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Social Psychology 7th Edition Chapter 1(Aronson, Wilson, & Akert)

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What is Social Psychology?
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The scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people. Social psychologists are interested in understanding how and why the social environment shapes the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the individual.
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The Power of Social Interpretation
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To understand social influence it is more important to understand how people perceive and interpret the social world than it is to understand that world objectively. The term construal refers to the world as it is interpreted y the individual.
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How Else Can We Understand Social Influence?
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Social psychologists approach the understanding of social influence differently that philosophers journalists or the layperson. Social psychologists develop explanations of social influence through experiments in which the variables being studied are carefully controlled.
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Social Psychology Compared with Personality Psychology.
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When trying to explain social 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. Although 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.
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Social Psychology Compared with Sociology
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A fundamental way in which the two disciplines vary is in the ir level of analysis. Social psychology is rooted in the study of the individual’s internal psychological processes; the level of analysis for social psychology is the individual in the context of a social situation. In contrast, sociologists form their analysis on groupings of people organized in social categories such as family, race, religion, and economic class. While sociologists aim to study larger social processes like historical and political changes of how later social structures (race, class, gender, sexual orientation) shape an individual’s life chances, the orientation of the social psychologist is on the internal processes that take place within individuals. Social psychologists seek to identify universal properties of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence regardless of social class or culture. Sociologists seek to explain properties of societies.
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The Power of Social Influence
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Social psychologists have discovered, through rigorous empirical research, that individual behavior is powerfully influenced by the social environment.
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Underestimating the Power of Social Influence
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People tend to explain behavior in terms of individual personality traits and underestimate the power of social influence in shaping individual behavior. Social psychological researchers have shown time and again that social and environmental situations are usually more powerful than personality differences in determining an individual’s behavior.
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the Subjectivity of the Social Situation
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Human beings are sense making creatures; they are constantly interpreting things. How humans will behave in a given situation is not determined by the objective conditions of a situation but rather how they perceive it (construal).
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Where Construals Come From: Basic Human Motives
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The way in which an individual construes (perceives, comprehends, and interprets) a situation is largely shaped by the two basic human motives: the need to be accurate and the need to feel good about ourselves. At times these two motives tub n opposite directions; for example, when an accurate view of how we acted in a situation would reveal that we behaved badly.
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The Self-Esteem Approach: The Need to Feel Good about Ourselves
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Most people have a strong need to see themselves as good, competent, and decent. People often distort their perception of the world to preserve their self-esteem.
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The Social Cognition Approach; The Need to Be Accurate
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The social cognition perspective is an approach to social psychology that takes into account the way in which human beings think about the world; Individuals are viewed as trying to gain accurate understandings so that they can make effective judgments and decisions that range from which cereal to eat to whom they will marry. In actuality, individuals typically act on the basis of incomplete and inaccurately interpreted information.
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Additional Motives
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In addition to the two primary motives–the need to be accurate and the need to maintain a positive view of ourselves–there are several others that influence people. Among these additional motives are biological drives, the desire for rewards, and the need for control.
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Social Psychology and Social Problems
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Social psychological theories about human behavior have been applied effectively to deal with a range of contemporary problems that include prejudice, energy shortage, the spread of AIDS, unhealthy habits, and violence in the schools. 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.
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Gestalt Psychology
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A school of psychology stressing the importance of studying the subjective way in which an object appears in people’s minds rather than the objective, physical attributes of the object.
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Social Cognition
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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.