflects social history o Investigates how values form, why they change, and how they influence attitudes and actions - Our social behaviour varies not just with the objective situation, but with how we construe it - Kurt Lewin: ‘behaviour is a function of the person and the situation’ - We humans have an irresistible urge to explain behaviour, to attribute it to some cause and to make it seem orderly, predictable, and controllable - When someone’s behaviour is consistent and distinctive, we attribute their behaviour to their personality - Our intuitions shape our fears, impressions, and relationships - Thinking, memory, and attitudes all operate on two levels – one conscious and deliberate, the other unconscious and automatic o ‘Dual processing’ – we know more than we know we know - Thinking occurs offstage with the results occasionally displayed onstage - We misperceive others, and we often fail to appreciate how our expectations shape our evaluations - Our social intuitions are noteworthy for both their power and their perils - By reminding us of intuitions’ girls and altering us to its pitfalls, social psychologists aim to fortify our thinking - In most situations, ‘fast and frugal’ snap judgments serve us well enough o But in others, where accuracy matters, we had best restrain our impulsive intuitions with critical thinking - Relationships are a large part of being human - As social creatures, we respond to our immediate contexts - Powerful evil situations sometimes overwhelm good intentions, inducing people to agree with falsehoods or comply with cruelty (such as people under Nazi influence) o Other situations may elicit great generosity and compassion (such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan – people throughout the world generously provided relief) - Your culture helps you define your situation; your standards regarding promptness, frankness, and clothing vary with your culture - Hazel Markus: ‘people are, above all, malleable’ o We adapt to our social context o Our behaviour is shaped by external forces - Internal forces also matter - Our inner attitudes affect our behaviour - Our attitudes toward poor people influence our willingness to support them - Attitudes also follow behaviour, which leads us to believe strongly in those things for which we have committed ourselves or suffered - Personality dispositions also affect behaviour o Facing the same situation, different people may react differently - Human nature predisposes us to behave in ways that helped our ancestors survive and reproduce - Social Neuroscience – an integration of biological and social perspectives that explores the neural and psychological bases of social and emotional behaviours - To understand social behaviour, we must consider both biological and social influences o Stress hormones affect how we feel and act; social ostracism elevates blood pressure o Social support strengthens the disease-fighting immune system - We reflect the interplay of our biological, psychological, and social influences - Feeling left out can have dramatic effects on how people feel about themselves o Acts of prejudice inflict this sort of pain - When others help, when we form romantic relationships and when we promote harmony between groups, interpersonal relations can be an important source of joy and comfort - Our relationships with others form the basis of our self-esteem o Our self-esteem is nothing more than a reading of how accepted we feel by others  Relating to others is a basic need that shapes all our social actions - Europe has given us a major theory of ‘social identity’ - North American social psychologists have focused more on individuals – how one person thinks about others, is influenced by them, and relates to them - Values also influence the types of people attracted to various disciplines - Culture – the enduring behaviours, attitudes, ideas, traditions, products, and institutions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next - Social Representations – socially shared beliefs; widely held ideas and values, including our assumptions and cultural ideologies o Our most important but often most unexamined convictions - Lee Jussim – argues that progressive social psychologists sometimes feel compelled to deny group differences and to assume that stereotypes of group difference are never rooted in reality but always in racism - The hidden values in psychological concepts: o Defining the good life  Values influence our idea of the best way to live our lives  ‘Self-actualized’ – people who, with their needs for survival, safety, ‘belongingness,’ and self- esteem satisfied, go on fulfill their human potential o Professional advice  Reflects the advice giver’s personal values (expresses their personal values)  In Western cultures – those values usually will be individualistic – encouraging what feels best for ‘me’  Non-Western cultures more often encourage what’s best for ‘we’ o Forming concepts  Hidden values  One person thinking a certain way about you, you liking that, and then believing it  Don’t agree when someone says something different about yourself  The label reflects a value judgment o Labelling  Value judgments are often hidden within our social-psychological language  Example: labelling someone as cautious, aggressive, bashful, etc  Saying that welfare is aid for the needy, vi
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