Principles of Sociology/Social psychological ways to understand the world

Information Drawn from Social Psychology (7 th edition) by David G. Myers

“We can barely be distinguished from our social situations, for they form us and decide our possibilities” – Sartre

Social psychology studies how situations affect our behavior and the way in which we perceive ourselves/others. Our interaction patterns in specific situations orient us to each other, our culture, and ideas about “human nature". Social psychology is different than sociology in that it orients mostly to small group interaction. Also, it tends to use laboratory experimental methods, while sociology uses more naturalistic observation, surveys/interviews, and statistical manipulation of large data sets. They want to use “average people” to get deterministic theories.

Constructing the Self in a Social World:

Socially shared beliefs (ideologies) help us make sense of the world, but hinder the search for better explanations

Hindsight bias – tendency to exaggerate the degree to which after learning an outcome that “I knew it all along”

Self-reference effect – information relevant to our conception of who we are (self schemas) is remembered well

Spotlight effect – tendency for people to irrationally think that others will notice their every action and feeling

Looking-glass self – we use what we believe others think of us to build perceptions of ourselves in comparison

Miswants, exaggeration, and dual attitudes – people overestimate the happiness relationships and acquisitions will bring them, underestimate their psychological immune system's capacity to rationalize, discount/forgive emotional trauma, and our automatic implicit attitudes about a person or thing differ from our reasoned attitudes

Self-Serving Bias – tendency to credit success to individual qualities, but failure to uncontrollable externalities

Unrealistic Optimism - tendency to think we are better than the average person and mostly immune to misfortune

False Consensus – tendency to overestimate the number of people who agree with us on matters of fact/opinion

False Uniqueness – tendency to serve self image by believing our talents and moral judgments uniquely superior

Self-Esteem Maintenance – facing failure, we tend to perceive others as failing and put down vulnerable others

Self-Handicapping – the tendency to protect self-image with behaviors that create useful excuses for later failure

Social Beliefs and Judgments:

The Fundamental Attribution Bias – tendency to underestimate situational influences and overestimate individual character/disposition/abilities when explaining the behavior of a person or a group of people in a social context.

Confirmation Bias - We are likely to use mixed evidence on any topic to reinforce our existing beliefs on the nature of a phenomena. The remedy for this bias is to actively try to explain why the contrary may be true. Reconstructing beliefs and memories - We reconstruct the past by combining fragments of memory with our current information, feelings, and expectations. Memory is often revised to justify fundamental change in beliefs that might seem hypocritical… attitudes seem consistent and mildly pleasant events are more rosy in photos

Misinformation Effect – we recall details and associations from memory inaccurately, but with great confidence

Heuristic – a rule of thumb mental strategy that allows us to make quick/efficient judgments (not so accurate) Availability Heuristic - tendency to judge the validity or likelihood of an argument based on instances of evidence that come most readily to mind.

Representativeness Heuristic – tendency to presume, against the odds, that someone or something belongs to a specific group because they somehow resemble a typical member

Illusory Correlation – tendency to perceive relationships between events or conditions where none actually exists

Illusion of Control – the idea that chance events are subject to our influence, and positive outcomes are evidence

Behavioral Confirmation – a type of self-fulfilling prophesy whereby people's social expectations lead them to act in ways that causes others to confirm such expectations

The Relationship Between Attitudes and Behaviors:

The evidence doesn't support the idea that changing attitude will change behavior, in fact, the contrary pattern is much more common… under which conditions might attitude be able to influence behavior? (policy importance)

1. Minimize other influences on supposed attitude convictions and on related behavior 2. Make the attitude specifically relevant to the action you are hoping to produce 3. Make the attitude as potent as possible

Cognitive Dissonance – tension arising when someone is has inconsistency between beliefs and/or actions

Insufficient Justification Effect – reducing dissonance by internally justifying behavior when external justification is insufficient

Overjustification effect – if you pay someone to do something they already like, they may begin to attribute that behavior to the money instead of intrinsic internal motivations

Other Assorted Social Psych Concepts:

Outgroup Homogeneity Effect – perception that people in groups different than one's own are very similar

Just World Phenomena – people tend to believe that the world is just and people thus get what they deserve

Displacement - redirection of aggression to a target other than the source of the frustration; a safe, acceptable one

Proximity and Interaction Effect – just proximity and positive behavior towards individuals results in fondness

Bystander Effect -- likelihood that someone will provide help to another is reduced when more people are around

Adaptation Level Phenomena – the tendency to adapt to a given level of stimulation, then only react to that level

Depressive Realism – tendency of mildly depressed people to make more accurate (less self serving) attributions

Sleeper Effect – delayed impact of a message; effective later after we forget initial reasons for discounting it

Mere Exposure Effect – novel stimuli liked more after one is repeatedly exposed to them; regardless of quality

Moral Inclusion/Exclusion ­ - perception of certain people as inside/outside our bounds of moral or ethical concern

Last modified on 4 May 2008, at 13:41