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Social Psychology: 

Social Psychology ‘Dude, this stuff is awesome!!’ Shevaun Stocker Psyc 10 instructor

What is Social psychology?: 

What is Social psychology? The field of psych pertaining to how we think about other people, interact in relationships and groups, and are influenced by others Scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior are impacted by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others The study of social situations, with special attention to how we view and affect others

Topics in Social Psychology: 

Topics in Social Psychology Person Perception & Attribution Stereotypes & Prejudice Social Influence Attraction/Love Close Relationships (my area of research) Behavior in Groups Helping Behavior Aggressions Attitudes The Self

Person Perception: 

Person Perception Perception Mental grasp of objects through the senses Object of interest in social psych is the person Impression Formation What info do we use when making judgments? Appearance Age, gender, ethnicity Attractiveness Behavior Information from others

Biases in Judgment: 

Biases in Judgment Implicit Personality Theory People assume that certain aspects or traits go together Halo effect: We assume people we like have good characteristics, even if we haven’t seen them Self-concept bias What we consider important in ourselves is often what we consider important in others Primacy effects People are influenced more by info they receive early in an interaction than by info that appears later We will even re-interpret new information so that it fits our earlier impression of people

Attribution Processes: 

Attribution Processes The process of asking “why” people do what they do We do this for unexplained or unexpected events Kelley’s covariation model Consensus Do other people react in the same way as the target? Consistency Does the target react in the same way to this stimulus on repeated exposures? Distinctiveness Does the target react the same way to similar stimuli?

Kelley’s Covariation Model: 

Kelley’s Covariation Model

Attributional Errors: 

Attributional Errors Fundamental Attribution Error A tendency to overestimate the impact of personal causes of behavior and to overlook the role of situations Actor-Observer Bias More likely to make external attributions for our own negative behavior and internal attributions for others’ negative behavior Vice versa for positive behavior (though this tendency isn’t as strong)


Stereotypes If we use schemas to form overall impressions of others because we are cognitive misers… Stereotypes: group schemas, containing a set of beliefs about people in a particular social category Devine (1989) Automatic activation of stereotypes CAN be controlled, when our personal beliefs (either positive or negative) of a social group are not aligned with the automatic stereotypes

Origins of Prejudice: 

Origins of Prejudice Socialization We are not born with stereotypes, but we grow to imitate those who we respect Realistic Group Conflict Theory When groups are forced to compete for scarce resources (e.g., good jobs, nice homes, college educations), they threaten each other in a very negative manner ‘Our group is better than yours’ becomes justification for greater access to these positive resources

Ways to Reduce Prejudice: 

Ways to Reduce Prejudice Allport’s Contact Theory Under certain conditions, direct contact between members of different groups will improve relations Contact must involve: Mutual interdependence A common goal Equal status of groups Informal, interpersonal contact Multiple contacts Social norms of equality

Social Influence: 

Social Influence Three types Conformity Compliance Obedience Conformity The tendency for people to bring their behavior in line with group norms Changing to match group’s standards


Conformity Informational Social Influence The need to be right Sherif (1936) autokinetic effect Initially, P’s show a lot of variety in their answers but each group will create its own range

Sherif (1936) autokinetic effect: 

Sherif (1936) autokinetic effect


Conformity Informational Social Influence The need to be right Sherif (1936) autokinetic effect Initially, P’s show a lot of variety in their answers but each group will create its own range Normative Social Influence The need to be liked Asch (1955) line study 76% of the time, P’s will conform and give the wrong answer as well


Compliance Doing something because someone asked us to Two types Commitment-based techniques By getting us to commit to a small item, we are more likely to commit to larger items Norm of Reciprocity-based techniques We should do for those who have done for us

Commitment-based Compliance: 

Commitment-based Compliance Foot in the Door Small request (accepted) followed by larger (accepted due to initial commitment) Low Ball Once request is agreed to, the hidden costs of complying reveal themselves Why do these work? We like to think that our self-identity is consistent Once we agree to this person on this topic, we like to maintain consistency and keep agreeing

Norm of Reciprocity-based Compliance: 

Norm of Reciprocity-based Compliance Unsolicited Gift March of Dimes address labels, paying participants in advance You are providing them with something in the hope that they will reciprocate Door in the Face Initial large request (rejected) followed by a smaller request (accepted) The requester has lowered their demands so you feel the need to reciprocate by giving in a little


Obedience Doing something because a legitimate authority figure asked us to Stanley Milgram (1960’s) The participant is the teacher, the confederate is the learner If the learner makes an error, the teacher has to ‘shock’ him…with the level of shock increasing to dangerous and deadly levels As the level of shock increases, the P can hear the learner is in obvious pain


Obedience Factors that increased/decreased obedience Making subject feel more responsible for their behavior reduced obedience Emphasizing pain of other subject reduced obedience Increasing physical presence of legitimate authority figure increased obedience Having other subjects stop obeying reduced obedience

Attraction - Proximity: 

Attraction - Proximity We like those we are close to both physically and functionally Why does proximity work? It increases familiarity Often linked to similarity It makes others more available Cognitive consistency It's easier to be around others who we like, therefore we feel a need to get along with people we see often

Attraction - Familiarity: 

Attraction - Familiarity Simply seeing a person more frequently can increase our liking of that person This only works if our initial reaction is either neutral or positive Seeing a negative stimulus repeatedly simply makes us not like it even more Why does familiarity work? Repeated exposure increases recognition We assume that familiar others are similar to ourselves

Attraction - Similarity: 

Attraction - Similarity Matching Principle The tendency to choose similar partners Friends Social class, educational level, and religious backgrounds Romantic partners Age, social class, ethnicity, and religion Why does the similarity effect occur? Similar others are easier and more pleasant to be around Expectancy-value Theory Maybe we deliberately select people for their similarity to us The reward for dating someone similar to us is high…but so is the probability that they will like us

What does being physically attractive mean?: 

What does being physically attractive mean? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…for the most part Walster et al (1966) Computer Dance study Used a computer service to match people for blind dates (but they were really randomly assigned) Physical attractiveness was the only significant predictor of liking

What does being physically attractive mean? (cont.): 

What does being physically attractive mean? (cont.) Halo effect of beauty Attractive people are judged more favorably on other traits than are less attractive people Pretty people are assumed to have better: Social skills Intellectual competence Greater integrity and concern for others Is it true? Certainly not for intelligence or integrity but sort of for social skills

Close Relationships: 

Close Relationships Rusbult’s Investment Model Commitment Investments Alternatives Satisfaction ( + ) ( + ) ( - )


Violence U.S. has highest murder rate in the world among developed countries More than 15,000 murders every year More than 92,000 reported rapes More than 7 million reported violent acts overall Every 5 minutes a child is arrested for a violent crime More than 50% of 5th graders report being a victim of violence (70% of those have seen weapons used) Guns kill an American child every 3 hours


Aggression Aggression Behavior intended to injure another who is motivated to avoid it Assertiveness Behavior intended to express dominance or confidence Assertiveness is not aggression

Biological Theories: 

Biological Theories Aggressive impulses may be hereditary Twin studies: Correlations of aggression higher among monozygotic twins than dizygotic pairs Aggression is associated with Low levels of serotonin High levels of testosterone Activation of the amygdala can lead to aggressive behaviors (though it still depends on situational factors)

Gender Differences in Aggression: 

Gender Differences in Aggression Men use more physical, direct forms of aggression Men’s aggression is more likely to do physical harm, and thus gets more attention Girls and women use more indirect forms of aggression (e.g., spreading rumors). There is no clear sex difference in reporting feelings of anger

Gender Differences in Aggression: 

Gender Differences in Aggression Provocation: The great equalizer? Men are more likely to attack physically when unprovoked than women What happens when people are irritated, frustrated, or threatened by another person? Bettencourt & Miller (1996) Conducted a meta-analysis of gender differences in aggression Found that when provocation is involved, the typical gender difference in physical aggression is reduced or eliminated

Physical Discomfort & Aggression: 

Physical Discomfort & Aggression Heat Humidity Pain Noxious fumes Poverty Crowding

Media Violence: 

Media Violence More TV sets in United States than toilets Media consumption is #1 pass-time among Americans, particularly youth 60%-70% of all TV programs contain violence 70%-80% show no remorse, criticism, or penalty for the violence By the time the average American child graduates from elementary school: More than 8,000 murders More than 100,000 other acts of violence (e.g., assaults, rape)

Media Violence: 

Media Violence More recently, video games have become kids’ favorite form of media 90% of kids age 2-17 play regularly Majority of popular games are violent

Grand Theft Auto: 

Grand Theft Auto

Mortal Kombat: 

Mortal Kombat

Media Violence: 

Media Violence Since at least 1970, researchers have known of a link between violent media and aggression Weakened inhibitions against violent behavior Imitation of specific violent acts Aggression primed as a response to anger Desensitization to violence Overestimation of prevalence of violence in real life

Common Responses: 

Common Responses 1. “That’s all boloney. I play those games and I’ve never killed anyone.” 2. “Maybe there is an effect, but it’s really small and meaningless.” 3. “Actually, my friends and I feel better after blowing off steam playing video games.”

Common Responses: 

Common Responses 1. “Not all who play violent games/watch violent media become killers.” True. Not all smokers die of lung cancer, either. The point is NOT whether exposure leads inevitably to criminal mayhem, but that the likelihood of aggression is increased

Effects of VVGs (Bushman & Anderson, 2001): 

Effects of VVGs (Bushman & Anderson, 2001) Correlation with VVG Exposure Findings from a meta-analysis

Common Responses: 

Common Responses 2. “Effects are trivially small” False. Effects are larger than many that we take for granted

Common Responses: 

Common Responses 3. “Playing violent games/watching violence allows people to “vent” feelings of anger” False. Watching violence or engaging in virtual violence increases aggression Catharsis doesn’t work!

Media Industry Response : 

Media Industry Response 1. The media is simply “holding a mirror to society.” False. Real world is far less violent than the TV/Movie world. 0.2% of crimes are murders; 50% of crimes on TV are murders Average of 7 characters are killed on TV each night If applied in reality, this proportion of murder would wipe out U.S. population in 50 days

Media Industry Response: 

Media Industry Response 2. “We’re simply giving the public what they want.” Maybe. But viewer interest is only one factor driving programming decisions Societal violence can be considered a hazardous by-product Also, most popular shows (Friends, Seinfeld, Bachelor) are not violent

Media Industry Response: 

Media Industry Response 3. “Violence sells!” False. TV violence significantly decreases memory for commercial messages Bushman, 1998 19% of viewers will be less likely to remember an ad if it is embedded in a violent or sexually explicit show

Prosocial Behavior (a.ka. Altruism): 

Prosocial Behavior (a.ka. Altruism) Prosocial Behavior Any act that helps or is meant to help others It doesn’t matter what the helper’s motivation is

Evolutionary Theory: 

Evolutionary Theory Kin selection Gene survival is more important than the individual’s survival By helping our relatives, we are giving our genes a greater chance of surviving, even if it harms our own life Parents behave more altruistically to healthy offspring to unhealthy ones (Dovidio et al., 1991)

Social Exchange Theory : 

Social Exchange Theory We want to maximize our benefits and minimize our costs We examine the costs and rewards of helping and not helping 3 rewards of helping Reciprocity They will owe us when we need help (or at least it eventually balances out) Relieves distress We don’t like to see others suffer Social approval Others like us more when we are viewed as helpful and increases our self-worth

Gender and Helping: 

Gender and Helping Women are universally perceived as kinder, more soft-hearted, and more helpful (Williams & Best, 1990) But over 90% of Carnegie Hero awards go to men (for saving, or attempting to save, the life of another) Women Help those they already know Help in nurturing ways involving long-term commitment Men Help strangers in emergency situations Help in chivalrous, heroic ways

Mood & Helping: 

Mood & Helping People are more willing to help when they are in a good mood Isen & Levin, 1972 84% of those who found dime helped, only 4% of those who did not find dime helped Why do good moods increase helping? Interpret events sympathetically Mood-maintenance Good moods increase self-attention People in a bad mood will help under certain conditions Negative-state relief hypothesis People help to alleviated their own sadness and distress

Bystander Effect: 

Bystander Effect The story of Kitty Genovese (1964) Bystander effect The tendency to be less likely to help if others are also present Smoke-filled room study (Latané and Darley, 1968) IV: left alone with 2 other real participants with 2 other confederates who pretended nothing was wrong DV: Percentage of participants who reported smoke

Smoke-Filled Room Study: 

80 60 20 0 40 Smoke-Filled Room Study Percent who report smoke Alone With 2 other real subjects With 2 calm confederates

Situational Influences: 5 Steps to Helping: 

Situational Influences: 5 Steps to Helping Step 1: Notice the Event In order to help, you must realize something is happening Often people are distracted and don’t even notice (especially in large cities) Step 2: Interpret as Emergency If you see someone lying on the sidewalk, does that mean they need or want help? Pluralistic ignorance can play a role here Others not helping, must not be a problem

5 Steps to Helping: 

5 Steps to Helping Step 3: Feel responsible Just because you notice someone in need of help, is that your problem? Diffusion of responsibility plays a role at this step Step 4: Know how to help If someone appears to need medical care and you’re not a nurse or doctor, then what? If you can’t offer appropriate help, you likely won’t try

5 Steps to Helping: 

5 Steps to Helping Step 5: Assess costs of helping You see someone in need of help, you feel responsible, you know what to do, but… Could be highly dangerous Could make you financially liable Could embarrass you

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