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Crystal Clear app kfm home.png This user is a participant in the Social psychology unit.
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My Social Psychology Blog[edit]

I have decided for my blog that I will publish it in the style of a true blogger. The thoughts and opinions of an opinionated person who can’t get the time and day from people face-to-face and so therefore publishes it online for the world to view and comment upon. :-)

Week 1 – Introduction to Social Psychology[edit]

Social psychology as a field is one of the more interesting it seems within the school of psychology.
The study of human behaviour in group settings it seems is a fascinating concept to work with. My previous knowledge of the field is limited however concepts like critical mass – the point in which enough individuals begin to affect the behaviour of the group and aggression within social groups are some key concepts that I look forward to finding more out about as my engagement in this subject continues.

My initial thoughts on the subject however continue to remain positive. My first concerns are really about this blog. It is a deceptively easy piece of assessment. What seems like a straight forward analysis of your ideas towards the subject and its content is actually a good measure of your understanding of the unit and the materials used. So far I remain positive the first week is always laid back with a lecture and tutorial aimed at engaging the student in the broader overview of the subject and its history. One thing I like about psychology units is regardless of the subject the first lecture is always about the history of the field being presented. To know where one is from is to know where one is going.

Week 2 – Social Self[edit]

What is the social self?

An interesting topic but the title is rather more complex than just a social self. My understanding of the social self is the multiple identities that compose the individual themselves. I thought for this week I would share with you blog reading persons just some of the identities that make me the person I am.

  • I am Australian
  • I am a Commonwealth Officer (a Public Servant :-p)
  • I am a University of Canberra student
  • I am a member of Generation Y
  • I am a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant(WASP)[[1]]
  • I am Agnostic borderline Atheist
  • I am a UC Ressie

I stress these are just a few of the social identities I have, I have more but I fear that I might end up in a spot of bother if someone decides to steal my identity.
Final thoughts of the subject...
People it seems as individuals are bound by their identities to broader groups. As a personal observation I have noticed that people bond more closely with groups that they strongly indentify with. A good example would be a full-time employee compared to a part-time currently studying employee. The full-time employee is more likely to have stronger social ties to their colleagues compared to their part-time equivalent for many reasons – one of which would be that their social identity does not include participation in an educational institution. For this reasons they may be more likely to have more friends in the workplace because it is the only (for lack of a better word) world that they can socially engage in form 9 – 5 every day. Whereas the student employee has that whole other sphere of social interaction – the educational institution to engage in and make other friends and connections etc. Ok so my example isn’t awesome but it demonstrates my point.

Week 3 – Social Thinking[edit]

Social thinking is really a very broad term so in order to convey my thoughts better I thought of breaking down the concept of social thinking into more specific categories. Firstly however...
Social thinking, the concept that people engage in recognition, processing and conscious thought about our interactions and thoughts between each other.
This week’s materials breakdown the social cognition into more specific categories for knowledge storage:

Very cool psychology going on right here! Schemas are basically a tool that we use to recognise our environment. A good example of a schema is a stereotype. We develop stereotypes based on our perceptions on certain groups within society eg. The dress and language of an uncouth individual which we are instructed by our peers to refer to as “bogans” may lead us to label all individuals who talk slang and dress in flannel as “bogans”

Basically rehearsed social protocols. Such as etiquette in restaurants. A great one I can think of which according to an American work colleague is an Australian exclusive is the tendency to ask people how they are going when casually encountering them on the way to another destination. The old walk past and the curt “how are you going?” is typically expected to elicit the response “good thanks” and the exchange concludes. To say anything more or different is of course to violate the script and honestly when caught off guard with this one you aren’t likely to say more than just “good thanks”...

This refers to how individuals develop their thinking towards certain events and triggers. Uh not much more to add really...

Refers to our perception of events in our world and our understanding of the series of events leading to our perception. Very culturally biased and within social groups. An example would be the perception of the Nazi Flag; some may see a symbol of fascism and a dark period within human history. Others may see it and think of the Hindu symbol for the god Brahma, others still may see the Buddhist symbol for Dharma meaning universal harmony.

The swastika. An image of evil or good?

Week 4 – Aggression[edit]

I like this subject!
There are so many fascinating applications of this topic within the field of psychology. I am particularly hoping to find some research in social aggression for my essay and our perceptions of immigrants to Australia. Given our tolerant democratic society on a whole I am often baffled by the frank and well racist attitudes everyday people have towards refugees and immigrants coming to Australia.

Aggression is the social psychological concept that relates to interactions between groups that intend to harm one and the other. Aggression however does not represent anti-social behaviour and is a bit more complex than my first sentence on the issue. Aggression is not necessarily physical it can be emotional, verbal and written as well. Propaganda by the Nazis in the 1930’s represents aggression in the written form.

An interesting concept explored within the textbook is whether Aggression is developed by our environment or by our genetic construct. Aggression it seems can have a loose genetic connection. Surely our ancestors were a lot more aggressive than modern humans. Being the uncivilised mob they most likely were, cavemen would have used aggression to defend their territory, expand their territory and generally influence their actions towards food collection, reproduction and shelter. However aggression is for better or worse an environmentally influenced behaviour. Usually created when there are environmental factors that interplay into the situation such as poverty, lack of resources, even lack of education.

Week 5 – Prejudice[edit]

The word itself literally means to pre-judge or to have a pre-judgement towards someone or something. Prejudice however has a negative connotation and should be treated as such, a negative opinion of someone based solely on an identifying feature (or lack of).

Prejudice can occur on many levels. A great example of a prejudice is the organisation known as the Ku Klux Klan. This organisation is basically a social reaction to time of great social tension within the United States. As a result of increased immigration, the conclusion of the civil war or the depression of the 1930’s this group increases in number a following of people who follow the white supremacist line of thinking. As a result they develop a prejudice towards ethnically different groups to that of whites (generally) and white Americans.

Prejudice is a concept which goes hand-in-hand with other subjects such as racism which in itself is a unique but mostly common form of prejudice. Prejudice is normally a result of a human being’s natural tendancy to group information and to therefore treat information and concepts of a similar nature with a similar attitude. Prejudice is a largely environmentally learned behaviour and is closely related to behaviours relating to ethnocentrism.

Week 6 – Relationships[edit]

Relationships are a complex thing. Anyone who has ever been in a romantic relationship or knows of someone in a romantic relationship can testify to the complexities of this social interaction. In popular culture the word relationship signifies more often than not a romantic relationship, however the word itself is meant to convey a broader sense of human-to-human interaction, one which I will attempt to explain.

Relationships are a person-to-person interaction that develops out of a need for people to belong within our own social groups. There are many kinds of relationships such as the relationship between two friends or the relationship between two work colleagues. Relationships are often defined by similar attractions or belonging to certain groups (you are more likely to develop a relationship with people in your world who have more in common with you) and are motivated by a fear of social exclusion and a motivation for social inclusion (you fear you will be a loner and so therefore seek out the company of people like yourself).

For Blogging sake I will use a romantic relationship as a further example on my spiel on the subject. Romantic relationships form for many reasons but all are motivated by an underlying need for people to be together. Some may argue that there is also a biological need to procreate however I must point out that there are a lot of couples out there who a. can’t have children or b. don’t want them.
Romantic relationships are also usually categorised into two groups:

  • Passionate Relationships

Relationships based more on feelings of desire, lust. A relationship based more on the physical attraction of one person to another etc

  • Compassionate Relationships

Usually longer term, more affectionate and the basis for a more stable relationship The complexity of romantic relationships is such that I don’t have time to write in great depth about them, they are however bound by the same fundamental rules that govern all relationships such as finding a partner who is similar to you, someone who espouses the ideal qualities of a partner and someone who is in your proximity.

Week 7 – Groups and Leadership[edit]

Ah Alpha male talk!
We all know a leader, whether it is in our little (or big if you’re really popular) group of friends right up to the leader of our nation (Prime Minister or Governor-General).
And groups! We all have been in a group at some stage (remember that a group is considered to be two or more people together). Groups can be characterised as a collection of people behaving with often a single purpose (goal seeking behaviour in other words).

This week’s materials however expand more on my initial views on what it means to be in a group. Groups are characterised more by their interactions than by their behaviour. They share a common identity, they fit, eg. In the schoolyard you can characterise groups based on their predominantly well known school activity being either academic (nerds or geeks), sport (jocks, or footy heads) or non-conformal (stoners, Goths or skaters). They also seem to develop their own set of rules, obligations, hierarchy and even language.

What interested me most on this subject was however the history and thinking behind why we group as humans. When it comes down to it, you stand a better chance to survive as a caveman if you cooperate and work with other people than you do if you go at it alone. The fact that animals or all type group together suggests that this is not a uniquely human behaviour and is in-fact a product of evolution of species; a behaviour that benefits the individual and the group itself.

Week 8 – Prosocial Behaviour[edit]

What is prosocial behaviour?
Put simply this is behaviour that is characterised by actions that benefit other people or your own society. Prosocial behaviour is actually quite a common occurrence; it is conformity to social obligations, rules and expectations. By paying your taxes on time, doing the speed limit when you are driving and even taking the downward escalator when you need to go down a floor in a shopping centre is to acting in a prosocial manner.

The opposite of prosocial behaviour is of course anti-social behaviour. This is a topic which again interests me so I thought for this week’s blog I would give it a bit more detailed explanation than what was said in the unit materials. Anti-social behaviour is different to the psychopathological concept of anti-social in that it describes behaviour that is opposite to helping society on a whole. Anti-social behaviour in social psychological terms is behaviour such as disobeying rules (speeding in your car, murder) or that harms individuals or society on a whole.

Anti-social behaviour however is only strictly considered anti-social within a single society. Terrorism is a good example of this. What is anti-social in our society – the bombing and killing of people is in another group (I dare not say society because no society on a whole could possibly condone terrorism as an acceptable prosocial behaviour) an acceptable behaviour. This kind of behaviour is not however without its own rules and obligations. Killing infidels by extremist Muslims may be acceptable practise but this does not mean that they can they go out and kill fellow Muslims by the same method or beliefs it would be a violations of their prosocial normal behaviours.

Week 9 – Environmental Psychology[edit]

Being the usually smart guy I am I instantly thought when I read about this topic that we were going to look at how the trees and the grass feel about people! To my justification I was really tired and stressed out over assessment...

Environmental psychology is slightly more interesting and well different to my initial thoughts. It is the study between how people behave compared to the environment they live in. A great example of this (and I’m sorry to say I couldn’t find it referenced anywhere) was a story I saw a while back on A Current Affair (eye roll) that compared the reaction times of rural and city people honking their car horns and stalled vehicles at traffic lights. I conservatively report to you that the report found that rural people were more impatient compared to city folk when it came to stalled vehicles at traffic lights. Environmental psychology can be used to explain these findings on the grounds that given drivers in rural areas are used to more free flowing traffic, less congestion on the roads and greater ease of access on the roads they would be more intolerant and impatient towards slower and even stalled vehicles. This is compared to city people who deal with traffic on a daily basis, have probably experienced more stalled vehicles at traffic lights and who are more familiar with traffic congestion leading up to the assumption that they are more tolerant of stalled cars at traffic lights.

It has been noted that crowding, life events, noise and temperature all have an effect on the overall happiness and stress levels of individuals. There was also mention of the fact that these stressors can be reduced if people feel they have some control over their environment.

Week 10 – Review[edit]

I thought for the review I would give my opinions on the subject so far and my thoughts for the future of social psychology here at the University of Canberra. I have found this unit very interesting! Every subject we discovered every week contained a plethora of information that was absorbing both to read and to talk about.

The unique engagement of the unit online demonstrates quite nicely the evolving way in which we as people engage and interact with each other. 50 years ago if you wanted to court a lady you would write her letters, today you can sms or email. The engagement of people by blogging demonstrates how we as a society have evolved to be more engaged within the digital media. The irony of it is that by bringing us closer, the digital media has removed so many traditional forms of human communication and has even introduced a new pop language into society (for example the word lol and how it is increasingly being used by young people as an expression in face-to-face interactions).

This concludes my blog on Social Psychology, I can only hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed learning and writing about it.