Psychology 102: Social processes, society & culture
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Psychology 102: Social processes, society & culture



This lecture provides an overview of several social psychology topics, particularly: what is social psychology, social influence (including conformity, obedience, and resistance), group ...

This lecture provides an overview of several social psychology topics, particularly: what is social psychology, social influence (including conformity, obedience, and resistance), group decision-making, aggression, pro-social behaviour, altruism, conflict, and peace psychology



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Psychology 102: Social processes, society & culture Psychology 102: Social processes, society & culture Presentation Transcript

  • Psychology 102: Social processes, society, and culture Dr James Neill Centre for Applied Psychology University of Canberra 2009
  • Reading Gerrig et al. (Chapter 17): Social processes, society, and culture
  • NOTE: A related previous Psy101 chapter reading (not covered here) Gerrig et al. (Chapter 16): Social cognition & relationships
    • Constructing social reality
    • Social cognition
    • Attitudes
    • Persuasion / Social influence
    • Prejudice & Stereotypes
    • Relationships & Attraction
  • Overview
    • About social psychology
    • Power of the situation (social influence)
      • Conformity
      • Obedience
      • Group influence
      • Group polarisation
    • Aggression
    • Prosocial behaviour & altruism
    • Conflict & peace
  • What is social psychology? Influence of social processes on the way people:
    • Think (cognition)
    • Feel (emotions)
    • Behave (actions)
  • Person to Person
  • Group to Person Person to Group
  • Group to Group
  • Why is Social Psychology Important? Why does social psychology matter? … we need to get along – or we'll conflict
  • Topic matching activity Prejudice Aggression Group dynamics Crowd behaviour Social exclusion Allocate one of these topics to each of the following sets of slides... Environmental Relationships Prosocial behaviour Conformity Leadership
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  • Power of the situation (Social influence)
  • Social influence questions
    • How do we influence each other?
    • How are we affected by pressures to conform and obey?
    • How are we affected by group interaction?
    • How do groups affect our behaviour?
  • Social influence The most significant contribution of social psychology is its study of how our attitudes, beliefs, decisions, and actions are moulded by social influence .
  • Video: The Power of the Situation Annenberg (1989). The Power of the Situation (Program 19) . [27 min video] Annenberg: Santa Barbara, CA.
  • The power of the situation
    • Social role
      • Social-defined pattern of behaviour
    • Rules
      • Behavioural guidelines
      • Can be explicit or implicit
    • Social norms
      • Expectation a group has for its members
  • Conformity When a person adopts a social role , follows a rule , or bends to a social norm , then s/he is, to some extent, conforming to social expectations.
  • Conformity
    • Tendency for people to adopt behaviours, attitudes, and values of other members of a group.
    • Adjusting one’s behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard.
  • Conformity: Informational influence
    • Wanting to be “correct” and to behave in the “right way” in a given situation
    • Why?
      • Group may provide valuable information.
      • When the task is difficult or you are unsure, it makes sense to listen to others.
    • e.g., Sherif’s autokinetic effect
  • Conformity: Normative influence
    • Desire to be liked, accepted, and approved of / not rejected by others
    • Why? Price may be severe if not normative behaviour is not followed.
    • Also known as the “Asch effect”
  • Asch’s conformity studies (1950's)
  • Asch’s conformity studies (1950’s)
    • Subjects asked to judge line lengths while working in a group.
    • 7 subjects; the 6th was real, rest were confederates.
    • Confederates consistently gave obviously wrong answers.
    • The subject often conformed and gave the same wrong answer.
    • On average, 37% of participants conformed .
    • Some never caved .
  • Conformity
    • Conformity in everyday life
    • Minority influence and nonconformity
      • Serge Moscovici
  • Conditions that  conformity
    • Feelings of incompetence, insecurity, low self-esteem.
    • Group size > 2
    • Group is unanimous (lack of dissension).
    • Group status desirable & attractiveness.
  • Conditions that  conformity
    • Group observes one’s behaviour.
    • No prior commitment to response.
    • Culture strongly encourages respect for social standard.
  • Obedience
    • People comply with social pressures. But what about outright command?
    • Milgram designed a study that investigated the effects of authority on obedience.
    Stanley Milgram (1933-1984)
  • Milgram’s obedience studies
  • Milgram’s Study
  • Milgram’s obedience studies
    • 63% complied with administration of shocks
    • Depending on subtle changes in conditions, however, compliance varied between 0 & 93%
    • Degree of obedience influenced by:
      • Physical proximity of authority figure
      • Status of authority figure
      • Depersonalisation of victim
      • Lack of defiant role models
  • Zimbardo’s prison study (1970’s)
    • Subjects played either prisoners or guards.
    • Prisoners were arrested, fingerprinted, dressed, and referred to by number.
    • Guards were dressed and given control over prisoners.
    • Subjects became their roles in action, thought and feeling.
  • Resistance
    • ~  a third of individuals resisted social coercion (Milgram).
    • One dissenter can have a disproportionate effect on reducing the compliance of others. (e.g., Asch)
    • The tendency of groups to make decisions that are more extreme then the decisions that would be make by the members acting alone
    • Two underlying process
        • Information-influence
        • Social comparison
    Group decision-making: Group polarisation
  • Group decision-making: Groupthink (Irving Janis)
    • Tendency of group to filter out the undesirable input so that a consensus may be reached
    • Factors leading Groupthink
      • High level of group cohesiveness
      • Isolation of group from outside information or influences
      • Dynamic, influential leader
      • High stress from external threats
  • Aggression, prosocial behaviour, altruism, conflict, and peace
    • Aggression
    • Prosocial behaviour
    • Altruism
    • Conflict & cooperation
    • Peace
    • Physical or verbal behaviour that causes (or is intended to cause) harm.
    • Emerges from the interaction of:
      • Biology
        • Genetic
        • Neural
        • Biochemical
      • Experience
        • Aversive events e.g., misery, temp, frustrate
        • Operant conditioning
        • Social learning
        • Scripts
  • Aggression
  • Aggression
    • Individual differences
      • Impulsive aggression
      • Instrumental aggression
    • Situational influences
      • Frustration-aggression hypothesis
      • Temperature and aggression
      • Direct provocation and escalation
    • Cultural constraints
      • Construals of the self and aggressive behaviour
        • Richard Nisbett
      • Norms of aggressive behaviour
    • Unselfish, intentional behavior that is intended to benefit welfare of others.
      • Behaviours which have no obvious gain for the provider
      • Behaviours which have obvious costs for the provider (e.g. time, resources)
    • Is there really altruism?
      • Altruism is often for self-benefit e.g., power, status, reward, psychological gain.
    • What matters in judging the act is the actor's intended outcomes.
    • Equity / Reciprocity
      • Give to relationships in proportion to what we receive (Social Exchange Theory)
    • Social responsibility norm
    • Reciprocal altruism
      • Natural selection favors animals that are altruistic if the benefit to each is greater than the cost of altruism
  • Bystander intervention
    • Bystander intervention
      • Bib Latané and John Darley
      • Willingness to assist a person in need
      • 75% help when alone vs. 53% in presence of others
    • Diminished sense of personal responsibility to act because others are seen as equally responsible.
    • Bystanders are less likely to help in presence of more people (e.g. part of a large crowd)
    • "Diffusion of responsibility": The larger the number of bystanders, the less responsibility any one bystander feels to help
    Bystander effect
  • Bystander intervention
    • Bystander must notice the emergency
    • Bystander must label events as an emergency
    • Bystander must feel responsibility
    • Prosocial behaviour
      • Carried out with the goal of helping people
    • Altruism
      • Pro-social behaviours without consideration for self safety or interests
    • Reciprocal altruism
    Altruism & prosocial behaviour
  • Motives for prosocial behaviour
    • C. Daniel Batson’s forces that prompt people to act for the public good:
      • Altruism
      • Egoism
      • Collectivism
      • Principlism
    • Superordinate goals
    • Communication
    • Graduated & Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-Reduction (GRIT)
    • Genocide: Systematic destruction of other groups - Ervin Straub
    • Concepts and images of the “enemy”
    • Peace psychology: Interdisciplinary approach to conflict prevention & peace maintenance
    Psychology of genocide, war & peace
  • The 8 stages of genocide (Stanton, 1998)
    • Classification
    • Symbolisation
    • Dehumanisation
    • Organisation
    • Polarisation
    • Preparation
    • Extermination
    • Denial
  • Peace psychology
    • Analysing forms of leadership and Government
      • Kurt Lewin
      • Group dynamics
      • Fostering contact to facilitate conflict resolution
      • Reconciliation
        • Mabo
        • ‘Sorry’
        • Herbert Kelman
    • Perceived incompatibility of actions, goals, or ideas.
    • Conflicting parties, each rationally pursuing their self-interest, become caught in mutually destructive behavior  “ Social Trap ”:
      • Win-Lose
      • Lose-Win, or
      • Lose-lose.
    Game theory
  • Game theory
    • Gerrig, R. J., Zimbardo, P. G., Campbell, A. J., Cumming, S. R., & Wilkes, F. J. (2008). Psychology and life (Australian edition). Sydney: Pearson Education Australia.
    • Myers, D. G. (2001). Social Psychology (Ch. 18). In D. G. Myers (2001). Psychology (6th ed.) (pp. 643-688). New York: Worth.
    • Myers, D. G. (2007). Social Psychology (Ch. 18). In D. G. Myers (2007). Psychology (8th ed.) (pp. 723-771). New York: Worth.