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7th edition

Social Psychology
Elliot Aronson
University of California, Santa Cruz

Introducing Social Psychology Chapter 1


The head monkey at Paris puts on a traveller's cap, and all the monkeys in America do the same same. Henry David Thoreau

Timothy D. Wilson
University of Virginia

Robin M. Akert
Wellesley College

slides prepared by Travis Langley


Henderson State University
Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved. Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

What Is Social Psychology?


At the heart of social psychology is social influence: i fl We are all influenced by other people.

What Is Social Psychology?

Social psychology: The scientific study of the way in which people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined y g presence of other people.

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

The Power of Social Interpretation


Social psychology differs from sociology or anthropology: th l Less concerned with social situations in objective sense. More concerned with how people are influenced by their interpretation (construal) of social environments.

How Else Can We Understand Social Influence? Journalists, Instant Experts, Social Critics C iti Philosophy Social psychologists differ from these by developing explanations through experiments in which variables being studied are carefully manipulated.
Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Philosophy
Throughout history, philosophy has been a major source of insight about human nature. The creativity and analytical thinking of philosophers are a major part of the foundation of contemporary psychology. But what happens when philosophers disagree? Social psychologists address many of the same questions that philosophers address, but attempt to answer them scientifically.

Folk Wisdom
Although a great deal can be learned from common sense knowledge there is at least common sense knowledge, one problem with relying entirely on such sources: They frequently disagree with one another, and there is no easy way of determining which of them is correct. Are we to believe that out of sight is out of mind mind or that absence makes the heart grow absence fonder? Which is true, that haste makes waste or that he who hesitates is lost?
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Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Social psychology is an experimentally based science.


As scientists, our goal is to find objective answers to a wide array of important questions: What are the factors that cause aggression? How might we reduce prejudice? What variables cause two people to like or love each other? Why do certain kinds of political advertisements work better than others?

Social Psychology Compared with Personality Psychology When tr ing to e plain social beha ior trying explain behavior how an individual acts within a social context (in relation to others)personality psychologists explain the behavior in terms of the person's individual character traits.

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Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Social Psychology Compared with Personality Psychology

Social Psychology Compared with Personality Psychology Personality Psychology

While social psychologists would agree that personalities do vary, they explain social behavior in terms of the power of the social situation (as it is construed by the individual) to shape how one acts.

When trying to explain social behavior, personality psychologists generally focus on individual differencesthe aspects of peoples personalities that make them different from others. S i l psychologists are convinced th t Social h l i t i d that explaining behavior primarily through personality factors ignores a critical part of the story: the powerful role played by social influence.
Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Social Psychology Compared with Other Social Sciences


The difference between social psychology and other social sciences in level of analysis reflects another difference between the disciplines: what they are trying to explain.
Other social sciences are more concerned with broad social, economic, political, and historical factors that influence events in a given society. society For the social psychologist, the level of analysis is the individual in the context of a social situation.
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Social Psychology Compared with Sociology Level of analysis: Social psychologists focus on the individual in the context of a social situation. Sociology looks toward society at large.

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Social Psychology Compared with Sociology What they are trying to explain: The goal of social psychology is to identify universal properties of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence, regardless of social class or culture.

Social Psychology Compared with Sociology


S i l i t are more concerned with why a Sociologists d ith h particular society or group within a society produces behavior (e.g., aggression) in its members. The major difference is that sociology, rather than focusing on the psychology of the individual, looks toward society at large.

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Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

The Power of Social Influence


Fundamental attribution error: The tendency to explain our own and other peoples behavior entirely in terms of personality traits, underestimating the power of social influence.

Underestimating the Power of Social Influence


When we underestimate the power of social influence, influence we gain a feeling of false security. security Doing so gives the rest of us the feeling that we could never engage in the repugnant behavior shown by others. Ironically, this in turn increases our personal vulnerability to possibly destructive social influence by lulling us into lowering our guard guard. By failing to fully appreciate the power of the situation, we tend to:
Oversimplify complex situations which, decreases our understanding of the true causes.

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Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Underestimating the Power of Social Influence


Aspects of the social situation that may seem minor can have powerful effects, overwhelming the differences in peoples personalities. Personality differences do exist and frequently are of great importance. But social and environmental situations can be so powerful that they have dramatic effects on almost everyone.

The Subjectivity of the Social Situation Human beings are sense making creatures, constantly interpreting things. How humans will behave in a given situations is not determined by the objective conditions of a situation but, rather how they perceive it (construal).
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The Subjectivity of the Social Situation


Whatexactlydowemeanbythesocialsituation?
Onestrategyfordefiningitwouldbetospecifythe One strategy for defining it would be to specify the objectivepropertiesofthesituationandthendocument thebehaviorsthatfollowfromtheseobjective properties.
Behaviorism: Aschoolofpsychologymaintainingthattounderstand humanbehavior,oneneedconsideronlyreinforcing effectsofenvironment.

The Subjectivity of the Social Situation


Behaviorists chose not to deal with cognition, thinking, thinking and feeling because they considered these concepts too vague and mentalistic and not sufficiently anchored to observable behavior. Behaviorism, therefore, has proved inadequate for a complete understanding of the social world. We need to look at the situation from the viewpoint of the people in it, to see how they construe the world around them.
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Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

The Subjectivity of the Social Situation


This emphasis on construal, the way people interpret the social situation, has its roots in an approach called Gestalt psychology.

Gestalt Psychology
The Gestalt approach was formulated in Germany in p y y the first part of the twentieth century by Kurt Koffka, Wolfgang Kohler, Max Wertheimer, and colleagues. In the late 1930s, several of these psychologists emigrated to the United States to escape the Nazi regime. If I were required to name the one person IfIwererequiredtonametheoneperson whohashadthegreatestimpactonthefield, itwouldhavetobeAdolphHitler. (Cartwright,1979,p.84)
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GestaltPsychology Aschoolofpsychologystressingtheimportanceofstudying A school of psychology stressing the importance of studying thesubjectivewayinwhichanobjectappearsinpeoples minds(thegestaltorwhole)ratherthantheobjective, physicalattributesoftheobject.

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Gestalt Psychology
Among the migrs was Kurt Lewin, generally considered the founding father of modern experimental social psychology. Lewin took the bold step of applying Gestalt principles beyond the perception of objects to social perception. Lewin was the first scientist to stress the importance of taking the perspective of the people in any social situation to see how they construe this social environment. environment

Where Construals Come From: Basic Human Motives


How an individual construes a situation is largely shaped b t l l h d by two b i h basic human motives: the need to be accepted the need to feel good about ourselves At times, these motives tug in opposite directions.

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Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

The Self-Esteem Approach:


The Need to Feel Good About Ourselves
Most people have a strong need to maintain reasonably high self-esteem, to see themselves as good, competent, and decent. Given the choice between distorting the world in order to feel good about themselves and representing the world accurately, people often take the first option. SelfEsteem S lf E Peoplesevaluationsoftheirownselfworth; theextenttowhichtheyviewthemselvesas good,competent,anddecent.
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Justifying Past Behavior


Acknowledging major deficiencies in ourselves is very difficult even when the difficult, cost is seeing the world inaccurately. Although extreme distortion of reality is rare outside of mental institutions, normal people can put a slightly different spin on the existing facts one that puts us in the facts, best possible light.

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Suffering and Self-Justification


Experiments demonstrated that the more unpleasant the procedure the participants underwent to get into a group, the better they liked the group. The important points to remember here are: (1) That human beings are motivated to maintain a positive picture of themselves, in part by justifying their past behavior, and (2) That under certain specifiable conditions, this leads them to do things th t at fi t glance might seem surprising or d thi that t first l i ht i i paradoxical. For example, they might prefer people and things for whom they have suffered to people and things they associate with ease and pleasure.
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The Social Cognition Approach:


The Need to Be Accurate
The social cognition perspective takes into account how human beings think about the world. Individuals are viewed as trying to gain accurate understandings so they can make effective judgments and decisions that range from which cereal to eat to whom to marry. y Actually, individuals typically act on basis of incompletely and inaccurately interpreted information.
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Social Cognition
The social cognition perspective views people as amateur sleuths doing their best to understand and predict their social world. Social Cognition How people think about themselves and the social world; more specifically, how people select, interpret, remember, and use social information to make judgments and decisions.
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Expectations About the Social World


Our expectations can even change the nature of the social world world. Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968) found that a teacher who expects certain students to do well may cause those students to do better A self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Expectations About the Social World


How does such a self-fulfilling prophecy come about? Teaching expecting specific students to perform well often: more attention to them, listen to them with more respect, call on them more frequently, encourage them, try to teach them more challenging material. This, in Thi i turn, h l these students f l helps h d feel: happier, more respected, more motivated, and smarter.
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Additional Motives

biological drives desire for rewards need for control

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Social Psychology and Social Problems


Why study social influence? 1. We are curious. 2. Some social psychologists contribute to the solution of social problems.

Social Psychology and Social Problems


Social psychological theories about human behavior have been applied to a range of contemporary problems, including: prejudice energy shortages AIDS unhealthy habits violence in schools
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Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

Social Psychology and Social Problems


When recommending interventions to deal with serious social problems, it is imperative to act on the basis of scientifically grounded theories about human construal and behavior.

7th edition

Social Psychology
Elliot Aronson
University of California, Santa Cruz

Timothy D. Wilson
University of Virginia

Robin M. Akert
Wellesley College

slides prepared by Travis Langley


Henderson State University
Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved. Copyright 2010 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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