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Social Psychology Social Psychology is the scientific study of how people s thoughts, feelings and actions are affected by others. Questions they ask:

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Presentation on theme: "Social Psychology Social Psychology is the scientific study of how people s thoughts, feelings and actions are affected by others. Questions they ask:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Psychology Social Psychology is the scientific study of how people s thoughts, feelings and actions are affected by others. Questions they ask: 1) How can we convince people to change their attitudes or adopt new ideas and values? 2) How can we understand other people? 3) How are we influenced by what others do and think? 4) Why are some people violent and aggressive? 5) Why do some people place their own life at risk to help others? What is Persuasion: It s the process of changing attitudes An attitude is an evaluation of a particular person, behavior or belief. You hold an attitude about President Obama (person), abortion (behavior) and affirmative action (belief). We change our attitudes based on the following: Message Source: characteristics of the person delivering the persuasive message; this person is the attitude communicator and he/she tends to be physically and socially attractive, their expertise and trustworthiness Characteristics of the Message: what is the message? The message needs to be two-sided the side he/she is arguing and the opposing side makes the message effective; don t deliver a one-sided message. Characteristics of the Target: intelligent people are generally more resistant to persuasion than those less intelligent; there may also be gender differences-- in public places women tend to be more easily persuaded than men especially if they have less knowledge about the message s topic. Routes to Persuasion: The receptiveness of a recipient depends on their style of information processing: there are 2 routes: 1) Central Route processing: the message interpretation is characterized by thoughtful considerations of the issues and arguments used by people; focus on logic, merit and strength of argument 2) Peripheral Route processing: when people are persuaded on basis of factors unrelated to the quality of the content of a persuasive message; so factors that matter are the length of the argument, who is sending the message, the emotional appeal. Generally-- central route processing generally leads to stronger, more lasting attitude change.

2 The Link Between Attitudes and Behavior In general-- attitude influences behavior; people strive for consistency between their attitudes and their behavior. Cognitive Dissonance: this refers to a conflict that occurs when when a person holds two contradictory attitudes or thoughts. So-- to reduce dissonance, the person adopt a more positive attitude. If you smoke-- and you know it s bad for you-- you will reduce the dissonance by thinking of the following: Modify one or both cognitions (I really don t smoke too much) Change the perceived importance of one cognition (thought- the evidence is weak that smoking leads to lung cancer) Add additional cognitions (I exercise so much that it doesn t matter that I smoke) Deny that cognitions are related (there is no evidence linking smoking to cancer) Social Cognition: Understanding Others Social cognition is the cognitive process by which people understand and make sense of others and themselves. Schemas: sets of cognitions about people and social experiences. These schemas organize information stored in memory-- and they represent in our mind the way social world operates. We have schemas for students, instructors, police officers, plumbers, and especially people desiring to become nurses. Schemas enable us to predict what nurses are like on the basis of relatively little information. Undoubtedly-- our schemas of registered nurses are entirely positive. Attribution Theory: Understanding the Causes of Behavior Attribution theory seeks to explain how we decide what the specific causes of a person s behavior are. So-- we ask if the explanation for the behavior is situational or dispositional. 1)Situational Cause: something in the environment caused the behavior. 2) Dispositional Cause: something about the person, his/her personality characteristics caused the behavior; it was the person s disposition) Attribution Biases People don t process information in reasonable ways and the following are biases: 1)Halo Effect: an initial understanding that a person has positive traits is used to infer other uniformly positive characteristics 2)Assumed Similarity Bias: the tendency to think of people as being similar to oneself--- even when meeting them for the first time 3)Self-Serving Bias: the tendency to attribute success to personal factors like skills, ability and to attribute failure to factors other than you.

3 Interpersonal Attraction and Development of Relationships What initially attracts two people to each other? The factors include: Proximity: you become friendly with people who are geographically close to you; proximity leads to liking Mere Exposure: repeated exposure to a person is sufficient to produce attraction; even if its repeated exposure to a music cd, picture, Neil Young, Milosz, Kafka, James and Dostoevsky and Ernest Becker Similarity: we tend to like those who are similar to us in attitude, value and other traits; we assume that people with similar attitudes as us will evaluate us positively Physical Attractiveness: for most people: beautiful = good; so it follows that physically attractive people are more popular than physically unattractive people. Love: Passionate Love (romantic) and Companionate Love Passionate Love: a state of intense absorption in someone; includes physiological arousal, psychological interest and caring for the person s needs. Companionate Love: strong affection we have for those in our lives and who we deeply love like our parents and other family members; close friends. Aggression and Prosocial Behavior Aggression is the intentional injury or harm to another person. Instinct Theory: Aggression as a Release explains aggression as a primary outcome of innate or inborn urges. Freud suggested aggression is a primary instinctual drive in humans. It builds up until discharge occurs: we call this catharsis. Frustration Aggression Hypothesis: aggression explained as a reaction to the blocking of our goals and this produces anger and aggressive behavior; example is road rage. Observational Learning: this theory asserts we learn to behave aggressively; also called Social Learning; social and environmental conditions can teach individuals to behave aggressively; a learned response maintained by reinforcement; one can observe the aggressive behavior of someone who is rewarded for behaving aggressively- and the person doing the observing then imitates the behavior if he/she is in a similar situation.

4 Prejudice and Discrimination What is a stereotype: A set of generalized beliefs and expectations about a particular group and its members. Prejudice: a negative or positive evaluation of a particular group and its members. Discrimination: behavior directed toward individuals on the basis of their membership in a particular group. It can lead to exclusion from a job, neighborhood or educational opportunity. The Foundations of Prejudice No one is born disliking others; a certain racial or culture group. We learn to hate-- o treat people as other than you. Bigoted parents may reinforce their kids for showing hate and dislike to people of color or minorities; children as young as 3 begin to show preferences for members of their own race. Some television shows and movies portray Italians as mobsters, Jews as greedy bankers and African-Americans and Hispanics as lazy, etc. Some people tend to be ethnocentric-- meaning they view the world from their own perspective and judging others in terms of their group membership (ethnic, racial and cultural) Social Identity Theory suggests that we use group membership as a source of pride and self-worth. Prejudice can also result from an economic source-- when we compete for scarce resources; when people believe that Caucasians should have precedence for jobs; people in the majority population get preference for jobs and minorities hinder their efforts to attain jobs.


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