Sept8+Sept15 - Social psychology The scientific study of...

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Social psychology: “The scientific study of the reciprocal influence of the individual and his or her social environment.” -- The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Psychology Beliefs Feelings Behaviour Other People Attitudes (and their thoughts Emotions feeling, attitudes and behavior) Social psychology: A foothold in abstract theory and concrete practice Social psychology is not like chemistry or physics: We traffic in probabilities , likelihood , and correlations , rather than absolute laws. Despite the enormous variability of human behaviour, it is possible to extract some basic patterns of human behaviour.
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What does social psychology have to say that my grandmother couldn’t tell me? Intuitions must be tested against empirical data Sometimes even our grandma’s intuitions are wrong! (i.e. not supported by data) Plus…sometimes two opposing clichés may seem equally intuitive: You are working on a task (rolling cigars in a Cuban cigar factory) with 20 other people.
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The owners expand the factory so that now 100 people are all rolling cigars side-by-side. Will this make a difference in your individual cigar output? On the one hand, you might think…more people, more competition, more impetus to perform better . On the other hand, you might think…more people, more anonymity, easier for me to “coast” ( perform worse ). (On the third hand…it doesn’t make a difference.) Each of these options seems plausible to people. (For the “real” answer: stay tuned…coming later!)
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SOCIAL FACILITATION What is the difference between working in the presence of others (an audience) vs. working alone? “The crowd brings out the best in me. The bigger the crowd, the better I play.” vs. “choking” under intense scrutiny of large audience (Rick Ankiel?) Triplett (1897): Tried his own experiment: Got 40 children to wind up fishing reels, sometimes alone, sometimes side-by-side with others. Which group reeled faster (alone vs. with others)? Zajonc: The presence of others increases arousal (which is something that is physiologically measurable, i.e. heart-rate, sweating palms, etc.).
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response (the behavior that comes most quickly and easily given a particular stimulus). Arousal activates the thoughts and motor responses that are the most practiced. On a well-learned task (reciting the alphabet/your birthday), the dominant response is the correct response. On a poorly-learned task (naming state capitols/your mother-in-law’s birthday), the dominant response is likely to be incorrect. THEREFORE: an audience should improve your performance on tasks that are easy for you and hamper your performance on tasks that are more difficult . THE “COCKROACH” EXPERIMENT
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2009 for the course EAS 120Y1 taught by Professor Ajimoro during the Spring '09 term at University of Toronto.

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Sept8+Sept15 - Social psychology The scientific study of...

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