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Behavior in Social & Cultural Context. SOCIAL AND CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY Social psychologists –Study how social roles, attitudes, relationships, and groups.

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Presentation on theme: "Behavior in Social & Cultural Context. SOCIAL AND CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY Social psychologists –Study how social roles, attitudes, relationships, and groups."— Presentation transcript:

1 Behavior in Social & Cultural Context

2 SOCIAL AND CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY Social psychologists –Study how social roles, attitudes, relationships, and groups influence people to do things they would not necessarily do on their own. Cultural psychologists –Study the origins of roles, attitudes, and group norms in people’s ethnic, regional, and national communities.

3 Roles and Rules Norms –Rules about how people are supposed to act. Roles –Positions in society that are regulated by norms about how people in those positions should behave.

4 Milgram’s Obedience Study Method –Subjects thought they were in an experiment about the effect of punishment on learning, and were instructed to give increasing levels of shock to another subject every time an error was made. –No one received shocks, but the subjects did not know this.

5 Milgram’s Obedience Study Results –Every subject administered at least one shock to the learner. –Two-thirds obeyed the experimenter and gave all the levels of shock, even though they thought the victim was in pain. –Many subjects were visibly upset by being asked to administer shocks, but continued anyway.

6 Milgram’s Obedience Study Subsequent studies examined conditions for disobedience. Nothing the victim said or did decreased the subjects’ compliance. Participants were more likely to disobey orders when: –The experimenter left the room. –The victim was in the room with the subject, and the subject had to administer the shock directly to the victim. –Two experimenters issued conflicting demands. –An ordinary person, not an authority figure, issued commands. –The participant worked with peers who refused to go further.

7 Milgram’s Obedience Study Conclusions –Obedience is a function of the situation, not of personality. –The nature of the relationship to authority influences obedience.

8 Stanford Prison Study (Zimbardo) Method –College students were randomly assigned to the roles of prisoners or guards. –No further instructions were given on how to behave. Results –Some “prisoners” quickly became distressed, helpless, and panicky; others became rebellious and angry. –Half of the prisoners begged to be let out of the study after a few day. –Guards acted like guards; one-third became tyrannical. –Guards seemed to enjoy their roles. –Researchers terminated the study early, because they had not expected such a quick transformation from college student to prisoner or guard. Conclusions –Researchers say people’s behavior depends in part on their roles. –Situations can outweigh personality.

9 Why People Obey In both studies subjects’ behaviors depended on their assigned roles. Factors that cause people to obey when they would rather not: –Legitimization of authority allows people to feel absolved of responsibility for their actions –Routinization behavior becomes normalize –Wanting to be polite people do not want to rock the boat or appear rude –Entrapment obedience escalates through a commitment to a course of action

10 SOCIAL INFLUENCES ON BELIEFS Social Cognition –Area in social psychology concerned with social influences on thought, memory, perception, and other cognitive processes.

11 Attributions Attribution theory –Theory that people are motivated to explain their own and others’ behavior by attributing causes of that behavior to a situation or a disposition. Situational attributions –Identify the cause of an action as something in the environment. Dispositional attributions –Identify the cause of an action as something in the person, such as a trait or motive. Fundamental attribution error –Tendency to overestimate personality factors and underestimate the influence of the situation when explaining someone else’s behavior. –More prevalent in Western cultures.

12 Attributions Self-serving bias –When explaining one’s own behavior, people take credit for good actions and attribute the bad ones to the situation. Just-world hypothesis –People have a need to believe the world is fair and that good people are rewarded and bad people are punished. –This can lead to blaming the victim. Most human actions are determined by both the situation and personality.

13 Attitudes Relatively stable opinions containing a cognitive element and an emotional element. Affected by many social and environmental influences: –Some arise from the characteristic attitudes of each generation. –Events that occur when a person is between the ages of 16 to 24 appear to be critical for the formation of generational identity. Attitudes and behavior can affect each other.

14 Cognitive Dissonance Uncomfortable feeling that occurs when two attitudes or an attitude and behavior are in conflict. To resolve the dissonance most people will change one of the attitudes. Usually people restore cognitive consistency by dismissing evidence that might otherwise throw their fundamental beliefs into question.

15 Persuasion A form of social influence. It is the process of guiding people toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or behavior by rational and symbolic (though not always logical) means. It is strategy of problem-solving relying on "appeals" rather than strength.

16 Friendly Persuasion Repetition of information increases the likelihood it will be believed--called the validity effect –Exposure to an argument from an attractive person is also persuasive. –Pairing a message with something pleasant also increases persuasion. –Fear Often causes people to resist arguments that are in their own best interest. May aid persuasion if the information produces moderate anxiety levels and if message provides information on how to avoid the danger.

17 Coercive Persuasion (brainwashing) Involves the following processes –The person is put under physical or emotional distress. –The person’s problems are defined in simplistic terms and simple answers are offered repeatedly. –The leader offers unconditional love, acceptance, and attention. –A new identity based on the group is created. –The person is subjected to entrapment. –The person’s access to information is severely controlled.

18 INDIVIDUALS IN GROUPS Conformity –Taking action or adopting attitudes as a result of real or imagined pressures Asch’s conformity study –Judgment of line length--showed that many people will conform to incorrect judgments. Influences on conformity: –Prevailing social norms –Culture –Conformity increases when: Others are people like us Number of people who disagree with the subject increases.

19 Groupthink The tendency for all members of the group to think alike and suppress dissent. –Occurs when the need for agreement overwhelms the need for the wisest decision. –Symptoms of groupthink: Illusion of invulnerability Self-censorship Direct pressure on dissenters to conform There is an illusion of unanimity

20 Groupthink is less likely when Conditions explicitly encourage and reward the expression of doubt and dissent. Group’s decision is based on majority rule rather than demand for unanimity.

21 The Anonymous Crowd Diffusion of responsibility –Tendency of individuals to fail to take action because they believe someone else will do so. –Bystander apathy reflects diffusion of responsibility.

22 Social Loafing Diffusion of responsibility in work groups –Individuals slow down and let others work harder. –Does not happen in all groups. Increases: –When members are not accountable for their work –When working harder duplicates efforts –When the work is uninteresting Declines: –With challenging work –When each member has a different job

23 Deindividuation –Losing all awareness of individuality and sense of self. –Increases under anonymous conditions. –In anonymous situations, people are more likely to conform to the norms of the situation.

24 Altruism and Dissent Altruism –Willingness to take selfless/dangerous action on behalf of others. Factors that predict independent action and altruism –The individual perceives the need for intervention or help. –The individual decides to take responsibility. –The individual decides that the costs of doing nothing outweigh the costs of getting involved. –The individual has an ally; the presence of another dissenter increases the likelihood of dissent. –The individual becomes entrapped; once initial steps have been taken, most people will increase their commitment.

25 GROUP IDENTITY Personal identity –A sense of self that is based on our own unique traits and history. Social identities –Aspects of our self-concepts that are based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, and social roles. Ethnic identity –A person’s identification with a racial or ethnic group. Many people face a dilemma of balancing ethnic identity (close affiliation with a religious or ethnic group) with acculturation (identifying with and feeling part of the dominant culture).

26 Ethnic Identity and Acculturation Biculturalism/Integration –Maintain ethnic identity & incorporate majority culture. Assimilation –Relinquish ethnic identity and adopt majority culture. Ethnic Separatism/Unassimilation –Strong ethnic identity, weak acculturation. –Withdrawal from majority cultures. –Sometimes due to segregation. forced separation by large society Marginalized –Lack of identification with booth ethnic and/or majority culture.

27 Ethnocentrism The belief that one’s own culture or ethnic group is superior. Generates “us-them” thinking

28 Stereotypes Summary impression of a group in which all members of that group are viewed as sharing a common trait or traits. They help us quickly process new information, retrieve memories, and organize experience. Stereotypes lead to distortions of reality in three ways: –They accentuate differences between groups. –They produce selective perception. –They underestimate differences within other groups.

29 PREJUDICE Consists of negative stereotype/s of a group and a strong emotional dislike of its members.

30 Common Prejudices Racism Ethnocentrism Ageism Heterosexism Classism Elitism Ableism Anti-Semitism And many other

31 Chauvinism Extreme and unreasonable partisanship on behalf of a group to which one belongs, especially when the partisanship includes hatred towards a rival group. A frequent contemporary use of the term is male chauvinism, which refers to the belief that men are superior to women.

32 Homophobia –Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality. Xenophobia –Irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against foreigners or of people significantly different from oneself.

33 Origins of Prejudice Psychological Functions –Serve to ward off feelings of doubt, fear, and insecurity. –Prejudice is a “tonic” for low self-esteem. –Allow people to use target group as scapegoat. Social and cultural functions –Social pressure to conform. –Passed from generation to generation. –Media influence. –People use it to bond with others. Economic functions –Justification of majority group in times of job competition.

34 Reducing Conflict and Prejudice Both sides have equal status and economic standing. Both sides have opportunities to work and socialize together, formally and informally. Both sides have the moral, legal, and economic support of the authorities. Both sides cooperate in working toward a common goal.

35 THE QUESTION OF HUMAN NATURE Bad people do bad things, but good people (in certain circumstances) also do bad things. The person in the situation…the eternal dialogue. “I am the circumstance” ( José Ortega y Gasset, Spanish philosopher ( ).


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