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Social Psychology. Karen Thomson Department of Psychology Glasgow Caledonian University. Definition of Social Psychology:- How the presence of (imagined or real) others influences our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Topics to be covered:- Communication - non-vocal behaviour

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social psychology

Social Psychology

Karen Thomson

Department of Psychology

Glasgow CaledonianUniversity

Definition of Social Psychology:-How the presence of (imagined or real) others influences our thoughts, feelings and behaviours

Topics to be covered:-

  • Communication - non-vocal behaviour

- paralanguage

  • Attitudes - nature; formation; measurement

- cognitive dissonance

- persuasion

  • Aggression & altruism
  • The Self - self concept and self esteem
  • Groups and identity - leadership
  • Social Influence - conformity

- compliance

- obedience

  • Verbal communication in the form of language, is better for conveying logical or abstract ideas.
  • Non-verbal communication isregarded as better for conveying emotions, the type of relationship existing between two people and regulating/ manipulating interpersonal interaction.
  • Basic facial expressions (Ekman, 1980)
  • Personal Space
  • Paralanguage
  • Detection of deception (DePaulo et al., 2003)
  • Non verbal communication & mental health (Hall, 1966; Jourard, 1966; Argyle & Ingham, 1972)
consider typical communication disruptions for the following disorders
Consider typical communication disruptions for the following disorders...
  • Sensory Impaired
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorders
  • Other Childhood Disorders
  • Cognitive Disorders
  • Schizophrenia
attitudes the nature of attitudes
Attitudes: The nature of attitudes

“An attitude is a mental and neural state of readiness, organised through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related” (Allport, 1935; 198)

Structural Approach (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975)

  • Cognitive Component
  • Affective Component
  • Action Tendency Component

It is assumed that each of these components may vary in strength quite independently of the others

attitudes the formation of attitudes
Attitudes: The formation of attitudes

Acquiring Attitudes via Social Learning

  • Classical Conditioning
  • Instrumental Conditioning
  • Modelling

Acquiring Attitudes via Direct Experience

  • Stronger
  • Respond more quickly
  • More resistant to change
attitudes the measurement of attitudes
Attitudes: The Measurement of Attitudes

Direct Measures

  • Self-reports - verbal and non-verbal
  • Attitude scales - Thurstone scale (1928)

- Likert scales (1932)

- Semantic Differential scale

(Osgood, Suci & Tannendaum, 1957)

  • Observations

Indirect Measures

  • Subtle measurements - projective techniques
  • Bogus lie detectors
attitudes the relationship between attitudes behaviour
Attitudes: The relationship between attitudes & behaviour
  • LaPierre (1934)
  • Wicker (1969) reviewed 47 studies between 1934 and 1969 and found a very weak correlation
  • Intervening Factors
  • Attitude Specificity - a specific attitude

- a general attitude

attitudes cognitive dissonance theory
Attitudes: Cognitive Dissonance Theory

When people become aware that their attitudes are inconsistent with their behaviour an uncomfortable state of tension occurs - this is called cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957)

  • Festinger & Carlsmith (1959)

Dissonance is reduced by: -

  • Changing attitudes so they are consistent with behaviour
  • Changing beliefs about behaviour
  • Acquiring new information
  • Minimising the importance of the inconsistency.
attitudes persuasion
Attitudes: Persuasion

The traditional approach to persuasion (The Yale Model)

  • Source There are 8 characteristics
  • Communication of the source,
  • Audience communication & audience

The cognitive approach concentrates on:-

  • what we think about when being exposed to appeals
  • how our thoughts determine whether, and to what extent we experience attitude change
  • cognitive heuristics

The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM): Two routes to persuasion

Degree of attitude change depends on quality of argument


processing of








Attitude change depends on presence of persuasive cues

Careful processing of information does not occur





(Petty & Cacioppo, 1986)

persuasion fear based appeals
Persuasion Fear-Based Appeals

VD study (Watson & Lashley, 1921)

  • Using storyline techniques is risky since viewers follow the action rather than the information
  • Young people respond with flippancy to sex information
  • Only work in the short term
  • Incorrect information is retained
  • Adolescents think they are invincible

Baggaley (1991) Reviewed all media campaigns on HIV/AIDS

when attitude change fails resistance to persuasion
When Attitude Change Fails: Resistance to Persuasion
  • Reactance - Protecting one’s personal freedom
  • Forewarning - Prior knowledge of persuasive intent
  • Selective Avoidance - A tendency to direct our attention away from information that challenges our existing attitudes