Social Psychology Lecture Notes 1.1

Basic Types of Psychology: 

 Abnormal, Biological, Cognitive, Comparative, Cultural, Differential, Developmental, Evolutionary, Experimental, Mathematical, Neuropsychology, Personality, Positive, Quantitative, Social

Social psychology: is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other. 

The terms thoughts, feelings, and behaviors include all psychological variables that are measurable in a human being. The statement that others’ presence may be imagined or implied suggests that we are prone to social influence even when no other people are present, such as when watching television, or following internalized cultural norms. 

Social psychologists typically explain human behavior as a result of the interaction of mental states and immediate social situations. 

As a broad generalization, American researchers traditionally have focused more on the individual, whereas Europeans have paid more attention to group level phenomena. 

Intrapersonal Phenomena

  • Attitudes

Because people are influenced by the situation, general attitudes are not always good predictors of specific behavior. 

Attitudes that are well remembered and central to our self-concept, however, are more likely to lead to behaviors, and measures of general attitudes do predict patterns of behavior over time.

  • Persuasion

Persuasion is an active method of influence that attempts to guid people toward the adoption of an attitude, idea, or behavior by rational or emotive means. Persuasion relies on “appeals” rather than strong pressure or coercion. 

  • Social cognition

Attributions are the explanations we make for people’s behavior, either our own behavior or the behavior of others. 

The self-serving bias: the tendency to attribute dispositional causes for successes, and situational causes for failure, particularly when self-esteem is threatened. 

Heuristics are cognitive short cuts. Instead of weighting all the evidence when making a decision, people rely on heuristics to save time and energy. 

  • Self-concept

Interpersonal phenomena

  • Social influence

Conformity: the tendency to act or think like other members of a group.  Individual variation among group members plays a key role in the dynamic of how willing people will be to conform.

Compliance: any change in behavior that is due to request or suggestion from another person. 

Obedience: a change in behavior that is the result of a direct order or command from another person. 

Self-fulfilling prophecy: a prediction that, in being made, actually causes itself to become true. 

  • Group dynamics

Norms: implicit rules and expectations for group members to follow.

Roles: implicit rules and expectations for specific members within the group. 

Relations: patterns of liking within the group, and also differences in prestige or status. 

  • Relations with others

Hostile aggression

Instrumental aggression

  • Interpersonal attraction

According to social exchange theory, relationships are based on rational choice and cost-benefit analysis. If one partner’s costs begin to outweigh his or her benefits, that person may leave the relationship, especially if there are good alternatives available. With time, long term relationships tend to become communal rather than simply based on exchange. 




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