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1 Lesson 1 Introduction to Social Psychology and Some Research Methods.

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1 1 Lesson 1 Introduction to Social Psychology and Some Research Methods

2 2 Today’s Outline  Introduction  What Is Social Psychology?  Theoretical Perspectives in Social Psychology 1.Role theory 2.Reinforcement theory 3.Cognitive theory 4.Symbolic interaction theory 5.Evolutionary theory

3 3 Finding Answers – What Social Psychologists Do  Social psychologists find answers by applying the methods of science.  They make systematic observations of behavior and formulate theories that are subject to testing.

4 4 Social Psychology  A Formal Definition: –The systematic study of the nature and causes of human social behavior.

5 5 Social Psychologists study: 1. The activities of individuals in the presence of others 2. The processes of social interaction between people 3. The relationship between individuals and groups. 4. The nature an causes of social behavior. 5. Social behavior in a systematic fashion.

6 6 Social Psychology: Four Core Concerns

7 7 Social Psychology and Other Fields  Sociology is the scientific study of human society. –Social psychologists who work in this tradition are interested in the relationship between individuals and groups.

8 8 Social Psychology and Other Fields  Psychology is the scientific study of the individual and of individual behavior. –Social psychologists who work in this tradition are concerned with individual behavior and social stimuli. –Therefore, Social Psychology = sociology + psychology

9 9 What is a Theory?  A set of interrelated propositions that organizes and explains observed phenomena.  It goes beyond mere observable facts by postulating causal relations among variables.  If a theory is valid, it enables its user to explain the phenomena under consideration and make predictions about events not yet observed.

10 10 Theoretical Perspectives  Social psychology investigates the five following theoretical perspectives: 1.Role theory 2.Reinforcement theory 3.Cognitive theory 4.Symbolic interaction theory 5.Evolutionary theory

11 11 Role Theory  Much of observable social behavior is people carrying out their roles, similar to actors performing on a stage.  According to role theory, to change a person’s behavior, it is necessary to change or redefine his or her role.

12 12 Propositions in Role Theory 1. People spend much of their lives participating in groups and organizations. 2. Within these groups, people occupy distinct positions. 3. Each of these positions entails a role, which is a set of functions performed by the person for the group.

13 13 Reinforcement Theory  Central proposition: –People are more likely to perform a behavior if it is followed by something pleasurable or by the removal of something aversive. –People will refrain from a particular behavior if it is followed by something aversive or the removal of something pleasant.

14 14 Conditioning  In conditioning, a relationship is established between emitting a response and receiving a reinforcement.  If a person emits a particular response and this response is then reinforced, the connection between response and reinforcement is strengthened.

15 15 Social Learning Theory  Individuals acquire new responses through conditioning and imitation. –The learner acquires new responses by observing the behavior of another person. –The learner neither performs a response nor receives reinforcement.  Whether the learner will perform behaviors learned through observation may depend on whether they receive reinforcement.

16 16 Social Exchange Theory  Uses reinforcement to explain stability and change in relations between individuals.  Assumes individuals have freedom of choice and often face situations in which they must choose among alternative actions.  Any action provides some rewards and entails some costs.  Individuals will maximize rewards and minimize costs so they choose accordingly.

17 17 Reinforcement Theory  Reinforcement theory portrays individuals as reacting to environmental stimuli rather than as initiating behavior based on imaginative or creative thought. Limitations:  Reinforcement theory cannot easily explain altruism and martyrdom.

18 18 Cognitive Theory  The mental activities (cognitive processes) of the individual are important determinants of social behavior.  These cognitive processes include perception, memory, judgment, problem solving, and decision making.  An individual’s cognitive processes intervene between external stimuli and behavioral responses.

19 19 Cognitive Structure and Schemas  Cognitive structure refers to any type of organization among cognitions (concepts and beliefs).  Social psychologists propose that individuals use one kind of cognitive structures called schemas to explain complex information about other people, groups, and situations.

20 20 Cognitive Consistency  Maintains that individuals strive to hold ideas that are consistent with one another, rather than ideas that are inconsistent or incongruous.  If a person holds several ideas that are incongruous or inconsistent, then he/she will experience internal conflict.

21 21 Symbolic Interaction Theory  Human nature and social order are products of symbolic communication among people.  In this perspective, a person’s behavior is constructed through a give and take during his or her interaction with others.

22 22 Symbolic Interaction Theory  The “Self” occupies a central place in symbolic interaction theory because social order is hypothesized to rest in part on self-control.  Because individuals are continually engaging in role taking, they see themselves from the viewpoint of others. –Refer to the works of Mead and Cooley  Individuals care most about the opinions of significant others, people who control important rewards or occupy key positions in their groups.

23 23 Discussion Question  Who are you?  How did you develop your concept of self?  Are you the same “self” today as you were when you were a teenager?  What social forces cause your self concept to change over your lifetime?

24 24 Evolutionary Theory  Evolutionary social psychologists extend evolutionary ideas to explain social behavior. –The predisposition toward certain behaviors is encoded in our genetic material and is passed on through reproduction. –Characteristics that enable the individual to survive and pass on its genetic code will eventually occur more frequently.

25 25 Evolutionary Theory and Mate Poaching True or False:  Men consistently have different mating strategies than women. Explain.  Women pursue short-term relationships more than men, including short-term attempts to poach desirable guys. Explain.

26 26 Comparison Of Theoretical Perspectives DimensionRole theory Reinforcement theory Central conceptsRole Stimulus-response; reinforcement Primary behavior explained Behavior in role Learning of new responses Assumptions about human nature People are conformist People are hedonistic Factors changing behavior Shift in role expectations Change in reinforcement Continued next slide

27 27 Comparison Of Theoretical Perspectives DimensionCognitive theory Symbolic interaction theory Central concepts Cognitions; cognitive structure Self; role taking Primary behavior explained Formation of beliefs Sequences of acts during interaction Assumptions about human nature People act on their cognitions People are self- monitoring actors. Factors changing behavior Cognitive inconsistency Shift in others’ standards.

28 28 Objectives in Research  Describe reality.  Identify correlations between variables.  Test causal hypotheses.  Develop and test theories.

29 29 Research Methods in Soc Psych  Methodology: A set of procedures that guide the collection and analysis of data.  In a typical study: 1.Develop a research design. 2.Go in a laboratory or field setting and collect data. 3.Code and analyze the data to test hypotheses and arrive at conclusions about the behaviors or events under investigation.

30 30 What Next?  Create a hypothesis and test it! How? –Surveys –Naturalistic observation –Archival research based on content analysis –Experiments

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