Saturday, November 6, 2010

Basic concepts of Social Psychology

  • Social psychology – the science of how we think, feel, and act
  • Attribution theory – the causal explanations that people make about someone’s behavior
    • Situational – other people, luck, money, pressure
    • The person’s disposition – personality, wishes, ability, effort
  • Fundamental attribution error – the tendency to overestimate the influence of personal disposition and underestimate the influence of the situation on someone’s behavior
    • Committed more often by men
  • Attitudes – beliefs and feelings that affect how we respond to people and objects
  • The foot in the door technique – the tendency to agree to small requests and then to larger requests
    • Donations, sales
  • Cognitive dissonance theory – state of tension that occurs whenever you simultaneously hold two cognitions that are psychologically inconsistent and you experience an uncomfortable state that forces us to reduce one cognition in some way
    • Examples – initiation into fraternity has negative affect and conflicts with previous thoughts of happiness, leads to liking the fraternity so that the initiation was ‘worth it’
  • Normative social influence – conforming to social norms to avoid punishment or gain reward
  • Informational social influence – willingness in conforming to or accepting a group’s opinion about reality
  • Conformity – the adjustments we make in our behavior or cognition to the norms of a group
  • Obedience – changing one’s behavior as a result of some form of command; psychological mechanism linking individual action to political endeavors
    • Factors maximizing obedience
      • Authority figure
      • Depersonalization of victim
      • Escalation of behavior (lowball technique)
  • Social facilitation – performance improves in the presence of others but only under conditions where task is simple or well-learned
  • Social loafing – the tendency to reduce effort in group oriented tasks – less accountability
  • Deindividuation – reduction of self-awareness and self-restraint in group situations, leading to arousal and anonymity; people engage in behavior they normally would not engage in
  • Group polarization – the enhancement of a group’s prevailing attitudes; group creates agreement on issues
  • Groupthink – desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides realistic evaluations of issues/alternatives and leads to a certain mode of thinking
    • Preventing groupthink – assigning role of devil’s advocate (challenge group mentally), having subgroup meetings, having a ‘last chance’ meeting, having outside experts
  • Aggression –
  • Frustration/aggression principle – frustration→anger→aggression; increases with temp and low SES
  • Passionate love – intense absorption in another that includes 1.) physical arousal and cognitive appraisal and 2.) where arousal from any source can increase emotion
    • Honeymoon stage
  • Companionate love – deep, affectionate attachment that we feel for others
  • Prejudice – refers to unjustifiable attitudes toward a group, usually involve beliefs (stereotypes), emotions, and predispositions to discriminate
  • Stereotypes – generalized beliefs about a group of people
  • Stereotyping – when one assigns the same characteristics to any person in a group, regardless of variation of the members of that group
  • Racism – any attitude, action, or institutional structure which subordinates a person or group because of race
    • Symbolic racism – form of resistance to change in the racial status quo based on moral feelings that ethnic minorities violate traditional American values
  • Contact hypothesis – actually increases aggression – forcing contact, institutionally or other ways, between two ethnic groups will lead to acceptance
  • Jigsaw classroom technique –
    • Equal status contact
    • Common goals
    • Intimate interactions
    • Increases participation
    • Increases empathy
  • Altruism – unselfish regard for others
  • Bystander effect – bystander less likely to offer assistance in the presence of other bystanders
  • Social exchange theory – process is always going on when making social decisions; maximizing benefits and minimizing costs in terms of our social behavior
  • Zimbardo’s prisoner study
    • Subjects took on roles so effortlessly and violently they had to stop experiment
  • Asch’s conformity experiments ­– shocking subjects with electricity
  • Maintaining a romantic relationship – acknowledge that passionate love will end, get what you put into a relationship (give and receive, share decision making), self-disclosure


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