psych notes part 9 - Social Psychology

psych notes part 9 - Social Psychology - Social Psychology...

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Social Psychology Social Psychology – the study of human behavior in the real, implied, or imagined presence of others. Three general areas of interest (and three major sections of a Social Psych course): - social cognition; - social influence; - social relations. The main thing that holds social psychology together is a concern for the individual processes involved in social interaction. Some topics show this concern better than others, including: - social perception; - conformity to groups; - aggressive behavior; - conflict and negotiation. Q: What is the difference between social psychology and sociology? While there is some overlap, sociology has a heavy interest in societal processes, and the behavior of institutions (e.g., the military, the family, academia, organized labor), specialties in social psy-chology are on particular kinds of behavior, for example: - leadership; - negotiation; - attachment processes; - development and maintenance of close relationships. Specialties in sociology usually focus on a particular institution. Social psychologists are psychologists. Therefore, they are usually trying to explain individual behavior.
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Research designs in social psychology A lot of social psychological research is correlational (e.g., correlating social behavior with personality variables). For experiments, there is much wider use of between-subjects designs in social psychology than in cognitive psychology. Q: Why the reliance on between-subjects designs? A: With a within subjects design, there is a much greater danger of contamination by the subject’s memory of the earlier conditions. Social Influence Psychologists who study social influence are interested in: - how our behavior is affected by other people - how other people influence our performance of a particular behavior For example, why do people follow the actions of others, even when those behaviors are wrong? For example, why do people follow certain individuals (Nazis, cultist who follow charismatic leaders like David Koresh, etc.)? Social Facilitation Social facilitation (see Kosslyn & Rosenberg, p. 776) How does the presence of other people (i.e., belonging to a group) affect our behavior? Other people’s presence interacts with task complexity. - Having an audience improves performance on simple tasks. - Having an audience impairs performance on complicated tasks. Proposed explanation: - Having an audience increases our general level of arousal. - Arousal level interacts with task complexity. - There are different optimal levels of arousal for easy and difficult tasks. Q: Is there an optimal level of emotional arousal? A: Yes but it depends on the complexity of the task, as shown by the Yerkes-Dodson Law .
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Yerkes-Dodson Law There are different optimal levels of arousal for easy and difficult tasks. The optimal arousal level for a complex task is lower
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psych notes part 9 - Social Psychology - Social Psychology...

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