Social Psychology Exam One Notes


Methods Guiding Social Psychology

  • Quantitative Research
    • Survey Methods
    • Experimental Methods
    • Existing/Secondary data
  • Qualitative Research
    • Interview Methods
    • Participant Observation
    • Content Analysis
  • Ethics
    • Harm/benefits
    • Deception
    • Confidentiality

Theoretical Perspectives

  • Sociological (Three Faces)
    • Symbolic Interaction
      • We act towards things on the basis of their meanings.
      • Meanings are not inherent but are negotiated in interaction with others.
      • Meanings can be modified and changed through interaction.
      • Favors qualitative methods and survey research.

Negotiating meaning: humans are proactive and goal seeking; interaction requires a shared understanding/definition of the situation. (meanings can change over time and situations.)

Situated Identity: the identity one has in relation to the others in the situation; shared understanding makes for smoother interaction. 

The Self: is a dynamic object from which we act towards and from (looking glass self and role taking); significant others will matter in how the self is constructed and evaluated. the self evaluation is called the reflexive self.

Group Processes

  • How individuals act in groups/how groups shape individual behavior.
  • Influence, groupthink, conformity.
  • Favors experimental methods.

Social Exchange: there are 1) actors who exchange 2) resources using 3) an exchange process while situated in a 4) exchange structure; assumes that actors have freedom of choice and often face social situations where they must make these choices; individuals are hedonistic (people are more likely to engage in a behavior if they can recieve a reward and less likely if the outcome produces discomfort); can be unconcious choices via conditioning; some exchanges may produce feelings of equity if the actor recieves a reward they belive to be proportional to the cost (e.g., being comfortable with lower pay relative to more qualified individuals).

Status: how one's prestige and status confer social and psychological rewards on the individual (and maintain inequality systems); group work and status demonstrates this.

Social Structure and Personality

  • Each individual is uniquely situated in the social structure.
  • Position in the structure will produce personality and behavioral differences.

- Melvin Kohn and child rearing

- Annette Lareau and social class practices

- Current examples of police brutality and African American men

Cognitive Processes

Mental activities of the individual are important determinants of social behavior.

Gestalt movement: principle that people respond to configurations of stimuli, rather than to a single, discrete stimulus. People only understand the meaning of a stimulus only by viewing it in the context of an entire system of elements (the chess player).

Human are active in selecting stimuli.

Cognitive Structure and Schemas

  • Any form of organization among


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