Social Psychology E-Portfolio
The Self in Society
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself
(I am large, I contain multitudes)
Walt Whitman – Song of Myself
Humans are capable of projecting different versions of themselves. They can be simultaneously; human, catholic, African, Australian, conservative e.t.c. Humans often act differently in different situations according to societal expectations. It is not appropriate to drink beer in a board room or do a PowerPoint presentation at a party and consequently few people will do it. A person who is known by their friends as a bawdy hard drinker may be seen by co workers as a quiet, hard worker. We are all capable of having different, sometimes contradictory traits.
Is it possible to boil a person down to a one true self? It is difficult to believe that there is one true self or if there is that we could discover it. We have too many attributes to be entirely cohesive. A person can be a heavy drinker and a teetotaller on separate occasions. Which one would we say is actually a part of the personality and which is able to be thrown away? If the self is action then is self able to be faked? Perhaps it is only our personality traits that determine who we are and not our actions. If that is the case should we not judge people on their actions and just look at what they could possibly do when you take their traits and beliefs into account. Or maybe both are needed to form a unified view of who a person is. How would this work if we came across a funny, charming person who believes in helping the needy and who just happens to be an axe murderer?
Communication is the basis of all human relationships. We can pass on knowledge to others through the use of verbal and non-verbal communication. We can form relationships, we can make enemies. All of this is achieved through human interaction. There are two levels of communication; verbal and non-verbal.
Verbal communication does not just involve what we say but how we say it. Tone of voice, and non language cues like grunts and gurgles all influence the types of communications we have with others.
Non-verbal aspects of communication involve such things as what we are wearing how close we stand to the person we are speaking to and all aspects of body language.
It is more than the things under our control that effects our communications with others. Our environments, previous interactions with the person and our opinions and prejudices all play a role in how we communicate with others.
What we intend to say can be a lot different from what we do say. The message can be corrupted in various ways. The feedback loop is a model that attempts to explain the steps involved in communicating with others and how we may communicate more efficiently. It states that we first think of what we want to say, encode it into verbal and non verbal communication. From here the recipient must then decode the words and actions into meaning. There are many places where this can go wrong. In particular this can happen in the encoding and decoding stages. The feedback loop is also known as active listening. Once you reach the decoding stage you can encode what you believe the person has said and relay it back to them.
Aggression is influenced by many different things. Chemical levels in our bodies, heat, diet, unpleasant environment, discomfort, believing a situation to be unfair are all things that can cause people to become violent. One of the more interesting ones is the effects of hot weather on aggression.
There is debate about whether the link between heat and violence is absolute or whether heat increases violence only up to a point then violence decreases when it gets too hot. Two theorists that have different view on the subject are Van de Vliert and Simister. Van de Vliert found that “Violence tends to increase with higher temperatures… but then declines with further increases in temperature.” Simister however found the causation absolute; he found that higher temperatures create higher levels of aggression regardless.
This leads to the question; as global temperatures increase will violent crime rates increase as well? Craig Anderson, an expert on this subject who has written several articles on the subject, predicts that with a 6 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperatures, the United States could expect an additional 59,000 murders and assaults each year. A study examining the relationship between average temperature for each year and corresponding murder and assault rate found that the combined murder and assault rate was consistently higher in hotter years than in cooler ones.
Exclusion and inclusion are topics that are of interest to social psychologists. What makes people accept and reject other people? Why do we care so much whether we are accepted or rejected? What makes people like other people? There are many reasons why a person would be included or excluded from activities.
People are more likely to like people who are similar to themselves. If you act in a way that is similar to the person you are talking to (i.e. if you mirror their actions) they feel greater warmth towards you.
Does absence makes the heart grow fonder? The jury is out. There is certainly a tendency to have stronger emotions for people you see more often. However these stronger emotions can also take the form of animosity. People who see each other all the time are more likely to hate each other as well as like each other. Studies have found that people who live together find each other’s bad habits more annoying then people who don’t live together.
However people who don’t see each other very much may or may not feel greater emotions for each other. It all matters how the relationship was before the separation. If you met the person once and felt no real chemistry separation will probably do little to strengthen the attachment. You would probably forget them. If however the relationship was strong before the separation absence may indeed make the heart grow fonder.