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WEEK 1[edit]


What is social psychology?[edit]

  • Human behaviour in social context

History & research in social psychology[edit]

  • Originated in Europe and North America (late 18th-19th century)
  • First social psychological experiment
    • Norman Triplett
    • in 1989
    • Social facilitation
      • people perform better when they are being watched by others

WEEK 2[edit]


What is the “self”?[edit]

  • Many different theories
  • Psychology
    • collection of cognitively-held beliefs that a person possesses about themselves (Lecture 2, p. 2)

What is the “social self”?[edit]

  • part of self that interacts with others


  • Self-Esteem
    • Feelings of self-worth
    • Often based on social comparisons
    • Degree of which we like our self
    • High self-esteem = positive view of self
    • Positive aspects of high self esteem:
      • take more initiative
      • feels good
      • more likely to try harder/again if fail at something
    • Negative aspects of high self-esteem:
      • Narcissism
      • prejudice
    • Low self-esteem = negative/lack of positive view of self
  • Self-Concept
    • Cognitive representation of the self (Lecture 2, p. 7)
    • Can self concept change?
      • People expect you to stay the same
      • Change of social environment may change self
  • Self-Efficacy
    • Belief in one’s ability to succeed at a given task (Lecture 2, p.7)
  • Self-Congruence
    • Rogers believes that the self does not exist at birth but infants gradually differentiate self from non-self
  • Self-complexity
    • people generally think that they are more complex than others
    • individual variations
  • self-discrepancy
    • actual self does not match ideal self
  • self-monitoring
    • High = adjusts behaviour to situation / monitors situation
    • Low = principle attitude determines behaviour
  • Self-regulation
    • Regulate and control our behaviour
  • Self-awareness
    • Attention directed at the self (Lecture 2, p. 11)
    • People spend a lot of time thinking about self-presentation and self-preservation and less time actually thinking about themselves
    • Can improve behaviour
    • Become more socially desirable
    • Can cause us to notice self-discrepancies therefore reduce self-esteem
    • To cope we either adjust or withdraw

WEEK 3[edit]


  • Social Thinking
    • Initially, social psychology was influence by behaviourism (1930’s-1950’s)
    • By 1970’s, cognitive psychology lead to greater interest in social thinking and feeling
  • Social perception
    • How people form impressions of one another and
    • Make assumptions about other people
  • Knowledge structures:
    • Schemas
    • Scripts
    • Stereo types
  • Priming
    • Activating a concept in the mind (Lecture 3, p. 4)
  • Framing
    • Context influences interpretation (Lecture 3, p.4)
  • Attribution Theory
    • People perceive behaviour as being caused (Lecture 3, p. 5)
    • Fritz Heider: “people are naive scientists who attempt to use rational processes to explain events.”
    • Both disposition and situation cause behaviour
  • Correspondent Inference Theory
    • Behaviour corresponds to a person’s internal beliefs
  • Fundamental Attribution Error
    • Tendency to attribute others’ behaviour to enduring dispositions (Lecture 3, p. 8)
    • Underestimate situational factors
    • Overestimate dispositional factors

WEEK 4[edit]


Aggression (Lecture 4, p. 1)

  • Intentional behaviour
  • Intention is to harm


  • Aggression with goal of physical harm

Anti-social Behaviour

  • Behaviour that damages interpersonal relationships (Lecture 4, p. 2)

Types of aggression:

    • Hostile (hot, impulsive)
    • Instrumental (cold, premeditated)
    • Passive (harming by withholding a behaviour)
    • Active (harming by performing a behaviour)

Theories of, and factors contributing to, aggression

  • Studies of aggression in animals (Lorenz )
  • Ethological Perspective
  • Evolutionary Perspective
    • Lorenz
    • Studying animals in their natural environment
    • Natural history of aggression
  • Instinct Theories of Aggression
    • Freud = human motivation is based on instinct
    • Aggression is a learned behaviour (modelling)
    • Bandura and colleagues = children who see aggression are more likely to be aggressive
    • Nature and Nurture
      • Both learning and instinct are relevant

Inner causes of aggression

  • frustration-aggression hypothesis
    • drive theory
    • frustration ultimately leads to aggression
    • frustration creates anger which creates aggression
  • Relative deprivation theory
    • Deprivation relative not absolute
    • Sense of having less than one entitled to
    • Egoistic relative deprivation theory (compare self to others)
    • Fraternal relative deprivation theory (compare in-group to out-groups)
  • Personality (more prone to aggression)
    • Type A
    • Of “Big Five”: agreeableness and emotional stability
    • Hostile attribution bias – think others actions are stemmed from hostile intent
  • Excitation-transfer
    • Arousal in one situation is transferred to another situation
    • Mistaking arousal for aggression
  • Unpleasant moods
    • Increase aggression
    • But is not necessary for aggression
  • Anger
    • Does not directly or inevitably cause aggression
    • If one believes it will then more likely to get aggressive

Cognitive theories of aggression

  • Scripts
    • How to behave in particular situations
  • Attributions
    • Reasons for aggression

Age and aggression

    • 25% of toddlers in day-care display physical aggression

Gender and aggression

    • Males = fight or flight
    • Females = tend and befriend
    • Men mostly commit violent acts
    • Females more indirect aggression
    • Men more instrumental

Other inner causes of aggression

  • Hormones (testosterone)
  • Genes (XYY chromosome)
  • Direct provocation
  • Alcohol

Interpersonal causes of aggression

  • Social learning theory (Bandura)
    • Aggression is not innate
    • Learned through experience
    • Modelling
    • Children more likely to imitate same-sex examples
    • If reinforced

Domestic and relationship violence

  • Occurs within home
  • Aggression highest between siblings
  • Leading cause of injury toward women
  • Women actually attack their partners more than men but with less harm

Displaced aggression

  • Taking your aggression out on something not related (e.g. kicking the dog because you’re mad at your mum)

Environmental or situational contributors to aggression

  • Relative deprivation
    • Not much hope in improving a situation legitimately so act aggressively
    • Aggressive ‘cues’
    • Trigger aggression
    • Weapons effect (just the sight of weapons triggers aggression)
  • Mass media
    • Being exposed to violent media increases aggression
    • (Strongly debated)
  • Aggression and the media
    • Children in U.S. witness 10,000+ acts of violence (on T.V.) per year

Why does watching media violence contribute to aggression?

  • Desensitization
  • Excitation-transfer
  • Modelling
  • Priming

Unpleasant environments (that contribute to aggression)

  • Hot temperature
  • Loud noise
  • Foul smell
  • Air pollution
  • Crowding

Chemical influences (that contribute to aggression)

  • Testosterone
  • Serotonin (low levels)
  • Alcohol
    • Reduces inhibitions
    • Reduces attention levels
    • Decreases self-awareness
    • Disrupts executive function
  • Nutrition
    • Junk food
    • Vitamin supplements

Self and Culture

  • Norms and values
    • Cultures can promote violence
    • people may believe aggression is uncontrollable but they’re wrong
  • Self-Control
    • poor self-control is a main cause and predictor of crime
  • Wounded pride
    • violent people are often narcissistic

Culture of honour

  • Southern U.S.
  • Respond in violence if honour is threatened
  • Higher levels of violence
  • Humiliation

Other anti-social behaviour

  • Cheating (highly related to self-control)
  • Stealing
  • Littering (males litter more than females ☺, young people more than older people)


  • Injunctive norms
    • Specify what most approve or disapprove of
  • Descriptive norms
    • Specify what most people do

What makes us human?

  • In some ways we are more aggressive than animals
  • Attempt to restrain aggression

Crowd Behaviour

  • Deindividuation (lowered personal responsibility and self-awareness)
  • Emergent norm theory – no clear norms for behaviour in crowds
  • Imitate what others are doing in the crowd
  • Commonly provokes anti-social behaviour
  • Social identity theory – people don’t lose identity in crowds (Reicher)
  • Take on different identities (social identities)
  • Example of intergroup behaviour

Controlling and preventing aggression

  • Learning theories
    • Positive role models
    • Effective punishment
    • Violent punishment may be modelled
  • Catharsis
    • Express aggression in safe way (e.g. sport)
    • Effects appear to be temporary
    • Aggression may increase
  • Cognitive interventions
    • Changing attributions
    • Relearning scripts
  • Interpersonal interventions
    • Social skills training (i.e. anger management)
    • Non-aggressive models
  • Co-operation between groups
    • Superordinated goals
    • Re-categorisation

"Ghosts of Rwanda"[edit]


  • Documentary about the Rwandan genocide
  • Through interviews of people who were there (i.e. Tutsi survivors), explains genocide first-hand
  • 800,000 Rwandans killed by Hutu extremists
  • International community did/could not help
  • Follows politics of U.S.
  • Investigates relationship between Africa and the west
  • Shows how Hutu people made sure west would not intervene
  • Philippe Gaillard (from Red Cross) was only representative of major aid organisation to remain in Rwanda during the genocide – he was killed

Comments: hopefully the world has learned a lesson!

WEEK 5[edit]



  • A negative feeling toward an individual based solely on his/her particular membership in a group
  • Categorisation
    • Human nature to group objects
  • Social categorisation
    • Sorting people in to groups based on common characteristics


  • Prejudice attitudes toward a particular race

Aversive racism

  • Simultaneously having egalitarian values and negative feelings


  • Unequal treatment based on group membership


  • Beliefs that associate groups with traits


  • Categories for people who don’t fit a general stereotype

ABC’s of Intergroup Relations

  • Affective component
    • Prejudice
  • Behavioural component
    • Discrimination
  • Cognitive component
    • Stereotyping

Prejudice and intergroup relations

  • Out-group members (them)
  • In-group members (us)
  • Eye-witnesses are better at identifying people of their own race

Common prejudices and targets

  • Most prejudices are related to external characteristics
  • Most people claim that they are not prejudice
  • Arabs
    • especially after 9/11
    • People who are over-weight
    • Anti-fat attitudes begin as early as pre-school
  • Homosexuals (homophobia)
    • Both men and women are intolerant of homosexuality of their own gender


  • Individual’s characteristics considered socially unappealing

Stigma by association

  • Discrimination toward people who associate with a stigmatized person

‘Modernisation’ of racism

  • Reduction of anti-African American attitudes in U.S. over last 50 years
  • ‘aversive racism’
  • Desire to maintain non-prejudiced self-image
  • Prejudice expressed but justified on non-racial grounds

Why prejudice exists

  • May be innate
  • In-group favouritism
  • Minimal group affect
  • Rationalisation for oppression
    • To maintain power
  • Self-esteem
    • Some may think that if others are inferior, it must make them superior

Us versus them: groups in competition

  • Intergroup relations at Robber’s Cave
    • After one week of competition between two groups, both groups became extremely hostile
    • Initiate co-operation = superordinate goals
  • Realistic conflict theory
    • Competition for limited resources leads to inter-group conflict and hostility
  • Some countries have little/no competition
    • Peaceful
    • Economically undeveloped
  • Competition (positive)
    • Progress
    • Advancement
    • Motivation
  • Competition (negative)
    • Prejudice
    • Hostility
    • Aggression

Evolution and groups in competition

  • Groups that are based on prejudice and act on it are more likely to survive
  • For in-group members, doing good deeds helps them survive

Stereotypes and heuristics

  • Stereotypes as mental shortcuts
    • Law of least effort (Allport, 1954)
    • Simplify process of thinking about others
    • Conserve energy / effort
    • Use information from other people rather than our own experience

Accuracy of stereotypes

  • May be based on real differences but generalised
  • Accuracy may be based on roots
    • Heuristics
    • Exaggerated with little bias

Is bad stronger than good? Why aren’t there more good stereotypes?

  • Stereotypes can be positive or negative
    • most stereotypes are negative
      • More durable
      • Harder to disconfirm

Inner processes

  • Stereotypes can be made based on salience
  • Scapegoat theory
    • Blame all problems on out-group
  • Self-serving bias
    • People make internal attributions for success but refuse external attributions for failure
    • During difficult times people behave more aggressively toward out-groups
    • Conflict and stress can cause stereotypes

Overcoming stereotypes, reducing prejudice

  • Modern Australians much better now than before
  • Have to consciously make an effort to overcome prejudice
    • Automatic
    • Implicit prejudices
  • People may act consciously to make themselves appear or actually overcome prejudices
  • Internal and external motivations
    • Internal = morally wrong
    • External = avoid social disapproval

Mental processes of non-prejudiced people

  • mental processes that underlay prejudice
    • both groups had equal knowledge of stereotypes
    • non-prejudice people have to consciously look beyond the stereotype

Discrimination in reverse

  • People who are accused of being prejudice often act like they’re really not to prove otherwise
  • To overcome prejudice people must make a conscious effort

Motives for overcoming prejudice

  • Plant & Devine’s measure
    • Internal motivation – based on inner belief that prejudice is wrong
    • External motivation – socially unacceptable

Impact of prejudice on targets

  • Self-fulfilling prophecy
    • People start acting like the stereotypes that are expected of them
  • Self-defeating prophecy
    • People avoid certain behaviours to make sure that they do not to become what is expected/the stereotype

Stereotype threat

  • Fear that your behaviour might actually fit the stereotype

Stereotype maintenance

  • Selective perception
  • Selective/bias attention

Contact hypothesis

  • Direct contact between groups = reduced prejudice

Changing stereotypes and reducing prejudice

  • Stereotype monitoring
    • People can avoid stereotyping if they make a conscious effort to think differently
  • Bookkeeping model
    • Stereotypes eventually change the more it is proved untrue
  • Conversion model
    • Stereotype changes because of one incident
  • Sub-typing model
    • Maintain original stereotype even after disconfirmed

Australian research

  • One nation supports scored high on racism (especially modern racism)
  • Studies show that Sydney 2000 Olympics may have changed the way Australians view/categorise Aboriginal Australians


Indigenous Australians

  • Many Aboriginals removed from their home as children
    • Lost contact with their families
    • Abused both sexually and physically
    • Also cut off from their culture, land and language
  • Prejudiced Australian Aboriginals receive from mainstream Australians causes problems and difficulty for current and future generations

WEEK 6[edit]


The need to belong (Affiliation)

  • Desire to form and maintain close, lasting relationships with other individuals
  • Human beings:
    • Need contact with other people
    • Have a powerful drive to form and maintain relationships
    • Usually form relationships easily
    • Reluctant to end relationships
    • Seek balance between social contacts and solitude
  • Not unique to humans
  • People don’t form too many close relationships
    • Typically 4-6
    • Most social circles = 6


  • People who marry are healthier and live longer
  • People who stay married live longer than those who divorce
  • Happy marriage is important factor


  • What people do to make others like them


  • common and significant cause of attraction
  • couples more similar in attractiveness more likely to have committed relationship

Matching hypothesis

  • people are more attracted to others that look like them



  • people change to become more like those they interact with

Reinforcement theory

  • behaviours reinforced tend to be repeated
  • people are generally attracted to those that reward them


  • we like those who like us
  • mimicking increases liking

The gain loss hypothesis

  • we like people most if they initially dislike us and then later like us

Playing hard to get

  • we prefer people who are ‘moderately’ selective / difficult to obtain
  • turned off by people who are too eager/available

Social exchange theory

  • people like high benefits (e.g. love, companion, sex) and low costs (e.g. effort, conflict, compromise, sacrifice, risk) in their relationships

Equity/Balance theory

  • people are most satisfied when their relationship has equal benefits and contribution
  • prefer relationships that are psychologically balanced


  • Exposure/psychological proximity
  • Best predictor of relationship is proximity/nearness
  • Mere-exposure effect
    • The more time we spend with something the more we like it
  • Familiarity
    • Like familiar things more
  • Overexposure can reduce liking


  • People agree who is beautiful but not why
  • Evolutionary psychology:
    • Beauty in women = health, youth, fertility
  • Symmetry
  • Typicality (average/composite faces more attractive than individual faces)
  • Even babies show preference
  • Cultural and historical differences in perception

Not belonging is bad for you

  • High death rates
  • Physical and mental health problems

Social exclusion

  • Rejection
    • Ostracism = excluded, rejected, ignored
    • can create aggression
  • Loneliness
    • Painful wanting of human contact
    • Occurs in times of transition and disruption (e.g. moving, divorce, etc)
    • Unattached lonelier than attached
    • Loneliest group = 18-30 year olds
    • Widowed, divorced lonelier than never married
    • Bad for physical health
  • Social rejection
    • Children rejected because:
      • Aggressive
      • Unsocial
      • Different
    • Adults rejected because:
      • Different
    • Bad apple effect = one person breaks the rules, others may follow
    • Fear of rejection = good behaviour
    • Romantic rejection and unrequited love
      • Women reject more than men
      • Men stalk more than women

What is love?

  • Two types of love:
    • Passionate love
      • Intense
      • Physiological arousal
      • Important for starting a relationship
    • Companionate love
      • Caring and affection
      • High levels of self-disclosure
      • Lasting marriage/relationship


  • Schacter’s 2-factor theory of emotion:
    • 1. Physical arousal
    • 2. Cognitive appraisal



  • Bowlby:
    • Influenced by Freud and learning theory
    • Childhood attachment predicts adult relationship
  • Shaver:
    • Attachment styles (in adult relationships):
      • Anxious/ambivalent
      • Secure
      • Avoidant


Attachment and sex

  • Secure
    • generally have good sex lives
  • Preoccupied
    • may use sex to get people close to them
  • Avoidant
    • Have a desire for connection
    • May avoid sex, or use it to avoid intimacy

Self-esteem and love

  • Popular belief that you need to love yourself before you can love others

Sex and gender

  • Men have higher sex drive than women
  • Coolidge affect
    • More sexually aroused when with someone new than someone familiar
  • Separating sex and love
    • Men get more out of sex than love
    • Women get more out of love than sex


  • Challenges theories of sexuality
  • Most cultures condemn it
  • Natural selection does not support it

Extradyadic sex

  • Infidelity is rare in modern western marriages
  • Tolerance for cheating is low
  • Monogamous relationships more common amongst humans

Reasons for straying

  • Men like novelty
  • Women’s reasons more related to emotion

Ending relationships

  • 4 stages once relationship has started to fail (Rusult & Zembrodt, 1983):
  1. Loyalty – wait for improvement
  2. Neglect – allow deterioration
  3. Voice behaviour – work on improving
  4. Exit behaviour – end

WEEK 7[edit]


What is a group?

  • 2 or more people
  • “doing or being something together” (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008, p. 480)

Advantages of (human) groups

  • Accumulation of knowledge
  • Economic exchange
  • In human evolution:
    • Safety
    • Helps find food
    • Accomplish harder tasks

Social loafing

  • People put in less effort when in a group

Transactive memory

  • Members of small group remember different things


  • when group members think alike
  • stems from desire to get along

Risky shift

  • Groups make more risky decisions than individuals

Persuasive arguments theory

  • Become more convinced of initial argument

Social comparison/value theory

  • Competition between group members to represent valued position

Self-categorisation theory

  • Prototype
    • What group has in common compared to out-group

Realistic Conflict Theory

  • Mutually exclusive goals = intergroup conflict and ethnocentrism
  • Shared goals requiring intergroup interdependence for achievement= less conflict
  • Conflict will not occur in group when there is no personal gain for individual


  • Groups influence behaviour of individuals
  • Group decisions = different to individual decisions

Power and Leadership

  • Leadership in social psychology
    • relationship
    • group phenomenon
    • form of social influence
    • process of getting cooperation from others to achieve goal

Modern thought on leadership

  • After WW1 = loss of “hereditary leadership”
  • After WW2 = observable behaviours
  • 1960s = situational leadership
  • Recently = transactional to transformational leadership

Leadership roles

  • Early studies identified 3 different styles:
  1. Autocratic
  2. Democratic
  3. Laissez-faire


  • What is power?
    • Ability to get people to do what you want / the way you want
  • Effect of power on leaders
    • Feel good
    • Reward-orientated
    • Changes relationship with other people
    • Rely more on automatic processing
    • Take more action
  • Effect of power on followers
    • pay more attention to leaders
    • foster peace
    • adapt to expectations of people with power
  • Bad bosses
    • most people do not like their boss
    • Bad bosses: Four types
  1. Promoted above ability (Peter Principle)
  2. Fails to build a good team (poor hiring choices)
  3. Poor interpersonal skills (arrogant, etc.)leading to conflicts
  4. Undermines the group (e.g., betrays trust)

WEEK 8[edit]


What is pro-social behaviour?

  • Doing something good for people/society

What is anti-social behaviour?

  • Doing something bad to someone/society

What is altruism?

  • Helping others just for the sake of helping others (no self interest)


  • Returning what another has done for us


  • Norms that promote fairness
    • Equity
    • Equality

Rule of law

  • Everyone in society is obliged to obtain the law
  • Boosts quality of life

Learning theory

  • Classical and operant conditioning
  • Observational learning = modelling behaviour (parents, media)


  • Following the rules
  • Can be pro-social


  • Going along with everyone else
  • Both positive and negative


  • Ceasing to feel anger or seek revenge on someone who has wronged you
  • Helps repair relationships
  • Who is more likely to forgive?
    • Religious people
    • people in a relationship
    • Not self-centred/narcissistic people

Empathy-altruism hypothesis

  • Empathy motivates people to reduce others stress

Personal determinants of helping

  • Personality
  • Competence
  • Attribution
  • Self and personal norm
  • Values


  • Good mood = likely to help
  • Bad mood = less likely to help

Attraction and helping

  • People are more likely to help attractive people
  • Men help women more than men

Bystander effect

  • People are less likely to help when they are in a group (or presence of others) than when they are alone

What processes underlie bystander apathy?

  • Diffusion of responsibility
    • Assumption because more people around they’ll do something so you don’t have to
  • Audience inhibition
    • fear negative judgement/embarrassment from others if intervene and situation is not an emergency
  • Social influence
    • look to others as a model for action - normative and informational influence

WEEK 9[edit]


What is environmental psychology?

  • "Environmental psychology studies the interactions and relations between people and their environments" (Oskamp & Schultz, 1998, p. 206)

Environmental psychology (general)

  • Relatively new discipline
  • Grew out of social psychology
  • Evolved in its own direction
  • Interdisciplinary

Negative environmental influences

  • Human spatial behaviour
    • Density (# of people in a space)
    • Crowding
  • Environmental stressors
    • Crowding
    • Daily hassles
    • Noise
    • Temperature
  • Environmental Risks
    • Natural disasters
    • Diseases
    • Pollution
    • Food contamination
    • Accidents
    • Nuclear power
    • Terrorism
  • Environmental design
    • Assessing and planning
    • Architectural psychology
    • Consumer psychology
    • Permaculture
    • Wayfinding

“We shape our buildings and our buildings shape us”Churchill

  • Natural Environment
    • Preference
    • Evolutionary Psychology
    • Biophilia Hypothesis
    • Nature's Psychological Effects
    • Nature-Deficit Disorder
  • Evolutionary psychology
    • "If today I had a young mind to direct, to start on the journey of life, and I was faced with the duty of choosing between the natural way of my forefathers and that of the... present way of civilization, I would, for its welfare, unhesitatingly set that child's feet in the path of my forefathers. I would raise him to be an Indian!“ (Tom Brown)
  • Biophilia hypothesis
    • Human beings have a genetic predisposition towards “life-like” or “nature” processes
    • Humans evolved as creatures deeply enmeshed with the intricacies of nature, and that we still have this affinity with nature ingrained in our genotype

WEEK 10[edit]

LECTURE 10 – REVIEW/ goodbye!! ☺[edit]

I’ve said it all in the last 9 lectures!!! ☺

So I’m just going to babble on for a bit...

I really enjoyed this course!! (Thanks James!)

Really nervous about the exam!! But doing this e-journal has really helped me keep up to date with what we’ve learned throughout the semester.

I particularly enjoyed learning about relationships and aggression.. they were my favourite topics!

Hope everyone has an awesome summer!!!



Gulita xx