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UVA PSYC 2600 - Social Psych Final Notes

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1.1 Defining Social Psychology● social psychology is 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 (Allport,1985).● Social psychology is related to other disciplines in the physical and social sciences,including biology, neuroscience, sociology, economics, and political science.○ Evolutionary psychology explains social behavior in terms of genetic factors thathave evolved over time according to the principles of natural selection.○ sociology, the level of analysis is the group, institution, or society at large,whereas the level of analysis in social psychology is the individual within a group,institution, or society.■ The goal of social psychology is to identify psychological properties thatmake almost everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of socialclass or culture■ Social influence: The effect that the words, actions, or mere presence ofother people have on our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or behavior● construal, which means how people perceive, comprehend, and interpret the socialworld, is a favorite among social psychologists○ it conveys how important it is to get inside people’s heads and understand howthey see the world, and how those construals are shaped by the social context.1.2 The Power of the Situation● fundamental attribution error, the tendency to explain our own and other people’sbehavior entirely in terms of personality traits and to underestimate the power of socialinfluence and the immediate situation.● behaviorism, a school of psychology maintaining that to understand human behavior,one need only consider the reinforcing properties of the environment○ It overlooks the importance of how people interpret their environments.● people’s behavior is not influenced directly by the situation but rather, as we mentionedearlier, by their construal of it○ For example, if a person approaches you, slaps you on the back, and asks youhow you are feeling, your response will depend not on what that person hasdone, but on how you construe (i.e., interpret) that behavior.● The emphasis on construal has its roots in an approach called Gestalt psychology○ Study the subjective way the in which an object appears in the person’s mindrather than the objective way, its physical attributes● naïve realism, the conviction that we perceive things “as they really are,”underestimating how much we are interpreting or “spinning” what we see.1.3 Where Construals Come From: Basic Human Motive● Social psychologists emphasize the importance of two central motives in steeringpeople’s construals: the need to feel good about ourselves and the need to be accurate.● human beings are motivated to maintain a positive picture of themselves, in part byjustifying their behavior, and that under certain specifiable conditions, this leads them todo things that at first glance might seem surprising or paradoxical.● social cognition, which is the study of how people select, interpret, remember, and useinformation to make judgments and decisions2.1 Social Psychology: An Empirical Science● hindsight bias, whereby after people know that something occurred, they exaggeratehow much they could have predicted it before it occurred● Many studies stem from a researcher’s dissatisfaction with existing theories andexplanations● Researchers often observe something in their lives or the lives of others that they findcurious and interesting, stimulating them to construct a theory about why thisphenomenon occurred2.2 Research Designs● Observational Method○ The technique whereby a researcher observes people and recordsmeasurements or impressions of their behavior.○ Ethnography, the method that which researchers attempt to understand a groupor culture by observing it from the inside, without imposing any preconceivednotions they might have■ Chief method of anthropology■ Sometimes researchers have a specific hypothesis they want to test usingobservational method■ An observer would be systematically looking for particular behaviors thatare concretely defined before the observation begins○ Archival analysis, researcher examines accumulated documents, or archives, ofa culture■ For example, diaries, novels, suicide notes, music lyrics, television shows,movies, magazine and news articles, advertising, social media, and theways in which people use the internet all tell us a great deal about humanbehavior.○ Observational method has its limits: one cannot understand why or how it affectspeople. Social psychologists want to do more than just describe behavior; theywant to predict and explain it. To do so, other methods are more appropriate.● Correlational Method○ Technique where two or more variables are systematically measured and therelationship between them—how much you can predict one from the other—isassessed.○ Correlation coefficient, a statistic that assesses how well you can predict onevariable from another—for example, how well you can predict people’s weightfrom their height.■ A correlation coefficient can range from –1 to +1. A positive correlationmeans that increases in the value of one variable are associated withincreases in the value of the other variable.○ surveys, research in which a representative sample of people are askedquestions about their attitudes or behavior.■ Advantages: judge the relationship between variables that are difficult toobserve, ability to sample representative segments of the population,■ Disadvantages: misleading results by failing to sample randomly,accuracy of the responses,○ Limitations to correlational method, correlation does not mean causation, the goalis to identify the cause■ Just because A decreases while B Increases doesn;t mean A’s decreasecaused B’s increase● Experimental Method○ The method which the researcher randomly assigns participants to differentconditions and ensures that these conditions are identical except for theindependent variable○ independent variable, which is the variable a researcher changes or varies tosee if it has an effect on some other variable○ dependent variable, which is the variable a researcher measures to see if it isinfluenced by the independent variable○ Keeping everything but the independent variable the same in an experiment isreferred to as internal validity■ internal validity, which we can now define as


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