Introduction to Social Psychology


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1st year undergraduate psychology lecture which gives an overview of the field of social psychology.

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  • The aim of this lecture is to introduce and discuss social psychology. The lecture is targetted at first year undergraduate psychology students. Image source: Unknown
  • Introduction to Social Psychology

    1. 1. Introduction to Social Psychology <ul><ul><li>1st year undergraduate psychology lecture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2008 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>James Neill </li></ul></ul>
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Part 1 : About Social Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Part 2 : Cognition, Influence, & Relationships </li></ul>
    3. 3. Part 1: About Social Psychology <ul><li>Activity: Topic Matching </li></ul><ul><li>Definition(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Scope </li></ul><ul><li>Foci </li></ul><ul><li>Topics </li></ul><ul><li>Video (27 mins) </li></ul>
    4. 4. Topic Matching Activity <ul><li>Activity : In pairs, discuss and agree on a topic match for each of the sets of displayed images. </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion : Go through the image sets and ask for suggestions – lecturer accepts and highlights some key terms for each image. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Allocate one of these topics to each of the following sets of slides... <ul><li>Prejudice </li></ul><ul><li>Aggression </li></ul><ul><li>Group Dynamics </li></ul><ul><li>Crowd Behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Social Exclusion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Environmental </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prosocial Behaviour </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conformity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. 1
    7. 7. 2
    8. 8. 3
    9. 9. 4
    10. 10. 5
    11. 11. 6
    12. 12. 7
    13. 13. 8
    14. 14. 9
    15. 15. 10
    16. 16. What is Social Psychology? <ul><li>Influence of social processes on the way people: </li></ul><ul><li>Think (thoughts; cognition) </li></ul><ul><li>Feel (feelings; emotions) </li></ul><ul><li>Behave (behaviour; actions) </li></ul>
    17. 17. Three Themes <ul><li>Social Thinking - how we think about others e.g., Attributions </li></ul><ul><li>Social Influence - how we are influenced by others, e.g., Conformity </li></ul><ul><li>Social Relations - how we interact with others, e.g., Relationships </li></ul>
    18. 18. Domains / Units of Analysis
    19. 19. Scope
    20. 20. Why is Social Psychology Important?
    21. 21. Focus 1: Relationships
    22. 22. Focus 2: Social Influence
    23. 23. Focus 3: Leadership
    24. 24. Focus 4: Intergroup Relations
    25. 25. Video: The Power of the Situation <ul><li>Annenberg (1989). The Power of the Situation (Program 19) . [27 min video] Annenberg: Santa Barbara, CA. </li></ul>
    26. 26. Part 2: Cognition, Influence, Relationships <ul><li>Social Cognition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Attribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attitudes  Behaviour </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive Dissonance </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social Influence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conformity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Obedience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Group Influence </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social Relationships </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Group polarisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aggression </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conflict & Cooperation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prosocial Behaviour </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Social Thinking <ul><li>Attribution </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes  Behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive Dissonance </li></ul>
    28. 28. Social Thinking Questions <ul><li>How do we explain people’s behaviour? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we form our beliefs and attitudes? </li></ul><ul><li>How does what we think affect what we do? </li></ul><ul><li>How can attitudes be influenced and behaviour changed? </li></ul>
    29. 29. Attributions <ul><li>We are all ‘intuitive scientists’ or 'naive psychologists'. </li></ul><ul><li>Process of inferring the causes of mental states, behaviours, and events which occur to ourselves & others (Heider, 1958) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>External attributions Behavior is due to the situation, ‘The boss yelled at me ... because this is April 15th and his taxes are not done.’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal attributions Behavior reflects the person, ‘The boss yells at everyone ... because he is a hostile person.’ </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. Attributional Biases <ul><li>Fundamental Attribution Error (or Correspondence Bias) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Overestimate internal factors (i.e., blame people) more than external factors (i.e., circumstances) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Actor-Observer Bias </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More aware of external influences on our own behaviour </li></ul></ul>
    31. 32. Attributions Observed Behaviour Internal (Dispositional) Explanation External (Situational) Explanation
    32. 33. Attitudes <ul><li>Valenced (+/-) beliefs & feelings towards people, objects, & events, e.g., </li></ul><ul><ul><li>George W. Bush? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guns? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recreational drug use? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Do attitudes  behaviour ? </li></ul>
    33. 34. Attitudes & Behaviour Behaviour Attitudes Situation
    34. 35. When do Attitudes Predict Behaviour? <ul><li>Attitudes are implicit (unconscious). </li></ul><ul><li>Situational demands are low. </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes are strong & based on personal experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes are specific & relevant to behaviour. </li></ul><ul><li>Conscious/aware of attitudes. </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental reinforcement matches attitude. </li></ul><ul><li>Important others share the same attitude. </li></ul>
    35. 36. Behaviour also influences Attitude Behaviour Attitudes Situation
    36. 37. <ul><li>e.g., </li></ul><ul><li>Foot-in-the-door </li></ul><ul><li>Role playing </li></ul><ul><li>“ What we do, we gradually become.” </li></ul>Behaviour also influences attitude
    37. 38. Foot-in-the-door Technique IV: 1 st request: “Sign a petition supporting safe driving?” vs. no request ~ 2 weeks later… DV: “Can we place this large, ugly ‘Drive Safely’ sign in your front yard?” Those who had signed the petition were 3 x more likely to agree to the 2nd request. - Freedman & Fraser (1966)
    38. 39. Foot-in-the-door Technique Foot-in-the-door technique as used by Scientology Time Magazine, 1991
    39. 40. <ul><li>(Action  Belief)   Distress </li></ul><ul><li>Distress   (Action or Belief) </li></ul><ul><li>(Action = Belief)   Distress </li></ul>Cognitive Dissonance (Festinger)
    40. 41. <ul><li>I don't believe in sex before marriage (attitude), but I just had sex before marriage (behaviour). </li></ul><ul><li>I believe that speeding increases the risk of car accidents (attitude) yet speed on a daily basis (behaviour). </li></ul>Cognitive Dissonance
    41. 42. Cognitive Dissonance Model Two inconsistent cognitions (e.g., an attitude and a counter- attitudinal behaviour) State of dissonance Motivation to reduce dissonance Attitude change UNLESS No dissonance No attitude change Change or justify counter- attitudinal behaviour
    42. 43. Social Influence <ul><li>Conformity </li></ul><ul><li>Obediance </li></ul><ul><li>Group influence </li></ul>
    43. 44. Social Influence Questions <ul><li>How we influence each other? </li></ul><ul><li>How are we affected by pressures to conform and obey? </li></ul><ul><li>How are we affected by group interaction? </li></ul><ul><li>How do groups affect our behavior? </li></ul>
    44. 45. Social Influence <ul><li>The greatest contribution of social psychology is its study of attitudes, beliefs, decisions, and actions and the way they are moulded by social influence . </li></ul>
    45. 46. Conformity <ul><li>Willingness to accept others’ opinions about reality. </li></ul><ul><li>Adjusting one’s behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard. </li></ul>
    46. 47. Conformity <ul><li>Solomon Asch studies. </li></ul>
    47. 48. Asch’s Conformity Studies (1950’s) <ul><li>Subjects were asked to judge line lengths while working in a group </li></ul><ul><li>7 subjects; the 6th was real, rest were confederates. </li></ul><ul><li>Confederates consistently gave obviously wrong answers </li></ul><ul><li>The subject often conformed and gave the same wrong answer </li></ul><ul><li>On average, 37% of participants conformed. </li></ul><ul><li>Some never caved. </li></ul>
    48. 49. Conditions That  Conformity <ul><li>Feelings of incompetence, insecurity, low self-esteem. </li></ul><ul><li>Group size 3+. </li></ul><ul><li>Group is unanimous (lack of dissension). </li></ul><ul><li>Group status desirable & attractiveness. </li></ul><ul><li>Group observes one’s behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>No prior commitment to response. </li></ul><ul><li>Culture strongly encourages respect for social standard. </li></ul>
    49. 50. Reasons for Conformity <ul><li>Normative Social Influence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A person’s desire to gain approval or avoid rejection. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respecting normative behavior, because price may be severe if not followed. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Informational Social Influence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Group may provide valuable information. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When the task is difficult or you are unsure, it makes sense to listen to others. </li></ul></ul>
    50. 51. Obedience <ul><li>People comply to social pressures. But how would they respond to outright command? </li></ul><ul><li>Milgram designed a study that investigated the effects of authority on obedience. </li></ul>Stanley Milgram (1933-1984)
    51. 52. Milgram’s Study
    52. 53. Milgram’s Studies <ul><li>63% complied with administration of shocks </li></ul><ul><li>Degree of obediance influenced by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical proximity of authority figure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Status of authority figure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Depersonalisation of victim </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of defiant role models </li></ul></ul>
    53. 54. Milgram’s Study Depending on subtle changes in conditions, compliance varied b/w 0 & 93%
    54. 55. Zimbardo’s Prison Study (1970’s) <ul><li>Subjects played either prisoners or guards. </li></ul><ul><li>Prisoners were arrested, fingerprinted, dressed, and referred to by number. </li></ul><ul><li>Guards were dressed and given control over prisoners. </li></ul><ul><li>Subjects became their roles in action, thought and feeling. </li></ul>
    55. 56. Resistance <ul><li>~  a third of individuals resisted social coercion (Milgram). </li></ul><ul><li>One dissenter can have a disproportionate effect on reducing the compliance of others. (e.g., Asch) </li></ul>
    56. 57. Group Influence <ul><li>Social facilitation </li></ul><ul><li>Social loafing </li></ul><ul><li>Deindividuation </li></ul><ul><li>Group polarisation </li></ul><ul><li>Groupthink </li></ul>
    57. 58. Social Relationships <ul><li>Prejudice </li></ul><ul><li>Antisocial </li></ul><ul><li>Aggression </li></ul><ul><li>Conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Prosocial Behaviour </li></ul>
    58. 59. Social Relationships Questions <ul><li>What causes us to harm, help, or to fall in love? </li></ul><ul><li>How can we transform aggression into compassion? </li></ul>
    59. 60. Social Relations <ul><li>Social psychology teaches us how we relate to one another from: </li></ul><ul><li>Prejudice, aggression, and conflict to </li></ul><ul><li>Attraction, altruism, and peacemaking. </li></ul>
    60. 61. Prejudice <ul><li>“ Prejudgement”: Unjustifiable (usually -ve) attitude toward a group and its members – often towards a different cultural, ethnic or gender group. </li></ul><ul><li>Works at the conscious and [more so] the unconscious level. </li></ul><ul><li>More like a knee-jerk response than a conscious decision. </li></ul>
    61. 62. Prejudice Components <ul><li>Beliefs (stereotypes) </li></ul><ul><li>Emotions (hostility, envy, fear) </li></ul><ul><li>Predisposition to act (to discriminate) </li></ul>
    62. 63. Prejudice Roots <ul><li>Social inequalities – haves vs. have-nots </li></ul><ul><li>Social divisions – in- vs. out-groups (in-group bias) </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional scapegoating – blaming, emotional outlet (+FAE) </li></ul>
    63. 64. <ul><li>We are “cognitive misers”, so we use categorisation to simplify and organise our perceptual worlds. </li></ul><ul><li> Stereotypes Generalised (often exaggerated) beliefs about a group of people. </li></ul><ul><li> Potential for prejudice </li></ul><ul><li> Potential for aggression/conflict </li></ul>Categorisation
    64. 65. <ul><li>Physical or verbal behaviour intended to hurt or destroy. </li></ul><ul><li>Emerges from the interaction of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Biology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Genetic </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Neural </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Biochemical </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Aversive events e.g., misery, temp, frustrate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Operant conditioning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social learning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scripts </li></ul></ul></ul>Aggression
    65. 66. Aggression
    66. 67. <ul><li>Perceived incompatibility of actions, goals, or ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>Conflicting parties, each rationally pursuing their self-interest, become caught in mutually destructive behavior  “ Social Trap ”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Win-Lose </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lose-Win, or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lose-lose. </li></ul></ul>Game Theory
    67. 68. Game Theory
    68. 69. Game Theory
    69. 70. Game Theory
    70. 71. <ul><li>Proximity (mere exposure effect) </li></ul><ul><li>Attractiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Similarity </li></ul><ul><li>Cost-benefits </li></ul>Attraction
    71. 72. <ul><li>Passionate Aroused state of absorption (arousal + cognition) </li></ul><ul><li>Companionate Deep affection & caring </li></ul>Love
    72. 73. <ul><li>Unselfish, intentional behavior that is intended to benefit welfare of others. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Behaviours which have no obvious gain for the provider </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Behaviours which have obvious costs for the provider (e.g. time, resources) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is there really altruism? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Altruism is often for self-benefit e.g., power, status, reward, psychological gain. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What matters in judging the act is the actor's intended outcomes. </li></ul>Altruism
    73. 74. <ul><li>Equity / Reciprocity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Give to relationships in proportion to what we receive (Social Exchange Theory) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social responsibility norm </li></ul><ul><li>Reciprocal altruism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Natural selection favors animals that are altruistic if the benefit to each is greater than the cost of altruism </li></ul></ul>Altruism
    74. 75. <ul><li>Diminished sense of personal responsibility to act because others are seen as equally responsible. </li></ul><ul><li>Bystanders are less likely to help in presence of more people (e.g. part of a large crowd) </li></ul><ul><li>75% help when alone vs. 53% in presence of others </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Diffusion of responsibility&quot; </li></ul>Bystander Effect
    75. 76. <ul><li>Superordinate goals </li></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul><ul><li>Graduated & Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-Reduction (GRIT) </li></ul>Peacemaking
    76. 77. Lecture Web Pages <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Reading </li></ul><ul><li>Myers (2007) Ch 18 Social Psychology </li></ul>
    77. 78. References <ul><li>Myers, D. G. (2001). Social Psychology (Ch. 18). In D. G. Myers (2001). Psychology (6th ed.) (pp. 643-688). New York: Worth. </li></ul><ul><li>Myers, D. G. (2007). Social Psychology (Ch. 18). In D. G. Myers (2007). Psychology (8th ed.) (pp. 723-771). New York: Worth. </li></ul>