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FSU SOP 3004 - Ch 1: Introduction to Social Psychology

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January 9, 2012Social PsychologyThe scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one anotherThe attempt to discover the causes of human behavior by conducting scientific researchCan we discover why people stereotype and are prejudiced?Can we discover why someone is attracted to certain people over other people?Social Psychology BeginningsAristotle: believed to be the first social psychologistRegarded people as inherently socialEmphasized importance of environment or situational forces and that the person plays an active role (you can influence the environment and the environment can influence you)Sherif (1936): wrote The Psychology of Social NormsProvided systematic theoretical account of how social norms develop and the ways in which they influence peopleSocial norms: rules and standards that are understood by members of a group, and that guide and/or constrain social behavior without the force of lawsIf we violate them, we are punishedWWII influenced social psychologists to study groupsGroup Dynamics: believed that social groups are our best arena to look at the influence of social forces on individualsDominated psychology for two decadesNewcomb (1943): looked at the impact of the social group on the individualUsed Bennington College students (liberal college in conservative town) — students graduated with more liberal viewsGroup can have strong impact on attitudes, behavior, and self-imageLate 60s and Early 70sCrisis of Confidence: people’s attitudes do not influence behavior (as previously thought)Social cognition became more importanti.e. Self-Serving Bias: when something good happens to me, it is because of something good about me; when something bad happens to me, I attribute the cause to an external forcei.e. Fundamental Attribution Error: when you see someone doing something, you attribute their actions to their personal characteristicsToday there are no apparent fads — finally stopped jumping on the bandwagonThe Field of Social Psychology Emphasizes:Social ThinkingWe construct our own reality: we usually perceive events in our favorOur social institutions are powerful, sometimes dangerousi.e. heuristic: mental shortcut (example: beautiful = good  problem: a beautiful flower can be poisonous)i.e. availability heuristic: when something is more accessible, we think it happens more often (example: news heavily reports on plane crashes more than car crashes  problem: we think flying is more dangerous than driving, but that is untrue)i.e. we think our memory and emotions can be trusted — usually false (example: eye witness testimonies)Attitudes shape, and are shaped by, our behaviorSocial InfluenceSocial influences shape behavior (i.e. where you live determines what you consider to be “cold” weather, and therefore, how you dress)Dispositions shape behaviori.e. when talking to a particular group, you may automatically feel defensiveThings about you will shape how people react to you and changes the environmentSocial RelationsSocial behavior is also biological behaviorApplicability of Social Psychology PrinciplesThese are based on our everyday lives as well as major historical eventsActivity ResultsAnonymity releases intimacy, people feel less vulnerableSocial Psychology deemed as common sense because it is all around and is everyone’s business  can actually be surprisingTwo contradictory criticisms:1. Trivial = documents the obvious2. Dangerous = use it to manipulate peopleHindsight bias: the tendency to exaggerate, after learning an outcome, one’s ability to have foreseen how something turned outJanuary 18, 2012Affective Effects on SelfSelf-focusing: the extent to which attention is directed toward one selfCan improve self-insight; more accurate in judging social feedbacki.e. I think I am nice but are my actions really nice?Spotlight effect: we see ourselves on center stage, we overestimate the extent to which people are paying attention to our appearance or behavior, but people in reality do not care; feel as if everyone is staring at youi.e. pimple on your face; bad hair day; trippingNOT examples: getting arrested; being on stage  people are looking at youIllusion of transparency: tend to believe that our emotions leak out and can be easily read by othersi.e. nervous giving a speech on stage and worried that the audience will notice your nervousnessi.e. you like someone and you think you are being obvious about it by the way you act, but the person actually does not get the messagei.e. argument— you feel like it is obvious you are upsetSelf-ConceptSelf-concept: organized collection of beliefs and feelings about oneself; special framework that influences how we process information about the social worldA person’s answer to the question, “Who am I?”i.e. temporary states (hungry), personality traits (loud), physical descriptions (tall), group identification (FSU student)How we acquire a self-concept: we are told by others, see people who are similar to you, compare yourself to others, people’s reaction to youPrimarily through social interactions that begin with your immediate family and continue with the other people you meet throughout life (i.e. you grew up in a sarcastic family, so you think being sarcastic is normal and do not question it, but when you meet other people they tell you that you are a sarcastic person)Also defined as a schema: mental template by which we organize our worldsDirect our behaviors (i.e. redheads = feisty temper  will influence how you behave around them)Self-schema: contains beliefs about ourselves, organize, and process this self-relevant information (i.e. low self-esteem  difficult to fit in “pretty” into your schema)i.e. athletic, smart, skinny — effects how we perceive social information (only we ourselves can change our own schemas)Possible selves: who we might become; ideal self or fear of who we might becomei.e. dream like being like Eleanor Roosevelt, or fearful of turning out like my motherSocial identity: social definition of who you are; what groups you belong to, the roles you playi.e. mother, daughter, student, etc.  we are connected to othersSelf and CultureIndividualism: give priority to one’s own goals; define yourself to be unique from group; Western societiesCollectivism: give priorities to group’s goals; define yourself in terms of group goals; Easter societiesYour connection to others (i.e. the role you play in society) is more important than


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