Introduction to Social Psychology


What is Social Psychology?

"The scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and causes of individual behaviour in social situations" - Baron, Byrne and Suls

"The scientific investigation of how the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others" - Allport

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  • Person to person - one-on-one interactions
  • Person to Group and Group to Person - group influence
  • Group to group - big social groups - laws, etc.
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Social Perception

Social perception is the process of forming impressions of individuals - stereotypes, prejudices, etc.

We are quick to form impressions about others.

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Social Influence

Attitudes and behaviour brought about by others

Individuals changing their behaviour to meet the demands of a social environment.

Perceived authority, group, individual - pressure to conform.

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Social Interaction

How we interact with others in the social world

An exchange between two or more individuals

The building blocks of society

Individual differences in the amount of social interaction between people.

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Person-Situation Interaction

Human behaviour is determined by both a person's characteristics and the social situation.

Often the social situation is a stronger influence on behaviour than a person's characteristics.

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Origin of Social Psychology

  • Hegel introduced the concept that society has inevitable links with the development of the social mind.
  • "Volkerpsychologie - Lazarus and Steinthal - a collective mind - personality develops because of cultural and community influences
  • A group mind (Crowd Psychology, Le Bon
  • An introduction to Social Psychology - McDougall
  • Social psychology as an experimental science - Allport
  • Early social psychology experiment - how individuals are affected and behave in the social context - Triplett
  • Post WWI - rise of experimentation
  • Post WW2 - attempts to explain atrocities:
  • Authoritarian personality (Allport)
  • Obedience (Milgram)
  • Roles (Zimbardo)
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Methods of Social Psychology

Scientific method to study human social behaviour:

  • Lab experiments
  • Field experiments
  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Case studies
  • Observational studies
  • Field studies
  • Focus groups
  • Correlational research
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Ethical Issues

  • Informed consent
  • Use of deception
  • Debriefing
  • Respect for privacy
  • Welfare of participants
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