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Unit IV – The Socio - Cultural Level of Analysis

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1 Unit IV – The Socio - Cultural Level of Analysis

2 Social psychology – how social influences affect thought and action
Significantly affected by the atrocities of World War II – focus on regulation of behaviours and conformity This was combined with cognitive approaches to these social influences impact on behaviour in the 1970’s Can you think of an event or incident where your actions or beliefs changed as a result of the influences of your group?

3 Principles of the Socio-Cultural Level of Analysis
Outcomes • Outline the principles that define the sociocultural level of analysis • Explain how principles that define the sociocultural level of analysis may be demonstrated in research.

4 Outline the principles that define the sociocultural level of analysis
Basic principles of “pervasiveness of social influence” • The social and cultural environment influences individual behaviour • We construct our conceptions of the individual and the social self

5 The social and cultural environment influences individual behaviour
May be indirect or direct Includes norms, standards of behaviour, even direct requests Can supersede personality in favor of cultural or group acceptance Are often implicit or unconscious

6 We construct our conceptions of the individual and the social self
Derive from us-them distinctions – causing formation of social identities Personality - comes from social comparison process and determine our definitions of success and failure Many forms originate in our particular culture

7 Sociocultural cognition
Outcomes Describe the role of situational and dispositional factors in explaining behaviour Discuss two errors in attributions Evaluate Social Identity Theory, making reference to relevant studies Explain the formation of stereotypes and their effects on behaviour

8 Dispositional attribution – behaviour can be traced to internal characteristics
Situational attribution – behaviour can be traced to external factors Personality researchers tend to emphasize disposition Social psychologists tend to emphasize situation Traits – dispositions that persist over a range of similar situations are said to have cross situational consistency and stability over time.

9 Studies refute trait theory
Mischel (1968) – showing that behaviour is rarely consistent over situations (school settings) Traits should be viewed as classes of behaviours over a range of situations rather than specific behaviour in specific circumstances – Epstein (1983) – When observing college students over a longer period of time - aggregate behaviour was consistent and predictable despite specific day to day variability Roberts and DelVecchio (2000) – meta-analysis showed that personality traits measured in a group strongly matched the same measures taken 7 years later Moskowitz (1986) - personality changes after early adulthood are rare.

10 The 5 Factor Model of Personality
Personality may be quantified along 5 factors: Neuroticism Extraversion Openness to experience Agreeableness Conscientiousness This model has proven accurate in research settings and in everyday settings

11 These measurements have been shown to have strong determining effects on:
Levels of happiness Physical health Psychological health Quality of relationships – peers/romantic partners Occupational choice Job satisfaction Job performance

12 Reciprocal Determinism – Bandura (1986, 2006) – emphasizes the interaction between traits and situations. People choose their environment under the influence of their disposition Personality shape our interpretation of events and our reaction to them We are influenced by and simultaneously design our surroundings Mischel (1973) Strong situations – repress expression of personality and force uniform behaviours Weak situations – allow for more personality influences on behaviour

13 Situational Factors: two key studies:
1) Milgram’s studies on obedience to authority (1974) 2) Asch’s studies on conformity (1956) Both reinforce the importance of situations in determining behaviour Milgram asked for informed predictions of how many subjects would follow through with the entire series of questions and administer a lethal shock Discussion – that the situational factor (the authority giving orders) is a stronger determinant of behaviour than the dispositional factor (participants conscience) Prediction – 1% Actual – 65%

14 Alternate explanations for Milgram’s results have been offered:
Blass (1991) – notes that both obedience and defiance occurred in the same experiment – dispositions toward authoritarianism will tend to generate obedience Sabini et al. (2001) – most situational elements in Milgram require dispositions for manifested obedience behaviour

15 Attribution Errors Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE) - The bias to attribute behaviour to stable internal causes rather than external ones

16 Jones and Harris (1967) Aims – to investigate the effect of having choice on the subject for a written work would affect the attitudes ascribed to the writers by observers. Methods – participants were given a set of essays on Castro. In one group, they were told that the writers were allowed to choose whether or not they supported Castro’s ideas and in the other treatment group they were told that the writers did not have a choice to their approach to evaluating Castro. They were then asked to rate to what extent they felt the writers actually held the beliefs they wrote. Conclusions – Whether or not the observers knew that the writers had a choice in their topic, the observers consistently believed that the attitudes expressed in the essays were the genuine attitudes held by the writers

17 FAE expression factors:
What if we tell people what behaviours they must express? This has been shown to be consistent even when observers ascribe the participants into their opinion groups themselves. (Gilbert and Jones 1986) What if we find out that there might be some kind of agenda explaining someone’s behaviours? Some dispositional factors have also been shown to impact FAE. When observers are informed that the opinion of a participant matches that of an authority figure who could control rewards or punishments in the participants future – FAE diminishes. (Fein 2001)

18 Gilbert and Malone (1995) – have shown that FAE involves a two step attribution process:
First - We observe behaviour and make an automatic and unconscious inference toward disposition Second - We make a controlled and conscious process inquiry into the situational factors that could explain the behaviour FAE’s occur when we do not proceed to the second step. We are distracted by other tasks We believe that our first explanation based on dispositional inferences is a sufficient explanation

19 Self-serving bias – attributing our successes to internal dispositional factors and blame failures on external situational factors Johnson et al Aims – to investigate the effect of performance improvements on the perceptions of teachers assessments of their abilities. Methods – Participants were asked to teach students how to multiply by using a one-way intercom in two stages. The control group performed well in both phases, the first experimental group showed no improvement from the first to the second phase, the second group showed improvement. The participants were then asked to explain the improvement in the second phase Conclusions – When there was no improvement in the student, the participants ascribed it to a lack of ability in the student, when there was improvement, the participants ascribed this to their abilities as teachers.

20 Some exceptions to the SSB:
We are more likely to rely on SSB when we fail in domains in which we cannot improve but we are more likely to attribute failure to internal dispositions if there is something we can improve on in the future. Abrahamson (1989) found that people with depression often rely on an attributional style that links success to external and failure to internal factors Zuckerman (1979) meta-analysis of SSB studies show that the effect stems from a desire to maintain self-esteem Hiene (1999) found less desire to seek self-esteem reinforcing experiences in collectivist cultures and therefore found less SSB’s occurring in that culture. Miller and Ross (1975) SSB has rational uses apart from self-esteem enhancement. Logically, effort changes with success. If increased effort does not increase performance then the conclusion must be the nature of the task, if increased effort yields increased results, then the success is attributable to the self.


22 Social Identity Theory (Tajfel et al. 1979)
Based on four interrelated concepts: Social categorization Social identity Social comparison Positive distinctiveness

23 Social Categorization
Divides the environment into two groups: Ingroup Outgroup This has the effect of category accentuation effect: reducing perceived variability in the ingroup reducing perceived variability in the outgroup increasing perceived variability between the ingroup and the outgroup

24 Positive distinctiveness
Social Identity Our self-concepts formed by being members of various social groups – based on intergroup behaviours rather than interpersonal ones. People can have several of these Where do student-teacher relationships fit in here? Social Comparison We continuously compare our ingroups to relevant outgroups to maintain positive social identities. Positive distinctiveness The need to show that your ingroup is superior to an outgroup

25 Explain these concepts as they are expressed in the film The Breakfast Club

26 These lead to intergroup behaviours with some general characteristics:
1) Ethnocentrism Positive behaviours by ingroup members attributed to dispositions Negative behaviours by ingroup members attributed to situational factors Positive behaviours of outgroup members attributed to situational factors Negative behaviours or outgroup members attributed to dispositions 2) In group favoritism 3) Intergroup differentiation - altered behaviour to emphasize group differences 4) Stereotypical Thinking – ingroup members and outgroup members are perceived according to stereotypes 5) Conformity to ingroup norms – acting according to defined behaviours

27 Minimal Group Paradigm – Tajfel et al (1971)
Aims – To determine the effect of group membership on behaviours Method – participants were divided into groups randomly but told that their group membership was based on personal taste in artists. They were then asked to assign points to other members of the study according to predetermined rules. Conclusions – the participants exhibited strong SIT tendencies such as favoring members of their own group and assigning points in such a way as to enhance the difference between the groups rather than increase the benefit to their own group. Despite criticisms of demand characteristic validity issues these findings have proven consistent in real-life situations and when participant do not know they are being observed. Mummendey and Otten (1998) - The effect is more powerful when distributing rewards than when distributing punishments. Dobbs and Crano (2001) – the effect is diminished when subjects must justify their reward strategies afterwards.

28 Stereotypes Stereotypes – widely held evaluative generalizations about a group of people. Assigns similar characteristics to all members of a group despite variability Has all the properties of schemas Based on defining characteristics: gender, age, race, etc. Are persistent across cultures

29 Formation of stereotypes
Four theories of the structure and function of stereotypes: Social-cognitive theories SIT Systems-justification theory Social representation theory

30 Stereotype formation – social cognitive theories
Limited capacities for cognitive processing Complex world – increasing complexity Social categorization simplifies cognitive processing Social categorization – stereotypes Energy-saving devices Automatically activated Stable and resistant to change Affect behaviour

31 Cohen (1981) Aims – to investigate the effect of stereotypes on memory recall Method – presented participants with a video of a woman having dinner with her husband. One group was told she was a waitress the other that she was a librarian. The participants were then asked later to recall specific items or objects from the scene and from her character. Conclusion – participants recalled stereotype consistent items better. Stereotypes are learned early on and increase with complexity over time by learning independent schema elements until a strong association between all the elements forms into a single schema - Fiske and Dyer (1985)

32 Stereotype Formation – Social Identity Theory
Stereotypes – based on category accentuation effect and positive distinctiveness. Sherman et al (2009) – we pay more attention to those ingroup and outgroup members that maximize positive distinctiveness. Ethnocentrism leads biased attributions to behaviours of ingroup and outgroup members.

33 Which is the more useful/accurate approach?
Key differences between social cognitive/schema approach and SIT theories: Social cognitive – social categorization simplifies perception, SIT – social categorization enriches it. SIT – stereotypes do not have a bias on social perception, seeing people as individuals rather than groups is not necessarily more accurate Social cognitive – stereotypes are hardened schemas waiting to be activates, SIT – stereotypes are flexible and context dependant. Which is the more useful/accurate approach?

34 Stereotypes – Systems justification theory
Jost and Banaji (1994) – stereotypes are used to justify social and power relations in society. eg. rich vs. poor SIT and social-cognitive approaches to stereotyping cannot explain negative self-stereotyping – internalization of negative stereotype attributes in disadvantaged groups

35 Stereotypes – Social-representations theory
Moscovici (1984) – Stereotypes emerge from group beliefs shared by a society rather than by individual schema activation. Both SJT and SRT emphasize negative perceptions – stereotypes have been shown to be predominantly negative (Fiske and Taylor 2008)

36 Stereotypes and performance
Stereotype threat effect – performance impairment that results when individuals asked to carry out a task are made aware of a negative stereotype held against them regarding their group’s ability to perform that task well. Spencer et al (1999) – informing females that they perform statistically worse than men on math tasks prior to taking a math test lowered their scores Steele and Aronson (1995) – performance of African-Americans on verbal skills tasks was lower when they were asked to indicate their race prior to beginning.

37 Compliance Discuss factors influencing conformity

38 Define the following terms:
Low-balling – after a low introductory commitment is secured, the demands or costs are increased. Door-in-the-face – when a costly initial offer is presented that will surely be rejected so that a second, more reasonable offer will be more likely to be accepted. Foot-in-the-door – when compliance to a large offer is increased by first securing commitment to a smaller request. Cognitive dissonance – the process by which people change their attitudes or behaviour to be consistent with one another.

39 What is the adaptive advantage for organisms in using reciprocity?
Reciprocity allows for the creation of division of labour, exchange of diverse goods and services, and makes people form highly efficient social units.

40 What role would cognitive dissonance play in the results shown by Deutch and Girard (1985)?
The self-concept of intelligence and wisdom would be dissonant with the new information that their estimates were incorrect, therefore, to reduce cognitive dissonance, subjects would change their answer if they could, or argue the actual evidence if they could not.

41 How are self-justification and cognitive dissonance linked in the study by Aronson and Mills (1959)?  
Participants in the study by Aronson and Mills (1959) would alter their perceptions to end their dissonance by either downplaying the severity of the initiation experience or increasing their perception of the value of the group they were initiated into.  

42 Which of the studies included in this package suffer from artificiality? Does this affect the usefulness of their results? Why or why not? Most of the studies take place in the environment in which the behaviour would be expected to take place (Knox& Inkster, Moriarty) but others contain non-sensual premises that would not be expected to actually occur in daily behaviour (Deutsch & Girard) However, despite these artificialities, the results have a high potential to affect the interpretation of behaviour with accuracy.

43 Examine your own behaviours – do you think these conformity techniques actually work?
All the time! Facing and accepting some of these dissonances is a difficult thing. Everyone give one example.

44 Read the handout on ingratiation
Read the handout on ingratiation. Do you think this sort of behaviour manipulations is ethical, useful and common? Ethical – as a result of the workplace conditions – it may not be avoidable which would make the morality of it moot. Useful – the knowledge of the principles of the personal exchange involved can be empowering. Common - ?



47 Achievement vs. Affiliation
Achievement – the need to master difficult challenges, to outperform others, and to meet high standards of excellence. This becomes more prominent in competitive situations and can be measures for entire societies through studying literature or movies.

48 The tendency to pursue achievement depends on the following factors.
The strength of the motivation to achieve. The estimate of the probability of success The incentive value of success.

49 Affiliation Affiliation – the need to associate with others and maintain social bonds. Also included the fear of rejection, jealousy, and depression.

50 TAT Test Achievement and affiliation levels in people can be measured with a Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) in which subjects are shown stimuli with ambiguous meaning. They are then asked to construct a fictional narrative for the image. These narratives can be analyzed for their achievement or affliative content.


52 Journal Observe the following image carefully. Construct a narrative (a story) that could explain the scene you are observing. Bring in your narrative and exchange it with a partner. Analyze each narrative for its affiliative or achievement motives.


54 Emotions There are 3 elements to emotional experience:
1. subjective conscious experience (cognitive) 2. bodily arousal (physiological) 3. characteristic overt expression (behavioral)

55 The cognitive component
Emotions happen to us rather than something that we make happen Some degree of emotional control is possible (emotional intelligence) People’s conscious appraisals of situations are key determinants of emotions – evaluation of an emotion as good or bad

56 The physiological component
The biological reaction to situations involves structures of the brain, neurotransmitters, and the endocrine system. Autonomic Nervous System – regulates the activity of the glands, smooth muscles, and blood vessels. – fight or flight response Galvanic Skin Response – the change in electrical conductivity of the skin that occurs when the sweat glands of the skin increase their activity.

57 Autonomic Responses Sympathetic Pupils dilated Dry mouth Goose bumps
Sweaty palms Dilated lungs lungs Increased heart rate Adrenal activity Inhibited digestion Parasympathetic Pupils constrict Salivating mouth No goose bumps Dry palms Constricted lungs Decreased heart rate Decreased activity Stimulated digestion

58 Brain Activity The emotional centers of the brain are the:
Hypothalamus Amygdala Limbic system The amygdala plays a central role in processing emotional stimuli

59 The Amygdala The thalamus process emotional stimuli immediately and passes them on to the amygdala or the cortex. If the amygdala detects a threat then it triggers the hypothalamus to create an autonomic and endocrine response.

60 The behavioral component
Emotions are expressed in “body language” or nonverbal behavior. When evaluating photographs of facial expressions, subjects successfully identify 6 emotions: Happiness Disgust Sadness Fear Surprise Anger

61 Facial responses Evidence suggests that facial muscles send signals to the brain that help the cortex interpret emotional stimuli Subjects asked to adopt a facial expression will report feeling that emotion Subjects who have been blind since birth still adopt facial expressions like everyone else.

62 Theories of emotion James-Lange Theory – the perception of arousal leads to the conscious experience of fear – different patterns of autonomic activation lead to different emotions Cannon-Bard Theory – emotion occurs when the thalamus sends signals directly to the cortex and the autonomic nervous system. Schachter’s Two-Factor Theory – Emotion depends on two factors 1) autonomic arousal 2) cognitive interpretation of that arousal. You feel a certain way and search for reasons why.

63 Emotions Darwin – emotions developed because of their adaptive value. Emotions are innate reactions to specific stimuli. They are recognizable without thought.

64 Innate emotional vocabulary
Humans are born with 6 – 10 emotions that originate in the subcortical brain: fear, anger, joy, disgust, interest, surprise. All other emotions are the result of 1) variations in intensity of emotions 2) blending of several different emotions.


66 The Nature of Personality
Personality is the consistent disposition to behave a certain way in a variety of situations.

67 Personality can be described according to 5 Factors:
Agreeableness – people who are sympathetic, trusting, cooperative, modest, and straightforward vs. People who are suspicious, antagonistic, and aggressive Openness to experience – people who are curious, flexible, vivid fantasy, imaginative, artistic, and unconventional - a key determinant of political attitudes. Neuroticism – people who are anxious, hostile, self- conscious, insecure and vulnerable. It is also called negative emotionality. Extraversion – people who are outgoing, sociable, upbeat, friendly, assertive, and gregarious. Also called positive emotionality. Conscientiousness – people who are diligent, disciplined, well-organized, punctual, and dependable. It is also called constraint and is associated with success and high productivity.

68 Personality theory The 5 Factors can describe behaviour, but they don’t account for it’s development and processes. There are 4 main groups of personality theories Psychodynamic theories Behavioural theories Humanistic theories Biological theories

69 Psychodynamic Theory Based on the work of Sigmund Freud
Psychodynamic theory explains motivation, personality, and disorders by focussing on the influence of early childhood experiences, unconscious motives and conflicts, and coping with sexual and aggressive urges.

70 Freud proposed three components of personality: behaviour was the result of interactions between these three parts. Id Ego Superego

71 Id Id – the primitive, instinctual component that operates according to the pleasure principle – it demands immediate gratification of raw biological urges. It’s thinking is primitive, illogical, irrational, and fantasy oriented.

72 Ego Ego – the decision-making component that operates according to the reality principle, which seeks to delay gratification of the id’s urges until the socially acceptable moment can be found. It’s thinking is rational, realistic, and problem solving.

73 Superego Superego – the moral component that incorporates social standards about right and wrong. It emerges from the ego at approx. 3 to 5 years old.

74 Freud believed that there were 3 levels of awareness
the unconscious – thoughts. Memories, and desires that are below the level of consciousness but exert a large effect on behaviour the preconscious - material just beneath the level of consciousness but that can be easily retrieved. the conscious – everything one is aware of at any given moment.


76 Anxiety Anxiety is caused by conflict between the 3 components of personality. We deal with this anxiety with defense mechanisms – unconscious reactions that protect a person from unpleasant emotions (eg. Anxiety or guilt)

77 Defense Mechanisms  Repression – keeping distressing thoughts and feelings buried in the unconscious. Projection – Attributing one’s own thoughts, feelings, or motives to someone else. Displacement – Diverting emotional feelings from their original source to a substitute target. Reaction formation – Behaving in a way that is exactly opposite of one’s true feelings Regression – A reversion to immature patterns of behaviour. Rationalization – Creating false but plausible excuses to justify unacceptable behaviour. Identification – Bolstering self-esteem by forming an imaginary or real alliance with some person or group.

78 Behavioural Perspectives

79 Albert Bandura Albert Bandura – believed in much of Skinner’s ideas of conditioning but added environmental factors in a theory called reciprocal determinism – the idea that internal mental events, external environmental events, and overt behaviour all influence one another. In essence, people can control their own conditioning.

80 Observational Learning
Observational learning occurs when an organism’s responding is influenced by the observation of other models – a person whose behaviour is observed by another (often people who are attractive or powerful). People are more likely to follow a model’s behaviour when they see it leads to positive outcomes.

81 Humanistic Perspectives
Humanism is a theoretical orientation that emphasizes the unique qualities of humans especially for their potential for growth and freedom The person’s subjective view of the world is more important than objective reality

82 Carl Rogers Carl Rogers – believed in the construct of the self – a collection of beliefs about one’s own nature, unique qualities, and typical behaviour. People tend to distort their experiences to promote a favourable self-concept

83 Incongruence Incongruence – the gap between the self concept and actual experience Experiences that are conflicting with our self concept cause incongruence and are the primary source of anxiety. Individuals behave defensively to avoid anxiety and incongruence. They will ignore, deny, and distort reality to preserve or enhance their self-concept.

84 Abraham Maslow Abraham Maslow – Proposed that human motivation can be organized into a hierarchy of needs – a systematic arrangement of needs according to priority in which basic needs must be met before less basic needs. The satisfaction of basic needs leads to the activation of needs at the next level up. Humans have an innate drive to achieve a higher state of being – progression, and feel anxiety when lower needs are not being met – regression.

85 7 Levels of needs: Physiological needs Safety and security needs
Belongingness and love needs Esteem needs Cognitive needs Aesthetic needs Self-actualization Progression Regression


87 Self-actualization Self-actualization – the need to fulfill one’s potential. Persons who achieve self-actualization have exceptionally healthy personalities, marked by continuous personal growth.

88 Characteristics of self-actualized individuals
Clear perception of reality and comfortable relations with it Spontaneity, simplicity, and naturalness Problem centering (having something outside themselves they must “do” as a mission) Detachment and need for privacy Continued freshness of appreciation Mystical and peak experiences Feelings of kinship and identification with the human race Strong friendships, but limited in number Democratic character Ethical discrimination between good and evil Philosophical, unhostile sense of humor Balance in polarities of personality

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