Introduction to Sociology/Social psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another.
- 1 Module 5: The Power of Positive Thinking
- 2 Module 8:Reason for Unreason
- 2.1 Our Preconceptions Control Our Interpretations
- 2.2 We Are More Swayed By Memorable Events Than By Facts
- 2.3 We MisPerceive Correlation And Control
- 2.4 Illusory Correlation
- 2.5 Regression Toward The Average
- 2.6 Our Beliefs Can Generate Their Own Confimation.
- 2.7 Do we get what we expect from others
- 2.8 Conclusion
- 3 Module 10 - Clinical Intuition
- 4 Module 11 - Clinical Therapy:The Powers of Social Cognition
- 5 Module 13: Gender, Genes, and Culture
- 5.1 Gender Differences
- 5.2 Social Dominance
- 5.3 Evolution and Gender: Doing What Comes Naturally?
- 5.4 Reflections on Evolutionary Psychology
- 5.5 Culture and Gender
- 5.6 Gender Roles Vary with Culture and Time
- 5.7 Conclusions: Biology and Culture
- 6 Module 21: Power to the Person
- 7 Module 27: The Ups and Downs of Love
- 8 Module 28: Causes of Conflict
- 8.1 Social Dilemmas
- 8.2 Resolving Social Dilemmas
- 8.3 Competition
- 8.4 Perceived Injustice
- 8.5 Misperception
- 8.6 Mirror Image Perceptions
- 9 Module 30 - When Do People Help?
- 10 Module 31: The Social Psychology of Sustainability
- 11 References
- 12 Related lists
- 13 External links
Module 5: The Power of Positive Thinking
Locus of Control
Locus of control is “the extent to which people perceive outcomes as internally controllable by their own efforts and actions or as externally controlled by chance or outside forces” (Myers, 56). Some people “feel that what happens to them is governed by external forces of one kind or another, while others feel that what happens to them is governed largely by their own efforts and skills” (quoted by Hunt, 1993, p.334). There are two types of locus’ of control, internal and external. Internal is when one believes they control their own destiny, while external locus of control one believes some outside force determines their destiny.
Learned Helplessness Versus Self-Determination
Individuals who feel that they are in control benefit greatly in life. “studies confirm that systems of governing or managing people that promote personal control will indeed promote health and happiness ( Deci & Ryan, 1987). Contrary, people who don’t feel they are in control, which are usually depressed, become quite unreceptive because they feel their work is useless. This is usually refereed to as learned helplessness which is “the hopelessness and resignation learned when a human or animal perceives no control over repeated bad events” (Myers, 56).
Reflections on Self-Efficacy
The Power of Positive Thinking
“If you think in positive terms you will get positive results” ( Myers, 53). It does not occur just by self-persuasion, or by giving complements to individuals, rather it usually occurs after the achievement of success. Thinking positively can help people achieve a plethora of things, so after realizing this, some situations can be avoided by positive thinking which will illuminate many problems.
The Dark Side of Self-Esteem
Personal problems such as depression and drug abuse is a result of low self-esteem. Violence and degrading others usually occurs when an individual feels that their self-esteem is endangered. After studying many bullies and gang leaders, who many people perceive as having low self-esteem, instead have rather high self-esteem. There are many benefits to having a high self-esteem which is reflected in these individuals’ grades, appearance, and social status. In contrast, individuals with low self-esteem live a more stressful life with stress, depression, ect.
Module 8:Reason for Unreason
Our Preconceptions Control Our Interpretations
Our preconception guides how our mind perceives and interprets information. People fail to realize how great the effect of preconception. Other studies support these ideas by showing students supporting evidence on their beliefs as well as disconfirming evidence that supported their point of view,but were critical of the disconfirming evidence. Preconception can also be manipulated and in an experiment at the University of Oregon, students were asked to assess the facial expressions of a man. The students who judged his expressions as cruel were first told he was responsible for cruel acts performed at concentration camps of WWII. Others who assessed the man as warm and kind were previosly told he was an anti-nazi who saved numerous jewish lives. The experiment above strongly demonstrates that our preconceptions do control the way we view issues and people but beyond preconception is the ability to manipulate and consrue the way we see things.(Ross and Lepper).This seems to hold true in everyday life from assuming that someone is shy to wondering if someone feels the same way that you do. If you constue an idea and continue to perceive certain ideas then there will be little room for change or consideration.
We Are More Swayed By Memorable Events Than By Facts
Because people assume that something is commonplace simply because it is easily available in memory, people are often more compelled with powerful anecdote than statistics(Allison&others,1992). This is known as the availability heuristic and is often why people overestimate the reality of situations. For example, the 9/11 attacks are often a visual and readily available in memory, many people thus believe they are more at risk for similar situations during commecial travel than they actually are. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman supports this belief and conducts studies based on probability of an event based on the way our mind imagines and retrieves information. When we view an unlikely event the picture in our mind allows us to over estimate the likeliness that this would happen (kahneman). 
We MisPerceive Correlation And Control
Our search for order in random events influences our everyday thinking and can lead us down all sorts of wrong paths.
When we expect to find a significant relationship we often associate random events. Experiments confirm that people often confirm their own beliefs by misperceiving random events(Crocker,1981). If we believe that there is a correlation between events or that a premonition relates to an event we tend to find ways they relate to later occurring events but neglect to realize all the episodes that occur and do not coincide. As the mind creates an illusion perception and correlation it also gives us the idea that chance events are subject to our influence also known as illusion of control. An experiment done by Ellen Langer in 1977 showed how illusion of control affected gamblers when people who picked their own lottery numbers demanded four times the value of their ticket simply because they chose their own numbers. Gamblers credit their wins to their skill and forsight(Gilovich& Douglas,1986).
Regression Toward The Average
Illusion of Control contributes to another statistical phenomenon known as Regression toward the average.Tversky and Kahneman noted that students' exams scores fluctuate partly by chance and that tutors are not likely to be the cause of a students improvement but that students who score high will regress or fall back towards a more average score. Those who do poorly first time around will often seek tutoring but even without the help the student will typically improve showing that we tend to regress toward an average. As with test scores sports performances are proven to regress towards the average as well. After baseball players were measured on ability in areas such as batting average and earned run averages the outstanding performances of players often exaggerated their skills but are usually followed by a regression toward the mean (Galton). 
Our Beliefs Can Generate Their Own Confimation.
A study conducted by Robert Rosenthal found that people sometimes live up to what is expected of them. When partipants knew they were expected to give high ratings on a picture they viewed, they did so more than others who were expected to see the photos as failures. This study demonstrated self-fulfilling prophecy. Do teachers have the same expectation? Do teachers expectations affect student performance? Teachers do hold their standards higher for some students and think highly of those who do well(Jussin&Others,1996). Certainly low expectation may not always discourage an average child but a teachers high expection of one child does not guarantee their success.An article posted in the New York Times demonstrated the self-fulfilling prophecy while gathering men and women between the ages of 48 and 62 and then divided them into groups.One group was assigned to complete a memory test against another group averaging 70 or older. The second group was to complete the same test but against a group averaging 20 years of age. The third group completed the test not aware of any competition. When the results were in the group competing against younger participants retrieved 14 words on the average the results remained the same for the group who had no competition. The group that tested against the "older" crowd retrieved the least amount of words on average. Perhaps, the mental perception of being included with an "older" group brought about an unconscious thought that advancing age automatically affects memory thus the stereotype may have reflected test results(Carey). Having these standards does seem to boost condfidence. Teachers who do see high potential in a student have been reported to look,smile,nod more often to those students as well as call on and allow more time for them to answer questions(Cooper,1983). On the flip side, a students expectation of an instructor can affect the way a student perceives the class. For example,a student who goes into class having heard positive feedback about the instructor was more likely to find the class more interesting than a student with lower expectation(Feldman&Theiss,1982).
Do we get what we expect from others
Many times we view others then make our minds up about a person before we even get to know them.The fact that we make snap decisions or assumptions about people tells us something about ourselves. We make an assumption,and determine what type of person they are.We have certain expectations of people and we believe they will live up to our expectation most of the time.The type of behavior that we want from a person can happen with the way we bait that persons response to our action. If a person is kind,friendly and well adjusted that's what you will reflect to others. The expectation is that others will give you that in return because of the way you present yourself to them. Setting an expectation for success seems to motivate people to conform to this. An employee is more likely to accomplish more when an authority figure sets expectations high. Assuming that someone is rude may affect the way we approach them and in return may change the reaction of that person to support our anticipated internal thought.
We perceive things as true according to our own beliefs and we have the power to convince others to conform to the way we think. Whether these views are right or wrong our minds are capable of being judgmental. Despite the outcome of our judgement or decision its amazing the way our minds will come to this conclusion,which often results in false assumption and harsh judgement.Persuasion can even be as easy as referencing a simple image in our mind or listening to a news briefing.
Module 10 - Clinical Intuition
ILLUSORY CORRELATIONS, p103-104
Often, we find ourselves anticipating outcomes by correlating two unique and unrelated events that just happen to coincide at the most opportune or inopportune time. To understand the Illusory Correlation phenomenon I started by looking within my own surroundings. One sunny morning last week as I struggled to clearly see the road in front of me, I realized that I hadn't washed my car in quite a while. Why not pull through an express wash and treat old reliable to a bath?, I said to myself. So, I did and back down the road I went. As fate would have it, by that afternoon a cold front moved in and brought with it a torrential downpour. So much for washing my car. Why does it always rain just after I wash my car anyway? My wife who delivers babies for a living dreads pulling call when the moon is in full phase, because she believes that most women tend to go into labor during this time. This in turn leads to long hours at the hospital followed by a weekend of total sleep deprivation. If I had some way to check how many times it actually rained after I washed my car the results would show that more times than not the day was rather nice. And my wife she does work hard, but I can recall quite a few times when she didn't even get a phone call during a full moon phase. The husband and wife research team of Loren Chapman and Jean Chapman (1969, 1971) confirmed through experimintation that illusory correlation was an obstacle to the use of valid psychodiagnostic signs. Most of the research concerned with the illusory correlation is modeled after the seminal work of D. L. Hamilton and R. K. Gifford (1976) and concludes that observing in a unbias manner will bring more accurate judgments. Clinicians, because they are human can fall into a position in which they make judgements based on the frequency of the observed behaviors. The fact that some behaviors are similar does not make them the same. Misinterpreting these observations as being correlated can often lead to a misdiagnosis.
As a kid, how many times did you get in trouble for doing something you probably shouldn't have only to hear your little brother or sister say "I told you so"? And it was very painful when you realized they were right? Hindsight, the I-should-have-known-all-along phenomenon is experienced in one form or another daily and much more than we realize. Goggin & Range, 1985 examined hindsight from the perspective of a suicide victim's family, friends and acquaintances. Typical responses from people viewed the suicide victim's family as somewhat responsible for the death. McIntosh and Kelly (1992) report there are more similarities than differences in the grief response among suicide, accident and natural death survivors. They did not find any guilt or social support differences, but they did find that suicide survivors differed from others in three ways. They blamed more people, felt stigmatized, and felt they could have done something to prevent the suicide. I have experienced the loss of a family friend by suicide. I do recall the feeling of guilt, but only because there were no obvious signs or red flags to predict that such a drastic departure would occur. In regards to clinical judgements, hindsight leaves the clinician open to error. The tendency to exaggerate a diagnosis usually leads to misinterpreting the true problem.
Self-Confirming Diagnosis, p105-107
Looking for a lost set of keys or a matching pair of socks can turn into quite a frustrating endeavor. In the clinical environment however, the clinician must not know what to expect of an individual if an honest judgment is to be made. Presumptive questioning will lead the interviewer to the diagnosis he/she seeks not the diagnosis that will clarify a pattern of behavior. Snyder and Swann (1978), conducted an experiment that proved that once a person received information and then is told it's invalid they still have problems clearing their mind to conduct an unbiased evaluation. Thus, creating error in judgment and a misdiagnosis. This reminds me of the conscientious attorney that declares in the courtroom that his client is guilty of all accusations. The judge then turns to the jury and says "disregard that last remark". It's just about impossible.
Clinical Versus Statistical Prediction, p107-108
Alot of cliicians and interviewers make the error of hindsight and self confirming diagnosis which leads them being more confident in their own predictions than in statistical prediction (such as using GPA of high school to predict how well the student will do in college). But using ones own predictions based off of intuition isnt nearly as accurate as statistical prediction.Most of the research favors statistical prediction over human intuition even thought neither one is completely reliable. After much research Paul Meehl (1986) writes how there is overwhelmingly more evidence toward statistical predictions as being more accurate than human intuition. "When you are pushing 90 investigatioins, predicting everything from the outcome of football games to the diagnosis of liver disease and when you can hardly come up with a half dozen studies showing even a weak tendency in favor of the clinician, it is time to draw a practical conclusion." Even in the face of all this research favoring statistical prediction, intuition is still used by experts to predict all kinds of things such as how well a high school student will do in college. Dawes (1976) tells us why statistics is more accurate by giving an example of interviewers relying on their intuitive ability rather than statistical information, which in this case is cumulative GPA of students interviewing for enrollment of college. "Yet you and I, looking at a folder or interviewing someone for a half hour, are supposed to be able to form a better impression than one based on 3 1/2 years of cumulative evaluations of 20-40 differnt professors."
Clinicians make errors and have biases such as when thinking you see a connection between something you look for evidence to prove there is a connection. They also think their intuitive predictions are more accurate than they really are. Some ways to stay away from erroneous prediction is to realize that looking back can be tempting and may lead to overconfidence. Don't ask questions that may lead you to the answer you're looking for, and test your original thinking against different ideas. With all this bias and errors in research and diagnosis shows that Psychology has only extracted a drop of information from an ocean of knowledge. With this knowledge missing some psychologist try to create theories to make up for Psychology's ignorance, which only increases our ignorance. Science is but one way of seeking truth and will always be connected with human intuition.
Module 11 - Clinical Therapy:The Powers of Social Cognition
Social Cognition and Depression, p111-116
When it comes to depression people don't realize the things people go through that make them the way that they are. Doctors may find it hard to make a diagnosis because depression is so complex. In some cases depression may be hard to evaluate in some patients because it comes out of nowhere. Some patients may have no starting point, but there are ways to figure it out. The depressive explanatory style is one of those ways. (Peterson and Steen,2002: Sweeney and others,1986) This style gives us a better understanding of how it works. People suffering from depression usually are the ones who look at the positive and negative aspects of things while non depressed people may only look at the positives. If something negative happens in a depressed persons life they may automatically take the blame for what has happened and a non depressed person may find other things to blame the failure on. Two questions are always on mind when it comes to depression: Does depressed moods cause negative thinking or does negative thinking cause depressed moods? Automatically you may assume that negative thinking causes a person to be depressed. That is true but it can actually be both. Our moods do help us decide the way that we think. If we are in a good mood we think positive thoughts and if we are in a bad mood we think negative thoughts. When we are in bad moods we may think of past events that were bad and at that time we just kind of brushed it off and now all of a sudden we are depressed about it. Also do not forget that negative thinking can cause depressed moods. Say you start a new job and the first person you meet seems sad and depressed and the next person you meet seems the same way, well when meeting the next person you may think negatively towards that person before you even meet them because of your past experience with the last two people. Given these two questions we have to ask ourselves how does depression revolve? How does it start? Where does it end? Does it end? Well the cycle of depression helps us better understand the process. Our moods whether good or bad affect the way that we think and the way we act. To be in a bad mood we may remember a past event differently than if we were in a good mood. It also affects the way people view and act towards us. If we act sad and down a person may treat us differently than if we were happy.Below shows the cycle of depression and how it evolves.(Peter Lewinsohn)(1985) All of these factors lead doctors to evaluate all their patients differently. Looking more into the way that each individual thinks more than the way that they act. Also, how they view their life and the life of others around them. When evaluating these factors doctors are able to give their patients the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Social Cognition and Loneliness, p116-118
Loneliness is something that most people feel atleast once in their life and most of the time it is unconscious. There is a difference between felling lonely and actually being physically alone. Most of the time loneliness is associated with depression but not always. The correlation between the two is relatively high. It is a negative correlation greater than .5 (Anderson et al. 1994: 549-557). Loneliness is also a cycle like depression. Since, people feel lonely they approach people shyly because the feeling of being lonely makes people feel that they are inadequate. They also feel that it is their fault that they are lonely. "A correlation study designed to more accuratley represent the self-blame conceptualization revealed that both behavioral and characterological self-blame contribute uniquely to depression and loneliness" (549). Since, people behave and characterologically self-blame they then place themselves into a cycle of loneliness that is difficult to get out of. People's thoughts and beliefs control their actions which give them specific results that then contribute to their previous thoughts (Anderson et al.).
Social Cognition and Anxiety, p118-119
Anxiety of certain situations occur for many different reasons. Most of them stem from fear. Fear of social evaluation, fear of self disclosure, and fear of having to evaluate others. Shyness and anxiety were highly correlated with the correlation equaling .75 (Asendorpf 1987: 542-549). Shy people are more likely to be anxious than people who are not shy.
Social-Psychology Approaches to Treatment, p120-122
Psychotherapists try change the way a patient thinks, their attitude, by first adjusting the patient's action, their behavior. These methods take place within a supportive environment such as a support group or self-help group. Behavior therapists implement a technique in which an individual takes on new verbal or physical behaviors in front of a supportive audience, and in repetitive practice the individual can eventually be empowered to employ what they've learned into their everyday life. We are assumed to generate our own emotions according to rational-emotive therapy, and self-help groups use this to generate new behavior from participants. Experiments have been done that indicate human emotion can be affected by what a person may say about themselves (Mirels 1977:1132-1133). Positive emotions like self-worth, happiness, and togetherness can be maintained through a cycle of positive experiences. Conversely, negative emotions like sadness, anger, and frusteration can be maintained through a cycle of negative events. People can be broken from a negative cycle by reversing their environment, encouraging good behavior, and getting them to be cognitively positive. Negative emotions are not just a figment of one's imagination, they actually do unhealthily portray themselves in a given social situation. This can be corrected with the observation and implementation of new behaviors in something like a support group, and the individual may then be able to respond more effectively in their everyday life. In behaving more positively the individual begins to retain a more positive image of themself. As a result they put themselves in better social situations and behave more positively in those situations. Explanatory style therapy implements a process in which a person changes their attributes which, in turn, changes their emotions. They learn how to define their actions and the outcomes of those actions which enables them to accurately evaluate a situation. Even if the outcome is negative, the fact that they know what they did wrong or what the external factors were lets them feel positive about a negative event. People with good social skills often can see themselves as socially awkward because their environment, or negative elements within that social situation. This type of person can be helped to reverse their their negative beliefs about themselves and that is the focus of explanatory style therapy. This therapy does not transform an individual into an omnipositive being that is appreciated by everyone in any given social situation. In addition their are positive and negative stages in every cycle. It is natural to react positively to positive events, and negatively to negative events. In this sense a negative self-perception is perfecly healthy and normal, as well as temporary.
Module 13: Gender, Genes, and Culture
Are gender differences determined by natural selection or are they dictated through individual cultures? To answer this question we will need to examine the differences between how culture affects males and females. Cultural influenced differences have been found to surface in childhood. Boys have been found to seek a separation between themselves and their caregiver, whereas, girls tend to identify themselves through their social connections. These gender differences appear to follow a person into adulthood. For example, in group situations, men tend to focus on the task at hand whereas women focus more on personal relationships (Gabriel & Gardner, 1999). There are also gender differences in expressing empathy or experiencing how someone else feels as if you are feeling it also. Women tend to show more emotion, such as crying, than men when someone is distressed. This difference in empathetic reactions may possibly be explained by a woman’s superior sensitivity to nonverbal cues, which allow women to easily decode emotional messages being displayed by individuals.
According to John Williams and Deborah Best, men are more dominant driven, and aggressive (John Williams and Deborah Best, 1990 a.p.15). There is no evidence of societies where women are more dominant than men (Pratto, 1996). Gender differences are shrinking over time as women assume more managerial and leadership positions.
Aggression is defined by psychologists as behavior that is meant to hurt others (Myers, 2004). In surveys, men admit to having more aggression than women do.
When it comes to responses that are subjective and physiological, women and men are “more similar than different” (Griffitt, 1987). Statistics show that 48% of men and 12% of women can imagine themselves being comfortable and enjoying casual sex with different partners. How often do they think about sex? It is thought that 19% women and 54% men think about sex every day or several times a day (Laumann & others, 1994).
Evolution and Gender: Doing What Comes Naturally?
Gender and Mating Preferences
There is a theory known by evolutionary psychologists that says that men are more aggressive and dominant than females because they produce many more times the number of sperm than woman do eggs. They use this to explain why men have the more aggressive and dominant behavioral patterns. Because men have more genetics to pass on, they seek to spread their genes and fertilize as many women as possible. In contrast, woman are said to seek just one male who can help to support and take care of her and the child she will introduce into the world. Evolution in turn is supposed to be the cause of the male’s behavior. Physically dominant males are said to attract more woman, making it seem like they can better help support and care for them, forcing the other males to become more aggressive and dominant in order to spread their genes. In accordance with what was said about woman wanting a man who can help support them, woman tend to seek the highest paid or most successful of men when searching for a partner. Woman will go to great lengths, even starvation, to get model like beauty which men seek. In conjunction with this behavior, women tend to go after the more wealthy or dominant of men because they would be able to provide more for their offspring.
Gender and Hormones
Many people believe that sex hormones, mainly testosterone, are a key element in gender differences. Testosterone both influences masculine features and aggressiveness. Violent male criminals generally have much higher testosterone levels. It is also noted that most males seem to become much less aggressive as they grow older and testosterone levels drop.
Reflections on Evolutionary Psychology
There are two problems, hindsight bias and cultural socialization, that occur when researchers try to explain theories using evolutionary psychology. Hindsight bias is an attempt to explain behavior by examining history and working backward to find an explanation for this behavior. For example, if we were to say women are stronger and aggressive than in hindsight we can say that this is because women needed to be this way in order to protect their young (Myers, 2004). On the other hand, cultural socialization tests “evolutionary predictions through the utilization of cross-cultural and animal behavior observations, as well as hormonal and genetic studies (Myers, 2004). Evolutionary psychologists do agree however that evolution does play a role in explaining some of the things we have in common and the things that we differ in; however, they do not feel that evolution is solely responsible for predicting cultural variations in behavior through time (Myers, 2004).
Culture and Gender
Culture can be defined as the ideas, behaviors, attitudes and traditions that have been passed within a group through generations. Within a culture there are certain behavioral expectations. An example of one of these expectations would be gender roles in which there are certain behaviors that a culture expects females and males to conform to (Myers, 2004).
Gender Roles Vary with Culture and Time
Gender roles have gone through dramatic times in the last part of the century. For example, in 1938 only 1 out of 5 Americans agreed that a married woman could earn money in the industry and business fields. However, in 1996 a remarkable 4 out of 5 Americans approved of women working in these fields proving that time has greatly influenced changes in American culture (Niemi & others, 1989; NORC, 1996). This type of attitude change has also been accompanied by behavioral shifts. For instance, the proportion of 40 year old married women in America that are in the workplace has doubled since 1960 (Bureau of the Census, 1999). It is evident that it is not just evolution and biology that change gender roles but that culture affects gender roles also (Myers, 2004).
Conclusions: Biology and Culture
Biology and culture both play a role in how are attitudes and behaviors are affected. Genetics may predispose us to behave a certain way, but culture may accentuate these behaviors. There is an interaction between biological and cultural influences in that the effects of biology are dependent on the environment (Myers, 2004). For example, people (environment) tend to react differently to people with particular genetic traits (biology). An example of this would be that there is a significant cultural norm that dictates that males should be taller than their female companions. According to one particular study, only 1 in 720 couples were in violation of this cultural norm (Gillis & Avis, 1980). This interaction between biology and culture can be explained psychologically two different ways. Through hindsight, we could say that social power over women is perpetuated when a man is taller than she. On the other hand, using cultural socialization, we can explain that if partners preferred companions of equal height than taller men and shorter women would not have companions. Therefore, the cultural norm for height among couples may result from biology and culture because it is evident that evolution has brought about taller men and culture has dictated the same for couples (Myers, 2004).
Module 21: Power to the Person
Interacting Persons and Situations
-Interaction occurs in three different ways: First, any given social situation affects everybody differently. Because we all see and think differently, we react to things based on how we perceive the situation. Also, some people are more sensitive and corresponsive than others. Second, interaction, whether between situations or persons, most often occurs because people choose, and are responsible, for the situations they are in. For example, quiet people might choose to be in a quiet or nonsocial environment. Another example would be when people choose the college they want to attend; conservatives would most likely not choose to attend a liberal college. Third, more often than not, people create the situations they are in. For example, if we perceive or expect someone to be unfriendly, the way we treat that person may cause that person to act unfriendly or distant. Our social environment is what we make of it.
- Dispute between whether or not reacting or acting upon our environments does also come into play. In one perspective, it is sensible to see ourselves as the product of our environment, and to see others as “free actors.” In another perspective, it may be sensible to see the opposite; to see ourselves as the agents and others as the products. For example, if we see others as being influenced by their environments, we would be more likely to understand them, rather than to just say they are lazy or corrupt. In conclusion, we are both the products and the designers of our own environments and social worlds.
Resisting Social Pressure
The much supported theory of reactance states that “people do indeed act to protect their sense of freedom”, (Myers, 229). Experiments also showed that people often do the opposite of what is expected of them in order to express their freedom. Freedom is very important to all individuals, and they often rebel when they think it might be in jeopardy. An example of this might be underage drinking, because surveys show that more people get drunk when they are under the legal drinking age than those over the drinking age(Engs & Hanson, 1989). Another example of individuals rebelling due to their sense of threat of their freedom is by the act of rape. While committing rape a man or woman may feel their freedom is restricting by the rejection of the other partner.
“People feel uncomfortable when they appear too different from others….. they also feel uncomfortable when they appear like everyone else” (Myers, 230). Individuals think of themselves highly when they appear unique, but not too different so they won’t appear as outcasts. The yearning for such uniqueness is evident in the selection in names of babies. Children also present the desire for uniqueness in many ways. One example, which was reported by William McGuire and his colleagues at Yale University is that when students are asked to tell others about themselves they often state something rather unique about themselves. Also, individuals recognize their differences especially when it comes to the differences in gender (Cota & Dion, 1986). For example, one sex is more likely to notice they are different when surrounded by the opposite sex. This provides us with an understanding of how minorities become quite conscious of their differences and surroundings. “When the people of two cultures are nearly identical, they still will notice their differences, however small” (Myers, 231). Hostility usually occurs more when one party has a greater correspondence to the other.
What is it that makes a minority persuasive? In the book, there are three things that minorities achieve to gain the attention and respect of the majority. We find that consistency of a minority that never falters in it's beliefs and stances on an issue is gradually accepted by the majority. Self-confidence, which is a product of consistency, also establishes to the majority that the minority is assertive and empowered in their beliefs and claims. And last, defections of the majority help to increase the popularity of the minority. A product of the first two, defection from the majority can help to further a minorities cause.
Is Leadership Minority Influence?
-Some leaders surface based on their group and how they interact, others are formally agreed upon or elected. Good leadership depends on the situation. For example, the best person to lead the swim team may not be the best person to lead a debate team. The most common types of leadership include task leadership and social leadership. Task leadership includes setting standards, organizing, and goal achievement. Task leaders most commonly have a dictative style-one that can work well if the leader is smart and adequate enough to give good instructions or guidelines. Also, since the task leadership wants to achieve their goals, they would be good at keeping the group on track making sure things are getting done. Experiments done on the subject show that a mixture of detailed and perhaps tough goals and intermittent advancement helps stimulate students’ achievement. Social leadership includes being sympathetic and/or supportive, structuring teamwork, and intervening conflicts. This is often a self-governing method. Many researchers think this type of leadership is also good for self-confidence. Also, when workers feel that they are in control over what they are doing, they are more likely to be motivated and therefore achieve more.
-Studies have shown that the best types of leaders include those who fall under both categories-task and social leadership. They are concerned both with the progression of the work, and are also sympathetic and understanding to the needs and feelings of their workers. Effective leaders also exude a self-confident charisma, and they are consistent with sticking to their goals. Charismatic leaders usually have a convincing vision or idea of what they desire, and are able to communicate these ideas clearly, showing hopefulness and confidence in their group to enthuse others to follow.
-Groups also influence their leaders. Sometimes a leader who strays too much from their groups standards may be “thrown out.” Smart leaders most often stick with the majority, and are careful as to what they say.
Important concepts to remember:
- "Reactance - A motive to protect or restore one’s sense of freedom. Reactance arises when someone threatens our freedom of action."
- "Leadership- The process by which certain group members motivate and guide the group."
Module 27: The Ups and Downs of Love
To better understand the principles of love, it must first be examined and measured. Psychologist Robert Sternberg (1998) views love as a triangle, whose three sides consist of passion, intimacy, and commitment. Love can be best described in reference to a relationship between two people. Love is more evident in relationships that contain a mutual understanding, giving and receiving support, and enjoying the loved one’s company. Passionate love is mostly expressed in a physical manner while maintaining an exclusive relationship. Passionate love is also a love that is shared between two people who are intensely fascinated with their partners. Passionate love is an emotional love that is both exciting and intense. Elaine Hatfield (1998) defined it as “a state of intense longing for union with another” (p.193). Love assumes many variations. Time and culture both have an affect on the love formed in a relationship. Time can be consistent with the age of the individuals involved in the relationship, or it could even be the age difference between the partners. Culture plays a strong role in love and relationships. An individual’s ethnicity, background, religion, or even financial stability can affect the love in a relationship.
Companionate love is best defined as a passionate love that has settled to a warm enduring love between the two partners in a relationship. The companionate love shared between two partners consists of fewer ups and downs than what is found in passionate love. It’s more stable and a deeper respect and affectionate attachment between partners is more evident. Passionate love is a fire burning hot and rapidly. Companionate love is the hot coals left over after the fire is gone. Companionate love is often found in marriages. In marriages, the passion has often left the relationship, but a deep affection and commitment for the other person still remains. Companionate love is often a person relation shared amongst partners. The longer the relationship lasts, the less of an emotional rollercoaster it will have.
Maintaining Close Relationships
One important factor of any close relationship is equity. Being able to achieve equity is an important key in a relationship. Elaine Hatfield, William Walster, and Ellen Berscheid (1978) have proclaimed an equity principle of attraction: What you and your partner get out of a relationship should be proportional to what you each put into it. In other words, for a relationship to work, each partner must invest certain feeling and actions into their relationship. Long-term equity is achieved by not focusing on “who owes who” in a relationship. When one partner provides the other with their needs, a form of return in not expected. Be able to look past and not feel that a debt is owed, is what allows the relationship to last. One clue that an acquaintance is becoming a close friend is that the person shares when sharing is unexpected (Miller & others, 1989). Happily married people tend not to keep score of how much they are giving and getting (Buunk & Van Yperen, 1991).
Relationships normally end when the love that is shared between the partners is no longer significant. Enduring relationships are rooted in enduring love and satisfaction, but also in inattention to possible alternative partners, fear of the termination cost, and a sense of moral obligation (Adams & Jones, 1997).
Divorce rates are currently on the high and high nearly doubled since the middle of the century. Divorce is ultimately the result of unhappiness in a relationship, a lost of love between partners, and the outcome of consistent conflict within a marriage. Recent Risk of divorce also depends on who marries whom (Fergusson & others, 1984; Myers, 2000a; Tzeng, 1992). People usually stay married if they:
- married after age 20.
- both grew up in stable, two-parent homes.
- dated for a long while before marriage.
- are well and similarly educated.
- enjoy a stable income from a good job.
- live in a small town or on a farm.
- did not cohabit or become pregnant before marriage.
- are religiously committed.
- are of similar age, faith, and education.
These results can vary from marriage to marriage, but at least every divorce or loss of love in a relationship can be related back to one of these circumstances. Obviously, without a way to attach or relate yourself to another person, a relationship or even a marriage will become increasingly difficult to maintain.
Module 28: Causes of Conflict
Conflict- a perceived incompatibility of actions or goals
Many of the choices that we make in regards to our own self-interest can be collectively punishing.
Two men are questioned by the District Attorney in regards to a crime they are guilty of committing but the DA only has enough evidence to convict them both of a lesser crime, so he splits them up and talks to them one at a time, giving them both three choices • Confess and if the other man doesn’t than you will be given immunity and he will have to serve your sentence along with his own • If both of you confess then you will each have to serve out five year sentences • If neither of the two men confess they will both be assigned very light punishment
This puts the two men in a predicament because they are left with the uncertainty that the other will try to get away scot-free. Even though if neither of them confess they will both be sentenced to a far less harsh punishment, they are left to consider the risk that if they decide not to confess they could potentially be left to serve out both sentences alone. So the majority of people would just choose to confess so that they don’t potentially have to deal with the others selfishness. So just a simple thing like mistrust can make cooperation out of the question.
The Tragedy of the Commons
In most social dilemmas more than one party is responsible for contributing to the problem.
EXAMPLE: Between restockings, a cookie jar holds enough cookies (if conserved properly) for the children to eat three a day. However cooperation and regulation of the out of cookies is very unlikely; instead, the children who are afraid of being exploited by each other just start shoveling cookies into their mouths and then the supply is exhausted immediately. A lack of trust in each other and cooperation now leaves them without cookies until the next time the jar is filled (Gifford & Hine, 1997). This is an example of a non-zero game, instances in which acting rationally still results in a negative outcome.
Resolving Social Dilemmas
if it becomes mandatory to follow guidelines which contribute to the overall good of the group it is more likely that the system will last
Small is Beautiful
If a group remains small then the members are more likely to feel an obligation to the group and they will most likely see their input or contribution as important. If a group grows too large than many of the members might feel like their role is unimportant and will feel little ambition to remain active in the groups prosperity, (Kerr, 1989).
When a group communicates and expresses their concern or addresses a dilemma, the group members often act in the interest of everyone, this also adds pressure on the other members to contribute so they will not be singled out or possibly reprimanded.
Changing the Payoffs
If the reward for co-operation is more appealing than the reward for exploitation more people are likely to cooperate, for instance; car pool lanes on busy highways so that the number of cars contributing to the traffic and pollution problems is decreased.
Appeals to Altruistic Norms
If it is likely to benefit the common good, people might feel responsible to act in the interest of the group, (social responsibility norm) even if it could possibly put their own life in danger, or inconvenience them.
The above image is a example of an altruistic view of our connection with the rest of the universe.
In an experiment to test the intensity of influence competition has on conflict, Muzifer Sherif (1966), used two groups of boys to test if limited resources shared between the two groups would lead to conflict. Unaware of the other group, Sherif had the boys in each group work together to build their campsites and let them get aquatinted with one another. After friendships had been formed he introduced the two groups to each other by putting one group on the baseball field at the same time the other group was supposed to use it. This sudden fear of losing their resources to the other group led the boys to strengthen their camaraderie within their respective groups by mutual hostility towards the rival group, where even affiliation to the group meant immediate blacklisting.
When one feels as though their contribution to the group is worthy of a greater reward, they are either reminded of their inadequacies and become submissive to their superiors, use personal attacks or black-mail to get what they want, or actually revolt against their superiors and try to overthrow them, (Elaine Hatfield, William Walster, Ellen Pzersheid, 1978). On the other hand, it is very unlikely that someone will bring attention to themselves if they feel they are receiving more for their contribution than necessary. In these cases many will convince themselves that their work is worthy of extra benefits. Also if one is made aware that their skills exceed their reward they are more likely to argue their worth, “The more competent and worthy people feel, (the more they value their inputs), the more they will feel under benefitted and thus eager to retaliate”(Ross & others, 1971).
Example: All things considered, who has a better life in this country--men or women?
Men 29% 60% Women 35% 21% Same 30% 15% No Opinion 6% 5% (Source: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, 1997)
An example of variation in misperceptions according to News source Since conflict is the product of a perceived incompatibility, it is likely that by mis-perception of others actions, most conflicts are created. This coincides with the concept of a self-serving bias, in that we often justify our own actions and take credit for our successes but justify our mistakes. At the same time we tend to judge others’ actions or motives more harshly than our own, leading us to condemn others prematurely. We can also attribute the fundamental attribution error to our mis-perceptions in the sense that we are more likely to be less considerate of others external circumstances that factor into their actions, and this gives us a one-dimensional perception of the other which can be very inaccurate.
Mirror Image Perceptions
An example of skewed mirror image perceptions It is common for two rival groups to hold each other responsible for same crimes and to consider themselves moral and virtuous for the same reasons, (Morton Deutsch, 1986). This is often the case in wartime, we see people in only one of two categories; “for us or against us”. In modern warfare it is seen as more diplomatic however for us to say that it is not the general public that we are at war with, but the evil regime that has contaminated it’s people that we are against. This also gives us the appeal of a knight in shining armor, trying to save the “good people” from their “evil leaders”. Our cause for intervening is now validated because it is then considered a service to the people.
Module 30 - When Do People Help?
Why Do People Help?
Altruism is an unselfish act of genuine care toward another in a given situation in which no form of payment is expected. But what motivates helping? One theory, called Social-Exchange, entails a person evaluating a sort of relationship that binds the benefit and cost of helping the person before they act in the situation. Obviously, the helper desires to achieve optimal benefit at a low cost. If a person knows that the reason a person helped was because of this, then the "helper" does not deserve to be recognized for their "good deed." Some people help to increase someone else's welfare and the only happiness gained is from the sense of knowing they genuinely helped someone. Often this type of person is characterized as someone who feels other's pain when they hurt, or feel someone else's joy when they are happy. Another agent that invokes helping are social norms, one of which being the reciprocity norm. As social norms idealize how we ought to be behave, this norm suggests how we act in service to someone else because they had previously done it for us. This norm is not likely to be altruistic since there is some motivation for the self present. Another norm that suggests how we ought to behave is the social-responsibility norm. This agent is different from the reciprocity norm in that we are aware of no trading services for one another. This norm best illustrates altruism because it prescribes us to be inspired to help someone in need and never ask for or expect anything in return. These theories can be brought up to the level of making sense in nature. A concern for other's well being essentially is a concern for their survival. It is interesting to think, in this sense, how a group that is more altrustic has a good likelihood of surviving.
When Do People Help?
Social psychologists have tried to explain bystander behavior in different ways. Through a series of experiments they arrived at remarkable results. Helping often is performed by people who want to feel better about themselves by relieving a sense of guilt they may have in order to have a more pure notion of themselves. Sometimes people who are just in a positive state of mind feel the genuine desire to help someone else in need. A highly specialized result gives the impression that people of a religious affiliation are often the ones giving service to others. The conditions under which help takes place range in subjective to objective conditions. Subjective conditions include recent observation of a good deed by someone else, not feeling rushed at that particular time, or that a person debating to help sees an element of similarity between them and the victim. Objective conditions include the severity of the victim's need, our environment or surroundings, and the absence of others around to help.
Number of Bystanders
When we hear about a situation in which someone was in need but was not helped by a bystander we think that the bystander is a horrible person, and that surely, we would have done something because we are caring people. But is it possible that the bystander who did not help was a caring person? Not necessarily. Numerous experiments have been done that reveal, oddly enough, that the less people that are around as bystanders in a given situation where someone needs help, service is more likely to take place. In situations with multiple bystanders, one is less likely to notice the victim in need, their problem, and take action (Latane, Darley 1970:364-369). This lack of concern for a critical situation within a group of people is referred to as informational influence. One person sees no one else acting to help, and they themselves think everything must be alright, and do not help. On the other hand, if someone noticed someone in need and they saw someone rush over frantically to render service to them, then the sense of urgency for a critical situation would be higher. Either way, we always face the dilemma of deciding whether a situation warrants our attention. Sometimes we disregard ourselves and decide to help. Other times we take no action in a situation we feel is unclear, and this is referred to as the bystander effect. But not understanding the magnitude of a critical situation is not always the reason for taking no action. In some events the situation is clear and we still do not act. We can see something happening to a person and not act because of our notice of others who are also watching. Our attention is drawn from the victim to the other bystanders and by seeing them just looking on, we fail to act as well. It is interesting to think the mere presence of other people affects our own personal emotion and mindset in an objective situation. In experiments where participants were placed in a situation where they had to decide whether or not to take action for themselves, focus groups with other people aware of the same circumstances failed to act more compared with focus groups in which people thought they were the only ones aware of the critical nature of the given situation (Latane, Darley 1968:217-221). The participants were asked whether the presence of others with the same awareness affected their decision regarding action, the common response was that it did not. In essence, a person does not always know why they do what they do, as affirmed by this experiment. The depth of some experiments causes some people to question the ethics of said experiments. But it is important to keep in mind that the overall goal of experiments is to protect those participating and enhance human well being in the process. People become informed as a result of such experiments, and those who witness change are more likely to implement it (Beaman, Barnes, Klentz, McQuirk 1978:407-410).
- Please Note, all copy on this page is a paraphrased summary of Module 30 in Exploring Social Psychology, by David Myers. For verification of data please reference the book itself.
Module 31: The Social Psychology of Sustainability
Enabling Sustainable Living
Increasing Efficiency and Productivity
To sustain a future for all human life, we must continue to push the boundaries of technology. Automobiles have become more fuel efficient and produce much less pollution. Documents are now stored, copied, delivered, and produced electronically. Forget the copier machine, right click, copy, and then paste. From home appliances, to light bulbs, highways, buildings, and medicine, technological advances are certainly paving the road into the future. How knew the 21st century would be so far ahead of it time?
Another vital step in sustain future life is reducing consumption. For humans to inhabit the earth for centuries to come, we must obtain the ability to both consume and pollute less. Birth rates are continually dropping, due to the escalating numbers of educated and employed women in the world. However, the world is still at its full capacity. Many countries in the world have tried to reduce consumption, but many have simply given up or have not yet witnessed the constructive outcomes. Ideas such as, rewarding those who recycle, carpool, use public transportation, and use environmental friendly equipment to power their homes would be a great place to start. On the other hand, we must also penalize those who add to the over consumption of resources. Fine, ticket, tax, or charge those who drive separately. Those who leave their light on in their homes 24 hours of the day, drive three-hundred miles for vacation in an S.U.V., and throw away every piece of trash instead of recycling. Robert Frank (1999), an economist well-versed in social psychology, suggests how a socially responsible market economy might reward achievement while promoting more sustainable consumption.
The Social Psychology of Materialism and Wealth
Increased materialism is most evident in the United States, as one poll clearly represents, Gallup Poll (1990), 1 in 2 women, 2 in 3 men, and 4 in 5 people earning more than $75,000 a year would like to be rich. More and more individuals want to be wealthy during their life, rather than making an effort at living a meaningful life.
Wealth and Well-Being
Can you buy happiness with money? Or maybe even your well-being? Sadly, no, it can’t. There is little, if any, correlation between wealth and well-being. Studies have shown that regardless of how wealthy an individual is, his or her well-being is highly (almost indefinitely) not going to change. In poor countries, where low income threatens basic needs, being relatively well-off does predict greater well-being (Argyle, 1999). Once and individual becomes wealthy, there is an increase in happiness that will only last for short period of time till that individual is no longer happy. Then, even more money and wealth are needed to be content with that individual’s well-being. David Lykken (1999, p.17), “People who go to work in their overalls and on the bus are just as happy, on the average, as those in suits who drive to work in their own Mercedes.” Even the super-rich –the Forbes 100 wealthiest Americans– report only slightly greater happiness than average (Diener, Horwitz, and Emmons, 1985).
Why Materialism Fails to Satisfy
Materialism fails to satisfy the individual who strive to gain as much as they can in their life time. Those who strive for power, money, and wealth live their lives at a much lower sense of well-being. Those who strive to achieve person growth, wisdom, and knowledge live their lives with a much higher sense of well-being. Being materialistic and obtaining a personal well-being from material objects will only results in a lower sense of well-being. So many things that used to be luxuries have now become necessities, by which an individual will measure there well-being. Eventually, everyone will have that luxury and the individual will feel they need yet another luxury that everyone else does not have, in order to promote their own well-being. The cycle will continue and the materialistic individuals will constantly need more to obtain a higher sense of personal well-being.
Towards Sustainability and Survival
To relieve our society of the materialistic nature in which it is engulfed, people must follow the steps of sustainability. Implementing programs and laws that reduce consumption, continue to improve technology, focus on efficiency, realize that wealth and well-being share no correlation, and promote economical growth. People must come together and concentrate their attention on the events which take place in the world instead of centering their focus on their selves. Through the study of social psychology, the world can better itself by contributing to the sustainability and survival of the world. The sooner people come to terms with materialism not leading to a better sense of well-being, the better of a place the world will become.
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