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Social Psychology Chapters 1-4


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What is social psychology?
Social psychology: systematic study (reliance on scientific method) of the nature (describing behaviors) and causes (explaining behavior) of human social behavior (thinking, feeling, actions of one another in social settings).
What are the 4 main “core concerns” of social psychology?
Impact that one individual has on another

Impact of group on an individual

Impact of an individual member on the group they belong to

Impact of one group on another
How is social psychology related to sociology? How is it related to psychology?
Social psychology bridges the gap between sociology and psychology
Sociology is the study of groups and psychology is the study of an individual and individual behavior
What is a “theory”? What is a “middle-range” theory? What is a “theoretical perspective”?
Theory: a set of interrelated propositions that organizes and explains a set of observed phenomena.
Middle-range theory: narrow, focused frameworks that identify the conditions that produce a specific social behavior
Theoretical perspective: broad scope; general explanations for a wide array of social behaviors in a variety of situations.
What are the 5 main theoretical perspectives in social psychology?
⬢ Role theory
⬢ Reinforcement theory
⬢ Cognitive theory
⬢ Symbolic interaction theory
⬢ Evolutionary theory
What is a “role”? Give several examples of roles. What are the basic propositions of “role theory”? What are the limitations of role theory?
Role: a set of rules that function as plans of blueprints and guide behavior
i.e. holding a job, being an actor on stage, ballplayers performing on the field
Role theory: a substantial proportion of observable, day-to-day social behavior is simply persons carrying out their roles
Limitations: has difficulty explaining certain social behaviors such as deviant behavior because it violates the norms of a role. Also, many believe that the behavior is simply conformity , it does not explain how the role expectations came to be and explain how and when these expectations change.
What are the basic propositions of “reinforcement theory”? What is a “stimulus”? What is a “response”? What is “reinforcement”? What is “conditioning”? What is “stimulus discrimination”? What is “imitation”? What are the limit
The reinforcement theory begins with the premise that social behavior is governed by external events. The central proposition is that people are more likely to perform a specific behavior if it is followed directly by the occurrence of something pleasurable/removal of something adverse. Likewise with refraining from performance. Limitations of reinforcement theory- it portrays individuals primarily as reacting to environmental stimuli rather than initiating behavior based on imaginative/creative thought. Also, the theory does not easily account for creativity, innovation, or invention. Secondly, it ignores or downplays other motivations, social behavior is categorized as hedonistic and does not easily explain selfless behavior (ie. Altruism and martyrdom)

Stimulus: any event that leads to an alternation or change in behavior

Response: change in behavior induced by a stimulus

Reinforcement: any favorable outcome that results from a response; reinforcement strengthens the response

Conditioning: reinforcement is especially important in this form of learning; a contingency is established between emitting a response and subsequently receiving a reinforcement.

Stimulus discrimination: occurs when one learns the exact condition under which a response will be reinforced.

Imitation: an observational learning process; the learner neither performs a response nor receives any reinforcement.
What are the basic propositions of “social exchange theory”?
It is based on the principle of reinforcement to explain stability and change in relations between individuals. This theory assumes individuals have freedom of choice and face social situations in which they must chose among alternative actions. The theory posits that individuals are hedonistic
What are the basic propositions of “cognitive theory”? What is a “schema”? Why are schemas important? What is your schema for “college student”? What is the principle of “cognitive consistency”? What are the limitations of the cognitive t
The basic premises is that mental activities of the individual are determantants of social behavior. The limitations are that it simplifies (oversimplifies) the way in which people process information which is a complex process. Also, the cognitive phenomena are not directly observable, they must be inferred.

Schemas: the basic form or sketch of what we know about people or things.

My schema for college student would include traits such as motivated, young, thorough and intelligent.

Principle of cognitive consistency: maintains that individuals strive to hold ideas that are consistent or congruous with one another
What are the basic propositions of “symbolic interaction” theory? What is meant by the “definition of the situation”? What is “role taking”? What are the limitations of symbolic interactions theory?
The basic premises is that human nature and social order are products of symbolic communication among people; the behavior is constructed through give-and-take during an interaction with another. The limitations concern the balance between rationality and emotion; second, concerns the model of the individual implicit in the theory; it also places too much emphasis on consensus and cooperation and downplays the importance of conflict.

Definition of the situation: a person’s interpretation or construal of a situation and the objects in it. An agreement among people about who they are and what actions are appropriate in the setting and what the behavior means.
What is “role taking”?
Role taking: an individual imagines how he/she looks from the other person’s viewpoint
What is the basic argument of “evolutionary theory”? What are the limitations of the theory?
The theory locates the roots of social behavior in our genes which puts an intimate link between psychology/sociology and biology. One limitation is that some believe it is a circular argument (observing a characteristic of the social world and then constructing an explanation
What are the basic assumptions upon which any scientific field rests?
Scientists assume that a real, external world exists independently of ourselves and that scientists assume relations in this world are organized by cause and effect (the working hypothesis of principle of determinism). Scientists also assume that knowledge about the world is objective
Any field that is a science has certain “critical characteristics.” What are these characteristics?
⬢ Scientists engage in empirical observation of the world
⬢ Use a formal research methodology
⬢ Accumulate knowledge of facts
⬢ Develop formal theories to explain facts
⬢ Employ these theories to provide a degree of prediction and control
According to your textbook, is social psychology a science? Why or why not?
No, because although social psychology meets the first four criteria, it provides only a modest degree of predictability and control over human social behavior.

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