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Introduction to Social Psychology Research/Ethical issues The Person and the Situation. Social Psychology Chapters 1 & 2 August 27, 2004 Class #1. What is Social Psychology?.

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Introduction to social psychology research ethical issues the person and the situation

Introduction to Social PsychologyResearch/Ethical issuesThe Person and the Situation

Social Psychology

Chapters 1 & 2

August 27, 2004

Class #1

Introduction to social psychology research ethical issues the person and the situation

What is Social Psychology?

Social psychology is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by other people

Social Psychology, like any science, involves:

Description:careful and reliable observation

Explanation:Development of theories that connect and organize observations

Sociocultural perspective
Sociocultural Perspective

Looks at the whats involved in large social groups such as:

  • norms within cultural groups

  • social class differences

  • nationality/ethnicity

  • Fads

    Social Norms

    rules and expectations for appropriate social behavior


    beliefs, customs, habits, and language shared by the people living in a particular time and place

Evolutionary perspective
Evolutionary Perspective

  • Genetic predispositions inherited from our ancestors

  • That promoted their survival and reproduction (such as) tendency to automatically recognize an angry face

  • Animals with features suited to demands of environment will survive better than those with less well-adapted features

  • In the same way, humans who are best suited to their environment will be most successful

Introduction to social psychology research ethical issues the person and the situation

Social Cognitive Perspective

What we pay attention to

How we interpret and judge social situations

What we retrieve from memory (such as)

People notice the behaviors of group members who are in a minority, and exaggerate the significance of the things they do

Use of deception
Use of Deception

  • Milgram (1974)

    • Original study included 40 male college students as the participants

    • Several other versions were conducted by Stanley Milgram who was a professor at Yale University (approx. 1000 subjects overall)

Milgram 1974
Milgram (1974)

  • Did they realize it was a hoax?

    • No, film of the experiments clearly show that subjects were very uncomfortable – sweating, fidgeting, giggling nervously, etc.

Milgram 19741
Milgram (1974)

  • How many of the subjects went all the way and hit that final switch (450 volts) even after the learner had apparently passed out????

Ethical implications involved
Ethical Implications Involved…

  • Implications of this????

  • Would never be done today – considered unethical

American psychological association
American Psychological Association

  • Human Subjects Committee Research Review Board (APA) guidelines:

    • Use deception sparingly

    • Must be good reason and no other way to get meaningful results

    • Must obtain an informed consent from participants

      • Basically, they are agreeing to participate despite potential risks involved and that they can withdraw from the study at any time

American psychological association1
American Psychological Association

  • Can not cause any permanent harm – physically or psychologically

  • Full debriefing – make sure subjects leave testing laboratory in the same mental state they arrived

Experimentation the scientific method
Experimentation: The Scientific Method

  • Observations

  • Theories (pure speculation)

  • Hypotheses (best guesses –testable predictions)

Variables dependent and independent
Variables:Dependent and Independent

  • DV = Variable (behavior) you are measuring

  • In my study: gambling tendencies

  • IV = variable or variables being manipulated

  • In my study: IV1 = athletic status

    IV2 = sex

Statistical significance
Statistical Significance

  • When the difference observed between two groups is probably not due to chance factors

  • Common alpha levels (levels of significance) are set at .05 or .01

  • Medical experiments often set theirs at .001

Main effect and interaction
Main Effect and Interaction

  • Main Effect

    • Looking at one variable to see if there is an effect

  • Interaction

    • Seeing an effect only when combining more than one variable

Making sure things are consistent
Making sure things are consistent…

  • Reliability

    • Degree of consistency or repeatability

      • Interrater Reliability

        • When different observers witness a behavior is there agreement

      • Test-Retest Reliability

        • Experimenters will often retest people using either the same test or another form of it

Making sure things are meaningful
Making sure things are meaningful…

  • Validity

    • Are we measuring what we intend to measure?

      • Internal Validity

        • Are we sure the independent variable caused the effect?

      • External Validity

        • Is the extent to which the results of a study can be applied to circumstances outside the specific research setting in which a particular study was carried out

        • Or in other words the extent to which the results can be applied to what is known as the real world

Is it the person or is it the situation or both
Is it the Person or is it the Situation?Or both???

  • Internal and External influences:

  • Internal

    • Inner personality

  • External

    • Specific situational factors

  • What's more influential insofar as prediction of a person’s behavior is concerned?

Is it the person or is it the situation or both1
Is it the Person or is it the Situation?Or both???

  • To address this issue, we will be analyzing real-life and experimental examples all semester

    • Today’s example:

      • Subway Conductor

My error
My error???

  • Fundamental Attribution Error

    • Occurs when we overestimate someone’s personality as the cause of their behavior and underestimate social influences (the situation)

But maybe it is the person
But maybe it is the person?

  • Personality psychologists believe that an individual tends to behave consistently across situations

    • Consistent patterns are seen

    • Individual differences are apparent no matter the situation

Different persons respond differently to the same situation
Different Persons Respond Differently to the Same Situation

  • Different people are attuned to different parts of a situation, and the same situation means different things to different people

  • If this is true, then is personality the more influential of the two

Another question
Another question???

  • Does the person choose the situation or does the situation choose person?

Situations choose the person
Situations Choose the Person

  • Example: Athletic teams have slots for only so many players, so not everyone gets the experience of playing on the team

Persons choose their situations
Persons Choose Their Situations

  • We choose situations that provide opportunities that fit with our personal characteristics

  • Example: If you are an introvert, a quiet evening at home might be more appealing than a crowded rock concert

Different situations prime different parts of the person
Different Situations Prime Different Parts of the Person

  • Inside each one of us, there are different motives, memories, and feelings

  • Each of these is likely to be triggered by some situations more than others

Different situations prime different parts of the person1
Different Situations Prime Different Parts of the Person

  • Example: After watching a slapstick comedy that primes memories of innocent accidents, an ambiguous collision with a stranger may draw one reaction:

    • “Oops. How clumsy of me!”

  • But a blow-em-up action thriller may trigger your inner Rambo:

    • “Hey! How dare you bump into me!”

  • Persons change the situation
    Persons Change The Situation

    • Sometimes people change situations to better achieve their goals…

      • A teacher will set up his or her class so that her students get along

  • Other times people change situations inadvertently…

    • Depressed college students may depress their roommates

      • (Joiner & Metalsky, 1996) (Strack & Coyne, 1983)

  • Situations change the person
    Situations Change the Person

    • You may be a different person after spending time in a situation…

      • Example

        • Two similar high school students may be very different after one spends four years in the military while the other is in a liberal arts college

    Situations change the person1
    Situations Change the Person

    • Socialization

      • The process through which a culture teaches its members about its beliefs, customs, habits, and language

    The answer to the questions
    The answer to the questions???

    • Not yet…

      • We will primarily be looking at the effects of situational factors throughout the semester

      • We will critically attack these ideas

    • Maybe in December we will have some answers???