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Chapter%201:%20Introduction%20to%20Social%20Psychology

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Title: Chapter%201:%20Introduction%20to%20Social%20Psychology


1
Chapter 1 Introduction to Social Psychology
2
Characterizing Social Psychology
  • Social Psychology - The scientific study of the
    feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of individuals
    in social situations
  • 1. Explaining Behavior
  • What social psychologists study
  • - how people are influenced by others
  • - how people make decisions
  • - inferences we make about others attitudes
    and personalities
  • - influence of situational variables on
    behavior
  • - how we make sense of our world

3
Characterizing Social Psychology
  • 2. Comparing Social Psychology to Related
    Disciplines
  • a. Personality psychology - stresses individual
    differences in behavior
  • b. Cognitive psychology - study of how people
    think about, perceive, and remember aspects of
    the world
  • c. Sociology - study of behavior of people in
    the aggregate (population level issues)

4
Characterizing Social Psychology
  • 3. Proximal and Distal Influences in Social
  • Psychology
  • Proximal - factors that exist in the
    here-and-now or that immediately precede what the
    individual does
  • Distal - factors that are more removed in time
    from a given context or episode
  • In recent years, two distal factors have greatly
    influenced the field of social psychology

5
Characterizing Social Psychology
  1. Evolution - explaining commonalities in human
    behavior as due to adaptation / natural selection
  2. Culture - attempt to understand the deep cultural
    differences that exist between societies, and how
    those differences influence behavior

6
Themes in Social Psychology
  • The Power of The Situation
  • Classic issue in social psychology is behavior
    due to individual differences (personality) or
    situational influences?
  • 1. Early Research and Theory
  • a. Lewins Field Theory

7
Themes in Social Psychology
  • The Role of Construal
  • A truism in psychology, based on much research,
    is that people often think about, perceive, or
    construe the same stimulus in different ways.
    If we are to predict behavior in a given
    situation, we need to understand how an
    individual construes the situation.

8
Themes in Social Psychology
  • The Role of Construal
  • 1. Interpreting Reality
  • Gestalt Psychology - based on the German word,
    Gestalt, meaning form, this approach stresses
    the fact that objects are perceived not by means
    of some automatic registering device but by
    active, usually unconscious, interpretation of
    what the object represents as a whole

9
Figure 1.2 Gestalt Principles and Perceptions
10
Themes in Social Psychology
  • Automatic and Controlled Processing
  • The mind processes information in two ways in a
    social situation. One is an automatic,
    unconscious, often emotional reaction. The other
    is conscious, systematic, and likely to be
    governed by careful thought.
  • e.g. Devines (1989a, 1989b) research on
    prejudice.

11
Themes in Social Psychology
  • Automatic and Controlled Processing
  • 1. Types of Unconscious Processing
  • a. James - skill acquisition
  • b. Freud - formation of beliefs behaviors
    without conscious awareness
  • 2. Functions of Unconscious Processing

12
Evolution and Human Behavior How We Are The Same
  • Darwin assumed that Natural Selection (an
    evolutionary process that operates to mold
    animals and plants such that traits that enhance
    the probability of survival and reproduction are
    passed on to subsequent generations) is just as
    important for behavioral propensities as they are
    for biological characteristics.

13
Evolution and Human Behavior How We Are The Same
  • 1. Human Universals
  • 2. Group Living, Language, and Theory of Mind
  • Theory of Mind - the understanding that other
    people have beliefs and desires.
  • e.g. studies of children with autism demonstrate
    the lack of theory of mind in these persons.

14
Evolution and Human Behavior How We Are The Same
  • 3. Parental Investment
  • In virtually all mammalian species, males expend
    far less energy devoted to raising their
    offspring compared to females. This may help to
    understand universal tendencies related to child
    rearing, sex, and gender.

15
Evolution and Human Behavior How We Are The Same
  • 4. Avoiding the Naturalistic Fallacy
  • Definition The way things are, are the way they
    should be.
  • It should be noted that some people mistake
    evolutionary accounts for behavior as suggesting
    that biology is destiny. This is not true. We
    are predisposed for plenty of various behaviors,
    but those may often never arise.

16
Culture and Human Behavior How We Are Different
  • 1. Cultural Differences in Self-Definition
  • Independent (individualistic) vs.
    Interdependent (collectivist) cultures

17
Table 1.3
18
Culture and Human Behavior How We Are Different
  • 2. Qualifications to these distinctions
  • regionalism, subcultures
  • 3. Culture and Evolution as Tools for
    Understanding Situations
  • Nature proposes culture disposes

19
The Need for Research
  • Common sense is inconsistent
  • 20/20 Hindsight bias
  • Cognitive Errors in Judgment
  • Confirmation Bias

20
Research Methods
  • Experiments - Do changes in one variable (X)
    cause changes in another variable (Y)?
  • Independent Variable (X)
  • condition or event that is manipulated by
    experimenter
  • Dependent Variable (Y)
  • variable that is affected (hopefully) by
    manipulating independent variable
  • Extraneous Variable(s)
  • any variable other than independent variable that
    may influence dependent variable

21
Example
  • A study was conducted to examine the effects of
    temperature on aggression. Subjects were randomly
    assigned to one of three conditions (low
    70o-72o, moderate 80o-82o, or a high
    90o-92o temperature room).
  • While in the room an assistant irritates the
    subjects.
  • Subjects were later given a chance to evaluate
    the assistant and told that low ratings would
    cause the assistant to be fired.

22
Graphic Results
23
Confounding of Variables
  • occurs when independent and extraneous variables
    are linked together
  • makes it impossible to tell which variable
    affected dependent variable

24
The Process of Confounding
25
Research Methods
  • Minimize confounding with consistent procedures
  • Minimize confounding with random assignment
  • subjects have an equal chance of being assigned
    to any group or condition in the study.
  • the goal of random assignment is to equally
    distribute potential extraneous variables in each
    group.

26
Research Methods
  • Advantages of Experimental Research
  • Allows conclusions about cause effect
    relationships between variables
  • Disadvantages of Experimental Research
  • Experimental conditions are artificial
  • do results generalize to the real world?
  • Some questions cant be tested in an experiment

27
Correlation/Descriptive Research
  • Surveys
  • investigators use questionnaires or interviews to
    gather data about subjects behavior
  • Naturalistic Observation
  • investigators observe subject behavior without
    direct intervention
  • Case Studies
  • in-depth probe of individual subject(s)

28
Correlation/Descriptive Research
  • Advantages
  • Study phenomena that cant be studied in a lab
  • riots
  • effects of supervisor behavior on employees
  • effects of job loss on couples relationship
    quality
  • effects of smoking on physical health
  • Very realistic
  • results can be generalized to other settings

29
Correlation/Descriptive Research
  • Disadvantages
  • less control over extraneous variables
  • difficult to measure behavior as precisely
    (compared to lab experiments)
  • cannot demonstrate cause and effect relationships

30
Ethical Considerations
  • Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
  • Potential benefits must outweigh potential harm
  • APA ethical guidelines
  • Voluntary participation
  • Informed consent
  • Privacy
  • Middlemist personal space experiments
  • Debriefing

31
Correlation
  • The extent to which one variable can be
    understood on the basis of another
  • Two properties of correlation coefficient
  • direction (positive or negative)
  • magnitude (strength of the relationship)

32
Correlation
r .95
33
Correlation
r .00
34
Correlation
High
r -.95
Low
Low
High
35
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