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Social Psychology – Topic 1

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Definition
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“The scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people” (Allport 1985)
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Psychology
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The scientific study of thought, emotion and behavior. With a focus on individual differences.
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Sociology
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Sociologists focus on the study of society or groups and are concerned with topics such as social class, social structure and social institutions. It provides general laws and theories about societies, not individuals.
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Social Psychology
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A branch of Psychology which is rooted in the study of individuals; with an emphasis on internal psychological processes people have in common “Shared Characteristics” that make them susceptible to social influence
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Social Influence
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Whereby we are all influenced by each other. Directly by friends, advertising campaigns and even people who are not present. influences bahaviour, feelings and emotions. Sometimes the mere presents of someone
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Personality Psychology
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Personality Psychologists focus on “Individual Differences” Individual characteristics which are aspects of people’s personality that make them different/unique from other people such as attitude and inherited genes.
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Social Psychology (The Scientific Study of Social Influence)
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Explores the influence we have on each other.
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Individual Explanation of Behaviour
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“Our explanation of an individual’s behaviour is based on our prediction of their personality and intellect”
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Our view on someone is based on
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The view you have of someone is based on what you have seen them doing during the situation rather than the situation itself. (Walking past an injured person on a busy street)
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Social Explanation of Behaviour
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The view you have of someone can also be based on the influence of others such as the pressure to comply or conform and our perception of norms.
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What is Fundamental Attribution Error?
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“It is a human tendency to explain others behaviour based on their personality not on the situation to which you are witnessing”
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Examples of Fundamental Attribution Error
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1. “Wall Street” v’s “Community Game”: Psychology Experiment done by Lee Ross at Stanford University 2. Behaviour in Competitive Sports 3. Motorists verses Pedestrians
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Subjectivity V’s Objectivity
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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 (subjectivity/construal)”
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The objective truths
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The objective truths (physical properties) of the situation do not matter as humans do not tend to be objective. We tend to be more subjective by allowing our feeling to cloud our judgments.
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To be Subjective
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Is to base or be influenced by our personal feelings, tastes or opinions. This can be the source of bias and prejudice views.
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To be Objective
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The physical properties of a situation are not influenced by our personal feelings or opinions when considering and representing the facts. Objectivism: the belief that moral truths exist independently of human knowledge or perception of them.
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Perception v’s Reality
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Our perception of a social situation matters more than the reality of the situation.
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Construal
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“The way, in which people perceive, comprehend and interpret “the social world” what is going on around them”
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What Dictates our Construal? What Dictates how we Interpret our Social World?
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1. Depends on how rewarding the situation is to the person; what will they get out of the situation? 2. However, rewards and punishments are subjective because they are individual to the person so it also depends on how the reward/punishment is construed by them. 3. Subjectivity can also be applied to social situations and therefore how we interpret our social world can depend on how we perceive other peoples motives, intentions and behaviours.
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Reinforcement and Punishment
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can dictate how we interpret our social world
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Two of these motives have been found to be important as they can dictate how we interpret our social world.
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(The Self-Esteem Approach) How we interpret the world can be down to our need in maintaining a favourable image of ourselves which can distort our interpretation of the world.
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2. The need to view the world accurately (The Social Cognition Approach)
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Social cognition: How people think about themselves and the social world, especially how they select, interpret, remember and use social information to make judgements and decisions.
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3. The need for control: can dictate how we interpret our social world
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Humans have a strong need for control over their environment and we tend to believe we have more control over things than we actually have. (cancer) People with depression tend to view their world more realistically.
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We need to rapidly make sense of our world: can dictate how we interpret our social world
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Making sense of the world rapidly is import for our survival. We have many senses that we receive information through such as our eyes, ears, touch, smell, all of which need to be processed quickly. Humans need to make rapid sense of their world; therefore quick judgments are made in order to make decisions quickly. Even process info in sleep
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Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research
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“Social Psychologists want to Describe, Predict and Explain Social Behaviour”
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Emphasis on Empiricism
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All sciences place an emphasis on the real world (Empirical). A fundamental principle of social psychology is that social influence can be studied scientifically.
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Development of Theories
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A theory is a plausible explanation for a phenomenon which is being observed or it may come from other studies. Start off with a major premise/theory from which the researcher develops a hypothesis.
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Hypotheses
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A hypothesis is a prediction that should be true if the theory is accurate which can be tested in empirical research
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Testing Hypotheses
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A hypothesis helps to narrow down a question in order to test a theory. It is a specific statement of prediction which describes in concrete terms what you expect to find in your study.
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Research Design
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Social Psychology is a scientific discipline with a well-developed set of methods to answer questions about social behaviour. Any of these methods can be used to explore a specific research question, the trick is to choose the right one in order to maximise its strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
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Observational Method
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Real Life – Archival – Participant
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Observational Method Goal
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To describe what a particular group of people or type of behaviour is like, the observational method would be used. This is a technique whereby a researcher observes people and systematically records measurements or impressions of their behaviour. Documenting the observations and explaining how you conducted them is important in order for someone else to later test the result by replicating the study.
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Archival
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These are not direct observations but you systematically observe to see if any patterns can be found in a back catalogue of documents, newspapers or court cases on a particular type of crime. Observational becomes correlational when you start to count the variables, when there is a mathematical connection between the two variables.
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Correlational Method: Emphasis on Surveys
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A technique whereby two or more variables are systematically measured and the relationship between them (how much you can predict one from the other) is assessed. Correlational research tells you that two variables are related which points towards a possible cause. Correlation does not prove causation.
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Surveys
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The correlation method is often used in surveys. Random representative samples of the population are asked questions about their attitudes or behaviour. People are not good at predicting how they would act in a hypothetical situation and therefore their answers to these questions tend to be inaccurate.
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Correlational Coefficient
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is a statistical technique which is used to assess how well you can predict one variable from another. They are expressed as numbers that range from -1.00 to +1.00. A correlation of +1.00 means that two variables are perfectly correlated in a positive direction. A correlation of -1.00 means that two variables are perfectly correlated in a negative direction. A correlation of 0 means that two variables are not correlated
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Experimental Method: Answers Causal Questions
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(Used for Causality: allows us to draw conclusions about cause and effect. Is variable X a cause of variable Y?) The only way to determine causal relationships are with the experimental method because you are deliberately trying to make things happen
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Experiment Example: Latane & Darley (1968) – Bystander Effect
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First year college students participate in an experiment- take turns discussing issues over an intercom about college life while remaining anonymous in a private cubical – experimenter will not be listening – after everyone has their turn one has an epileptic fit Study found that 69% of the participants did nothing and remained in their cubical
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Independent Variable
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The independent variable is the variable the researcher changes/manipulates/alters to see if it has an effect on some other variable. (x) Latane and Darley found that their independent variable (The number of bystanders) had an effect on the dependant variable (whether the bystanders tried to help or not)
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Dependent Variable
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This is the variable a researcher measures to see if it is influenced by the independent variable.
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Sample Size and Representativeness
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They select samples that are representative of the population on a number of characteristics which are important to a given research question such as age, educational background, religion and gender. They also make sure to use a random selection of people from the population at large. This ensures their answers to the questions asked would reasonably match those of the population as a whole.
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Sample Size
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The bigger the better
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Representativeness
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How likely does the sample represent people in general?
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Random selection
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The ideal is a random sample
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Random Assignment
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Good for big groups as it will produce averages in people’s characteristics.
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Samples of Convenience
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may not be a representation of the general population
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Small Samples
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Measure & Match put one female in each group and one male to make groups equivalent e.t.c…
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Meta-analysis
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is a statistical technique that averages (aggregate) the results of two or more studies to see whether the effect of an independent variable is reliable (to get a single result). (Because studies may come up with different results)
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Replication
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Repeat a study, often with different subject populations (samples) or in different settings to test its findings. The ultimate test of an experiments external validity is replication
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Internal Validity in Experiments
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Internal validity is ensuring that nothing except the independent variable can affect the dependent variable. This can be achieved by controlling the extraneous variables and by randomly assigning people to different experimental conditions.
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Random Assignment to Condition
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This is a process to ensure participants have an equal chance of taking part in any condition of an experiment. It allows experimenters to minimise the differences among participants so that the possibility of their individual characteristics cannot be used to explain the results of their actions during the experiment (The was result was down to them being more helpful in nature because there are social care students)
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Controlling Extraneous Variables
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In order to maintain high internal validity you need to make sure that only the independent variable influences the dependent variable. This can be achieved by controlling all extraneous (unnecessary) variables such as the conditions (weather-hot-cold-light) and randomly assigning people to different experimental conditions.
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Own Control
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people are put through the study twice but the situation is different