S&D Psych. Revision

Covers a range of topics in social and developmental psychology.


Lecture 1: Do You Exist?

Bostrom (2003):

  • We are simulated reality (SR)
  • Future civilisation could create SRs populated by individuals with artificial intelligence
  • Civilisations would run many SR
  • Sim. individual inside sim. would not know
  • Are we one civ. that developed SRs or one of many sims?

Assumptions made:

  • Can attain neccessary technology without destroying ourselves in the process
  • Future civ. retain interest in past & do not legislate against SRs
  • Assumptions met = likely SRs exist and we are one

Chalmer's (2010) 'Matrix Hypothesis':

  • Question is pointless
  • Doesn't matter if we are sims until we are able to create SRs
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Lecture 1: Do You Exist? (contd.)

Ma (2011) - it doesn't matter:

  • Worlds equally real, sim. or not
  • SR and reality probably indistinguishable
  • If able to exercise free will doesnt matter if sim

thoughts = existence; everything feels real, but may not be

Gazzaniga (2011) - problem is thinking there is a unified "I"

  • Most religions emphasise existence of 'core'
  • Psychology shoes no core/soul exists - not falsifiable
  • No reason to separate physical and 'soul'

Blackmore (2010) - "I" exist, but must redefine "I" - Developmental/social psych. provide answer

S&D psych. emphasises that the self exists not as a separate entity - "I" am the set of S&D experiences

  • 'Do I exist?' - incorrect question
  • What matters are the factors influencing social existence
  • Ask 'Who am I?'
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Lecture 2: What Do You Inherit?

Fertilisation - all genetic info. contain in initial cell at start

  • Mitosis occurs (copy & divide) to form zygote - 46 chromosomes that consist of genes (Brown 1999), 23 from each parent
  • Genes - basic units of heredity that build proteins
  • Kayriotype - 23 pairs of chromosomes inherited
    • same for boys/girls except one pair (boys XY, girls **), determined early
  • Extra chromo at 21 - Downs Syndrome
  • Poly-X syndrome - 3 extra chromo - females struggle answering direct questions

Genes call for production of amino acids

  • Amino acids form enzymes and other proteins needed for formation/function of cells
  • Cells eventually shape human characteristics - phenotype
  • e.g. genes regulate melanin production in iris of eye - high levels = brown, low levels = lighter eyes

Mendell - pea plant experiments

  • Tall (dominant) and short (recessive) pea plants crossbreeded, offspring have genes from both
  • Result of three tall, one short. Recessive traits can crop up in later generations if two recessive genes present (rr)
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Lecture 2: What Do You Inherit? (contd.)

Polygenetic inheritance - most important characteristics influenced by many pairs of alleles

  • Some traits shaped by single gene pairs (e.g. eye colour, normal vision)
  • Polygenetic traits include height, intelligence, personality, cancer susceptibility (Plomin et al., 2011)
  • Observable poly. traits not either/or possibilities - show continuous variation
    • Few have trait at extremes, most have trait at middle of distribution (bell curve)

Genetic determinism - belief that genes, to the exclusion of environmental influence, determine phenotypic traits (Waddington 1957)

  • Eye colour 100% genetically determined, but height, intelligence, alcohol addiction, shopping (Dagg 2009)?
  • Some biologists maintain belief in genetic determinism
    • Argue that differences between populations in given trait are due to diff. in genetic inheritance

Interaction - Environmental factors influence how genes function (Gottlieb 1996):

  • Child inherits 'tall genes' - poor nutrition for prolonged period could stunt growth, resulting in below average height despite the genetic potential for tall stature
  • Genes do not just 'code' for phenotypes - they interact with the environment at multiple levels
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Lecture 2: What Do You Inherit? (contd.)

Developmental Systems Theory (DST; Oyama 1980):

  • Developmental information isn't contained in genes or environment, but in developmental processes
  • Rejects any account that assumes two types of development (nature vs nurture)
  • Rather than looking at genes/environment - can't distinguish between either
    • 'Determined 100% by genes and 100% by the environment' (Hebb 1980)
  • Proposes expanded view of inheritance (more than just genes; found that only 2% of genes do something) - Jablonka and Lamb (2007) propose three levels of heredity:
    • Genetic inheritance
    • Epigenetic inheritance - transmission of information from a cell to daughter cell without information being encoded in genes
    • Inheritance of behavioural systems - where offspring receives materials from parents leading it to reconstruct conditions causing parents to produce and transfer material to them (e.g. imitation, nutrition, culture)
      • e.g. rabbit mothers that eat berries transmit preference for berries to offspring
      • e.g. 6 month old babies of women who drank carrot juice during pregnancy prefer carrot juice over water as children
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Lecture 2: What Do You Inherit? (contd.)

Stages of pregnancy

Stage of zygote - 12-14 days (week 1 & 2)

  • Mitosis
  • 24-48 hours after fertilisation, detect pregnancy by hormones
  • Blastocyst (25% genetically mutants - miscarried) - inner cell mass (embryonic stem cells) give structure
  • Implantation - only half of fertilised cells - hCG detectable by pregnancy tests
  • Amnion develops

Period of embryo - next 6 weeks (weeks 3-8)

  • Week 3 - CNS, heart
  • Week 4 & 5 - Eyes, limbs, heart
  • Week 6 - Ears, teeth
  • Week 7 & 8 - Palate, fingers/toes, ears, external genetalia (8 & 9)
  • Sex differentiation in week 7
    • Y chromosome triggers male course, if ** then female course
    • Has most organs, rudimentary CNS, not classified as human yet
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Lecture 2: What Do You Inherit? (contd.)

Period of foetus (rest of time) - 3 inches long

  • Gains coordination of CNS, practices basic motor movements
  • Sex differentiation rapid - if Y, testosterone and testes develop
  • 5 months - coughs, breathes, etc. - practices breathing
  • Vernex protects foetus from damage
  • Lunugo - layer of hair, protects in womb
  • 6 months - evidence can remember and respond to bright lights
  • 7 months - shows regular heartbeat, better motor control, layers of fat
  • Mid-9 months - sleeps, shuts down/does little, kicks when awake (18 inches)

Critical periods - most sensitive to damage and outside agents during this time

Teratogen - any disease, drug, or enviromental agent that can harm a developing embryo or foetus

  • Effects are worst during sensitive period of organ or body part
  • Same defect can be caused by diff. teratogens; variety of defects can result from single teratogen
  • Longer exposure/higher dose - higher likelihood of serious damage caused
  • Some teratogens cause 'sleeper' effects
  • e.g. drugs, alcohol, stress
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Lecture 2: What Do You Inherit? (contd.)

Alcohol - Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS; Jones et al., 1973):

  • Microcephaly/malformations of the heart, limbs and fact; below average intelligence and adjustment problems
  • How much can a pregnant woman drink without harming her baby (Ramö et al. 2010)?
    • Moderate drinking can cause FAS (2-3 units), even less than 1 unit a day can cause FAS
    • Risk of FAS high amongst alcoholics and binge-drinkers

Radiation - Prolonged exposure to radiation can damage father's chromosomes

  • Increases chances of miscarriage or genetic defects
  • Mothers more likely to deliver babies with defects if father is heavy drinker/drug user, even if mother is not
  • Certain substances bind directly to live sperm; others cause mutations
    • Prenatal development impaired from moment of conception (Merewood 2011)

Age - safest time to bear children 16-35 years (Dollberg et al. 2011)

  • Risk of infant mortality increases for mothers 15 years and below - usually from economically poor backgrounds with poor nutrition and high stress (Mott 2011); do not receive good prenatal care
  • Risk increases for mothers 35 years and older - higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities (proven untrue?)

Apgar test

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Lecture 3: Infancy and Childhood

Neonatal development

  • "Blank slate" - untrue
  • All babies born with neonatal reflexes - used to assess baby's development at birth (grasp, cry, etc.), indicate normal development; no reflexes is atypical
    • e.g. Bibinski reflex (stroke side of foot), soles of feet touch surface and retract, Moro reflex (spread arms, cry)
  • Brain development continues after birth into adolescence
    • Neurons are the building blocks of the nervous system - cerebral cortex contains lots of neurones
    • Majority of neurons form before birth, most others grow in first 6 years
    • Number of cells, size, complexity and cognitive capacity increase after birth due to axons

Developmental cognitive neuroscience

  • Use EEG to investigate brain function - non invasive
  • Rates developmental changes in perception, cognition and behaviour in developing child to underlying growth of brain
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Lecture 3: Infancy and Childhood (contd.)

Post natal brain development - 'self organising process' (Mareschal et al. 2007) - about interaction between Na & Nu

  • e.g. babies/children attracted to new things, adults prefer familar - exposure to new info helps development
  • lots of networks being laid down - sensitive period, environment helps decide which networks grow
  • the state of the brain at earlier stage helps to select appropriate experience necessary to advance to later stage

Newborn vision - not well developed, can only see 8-10 inches away from face

  • axons underdeveloped, muscles in eye immature - blurred vision, but complete at 6 months
  • preferential looking (Franz 1961) - prefer complex patterns
    • e.g. scrambled or realistic drawings of faces and sharp, contrasting colours
  • infants can perceive contrast and patterns
    • e.g. preference for faces (Bushnell 2003), espec. mother's (Bushnell 2001) - important to form attachment

Other sensory capacities in newborn

  • respond to touch, taste, noise, changes in temp. and body position, and can distinguish between diff. odours
  • prefer human voices to other sounds and high pitched tones (typical to mother's voice) - can distinguish mother's voice from female stranger's (DeRegnier et al 2002)
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Lecture 3: Infancy and Childhood (contd.)

Within weeks newborns can reproduce simple facial expression made by adult (Melfzoff & Moore 1977, 89 & 94)

  • look at others' faces - evidence of biological based capacity for imitation (Meltzoff 2002)

Dynamic Systems Theory (Thelen 1995) - action system, self-organising

  • constructivist approach, recognises impact of nature and nurture
  • emphasises active role that infant/toddler takes in own development
  • innate reflexes, new and more complex actions
  • supported by perceptual experience and cognitive processes

Physical growth and development - babies can't support own weight, toddlers can - great & rapid development

  • the Cephalocaudal pattern - greatest growth occurs at top of head with physical growth in size, weight and feature differentiation gradually working from top to bottom
    • e.g. sensory and motor development follow this pattern
  • the Proximodistal pattern - growth starts in centre of the body and moves towards extremities
    • e.g. early maturation of muscle control over trunk and arms as compared with hands and fingers
    • more proficient with hands than legs, look at physical development in young infants - physicians
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Lecture 3: Infancy and Childhood (contd.)

Physical development - at 1 year, body weight triples and height increases by 50%; Motor development - developing control over muscles of body and increasing physical coordination (dramatic growth in two years)

Relatively slow process, by end of 2 years infants have only achieved basic mobility and coordination

Attachment Theory (Bowlby 1969) - infants born with innate drive to form attachments

  • must form attachments before 2 and a half years - critical period
  • monotropy - single important attachment to one main attachment figure
  • first relationship sets template fore future relationships - internal working model  (IWM)
    • securely attached build positive models, form successful future relationships and have more offspring
    • insecurely attached build negative images of self and relationships, affect future relationships
  • Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis - "Forty four thieves" 1994
    • 44 adolescents referred for stealing interviewed; controls referred for emo. problems - interviewed parents
    • wanted to see if experienced emo. problems in critical period
    • over 50% separated for 6+ months in first 5 years - showed affectionless psychopathy
  • Strange Situation (Ainsworth & Bell 1970) - secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-resistant
    • insecure-disorganised (Main & Solomon 1986)
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Lecture 3: Infancy and Childhood (contd.)

Language Development - feeding more important than talking, infants adapted as such

  • larynx high up, tongue large compared to mouth, pharynx is short
  • prelinguistic skills - cry at birth, cooing at 1-2 months, babbling at 6 months, gestures used at 6-12 months
  • child directed speech - higher pitch, exaggerated/more varied intonation, lengthened words, clear enunciation; limited vocab., baby talk, more words with concrete references
    • some argue phonological/semantic characteristics necessary to learn to speak - precursors

Language Acquisition - early talkers first word at 9-10 months, many children don't produce first word until 2nd year

  • overextension - refer to all males as 'dad'
  • underextension - general word used to describe specific thing, word used too narrowly (e.g. dog for pet only)
  • single word sentences - holophrases (usually demands or requests); two word utterances - telegraphic speech
    • develops at two
    • universal features of language development
  • rapid transition from simple to complex sentences (Bloom 1998)
  • utterances become more grammatical
  • age 2 - 200 words, age 6/7 - 15,000 words
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Lecture 3: Infancy and Childhood (contd.)

Theories of Language Acquisition

  • Behaviourism - say what I say; process of reinforcement and imitation
  • Innatism - all in your mind; nature; innate mechanism for learning language; Chomsky Lang. Acq. Device (LAD)
  • Interactionist/Developmental perspectives - learn from inside and out; interactional framework; may be LAD but must also be a language acquisition support system (LASS)
  • Dynamic Systems Theory - Evans 2006, social context & shared activities play important role; disagrees with innate
  • Usage Based Theory - Tomasello 2006, social context important; language learned as specific tool for conversation and communication
  • Evolutionary Theory - Pinker 1994, ability to acquire lang. is hardwired into system and evolved by natural selection as a Darwinian adaption for communication

Jean Piaget (1886-1990) - cognitive development

  • developed 'stage theory' - each stage of development, children faced with challenging situations which must be overcome through increased mental abilities
  • once challange dealt with, children can advance onto next stage of cognitive development
  • standardising IT reasoning tests with children; noted young children found transitive inferences difficult to make
  • children born without logic - have to construct logical framework for themselves
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Lecture 3: Infancy and Childhood (contd.)

Stages of Piagetian Development - four stages

  • Sensorimotor - ages 0-2; infants have increased ability to organise and coordinate sensations and perceptions with actions - achieve object permanence (know object exists when out of sight)
  • Preoperational - ages 2-7; cannot yet perform mental operations, logical reasoning begins, egocentrism reduces near end of stage, magical belief system disappears
    • symbolic functioning at 2-4 years, intuitive thinking at 4-7 years
    • child limited by magical thinking and animism
    • classify objects by single feature (e.g. all red blocks groups together, regardless of shape)
    • egocentrism - difficulty taking viewpoint of others (e.g. three mountain task)
  • Concrete operational - ages 7-12; develops ability to perform complex intellectual operations (e.g. conservation, classification, seriation, temporal relationships)
    • reasoning still flawed and lack of understanding of reversibility (illustrated by conservation tasks)
    • centration - centering of attention on single aspect of situation to the exclusion of others
    • children under 7 cannot conserve as they centre attention on most salient characteristic of task and cannot mentally reverse action they just saw
      • develop abilities ages 7-8, but need concrete examples, can't use hypothetical reasoning
  • Formal operations period - ages 12-19
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Lecture 3: Infancy and Childhood (contd.)

Shortcoming of Stage Theory - ***However, contribution made by Piaget cannot be ignored***

  • Piaget may have underestimated cognitive abilities of children (esp. when young) - object permanence may occur earlier, children may be less egocentric (or at least be able to understand another's perspective)
    • evidence of occurence at 3 months not 9 if use different methodology (mountain task - mundane realism)
  • Individual differences - child may display behaviours from several diff. stages, e.g. infant may show behaviour that is sophisticated cognitively
  • True stage theory - may be inappropriate. Estimates for passing through each stage based on age
  • Possible children advance through stages in response to environmental factors, not simply age
    • e.g. children begin to walk at around 1-2 years, but 'he/she will walk when ready' may be true. Child may be capable of walking at 1 year, but not receive proper motivation or enviro. factors to start walking
    • capability/having intact neural function isn't enough - neural structure must be triggered by right env. stimuli

Theory of Mind - refers to understanding that other people have diff. thoughts, knowledge, desires, feelings and beliefs (Harris 2006) - important for social/emotional functioning and moral reasoning development

  • not until age 4 do children demonstrate coherent ToM (Goprik 1993), not fully developed until adolescence
  • False belief task - "Sally Anne Task" (Baron-Cohen et al 1985)
  • Noticeable in Autism (Baron-Cohen 2001)
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Lecture 4: Development in Adolescence

Adolescence - period of transition between childhood and adulthood - associated with conflict with parents, mood disruptions, risky behaviour

  • intense physical change (puberty), inc. independence from family, diff. sense of self and peer group relationships
    • lots of social change, more interested in séx and séxuality
  • Philippe Aries (1962) - widely criticised view that adolescence is a modern invention
    • in Middle Ages, child to adult - no middle period
  • Schlegel & Barry (1991) - adolescence is universal - not all cultures have linguistic marker for this period of time

Biological and physical changes

  • extended set of changes happen over time (Dorn at al 2006) - inc. height, weight, sexual maturity
  • females generally 2 years before males; growth spurt F=9 years (peak at 12/13), M=11 years (peak at 14/15)
  • decrease in age of menarche - time of first menstruation much younger now
  • Moller 1987 - similar trend in age of voice breaking for males - used to be 17, now 14-15
  • inc. in hormones testosterone and oestrogen linked to physical changes (T dominant for males, O for females)
  • testo & social competence in boys (Nottlemann et al 1987); oes. and emo response of girls (Inoff-Germain 1988)
    • however unclear about direction of effect - behaviour/mood can influence hormone levels (Susman 2006)
    • unlikely hormones account for all physiological changes in adolescence (Rowe et al 2004)
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Lecture 4: Development in Adoles. (contd.)

Issues for adolescents - acceptance of physical changes - more body dissatisfaction during puberty (Graber & Brookes-Gunn 2001); girls inc. dissatisfied, boys more satisfied

  • Gure, Ucanok & Sayil (2006) - effect of timing of puberty on Turkish adolescents (360 F, 337 M, mean age 16)
    • 61% on time (66% M, 57% F), 23% early (25% M, 21% F), 16% late (9% M, 22% F)
    • boys who matured early were pleased (high than on time), girls less pleased; late mature boys less pleased
    • early mature - more conflict with parents than on-time mature, negative communication with father
      • lack of conflict with mother may reflect social norm of mum as buffer between father and daughter
    • no differences on measures of self perception, except physical appearance and global self-worth
    • boys had far higher overall satisfaction --> more research needed
  • early maturing girls more vulnerable to emotional and behaviour problems
    • Magnusson, Stattin & Allen (1985) longitudinal study in Sweden, 466 girls before puberty at 14/15 - puberty before 11 more likely to be involved in drink/drugs/truanting/shoplifting/breaking social norms; higher incidence of depression/ED/smoking/drug & séx experimentation (Weisner & Ittel 2002); lower educational and occupational attainment (Stattin & Magnussen 1990)
  • at 11/12 early mature girls = higher body satisfaction, drops at 15/16; late mature = HBS (Simmons & Blyth 1987)
  • more time with older peers, lack emotional maturity to recognise consequences (Sarigiani & Peterson 2000)
  • negative psychosocial consequences of early puberty may not last into adulthood (Blumstein Posner 2006)
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Lecture 4: Development in Adoles. (contd.)


  • for females the advantage is in later maturity, opposite pattern for males
  • early maturing boys, successful peer relationships than later maturing (Simmons & Blyth 1987)

The adolescent brain - advances in technology (e.g. MRI) changed view that physical development of brain stops in early childhood - continues to develop into 20s

  • brain reward centre more developed, increase in impulsivity, more prone to risky behaviours - can't evaluate risk
  • pruning of synapses that mirror earlier synaptic pruning in first years of life - not useful connections are discarded, useful ones more efficient - brain more refined
  • myelinisation of neurons increases speed of transmission by 100

Impact of puberty on brain increases sensitivity to environments (Peper & Dahl 2013)

Rosenberg's study of self-descriptions (1979) - write 20 statements to 'Who am I?'

  • Physical descriptions, character (happy/brave/etc.), relationships (friendly/shy/etc.), inner (attitudes, beliefs/wishes)
  • Younger children - physical descriptions; older - character, relationships, inner, self-control
  • Robust sample size, representative - but may not reflect developmental change (cross-sectional design)
  • shift from concrete thinking about self to more abstract, mirrors other theories (Piaget's formal operational)
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Lecture 4: Development in Adoles. (contd.)

Montemayor & Eisen (1977), 20 statements test on 50 young people ages 10-18 - found significant age changes; answers didn't reflect crisis at 14 or 16.

Erikson (1968), Identity Vs Role confusion - key time of developmental change and formation of adult personality; newly developed cognitive abilities can lead to finding identity or confusion

Moratorium - experiment; no commitment until they find something they feel comfortable with

Marcia (1980) looked at Erikson's data in more detail: diffusion, foreclosure, moratorium, achievement

  • diffusion - hadn't considered it, no commitment; foreclosure - formed opinion and committed; moratorium - confusion/crisis; achievement - committed
  • adolescents don't experience moratorium status in diff topic areas at same time - one stable, another in crisis
  • crises can occur throughout life (O'Connell 1976)
  • changes in self esteem and identity are gradual (Savin-Williams & Demo 1984)
  • adolescence is a stage of development rather than stage of disruption

Peer relationships - increased time with peers (29% of waking hours), double that of time with adults (Csikszentmihalyi & Larson, 1984), friendship anxiety peaks (Coleman 1980); challenged by Steinberg & Monahan (2007) - resistance to peer influence greatest in girls. Emphasis on intimacy & self-disclosure (Zarbatany et al 2000) helps to understand self and  relationships (Parker & Gottman 1989)

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Lecture 4: Development in Adoles. (contd.)

Relationships with parents - parents believe greater trust/disclosure and less secrecy (Smetana et al 2006)

  • Stattin & Kerr (2000) - disclosure predicted lower levels of juvenile deliquency and conduct problems
  • Finkenauer et al (2002) - secrecy associated with poorer relationships, depressed mood, more physical complaints
  • Youniss & Smoller (1985) - disclose schoolwork, future plants, social issues, but not personal relationships
  • Parents and adolescents agree on many things, disagreements can be exaggerated - conflict mainly over mundane things (e.g. bedroom tidiness, going out, help at home, music volume, school achievement)
    • Alienation from parents, rejection of authority/adult values, rebellion, extreme moodiness, storm and stress are not the norm - 5-15% experience emotional turmoil and extreme difficulties (Steinberg 1990), they are the minority - possibly have prexisting emotional difficulty?
  • Parents view adolescence as most challenging and difficult stage (Buchanan et al 1990)
  • Conflict is normative and temporary - functional in transforming family relationships - purposeful
    • Moderate conflict associated with better adjustment than none or frequent (Adams & Laursen 2001)
    • Conflict resolution, distancing and autonomy in safe setting - doesn't seem to affect overall relationship
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Lecture 4: Development in Adolescence (contd.)

Methods for coping with stress:

  • Steeling experience - resilience from successfully coping with adversity (Rutter - immune system analogy).
  • Social network resources - those able to form strong relationships able to move from adverse social situations.
  • Self-esteem - belief they can sort their own problems - increases with success, creates confidence for other tasks

Is adolescence a time of "storm and stress"?

  • Hall (1904) - chaos and confusion
  • Common view, unsupported by literature
  • Involves major transitions - growth, sexual maturation, hormone/neurological changes (inc. risky behaviours)
  • Emotionally troubled adolescents have pre-existing emotional problems, exacerbated not caused by adolescence (Graham & Rutter 1985)
    • Stem from childhood, intensified in adolescence but not caused
  • Adolescenets who don't experience emotional upheaval are 'abnormal' (Anna Freud 1958)
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Lecture 5: The Self in a Social World

Self-relevance - remember information relevant to self

The "self-concept" (Markus 1977) - sum of total beliefs people have about self

  • consists of separate, context specific nodes or "self-schemas"
    • e.g. weight self-schematic - not go to beach due to weight - base self on weight
  • people tend to have clear self-schemas on some dimensions but not others (Markus et al 1987)
    • self-schematic on dimensions important to you, on which you are extreme/certain opposite doesn't hold
  • Mahler (1975) - infants born without any self-awareness, like a 'chick in an egg' - no idea they exist
  • Dondi et al (2011) - infants can distinguish self from surrounding environment
    • newborns distressed when they hear recording of another baby's cries, but not their own
  • At 2 months, infants can distinguish physical selves from external objects - understand can have impact on enviroment and aware of physical self existing --> self-recognition
  • 'Red dot test' (Michael Lewis) - 18-24 months, most infants develop ability to self-recognise in mirror and photos
    • use of 'I' or 'me'
    • larger birds/dogs/whales/chimps/gorillas also have ability to self-recognise
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Lecture 5: The Self in a Social World (contd.)

Concrete and abstract selves - as children get older, develop clearer self-concept (Elder 1990)

  • Children aged 3 describe themselves in terms of physical attributes, abilities or possessions
    • fuller understanding of physical self
  • Ability to describe self in terms of psychological attributes doesn't develop until around 7 years - begin to include concepts about abstract self (e.g. 'I am a moody person')

The self consists of memories, self-perception, other people and culture

Autobiographical memories - recollections of sequences of events that touched life

  • Without AM, there can be no self-concept (Bernsten 2009) - link present to past, provide inner sense of continuity
  • Patients with no AM have no coherent self-concept (Sacks 1985) - patient WT had degenerated AM, came up with new story about self continually, doesn't realise has had own experiences

Self-perception theory (Bem 1972) - learn about self by 'stepping outside' and observing own behaviour

  • Do not infer internal states from forced behaviours; only infer when social isn't enough, use free will for behaviour
  • 50+ studies support theory - Swann & Ely (1984), pps complete questionnaire with leading questions describing them as introverted/extroverted, two days later pps defined selves as intro/extro - self-perceiving
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Lecture 5: The Self in a Social World (contd.)

Facial feedback hypothesis: smile means happy, etc - Laird, people watch cartoon either smiling or frowning; smiling rated it higher/funnier and happier; frowning rather lower, less happy

Self perception processes can be based on simply imagining ourselves behaving in a particular way

  • Van Gyn et al (1990) - divided group of runners; one group practiced power training on bikes, others didn't; half members of each group told to imagine themselves sprint running - imagined did better than those who didn't
    • Imagery affects self-conceptions, which in turn produces performances consistent with that self-concept

Looking Glass Self - we monitor how we appear to others, incorporate perceptions into self-schemas (Cooley 1920)

  • Metre perception - what matters isn't what they actually see, but what you think/imagine they see (Mead 1934)
    • See ourselves as we think others do - shapes our self-concept (Yeung & Martin 2003)
  • Evidence that looking-glass self affects our self-concepts in family relationships (Cook & Douglas 1998)
    • Ages 7-14 - more likely to internalise parents' beliefs

Self Comparison Theory - intrinsic drive to compare selves with others to evaluate self, innate (Festinger 1954)

  • Compare during states of uncertainty (Festinger 1954) - more sure, less likely to comapre; social comparison is frequent and ubiquitous/automatic (Klein 1997)
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Lecture 5: The Self in a Social World (contd.)

Compare ourselves with people who are similar (Festinger 1954), but Baumeister (2008) says it depends:

  • Upward social comparison - compare self to someone better off; emphasise similarities to improve self-concepts
  • Downward social comparison - compare self to someone worse off; emphasise differences to improve S-C

Individualist cultures (Markus & Kitayama 1971) - what matters is "me", personal achievements and fulfillments, personal rights and liberties

  • Disapproves of conformity, self is independent - acknowledges relationship with others but identity not defined in relation to others; typically singular
  • Self defined by individual traits, goals, personal attributes (individualism)

Collectivist cultures - what matters is "we", group goals and solidarity, social responsibilities and relationships

  • Disapproves of egotism, self is interdependent; typically plural (many "selves")
  • Self defined by social connections, group identifications, embedded in relationships with others

Superman is an example of multiple self-schemas - activates two different parts of self-concepts

  • Multiple selves help buffer people from negative impact of life events (Kassin et al 2010) and help us behave appropriately in different situations with different people (Boucher et al 2009)
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Lecture 5: The Self in a Social World (contd.)

People don't do well in explaining causes of own behaviour (Nisbett & Wilson 1977)

  • Nisbett & Schachter (1966) - some pps given pills told that would produce heart palpitations and breathing problems, all pps given shocks, pps that took pills endured 4 times as much shock
    • When ask why they withstood shock, none mentioned the pill

Speed dating scenario - say what they're looking for. Almost no correlation between what they want and what they get. More similar - more likely to form relationship.

Why don't we know ourselves? - too much info. to process (Wilson 2002), overestimate the positives (Dunning 2005), difficulty projecting forward & predicting feelings responding to future emotional events (affective forecasting).

Wilson & Gilbert (2005) 'impact bias' study - pps asked to predict feelings in response to negative life eventl people overestimated strength and duration of emotional reactions

Sum of positive and negative evaluations of self-concept refers to 'self-esteem'

  • Has impact on how you think/feel/present yourself
  • Self-concept made up of many self-schemas - people view parts of self differently
  • Different people derive self-esteem from different self-schemas
  • Self-esteem may act as 'sociometer' - rough indicator of how we're doing in others' eyes (Leary 2000)
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Lecture 6: The Power of Group Influence

Shaw (1981) - a group is a set of individuals who 'interact and influence one another', and have a shared fate, indentity or set of goals. People engaging in common activity without direct interaction are not groups.

Meneses et al (2008) - groups can differ in dimensions such as social integration, size and organisation.

In evolutionary history, may have developed innate need to be part of a group

  • Chances of survival and reproduction increase in groups rather than in isolation
  • Swann & Bosson (2011) - groups provide us with protection against threat and uncertainty, sense of personal and social indentity, and sense of self-worth

Group influence in minimal group situations:

  • Social facilitation - the mere presence of others boosts performance (Triplett 1898) e.g. motor task accuracy, rats have more séx. Presence of others can hinder performance on tasks (e.g. completing maze, complex arithmetic). 
  • Social loafing - group-produced reduction in individual output (Ringelmann 1913). Latané et al (1979): pps clap as loud as they can, in group pps "loafed" - exerted less effort. Not restricted to simple motor tasks (Tan & Tan 2008) - swimming, football, farm work.
  • Deindividualisation - loss of a person's sense of individuality and the reduction of normal constraints against deviant behaviour that only occurs in the presence of others (Festinger et al 1952). Caused by group size, arousal, anonymity (Zimbardo 1969)
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Lecture 6: The Power of Group Influence (contd.)

Social facilitation - presence of others increases exposure to evaluation, being the centre of attention causes self-conscious monitoring of own behaviour, causes social facilitation.

Social loafing - Individuals believe only evaluated when acting alone, group situation decreases evaluation apprehension and responsibility is diffused across all group members, leads to social loafing.

Collective Effort Model (Karu & Williams 2001) - social loafing is reduced when: People believe own performance can be identified and evaluated; Task is important or meaningful to those performing it; Group expect punishment for poor performance; Group is small

Diener et al's (1976) Halloween experiments - observed over 1300 trick or treating children

  • Researcher met children who were either alone or in groups - in one condition, asked names and where they lived (not anonymous); in another, identity not revealed (anonymous) - told to take one item from candy bowl
  • Children in groups more likely to take extra candy, especially if anonymous

Aggressive outbursts by large groups usually preceded by minor actions that increase arousal (chanting, etc.) - once initiated, reinforced by own feelings (see others acting how we act, think they feel as we do, reinforces feeling) - impulsive group behaviour absorbs our attention.

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Lecture 6: The Power of Group Inf. (contd.)

Group influence in interacting groups:

  • Group polarisation - exaggeration through group discussion of initial tendencies in the thinking of group members (Moscovici & Zavalloni 1969); initially risky, become riskier; initially cautious, more cautious
    • Risky shift - tendency for groups to become riskier than the average of inidividuals in the group (Cartwright 1971); but sometimes groups tend to be more cautious after discussion.
    • Persuasive arguments theory (Pavitt 1994) - greater number and persuasiveness of arguments to which group members are exposed, more extreme their attitudes
    • Social comparison theory (Lamm & Myers 1978) - people develop view of social reality by comparing to others. As people learn others lean in one direction, may adopt more extreme views in same direction
  • Groupthink - an excessive tendency to see concurrence among group members (Jane 1982); impact of theory unusually broad but not much empirical support; more likely when:
    • Groups highly cohesive and reject members with deviant opinions; Groups isolated, led by strong leader, lacking systematic procedures; Stressful or provocative situations
  • T'Hart (2011) disagrees with Janis about specific conditions making group vulnerable to groupthink
    • But it's clear that many symptoms identified contribute to faulty decision-making
  • To reduce groupthink (Postmes et al 2011): avoid isolation, consult outsiders widely, encourage criticism, don't take strong stand early on, critical review in subgroups, assign member to play devil's advocate
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Lecture 7: Psychology of Romantic Attraction

Physical proximity is one of the best predictors of attraction (Newcomb 1961) - Closer geographically, more likely to form relationships - 64% of dating couples met at work or school (Pew 2006)

  • Studies of marital register - 32% couples live one mile from each other at time of first date, 78% within 15 miles
  • Bossard (1930s) study of attraction - find address of married couples before marriage; 60% - 20 blocks; 30% - 5 blocks from each other; 12% in same building - closer to each other, more likely to get married
  • Netherland national survey - greater distance, relationship less likely
  • Festinger westgate housing complex study - MIT students, examined friendships/relationships
    • Greater distance, less likely to form relationships (building 1&4 less likely)
    • Same found within buildings - 2 times more likely to be best friends with people next door than 2 doors down
    • Flat 1 most likely to have largest group of friends, as passed most, then flat 4 (mailboxes next to flat)
  • Francis Galton - noted women in diff. places in Britain, drew up 'beauty map' of British Isles
  • Swami et al - pps from 33 boroughs of London, rated attractiveness of people in boroughs - ratings in own and neighbouring boroughs perceived as more attractive
  • Availability - proximity enables interaction, increases likelihood of perceived 'social unit'
  • Anticipation of interaction - anticipation of interaction boosts liking for that person
  • Mere exposure effect - greater exposure to novel stimulus increases liking for it
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Lecture 7: Psychology of Rom. Att. (contd.)

Mere exposure effect - greater exposure to novel stimulus increases liking of it

  • Zajonc faces study, and 1970 study - liking for Chinese symbols, Turkish words, musical selections and nonsense syllables increases with greater frequency of presentation
  • Name-letter effect - greater frequency of exposure to letters in own name increases liking of letters
  • Swami (2011) - pps rated attractiveness of over 100 faces, three faces presented several times randomly
    • greater exposure = more attractive rating; mere exposure effect tends to wear off after 10 exposures

Halo effect/what-is-beautiful-is-good bias (Dion et al 1968) - view more attractive people more positive than less attractive people. Also treat attractive people more positively than less attractive people - attractive individuals receive 'premium' in occupational opportunities, social interactions, etc. Lamdy - two identical essays paired with photo of attractive/unattractive students; more attractive rated higher

Furnham (2012) - asked pps what they look for; warmth, kindness, understanding, etc. rated above physical attractiveness

Aron - pps given mild/painful shock, complete random survey inc. rate assistant attractiveness; painful rate higher. Also, in another study pps cross a scary/not scary bridge, at the end the assistant gives their number; people in scary more likely to rate higher and call number. Mistake physiological arousal for attraction.

Tovee - hungry male pps rated attractiveness of women; rated larger women as more attractive, due to resources (subconscious) - wider range perceived as attractive when hungry

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Lecture 7: Psychology of Rom. Att. (contd.)

Social context influences perceptions of attractiveness: smile (Argyle 1968), directed gaze (Argyle 1970), have partner hold hot cup of tea - halo effect, view person as warm (Williams & Bargh 2008), wear red (Elliot & Niesta 2010)

Swami (2012) 'Love is blind' bias - view partners as more attractive than self and average person, tend to perceive partners as more objective than actually are, occurs within first week of relationship.

Goffman's (1974) matching hypothesis - we are attracted to people similar to us in terms of attractiveness

  • DeBruine (2002) - naive pps able to pair dating and engaged couples
  • Hypothesis also been disputed - naive pps able to pair individuals and teachers/MPs/pets (Swami 2012)

Endogamy is the preference for similarity -  Galton found significant association between couples in similarity

Attracted to others with similar attitudes or emotional maturity - look for people at same stage of life; people with similar experiences more likely to form relationships

Byrne (1966) - weaker predictors of relationship initiation include similarity in personality and social skills

Subjective experience or 'I-sharing' (Pinel et al 2008) - attraction enhanced if share experience of common event, more likely to form stable relationship; may underscore notion of 'chemistry' between two people

Completementary hypothesis (Goffman) - exception to similarity rule

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Lecture 7: Psychology of Rom. Att. (contd.)

Reciprocity (Kenny & Nasby 1980) - we like people who like us, but dislike those who dislike us

Dittes & Kelley (1956) - pps in groups led to believe members like/dislike them, more attracted to group if they felt liked by them.

'Hard to get' goes against reciprocity - Nasby found that researcher 'date' who was easier to get was rated more attractive.

We like people who disclose personal information

Bargh chameleon effect - tendency to mimic others' motor behaviours; subconscious

We want to be in a mutually rewarding relationship - reward theory; most reward at least cost

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Lecture 8: Stanford Prison Experiment

Zimbardo (1971) - how do people respond to radical change to normal roles in life? what are the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or guard?

Stanford Prison Experiment (Haynes et al 1973)

  • Pps recruited, told participating in 2 week prison simulation
  • 24 out of 75 respondents selected - all psychologically stable and healthy males
  • Half the pps assigned the role of guards - provided with wooden batons (not meant to be used for punishment/hitting) and given prison guard clothing (sunglasses, uniform, etc.)
  • Day before the experiment, guards attended orientation session
    • Told they can create feelings of boredom, sense of fear to a degree, notion of control over prisoners' lives
    • Explicitly told couldn't physically harm the prisoners
  • 'Prisoners' taken by police, as they would be in a real situation - given numbers and shackled on way to prison
  • Day 1 - all is well
  • Day 2 - riot breaks out; guards attack with fire extinguishers; guards establish 'privilege cell' with TVs, sofas, etc.; prisoner #8612 "acts crazy, screams, curses, goes into a rage that seems out of control" - allowed to leave
  • Day 3 - guards begin to use physical punishment (excessive exercise); some prisoners prevented from urinating/defecating; mattresses removed, forced to sleep on concrete; some forced to go nude as humiliation
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Lecture 8: Stanford Prison Experiment (contd.)

  • Day 4 - some prisoners talk of escape; local police refuse to help Zimbardo
  • Day 5 - some prisoners made to wear hood all day; solitary confinement in closet with other prisoners banging on door; #426 kept in solitary for prolonged period of time; prisoners physically beaten
  • Day 6 - new experimenter objects to the conditions of the prison; prison is 'closed' 8 days early

Zimbardo acted as superintendent, the other researchers were wardens - they all behaved as such, regardless of the wellbeing of the pps

What happened in the experiment?

  • Pps internalised the social roles assigned to them - included adopting the implicit social norms associated with those roles (e.g. guards should be authoritarian, prisoners should be servile)
  • Supports situational explanations of behaviour
    • No genetics, due to environment
    • In some situations, precursors make us act in a certain way
  • Dispositional explanation (caused by inherent personal traits of prisoners/guards) not enough, need social explanations
  • Demonstrates peoples' obedience to authority when provided with a legitimising ideology
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Lecture 8: Stanford Prison Experiment (contd.)

Criticisms of study

  • Unethical - obvious maltreatment of prisoners and pps were not free from psychological harm (or physical). It was cleared by American Psychological Association in 1973, but couldn't be replicated today with current guidelines
  • Unscientific (Fromm 1975) - only explains, relying on observation data. It is not empirical and can't be repeated
  • Self-selecting biases among pps (Carnahan & McFarland 2007)
  • Lack of ecological validity (Carnahan & McFarland 2007)
  • Recent partial replication by Haslam & Reicher (2006) - pointed out the importance of particular personality traits, such as leadership, in the emergence of abusive behaviour (especially in guards, more likely to use physical violence). No leader, less likelihood of violence. Argued that leadership displayed by Zimbardo during SPA legitimised, normalised and facilitated the abusive behaviour of guards.

SPE has implications in understanding behaviour in real life - Abu Grraib military prison abuses (Zimbardo 2007) shifts blame for torture from a 'few bad apples' (i.e. dispositional explanation) onto systemic problems of a formally established incarceration system.

SPE highlights importance of considering situational factors in understanding abusive behaviour, particularly in prison settings. Results alone do not discount the possibility that some abusive behaviour may be due to dispositional traits. SPE reminds us of the importance of considering both situational and dispositional factors when attempting to understand human behaviour.

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