Guide Social Psychology

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When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free. No preparation is needed, but you're welcome to begin receiving Social Psychology Network news items and announcements from any of these sources if you use Twitter, Facebook, or RSS feeds:.

These resources are free to everyone whether you enroll for a Certificate or not and will connect you with the latest news, studies, and other developments in social psychology and related fields. More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center. Browse Chevron Right. Health Chevron Right. Social Psychology. Offered By. Wesleyan University. About this Course , recent views. Flexible deadlines.

An Introduction to the Science of Social Psychology

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Social psychology |

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course. Video 9 videos. Quick Course Overview 3m. Lecture 1. Reading 13 readings. How the Course Works 4m. Reading 1. How to Join Social Psychology Network 1m. Bonus Reading 1. Quiz 3 practice exercises. Snapshot Quiz, Part 1: Complete before Lecture 1. Snapshot Quiz, Part 2: Complete before Lecture 1. How does prejudice develop, and how can we overcome it? These are just a few of the big questions of interest in the field of social psychology.

Social psychologists tackle issues that can have a significant impact on individual health and well-being, from understanding why bullying behavior and aggression take place to analyzing why people sometimes fail to help individuals in need. According to psychologist Gordon Allport , social psychology is a discipline that uses scientific methods "to understand and explain how the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other human beings. You probably already realize that other people can have a dramatic influence on the way you act and the choices you make.

Consider how you might behave in a situation if you were all alone versus if there were other people in the room. The decisions you make and the behaviors you exhibit might depend on not only how many people are present but exactly who you are around. For example, you are likely to behave much differently when you are around a group of close friends than you would around a group of colleagues or supervisors from work. Social perception and social interaction are also vital to understanding social behavior.

The way that we see other people and the way we think they see us can play a powerful role in a wide variety of actions and decisions. Just think for a moment about how you sometimes act differently in a public setting than you might if you were at home by yourself. At home you might be loud and rambunctious, while in public you might be much more subdued and reserved. Why is this?

Because the people around us shape our thoughts, feelings, moods, attitudes, and perceptions. The presence of other people can make a difference in the choices we make and the actions we take. While social psychology tends to be an academic field, the research that social psychologists perform can and does have a powerful influence on our understanding of various aspects of mental health and wellbeing.

For example, research on conformity has contributed to our understanding of why teenagers sometimes go to such great lengths to fit in with their social group—sometimes to the detriment of their own health and wellness. As a result, psychologists are able to develop public health programs and treatment approaches aimed at helping teenagers resist potentially harmful behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and substance use.

While Plato referred to the idea of the "crowd mind," and concepts such as social loafing and social facilitation were introduced in the late s, it wasn't until after World War II that research on social psychology began in earnest. The horrors of the Holocaust led researchers to study the effects of social influence, conformity , and obedience.

What could explain why so many people participated in such terrible and evil actions, social psychologists wondered? Were people only following orders and bowing to social pressure, or were there some other forces at work that led people to engage in such devastating actions? In addition to the people with whom we are currently interacting, we are influenced by people who are not physically present but who are nevertheless part of our thoughts and feelings. Imagine that you are driving home on a deserted country road late at night.

No cars are visible in any direction, and you can see for miles. You come to a stop sign. What do you do? Most likely, you stop at the sign, or at least slow down. We carry our own personal social situations—our experiences with our parents, teachers, leaders, authorities, and friends—around with us every day. When social psychologists analyze an event such as the Holocaust, they are likely to focus more on the characteristics of the situation e. As an example, we will see that even ordinary people who are neither bad nor evil in any way can nevertheless be placed in situations in which an authority figure is able to lead them to engage in evil behaviors, such as applying potentially lethal levels of electrical shock Milgram, In addition to discovering the remarkable extent to which our behavior is influenced by our social situation, social psychologists have discovered that we often do not recognize how important the social situation is in determining behavior.

We often wrongly think that we and others act entirely on our own accord, without any external influences. It is tempting to assume that the people who commit extreme acts, such as terrorists or members of suicide cults, are unusual or extreme people. There is perhaps no clearer example of the powerful influence of the social situation than that found in research showing the enormous role that others play in our physical and mental health.

One of the goals of effective psychotherapy is to help people generate better social support networks because such relationships have such a positive effect on mental health. In addition to having better mental health, people who have adequate social support are more physically healthy. These differences appear to be due to the positive effects of social support on physiological functioning, including the immune system.

The opposite of social support is the feeling of being excluded or ostracized. Feeling that others are excluding us is painful, and the pain of rejection may linger even longer than physical pain.

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People who were asked to recall an event that caused them social pain e. Because connecting with others is such an important part of human experience, we may sometimes withhold affiliation from or ostracize other people in order to attempt to force them to conform to our wishes. When individuals of the Amish religion violate the rulings of an elder, they are placed under a Meidung. During this time, and until they make amends, they are not spoken to by community members. The silent treatment and other forms of ostracism are popular because they work.

Withholding social communication and interaction is a powerful weapon for punishing individuals and forcing them to change their behaviors. Taken together, then, social psychological research results suggest that one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to develop a stable support network.

Reaching out to other people benefits those who become your friends because you are in their support network and has substantial benefits for you. In some cases, social influence occurs rather passively, without any obvious intent of one person to influence another, such as when we learn about and adopt the beliefs and behaviors of the people around us, often without really being aware that we are doing so. In other cases, social influence is anything but subtle; it involves one or more individuals actively attempting to change the beliefs or behaviors of others, as is evident in the attempts of the members of a jury to get a dissenting member to change his or her opinion, the use of a popular sports figure to encourage children to buy certain products, or the messages that cult leaders give to their followers to encourage them to engage in the behaviors required of the group.

One outcome of social influence is the development of social norms — the ways of thinking, feeling, or behaving that are shared by group members and perceived by them as appropriate Asch, ; Cialdini, Norms include customs, traditions, standards, and rules, as well as the general values of the group. There are norms about almost every possible social behavior, and these norms have a big influence on our actions.

The social norms that guide our everyday behaviors and that create social influence derive in large part from our culture. The culture in which we live affects our thoughts, feelings, and behavior through teaching, imitation, and other forms of social transmission Mesoudi, It is not inappropriate to say that our culture defines our lives just as much as our evolutionary experience does.

Cultures differ in terms of the particular norms that they find important and that guide the behavior of the group members. Norms in Western cultures are primarily oriented toward individualism — cultural norms, common in Western societies, that focus primarily on self-enhancement and independence. Children in Western cultures are taught to develop and value a sense of their personal self and to see themselves as largely separate from the people around them.

Adults in Western cultures are oriented toward promoting their own individual success, frequently in comparison with or even at the expense of others. In short, in Western cultures the emphasis is on self-concern. Norms in the East Asian cultures, on the other hand, are more focused on other-concern.

These norms indicate that people should be more fundamentally connected with others and thus are more oriented toward interdependence , or collectivism. The members of East Asian cultures, when asked to describe themselves, indicate that they are particularly concerned about the interests of others, including their close friends and their colleagues.

Other researchers have studied other cultural differences, such as variations in orientations toward time. It has also been argued that there are differences in the extent to which people in different cultures are bound by social norms and customs, rather than being free to express their own individuality without regard to considering social norms Gelfand et al. And there are also cultural differences regarding personal space, such as how close individuals stand to each other when talking, as well as differences in the communication styles individuals employ.

About the journal

It is important to be aware of cultures and cultural differences, at least in part because people with different cultural backgrounds are increasingly coming into contact with each other as a result of increased travel and immigration, and the development of the Internet and other forms of communication. In Canada, for instance, there are many different ethnic groups, and the proportion of the population that comes from minority non-White groups is increasing from year to year.

Minorities will account for a much larger proportion of the total new entries into the Canadian workforce over the next decades. Although these changes create the potential for greater cultural understanding and productive interaction, they may also produce unwanted social conflict. Being aware of cultural differences and considering their influence on how we behave toward others is an important part of a basic understanding of social psychology and a topic that we will return to frequently in this book.

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Psychological Review, 3 , — Bastian, B. Excluded from humanity: The dehumanizing effects of social ostracism. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46 1 , — Baumeister, R. The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, , — Berkowitz, L. Aggression: A social psychological analysis. Bernstein, M. Adaptive responses to social exclusion: Social rejection improves detection of real and fake smiles. Psychological Science, 19 10 , — Bertera, E. The role of positive and negative social exchanges between adolescents, their peers and family as predictors of suicide ideation.

Buss, D. The dangerous passion: Why jealousy is as necessary as love and sex. Evolutionary social psychology. Gilbert, S. Lindzey Eds. Chen, Z. When hurt will not heal: Exploring the capacity to relive social and physical pain.

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Social environment factors associated with suicide attempt among low-income African Americans: The protective role of family relationships and social support. Darley, J. Bystander intervention in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8 4, Pt. Diener, E.

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