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What is Social Psychology?

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  1. Chapter 16 Social Thinking and Social InfluenceHumans are social animals. We live in a social world in which our thoughts, feelings, and behavior are profoundly influenced by the presence of others.

  2. What is Social Psychology? • Scientific study of how individuals behave, think, and feel in social situations; how people act in the presence (actual or implied) of others • Culture: Ongoing pattern of life that is passed from one generation to another.

  3. Discuss • How have you been affected by language, marriage customs, concepts of ownership, and sex roles within the culture you live in?

  4. Roles • Social role: Patterns of behavior expected of people in various social positions (e.g., daughter, mother, teacher, President). • Ascribed role: Assigned to a person or not under personal control • Achieved role: Attained voluntarily by special effort (teacher, mayor) • Role conflict: When two or more roles make conflicting demands on a person (example of cultural conflict of Japanese adolescent)

  5. Discuss • Think about some of the different roles in your life (e.g. mother/father, student, worker, wife/husband, friend, male/female, etc.) Discuss some role conflicts in your life. For example, is there a conflict between being a wife and a full-time student? Between a parent and having a full-time job? Etc.

  6. Discuss • Think about how our culture defines some of these various roles you have just discussed. Are these roles clearly defined in our society? Are they more ambiguous? Compare and contrast these roles to other cultures your familiar with. • For example, what does it mean to be a woman in this culture? Does society have an expectation that women work, get married, have children? How does this role compare to other cultures?

  7. Zimbardo’s Prison Study • College students were paid to act as either prisoners or guards in a psychology experiment. • After 2 days, prisoners grew restless and defiant. They staged a disturbance and the guards unmercifully suppressed it. • Guards became more brutal, prisoners began looking dejected, traumatized, passive, and dehumanized. 4 had to be released early because they were crying, confused, and depressed. • Guards continued to torment the prisoners with commands, insults, and demeaning tasks. • Experiment ended early after 6 days.

  8. Discuss • Discuss what happened during the study. How strong is the power of the situation? Do you believe that it can really make people behave in ways that are contrary to their own self-concept? Are there any modern day situations that are similar to the prison study? If so, what are the similarities? Was Zimbardo’s study ethical? If not, why?

  9. Groups • Group structure: Network of roles, communication, pathways, and power in a group. Could be formal or informal. • Group cohesiveness: Degree of attraction among group members or their commitment to remaining in the group • Cohesive groups work better together • Status: Level of social power and importance • Norm: Accepted, but usually unspoken, standard of appropriate behavior

  10. Experiment • On your break tonight, see if you can find a group norm to break. For example, you could ask to pay more than the asking price for your cup of coffee, offer to help pay for a part of someone else’s food while waiting in a line, talk to the cashier for longer or shorter than seems “normal”. How do others react? (please be careful not to offend, insult, or injury anyone if you choose to do this experiment).

  11. More on Groups • In-group: Group with which an individual identifies. In groups help define who we are socially. • Out-group: Group with which an individual doesn’t identify. • We attribute positive characteristics to our in-group and negative qualities to the out-group. We tend to over exaggerate the negative qualities. “Us and them” thinking (Avatar).

  12. Autokinetic Effect • Apparent movement of a stationary pinpoint of light displayed in a darkened room

  13. Social Cognition • Attribution: Making inferences about the causes of one’s own behavior and others’ behavior • Consistency: Person’s behavior changes very little in many different circumstances • Distinctiveness: Noticing that a behavior only occurs under certain circumstances

  14. p. 533

  15. Social Perception Terms • Actor: Person of interest • Object: Aim, motive, or target of an action • Setting: Social and/or physical environment in which action occurs • Situational demands: Pressures to behave in certain ways in particular settings and social situations

  16. Self-Handicapping • Arranging to perform under conditions that usually impair performance, so as to have an excuse for a poor showing • Lisa said, “I took 3 classes while my foot hurt all semester; that’s why I got a 0.5 average!”

  17. Attribution Concepts:What we know about our guesses about others behaviors • Fundamental attribution error: Tendency to attribute behavior of others to internal causes (personality, likes, and so on). We believe this even if they really have external causes! • Actor-observer bias: Tendency to attribute behavior of others to internal causes, while attributing the behavior of ourselves to external causes (situations and circumstances). If other people are late, they are irresponsible, if you are late it is because you were held up beyond your control.

  18. p. 534

  19. Discuss • Discuss the Fundamental Attribution Error. Provide three examples of when you or someone you know have used the fundamental attribution error in the recent past. What was the outcome of each of these situations? Could the outcome have been different or even better if you had not used the fundamental attribution error? Why do you believe that individuals make this error?

  20. Attitudes and Beliefs • Learned tendency to respond to people, objects, or institutions in a positive or negative way • your evaluation of objects: • Belief component: What a person believes about the object of an attitude • Emotional component: Feelings towards the object of an attitude • Action component: One’s actions towards various people, objects, or institutions

  21. AttitudesDiscuss • Think about how you learned about attitudes held by your friends. How long in the friendship did it take to learn about them? Did friends state them or show them by behaviors?

  22. Attitude Formation:How do we form our attitudes? • Direct contact: Personal experience with the object of the attitude • Interaction with others: Influence of discussions with people holding a particular attitude • Child rearing: Effects of parental values, beliefs, and practices • Group membership: Social influences from belonging to certain groups

  23. More on Attitude Formation • Mass media: All media that reach large audiences (magazines, television) • Mean worldview: Viewing the world and other people as dangerous and threatening

  24. Discuss • What are you attitudes towards war, religion, and love and marriage. • Think about how you learned your attitude about these issues. Did it come from reinforcement, classical conditioning, modeling, or maybe from direct experience?

  25. Attitude Measurement and Change • Chance conditioning: Condition that occurs by chance or coincidence • Social distance scale: Scale where the degree of a person’s willingness to have contact with a member of another group is measured (e.g. from “would admit into my country” to “would allow to marry into my family”) • Attitude scale: Statements on a scale expressing various possible views on an issue (handout)

  26. Video: Implicit Association

  27. Reference Group • Any group a person identifies with and uses as a standard for social comparison

  28. Persuasion • Deliberate attempt to change attitudes or beliefs with information and arguments • Communicator: Person presenting arguments or information • Message: Content of communicator’s arguments • Audience: Person or group to whom a persuasive message is directed

  29. Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger) • Contradicting or clashing thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, or perceptions cause discomfort • We need to have consistency in our thoughts, perceptions, and images of ourselves • Underlies attempts to convince ourselves we did the right thing • Justification: Degree to which one’s actions are explained by rewards or other circumstances

  30. Table 16-1, p. 539

  31. Fig. 16-3, p. 539

  32. Social Influence • Changes in a person’s behavior induced by the presence or actions of another person • Someone else influences your decision: husband, wife, mother, peer, etc. • Peer pressure: Rudy is swayed by Fanny to go see Iron Man 2 when he really wanted to see The Day the Earth Stood Still

  33. Kinds of social influence: • Conformity: Bringing one’s behavior into agreement with norms or the behavior of others • Comply: changing our behavior in response to another person who has little or no social power or authority • Obey: we change our behavior in direct response to the demands of an authority • Coercion: changing behaviors because you are forced to

  34. Power • Social power: Capacity to control, alter or influence the behavior of another person • Reward power: Rewarding a person for complying with desired behavior • Coercive power: Based on ability to punish a person for failure to comply

  35. More Power Concepts • Legitimate power: Accepting a person as an agent of an established social order • Referent power: Respect for, or identification with, a person or a group • Expert power: Based on possession of knowledge or expertise

  36. Discuss • Think about the various individuals in your lives and give examples of times when these individuals have relied on social power. What types of social power do you believe are most influential? Why would individuals rely on some power bases and not others? • Types of social power: • Reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, referent power, expert power

  37. Social Facilitation • Tendency to perform better when in the presence of others

  38. Social Loafing • Tendency of people to work less hard when part of a group than when they are solely responsible for their work

  39. Personal Space • Area surrounding the body that is defined as private and is subject to personal control (demonstration and practice)

  40. Discuss • What are some things that can affect personal space?

  41. Spatial Norms • Proxemics: Systematic study of human use of personal space, especially in social settings

  42. Intimate Distance • Most private space immediately surrounding the body; 18 inches from the skin. Reserved for special people or special circumstances

  43. Personal Distance • Maintained in interactions with friends. 18 inches to 4 feet from body; arm’s length

  44. Social Distance • Impersonal interaction takes place; 4 to 12 feet

  45. Public Distance • Formal interactions take place (like giving a speech); 12 feet or more

  46. Fig. 16-4, p. 542

  47. p. 542

  48. Group Factors in Conformity • Groupthink: Compulsion by decision makers to maintain agreement, even at the cost of critical thinking • Group sanctions: Rewards and punishments administered by groups to enforce conformity among members

  49. Solomon Asch’s Experiment • You must select (from a group of three) the line that most closely matches the standard line. All lines are shown to a group of seven people (including you) • Other six were accomplices and at times all would select the wrong line • In 33% of the trials, the real subject conformed to group pressure even when the group’s answers were obviously incorrect!

  50. Fig. 16-5, p. 543