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Unformatted text preview: Social Psychology
PSYC 231 0004 John Riskind About Me About
• Email: [email protected] • Office Hours: Thursday 1:45-2:45
– But we can meet other times… • Office: 2043 David King Hall Format of the Course Format
• Daily lecture on material Daily • Lectures are supplemented by reading • Book: Aronson, Wilson, & Akert ( 2010). Book: Social Psychology (7th ed.). New York: Social Prentice Hall Prentice Grading Breakdown Grading
• Four non-cumulative, multiple-choice, Four exams – 90% exams
– Lowest score will be dropped – Don’t need to take final! • Pop quizzes- 10% What Is Social Psychology?
Social psychology: The scientific study of the way in which people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people. The study of how people influence each others thoughts, emotions, and actions. Social psychology is an experimentally based science. As scientists, our goal is to find objective answers to a wide array of important questions: • What are the factors that cause What aggression? • What variables cause two people to What like or love (or at least like like) each other? The Power of Social Interpretation
Social psychology differs from sociology or anthropology: • Less concerned with social facts in objective sense (“How many people making more than 30k a year drive their own cars,” below to a church, etc). • More concerned with how people are influenced by their interpretation (construal) of social environments. How Else Can We Understand Social Influence?
• Journalists, Instant Experts, Social Critics • Philosophy Social psychologists differ from these by developing explanations through experiments in which variables being studied are carefully manipulated. Social Psychology Compared with Other Social Sciences Sciences • Another difference is what social psychologists are trying to explain. • Other social sciences are more concerned with broad social, economic, political, and historical factors that influence events in a given society. • For the social psychologist, the focus is on understanding the individual in the context of a social Philosophy
• Throughout history, philosophy has been a major source of insight about human nature. • But what happens when philosophers disagree? • Social psychologists address many of the same questions that philosophers address, but attempt to answer them scientifically. • Why Do This? Folk Wisdom
Problem with relying entirely on “common sense” knowledge: This is frequently contradictory. Are we to believe that “out of sight is out of mind” or that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”? • Which is true, that “haste makes waste” or that “he who hesitates is lost”? • Which of these is correct. Social psychology is an experimentally based science.
As scientists, our goal is to find objective answers to important questions: Human Nature, Love, Aggression, Conformity, Racism Social Psychology: A First Look
• 1. The greater the rewards we’re promised for engaging in an activity, the more we will come to value and enjoy that activity. Social Psychology: A First Look
• 1. FALSE: smaller rewards = more value, enjoyment Social Psychology: A First Look
• 2. Human beings are the only animals who have a sense of self. Social Psychology: A First Look
• 2. .
– FALSE: Some primates also have a sense of self. Social Psychology: A First Look
• 3. Some facial expressions are universal used and understood by people all over the world. Social Psychology: A First Look
• 3. Some facial expressions are universal used and understood by people all over the world.
– TRUE: Evidence for a small number of “basic” emotions. Social Psychology: A First Look
• 4. People with low selfesteem or low intelligence are in general more gullible or persuadable than others.
– Social Psychology: A First Look
• 4. – FALSE: Selfesteem and intelligence don’t matter, but issue specific knowledge does. Social Psychology: A First Look
• 5. Being in a bad mood can actually increase people’s tendency to help.
– Social Psychology: A First Look
• 5. Being in a bad mood can actually increase people’s tendency to help.
– TRUE: Helping may be motivated by a desire to rid oneself of the bad mood. Take home message here… Take
Compared to other areas of social science, in Social Psychology, the specific context and interpretation of social stuations matter! Social Psychology Compared with Personality Psychology Psychology • When trying to explain social behavior, Personality psychology focuses on individual differences
---Aspects of people’s personality traits that make them different from others. • Explaining behavior primarily through personality factors ignores a critical part of the story: the powerful role played by social influence. An Example An
• Jonestown -- largest mass suicide, over Jonestown 900 people • Many people willingly drank poison-laced Many Flavor Aid • Personality psych might say these people Personality were weak-willed.
– But could 900 people all be weak willed? • Or maybe social influence was at work Or here! Underestimating the Power of Social Influence Underestimating • Social and environmental Social situations can be so powerful that they have dramatic effects on almost everyone. almost • …people don’t like to believe this! • How many of you think you could How fall prey to a cult? Underestimating the Power of Social Influence Underestimating • When we underestimate the power of social influence, we gain a feeling of false security. • Gives the rest of us the impression that we could never engage in the behavior shown by others. The Power of Social Influence
Fundamental attribution error: The tendency to explain our own and other people’s behavior entirely in terms of personality traits, underestimating the power of social influence. Underestimating the Power of Social Influence Influence • By failing to fully appreciate By the power of the situation, we tend to: we
– Oversimplify complex situations – Decrease our understanding of Decrease the true causes. Underestimating the Power of Social Influence Underestimating • Aspects that may seem minor can Aspects have powerful effects, overwhelming the differences in people’s personalities. people’s • Personality differences do exist Personality and frequently are of great importance. Asch (1956)
• Which of the lines on the left most closely matches line A on the right? • What would you say if you were in a group of 6 others, and all agreed the answer was 2? 123 A Switching Gears a Bit Switching
• One of the most important themes in One social psychology is the perception of the situation situation • The perception is often more important The than the objective facts! than The Subjectivity of the Social Situation Situation
• Human beings are sense making Human creatures, constantly interpreting things. • How humans will behave in a given How situations is not determined by the objective conditions objective • How they perceive it (construal). How Construal = perception The Subjectivity of the Social Situation Situation
• This emphasis on construal has its This roots in an approach called Gestalt psychology (Kurt Lewin). psychology • Gestalt Psychology: A school of Gestalt psychology stressing the importance of studying the subjective way in which an object appears in people’s minds • Gestalt = whole Ambiguous (reversible) figures Ambiguous (reversible) figures Gestalt Psychology
Kurt Lewin, generally considered the founding father of modern experimental social psychology. Lewin took the bold step of applying Gestalt principles beyond the perception of objects to social perception. Lewin was the first scientist to stress the importance of taking the perspective of the people in any social situation to see how they construe this social environment. The Subjectivity of the Social Situation Situation
• How an individual construes a How situation is largely shaped by two basic human motives: basic
• The need to be accepted • The need to feel good about The ourselves ourselves • At times, these motives tug in At opposite directions. opposite Feelin’ Good Feelin’
• The need to feel good about The ourselves– sound familiar? ourselves–
SelfEsteem People’s evaluations of their own selfworth; the extent to which they view themselves as good, competent, and decent. Drives much of our social behavior! Some self esteem rules Some
• Most people want to maintain high Most self-esteem, to see themselves as good, competent, and decent. good, • Given the choice between distorting Given the world in order to feel good about themselves and representing the world accurately, people often take the first option. the Justifying Past Behavior Justifying • Acknowledging major deficiencies in Acknowledging ourselves is very difficult ourselves
• Even if it means seeing the world Even inaccurately. • We’re not talking extreme reality We’re distortion, but… distortion, • Slight spin on the existing facts, that puts us in the best possible light. Another example Another
• People will (almost) ALWAYS choose People explanations that make them look the best best
Most people see a sloppy, disorganized person • Peter often forgets to pick his Peter daughter up from the skating place Peter sees himself as a and wears the same thing every day and laidback person
Same behavior explained in two completely different ways! Reality is distorted to maintain self esteem Suffering and Self-Justification Suffering
Experiments demonstrated that the more Experiments unpleasant the procedure the participants underwent to get into a group, the better they liked Thank you, Wikipedia article the group. they on hazing Reviewing self justification Reviewing
• The important points to remember here The are: are: • (1) That human beings are motivated to (1) maintain a positive picture of themselves, in part by justifying their past behavior, and • (2) That under certain specifiable (2) conditions, this leads them to do things that at first glance might seem The Social Cognition Approach: The The Need to Be Accurate
• Social cognition takes into account Social how human beings think about the world. world. • Individuals try to gain an accurate Individuals understanding so they can make effective judgments and decisions. effective • Instead individuals typically act on Instead basis of incompletely and inaccurately interpreted information. inaccurately Social Cognition Social
Social Cognition How people think about themselves and the social world.
More specifically, how people select, interpret, remember, and use social information to make judgments and decisions. Expectations About the Social World Expectations • Our expectations can even change Our the nature of the social world. nature • Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968) found Rosenthal that a teacher who expects certain students to do well may cause those students to do better students Expectations about the social world Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968) Rosenthal
• Told teachers that according to a certain Told test, a few specific students were “bloomers” who were about to take off and perform extremely well. • Children were actually chosen at random • At the end of the year, the bloomers were At performing extremely well. performing Expectations about the social world Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968) Rosenthal
• So, the children the teacher thought would So, do well ended up doing well do • Regardless of their ability • Self fulfilling prophesy! Self
Self fulfilling prophesy: A prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true. Self fulfilling prophesy Self
• How does such a self-fulfilling prophecy How come about?
• Bloomers: more attention to them, listen to them Bloomers: with more respect, give more encouragement, etc. his, in turn, helps these students feel happier, more resected, more motivated, and smarter. Quick Review Quick
• Social psychology: how an individual acts Social within a social context within • Cares much about the individual’s Cares interpretation (construal) of the situation interpretation • Fundamental Attribution Error: tendency to Fundamental attribute behavior to personality rather than situation The Self-Esteem Approach:
The Need to Feel Good About Ourselves
• Most people have a strong need to maintain reasonably high self-esteem, to see themselves as good, competent, and decent. • Given the choice between distorting the world in order to feel good about themselves and representing the world accurately, people often take the first option. SelfEsteem People’s evaluations of their own selfworth; the extent to which they view themselves as good, competent, and decent.
Source of image: Microsoft Office Online. Justifying Past Behavior
• Acknowledging major deficiencies in ourselves is very difficult, even when the cost is seeing the world inaccurately. • Although extreme distortion of reality is rare outside of mental institutions, normal people can put a slightly different spin on the existing facts, one that puts us in the best possible light. Suffering and Self-Justification
Experiments demonstrated that the more unpleasant the procedure the participants underwent to get into a group, the better they liked the group. The important points to remember here are: (1) That human beings are motivated to maintain a positive picture of themselves, in part by justifying their past behavior, and (2) That under certain specifiable conditions, this leads them to do things that at first glance might seem surprising or paradoxical. For example, they might prefer people and things for whom they have suffered to people and things they associate with ease and pleasure. The Social Cognition Approach:
The Need to Be Accurate
The social cognition perspective takes into account how human beings think about the world. • Individuals are viewed as trying to gain accurate understandings so they can make effective judgments and decisions that range from which cereal to eat to whom to marry. • Actually, individuals typically act on basis of incompletely and inaccurately interpreted information. Social Cognition
The social cognition perspective views people as amateur sleuths doing their best to understand and predict their social world. Social Cognition How people think about themselves and the social world; more specifically, how people select, interpret, remember, and use social information to make judgments and decisions. Expectations About the Social World
• Our expectations can even change the nature of the social world. • Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968) found that a teacher who expects certain students to do well may cause those students to do better – A self-fulfilling prophecy. Expectations About the Social World How does such a self-fulfilling prophecy come about?
Teaching expecting specific students to perform well often: • more attention to them, • listen to them with more respect, • call on them more frequently, • encourage them, • try to teach them more challenging material. This, in turn, helps these students feel: • happier, • more respected, • more motivated, • and smarter. Additional Motives • biological drives • desire for rewards • need for control Social Psychology and Social Problems
Why study social influence? 1. We are curious. 2. Some social psychologists contribute to the solution of social problems. Social Psychology and Social Problems
Social psychological theories about human behavior have been applied to a range of contemporary problems, including: • prejudice • energy shortages • AIDS • unhealthy habits • violence in schools ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/06/2011 for the course PSYCH 231 taught by Professor Wagner during the Spring '08 term at George Mason.
- Spring '08
- Social Psychology