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Week Four: Aggression and Antisocial Behaviour[edit]

I've finally worked out how to use this thing!!!!! sigh, now I can begin!

I definately aggree with the definition of aggression on one of the lecture slides from today, "what counts as aggressive behaviour is determined by the social codes and conventions around the behaviour in question." Aggressive behaviour is different in every culture. The textbook gives the example of 'running amok' a malay term used for the havok that a young man may cause after being insulted in someway. In no way does it promote aggressive behaviour, I feel though it is justifying it, but of course these things are culturally relevant.

Anti-social behaviour, is also dependent on culture. In some asian cultures for example showing one's emotions is seen to be a severe lack of control and willpower. However, in our culture, not showing one's emotions is the driving force behind the breakdown of many relationships. I aggree with the frustration-aggression hypothesis, basically that frustration and aggression go hand in hand. I think that one can better understand aggression when looked at from this perspective: ie, what factors contributed to the behaviour? When you can identify some key factors, i.e, poverty, hunger, or even humiliation then the behaviour may not seem so unexpected. I think that when people hear of aggressive acts taking place the perpetrator is automatically labelled as a "bad person" or "angry person." However, I don't think that would always be the case, sure some people in the world must just naturally be more aggressive than others, but what about people who are pushed to commit aggressive acts that are usually out of character??? These days, the cost of living would be enough to prompt someone to steal to be able to make ends meet, is this person bad or are they merely following their gut instinct to survive? Or because the purpose of stealing was not to intentionally hurt someone, was it then not aggressive?

Week One:Introduction[edit]

So why study social psychology? I guess, curiosity. I am curious to know what makes certain people tick. Not just those in my family (finally, I will understand my parents), not just my friends (girls can be so mean), I am curious about any individual really. If you're breathing, I'm curious, why are you breathing? What drives you to wake up everyday and go to work? Or not work? Perhaps in your culture working is not really such a big deal. So what does your culture value? Questions, questions, and more questions, all to be explored in good old social psychology.

From the lecture I feel that Allport's definition of social psychology as 'how thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others' sums it up perfectly. Think of how many times you have acted in a particular way because someone is near you, or you think someone is near you, or even there is no one around but you can still feel others' judgement over your actions. A social conscious is a very powerful weapon indeed. I can think of many times where (being the clumsy person that I am) have tripped or bumped into something and then given a little laugh afterwards to show anyone who is watching that 'yes i can laugh at myself." It can make us do and say things that we would not normally do and say, just to conform to the norms of our culture, or to fit in with the ingroup. I'm in aggreeance with evolutionary psychologists who suggest this to be survival instinct. Afterall where would we be if we were not part of a community? Humans are social creatures, we need to be part of a group as a form of protection from the unkown and pleasure. I like the idea of culture being this plastic system that never sits still. It is constantly changing and therefore so are we. This idea gives room for growth and diversity in all cultures, and also the accomodation of new cultures into one's own. There are four main advantages to culture: 1)Language - the development of language allows human beings to share and store information,and use logic and reasoning. More importantly, language requires a group of people, which, in turn promotes the unity of a particular culture by drawing people together through a common language. 2) Progress - because humans have language and the ability to store information that can then be recalled, we also have the potential for progress. This supports the idea of culture being an ever-changing system that never stops progressing. 3) Division of labour - humans realise the importance of specialising in a given area, rather than having limited knowledge in a few areas. This allows for a balance of jobs and roles, which creates balance within a community. 4) Exchanging Goods and Services - this, with the added bonus of possible gain, helps us to establish and exchange relationships with others, whilst also integrating and advancing the other main advantages of culture. The interaction of these four advantage As the semester goes on I would like to examine these advantages of culture in greater detail to better comprehend them.

Week two: The Social Self[edit]

I often find myself wondering "who am i?" Doesn't everyone do this though? Am I the happy thing my friends see when I'm out with them, the well-behaved young adult my extended family sees on a family outing???? OR am I really that irrate, irrational, stresshead my immediate family is subject to during exams?? So which is the real me? Perhaps the real me is one that no-one has even seen yet, a self unbeknwonst to myself as yet. My inner thoughts and feelings, my self as impulse.

It would seem that, first and foremost how we view OURselves is most crucial in understanding the self. Exploring our own selves, I think, educates a person in how to deal wtih other people and their selves, which will be different from our own selves. Therefore, it is important to be able to distinguish between ones interpersonal self, one's self-concept, and the agent self. One's self-concept refers to the sets of beliefs one has of themselves, this unfortunately is not always very accurate. For example one can have the self-concept of being environmentally conscious, but then that same person may litter or do other things that are essentially hazardous for the environment. The interpersonal or public self, or the image of self that we portray to others. Like the self-concept, the interpersonal self does not always give an accurate account of the person you are seeing. A person may very easily give the impression that they are calm, placid, and very easy going in the company of others, however behind closed doors they are a nervous wreck most of the time. The agent-self is the part of the self in control, think like the Freudian super-ego. Although the agent-self is not only involved in self-control, but also in controlling other people. Our textbook also names another self, the phenomenal self or the working self concept. This is meant to be the image of self that is currently active in one's thoughts. So, the phenomenal self, is the mix of the selves like the interpersonal or the agent-self that you are using right now to do whatever you are doing.

In every day life, all of our different intertwining selves help us to perform our specific roles, known as social roles. A person can have numerous social roles, you can be a mother, sister, friend, doctor, a social role is basically something that we can define ourselves by and determines our behaviour (i.e. "I am a doctor, therefore I need to be reliable for my patients.) Social roles are defined by the society in which we live, which give us guidelines as to how to live our lives in a manner that is socially acceptable. I do believe, however, that when are social roles become too many or too conflicting this is when problems can start to develop on a personal level such as stress, depression, mental health. However, I strongly believe this inevitably impacts society also. Conflicting social roles such as being a parent or a career person can force a person to choose between the two thus ignoring the other and leaving a gap in the community (for either role) to be filled, which may not always be possible. One's self awareness also plays a part in our social roles. Self-awareness is the capacity to direct your attention at the self. Self-awareness is then broken up into two subgroups, private self-awareness (emotions, thoughts, desires, and traits) and public self-awareness (outward qualities of self, that others can see.) I think that when a person has a high level of self-awareness, they are able to better fufill their social roles. I think that this is because when one is self-aware, they know their strengths and weaknesses and are able to adjust to situations where their idea of self may be challenged. I think of self-awareness as a reinforcer of one's self concept, which I think satisfies human beings' need to know themselves.

Week Three: Social Thinking[edit]

I constantly find myself thinking about my social surroundings. Those who walk by, my friends, my family, and the interactions I have with others. I wonder at how all these interactions make one big deposit of sociality, and in turn how it affects each individual. I agree that human beings are social animals, and I think we actually need to be social to survive the challenges of life. Having social interactions with others improves ones mood and also provides mental stimulation. I think that a lot of mental issues arise when there is little or no social interaction between people.

I found there is a name for my problem, a cognitive miser! Basically, someone who is reluctant to do any extra thinking than what they have to is a cognitive miser. I think that in such a technologically advanced society, such as our own, it is easy to be a cognitive miser. A lot of decision making is done for us, especially with things like satellite navigation systems and the internet. However, I also think this a by-product of the heuristics, or the mental shortcuts we use in day to day life. Yes, I do think that heuristics are important for when we need to make a quick decision in order to be prepared for the possible occurrence of an event. However, I think that our brain can become too reliant on them. Also, I think that it is these mental shortcuts that can also lead to prejudices and miscommunications between people. I believe that this is due to the fact that our brain has a particular way of systematically storing information. Step by step new schemas are assimilated into existing ones. When you recall that information, your brain goes through those steps again, by creating shortcuts you can miss out on some vital information. I definately think that there is a need to have mental shortcuts, otherwise our brains would be working over time. However, when it comes to social interactions (especially when meeting new people) mental shortcuts can lead to prejudice.

Since I was about seventeen years-old I have worked in retail casually. Therefore, when looking at the techniques of influence I found I could relate them to my work.I could especially relate to the foot-in-the-door technique and the bait-and-switch technique. The company for whom I work now places great stress on the importance of getting a person into a changeroom with more than one garment. In the company's eyes, this should not be too difficult if the customer has already picked out an item, all you have to do is keep suggesting and suggesting more. The customer is more likely to keep trying things on, because you are only adding on one item at a time (foot-in-the-door technique.) I think that this does lead to bigger sales, because psychologically the customer is tricked into thinking that they're not really buying that much (because you have gradually built up the 'yes' pile.)

A great example of the bait-and-switch technique is when a customer asks for a particular garment in a different size (the attractive unavailable option), but you no longer have it. You suggest to the customer to try their luck and try on the garment anyway, of course the garment is the wrong size and does not fit. However, as a salesperson, all hope is not lost! At this stage you can then offer the customer a garment in a "similar" style (the less-attractive available option.) The customer is more likely to try on the garment and possibly even buy it because A)they're already there, and B) they've found a happy medium.

I am quite sure I have been using the labelling technique for some time now, especially with my parents. "Mum, Dad, you're pretty cool, you're right with me going to that concert tonight? Right, and so I'll need to borrow $50 then - Thanks." It seems that human beings are too easily influence. I also think that we know, deep down when we are being influenced but a lot of the time we don't do anything about it. I wonder why this is...Any thoughts?

Week Five: Prejudice[edit]

Our reading this week describes prejudice as a negative feeling towards an individual based solely on their membership in a group. Racism stems from prejudice, although it is much more severe because it focuses on the prejudice of a particular racial group.

Humans have a need to group like things together, I think it helps our brain not to overwork by trying to remember millions and millions of pieces of information which are only distinguishable by minute facts. I think that it is just natural for our brains to look at something, see it as a whole, and associate it with a schema for that thing that we already have knowledge of, and put them together. This is how stereotyping occurs, when we pair people from certain groups with certain traits. For example "All Italians are good cooks." Stereotyping is not really the most accurate form of judgement around. Although stereotyping is not always a bad thing, such as the example I gave above, it's not a slanderous comment against a particular racial group, it's fairly neutral. Where I think stereotyping can go wrong (and I made mention of this in my "Week three" entry) is when we use stereotypes as heuristics. The stereotyping itself, forces a person to make generalisations, when you partner that up with mental shortcuts to information, it isn't any wonder that wires get crossed. As an example, if in the past you have experienced a negative incident with a person of a particular racial group, the next time you come accross a person of that racial group you may have reservations about interacting with them. Basically what has happened here is, you've logged this negative interaction into your brain, to save you making the same mistake twice when you meet with a person that displays similarities (racially or culturally) to the first person you met, your brain gives off a warning signal along the lines of "Hold up, remember the last time you spoke to someone of this group, chances are this one's the same." This may very well not be the case, but your brain does not want to waste time on taking chances. Therefore, as a result, you may avoid members of that group altogether.

Negative stereotyping, such as described above, can then lead onto discrimination. If a group of people have formed a negative stereotype of a particular group, they can then begin to exclude them from any number of things. This creates and ingroup (the group forming the negative stereotype) and the outgroup (the group being discriminated against.) When this occurs members of the ingroup risk being discriminated against if they so much as associate with the outgroup.

Allport's contact hypothesis is something that I have always believed in, in general terms. That is, the more you're exposed to something the more you like it. Although I think a crucial element of this hypothesis is that regular interactions between members of different group DOES reduce prejudice, IF it occurs under FAVOURABLE conditions. Which, of course makes sense! If these interactions occurred under unfavourable circumstances, the negative attitudes between the groups would only increase, and so too prejudice.

Week 10: Relationships[edit]

Sigh - yes the relationships week! You know the one where we all realise what we have been doing wrong and what we need to do to better our relationships. It had me asking, what is it that will draw another person to me? Attraction? And once they're there, how long will they stay for?

I think that when you are in a relationship you feel such a great deal of social acceptance from that one person, that it no longer matters if the rest of society accepts us. That is a massive amount of power over the human psyche, seeing as our need to belong would most likely only come second to basic needs such as food, shelter, and water. Human's need to belong is so strong, that it is understandable that we find it hard to deal with rejection or social exclusion. Moreover, this may be why it is so hard for humans to break off relationships, even when one knows that it is the right thing to do. Why is that? Maybe, from an evolutionary perspective, us humans find it hard to break off a relationship because it severs ties that might ultimately have lead to us starting a family, thus having a genes survive. By ending a relationship, we risk having our genes die with us...and who said social psychology wasn't romantic!

I thought the various acts of ingratiation were quite interesting. Especially praising people, our textbook mentioned that this is one of the most reliable ways to get people to like you. Obviously you cannot go around complimenting a person twenty-four hours of the day, they would probably turn around and hit you. Not only that, overdoing it in the praise department can sometimes seem ingenuine, and other people pick up on this. I think it is about finding a happy medium. If you like someone and you want them to know it, be ready to compliment them should the oppurtunity arise, but do not jump at every chance there may be to compliment them. (A bit of relationship advice there from the Love Dr. Chicco!)

I did not really agree with the matching hypothesis. The idea that people pair up with others who are equally attractive, I think is too general a hypothesis. It merely focuses on the physicality of a match. I much prefer the reinforcement theory as a way to understand relationships. This is the proposition that humans and animals will perform behaviours that have been rewarded more than they will perform other behaviours. Therefore in relationship terms, being with a significant other is the reward of certain behaviours, which produces good feelings, therefore reinforcing the cycle of a particular behaviour, and in turn keeps the relationship going.

I really like that there is a name for people's habits getting on your nerves after a while, the social allergy effect! I completely agree with it though. This rings true especially in long term intimate relationships, when you first meet a person the excitement is so overwhelming that you do not even realise that they snort when they laugh. As time goes on and the relationship suffers the hardships of time, the sound of that snorting laughter drives you up the wall!

I am a strong believer in love coming in all shapes and forms. I most definately believe that there are different types of love and that during the course of a relationship the type of love experienced can change. We have all experienced passionate love or romantic love, just like in the movies. You meet someone and they are just incredible, you can't stop thinking about them, and you can't wait to see them, and then when you finally do see them those little butterflies in your tummy start flittering. Yes, yes all been there, done that. However, a type of love surpasses the passion, that I don't think everyone is aware of, companionate love or affectionate love. I think this is the 'real' love that everyone aims to find in life. Companionate love is marked by a mutual understanding and caring to make the relationship succeed. This type of love goes far beyond the superficial reaches of desirability and attractiveness. I think that it is best described by one of my favourite authors, Paolo Coelho, he describes love as the soul's recognition of its counterpart in another. Of course social psychology is not so romantic, but I think something along the lines of companionate love satisfies our need to belong and quashes our feelings of rejection and loneliness. Companionate love encompasses a deeper level of intimacy than passionate love. Passionate love seems almost to be like the coolidge effect, the sexually arousing power of a new lover versus the appeal of a familiar one. Whereas passion can be satiated, initmacy being the evergrowing feeling of mutual understanding and concern for one another's welfare, cannot.

Week 11: Groups[edit]

Whether we like it or not, we are all part of at least one group, human beings. Being in a group means a collection of two or more people who are doing or being something together. This seems to be a running theme in social psychology, human beings are social creatures with the innate need to belong. Humans need groups. We need groups to survive, after all there is safety in numbers. We need to be apart of a group to fulfill our need to belong. I think this is because when you are part of a group you are surrounded by people who share your ideals, identity, and you are unified under a group name, this is comforting to humans.

A by-product of belonging to and having strong ties with a group is deindividuation. This is the loss of self-awareness and the loss of individual accountability in a group. In basic terms, when you are apart of a group you become less aware of what you are doing, more likely to partake in activities you would not normally take part in, and later feel a reduced sense of accountability for your own actions because you were acting as part of a group. A perfect example of this is Nazism during World War II. For many people, being a part of the Nazi party was a way of unifying a nation, as a part of this group, however, people did not pay attention to the suffering caused to millions of people of the ethnic minority. Later, after the war, many did not feel accountable for their actions because, in their minds, they were merely acting on orders for the greater good of the group.

Coming out of my teenage years, I find I can relate to the optimal distinctiveness theory. This theory suggests that when people feel very similar to others in a group, they seek a way to be different. However, when they feel different to those in a group, they look for ways to be more similar. This was very much evident going through six years of an all-girls catholic high-school. What I found though, was when a new girl came o the school, she was much more likely to try and be similar to the rest of the girls to fit in. I found that the girls who had been at the school for longer were more likely to try and be different to everyone else. It's a strange concept, but it makes sense. Those new girls just wanted to blend in, whereas the girls who had been at the school for a longer amount of time, just wanted to break free of the mass group and be distinguished.

Since I was a little girl I have had problems with dancing and stage fright. Social facilitation theory postulates that the presence of others increases one's dominant response tendency. The dominant response is the most common response in any given situation. My problem with dancing infront of other people, obviously was evaluation apprehension, the concern about how others would be evaluation my performance. This would evoke the dominant response of nervousness and straight out fear any time I had to dance. I think this may be due to the fact that, when you are a part of a group or team the fear of failure or embarrassment cannot only reflect on yourself but on the group also, therefore producing these nervous feelings.

Another problem with being part of a group and deindividuation is self-censorship. Not only do you loose a part of your individuality as a member of a group, but you aim to hide aspects that may differentiate you from the rest of the group. When one is a part of a group it can be very difficult to speak out against aspects of that group that you do not agree with. This may be due to the fear of being ostracised from that group, no longer having a sense of belonging. Therefore, a lot of the time, members of groups will not voice opinions that they think other group members will not approve of. This feeds a vicious cycle of no one stating their own opinion for fear of repucussions.