After listening to the 1st lecture I was really eager to learn more about social psychology. It seems a refreshing break from some of the dull units that I have been subjected to recently. It has been the reason that I (and many others) wanted to study psychology as noted in the Baumeister and Bushman text that we have an innate curiosity about people and we want to help make the world a better place.
Of particular interest from the lecture and the text was the initial thought that ‘if I had been born in China 1000 years ago, would I have still had the same thoughts and attitudes', probably not. Intriguing concept really.
Gordon Allport’s definition of Social Psychology was ‘how the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of people are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others. I’d never really thought about how the implied presence of others could influence me, until I thought of the last time I visited my Grandmother’s grave. I’m a very colloquial person who can be rather crude, loud and abrupt but in the ‘implied presence’ of my late Nanna, butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth when I walk around the Gungahlin cemetery.
Social psychology followed Behaviourism and Freudian Psychoanalysis, between the 50’s and 60’s and various current psychology streams (biological, clinical, cognitive, developmental and personality) intertwine with social psychology. Many sciences (anthropology, economics, history, sociology and political) focus on social elements.
Of particular note when doing my readings was Baumeister and Bushman’s comments, on page 23, regarding the reliance on student samples in social psychology experiments and how they are not really generalizable. I found it humorously ironic that, in my last 2 units of my Psychology degree, I have 6 hours worth of research participation to complete. I can’t complain, can I? 10% of my marks from helping follow students? No-brainer really.
Through the tutorial I found it really interesting to learn that I am the only person in the entire tute who is a Christian without siblings. The definition for social psychology that my group came up with was ‘The study of how groups and culture influence the behaviour of a living being’.
From Chapter 2 of the text we are again reminded of the importance of both nature and culture in shaping behaviour (will we never tire of this debate – NO). I was again reminded of the tragic story of Brenda, who was raised as a girl, but who was biologically a boy. David’s (as he wanted to be known after making the decision to be a man) story always makes me feel like I’m watching/reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, I always know how it’s going to end, but I can’t help but wish the finale will somehow be different this time.
Part of culture is sharing beliefs, values and ways of things being accomplished. As humans, we are more social than any other animal.
In Lecture 2 we continued to progress through Culture and Nature. The differences between a social animal (who will help kin and resolve conflict with aggression), and a cultural animal (which will help strangers and resolve conflict with many other alternatives).
I found it fascinating to learn of the cultural differences concerning sex. Until recently you had to have a medical to confirm your virginity in Turkey, while in Guam there’s a law that you can’t get married if you’re a virgin so women can hire a gigolo in order to get hitched. In Indonesia, you get your head cut off if your caught jerking-off (yet if you kill 100s of people you get 3 years imprisonment)! In Lebanon it’s fine to rape a female animal, but sodamise a male animal and you can get the death penalty (apparently the chick goats dig it).
In Social Brain Theory (SBT) from Robin Dunbar – Though the human brain only makes up 2% body weight, it uses 20% of our fuel sources – They are expensive things to have and the larger they are the more resources they require (and the more women that would die from childbirth). Dunbar found in his research that bigger brains were not from having ‘richer’ fuel sources but were linked to having more complex social structures.
We also learned about the Duplex mind, which was reminiscent of Freud’s Superego and ID. This is the idea that the mind has two processing systems (conscious and automatic). Rather complimentary to this is the Nature says Go, Culture says Stop rationale.
Going on to the idea of ‘Self’ which is shown in the text as Self Knowledge (self concept – describe yourself), Interpersonal Self (public self, includes social roles), and Agent Self (executive functioning). We use many means to convey what we want others to think of us. I use clothing, piercings and make up to portray an image to the public. From an evolutionary perspective you could say I do this aesthetically identify with others who are in my culture and to warn others who are not part of it to back off.
I agreed that the idea of self can be multiple/plural as I know I have many faces to different groups that I belong to. I also identified with the thought that the most unusual aspect of you can be your ‘trademark’ (Jez – you were dark clothing to work occasionally and suddenly you’re known as ‘that goth girl’).
I found an interesting online lecture on the Social Self available at the Utah State University . This lecture has an interesting article, from Utah, about the negative effects on self-esteem from holding a child back a year at school, regardless of academic performance.
Social cognition is the study of people thinking about people and social relationships. People spend more time thinking about other people than any other topic, which is why the majority of our TV, reading and social activity revolves around it. There are 3 reasons for this either:
- We want to be accepted by people;
- We want to compete with people; or
- We want to avoid people.
To be a cognitive miser you try to do as little thinking as possible. We can conserve cognitive effort by relying on automatic ways of thinking such as:
- Knowledge structures (organized package of information)
- Schemas (substantial information, including relationships and attributes, about a concept)
- Scripts (knowledge structures that include how things may change in accordance to changing stimuli).
If we plant an idea in someone’s mind this is known as priming. If we frame a statement positively we focus on gains (eg. more income from quitting smoking), if we frame things negatively we focus on losses (eg. potential to develop lung cancer) – when I last gave up smoking I focused on the gains. Since I’ve subsequently started again after 3 years, perhaps I’ll focus on the health benefits next time.
Attributions are causal statements people provide for their own (internal) and other’s (external) behaviors. People usually take credit for their achievements and blame others for their failures (self-serving bias). In Kelly’s attribution cube there are 3 dimensions of consensus, consistency and distinctiveness.
Heuristics are mental shortcuts that give us quick estimates about what might happen in uncertain events. The most common are:
- Representativeness (judging the likelihood of an outcome based on how it resembles a typical case – e.g. 10 coin tosses HHHHHHHHHH is not likely in our minds).
- Availability (judging the likelihood of an outcome by how easy it is to think of a relevant instance – e.g. people overestimating death in a plane crash due to media exposure).
- Simulation (judging the likelihood of an outcome based on how easily you can imagine it happening – e.g. bronze medalists happier because they weren’t as close as the Silver medalist)
- Anchoring and adjustment (judging the likelihood of an outcome based on an anchor point – e.g. bartering based on the initial offer).
Further information can be found on the Wikiversity Heuristics page 
The most common cognitive errors are confirmation bias, conjunction fallacy, illusionary correlation, base rate fallacy, gambler’s fallacy, false consensus effect, false uniqueness effect, statistical regression, illusion of control, magical thinking, and counterfactual thinking.
I felt confronted by the story of Jack Kervorkian (Dr. Death). I though it provided a good basis for the chapter on attitudes, beliefs and consistency. In this chapter we covered a variety of elements, including how opinions are formed and explored classical conditioning, and social learning theory. Looking at consistency we explored Heider’s P (person)- O (other person)-X (attitude object) theory and the Cognitive Dissonance Theory (inconsistencies produce psychological discomfort, causing people to change their attitudes or rationalize their behavior).
In beliefs we covered Ronnie Janoff-Bulman’s theory of ‘assumptive worlds’:
- The world is benevolent
- The world is fair and just
- I am a good person
Violation of these beliefs (e.g. purse snatching or attack) can force coping strategies to be employed.
So to with the introduction to chapter 13 on social influence and persuasion, the depiction of Jim Jones was fascinating and really informative (considering my essay topic is on cults). As Aristotle stated in Rhetoric, there are three elements required to persuade an audience – emotional appeal, intellectual appeal and charisma. Still seems to be a winning combination more than 2000 years later.
There are several different types of social influence. Normative influence involves going along with a crowd, due to a motivation to be liked. From an evolutionary standpoint humans have a fundamental need to belong to groups as chances of survival are heightened. Individuals have been proven to conform to majority group member’s opinions to try and assimilate and be liked by the crowd. In a 1955 study it was established that individuals also did not want to be socially rejected and as such agreed with the wrong answer. As opposed to going along with the crowd because you want to be liked, individuals can go along with the crowd because they think the crowd knows more than they do. This phenomenon is known as informational influence and is also utilized by cults to recruit and maintain members.
An interesting article on social influence is found on Wikiversity . It contains information regarding Kelman's theory of conformity and issues such as peer pressure interaction with the media.
There is also various online collaborations on social influence, including Papers from the Fifth Ontario Symposium on Personality and Social Psychology, held at the University of Waterloo, August 21-23, 1984  and normative influence specific .
There are various cognitive levels of communication  from shallow, which include greetings and small talk. These communication modes follows scripts and are based on information, or fact, sharing. We escalate through to deep cognitive levels of communication where we drill through thoughts, opinions, emotions, feeling and unconscious information (such as a Freudian slip) .
The channels utilized for communicating are about 7% verbal and 93% non-verbal. This differs between genders, cognitive abilities and situations.
Non-verbal communication  includes
- eye contact
- body language (which encompasses facial expressions, posture)
Humans employ deep eye mapping, where we focus on the triangle of recognition. Part of my last job involved doing manual and electronic facial comparisons to compare people's face to either a seperate photograph or one in an identity document. In the manual comparisons we drew heavily from the 'triangle of recognition' but were also trained to see the face as more than 'the sum of it's parts', which entailed looking at each individual part of the face. We were trained to focus on 6 key parts of the face including:
- eyes (including shape and distance between)
- ears (which are as unique as fingerints)
- face shape
For electronic facial comparisons we utilised a software program which provided a 16 point algorithm to mathematically determine if two photographs were of the same person. For more information please see the Cognitec website .
Research into telemarketers indicates that higher saless rates are achieved when the seller is looking into a mirror, due to higher attention and awareness of their body language.
Dunbar’s maximum number of people in your life is 150 . Humans do not connect with many people at a high level because it is too cognitively taxing.
Further information about Gender differences in communication please see Gender Issues: Communication Differences in Interpersonal Relationships .
Ah aggression , a bit of the old ultra-violence. For those who have no idea what I’m on about, please refer to the following website  and visit your local DVD store for a bit of perspective. This movie, produced in 1971 (and subsequently banned for many years) it’s really a brilliant work of cinematic art, with reference to numerous psychological theories, including aversion therapy, used to attempt to contain aggression.
Aggression is defined as an intentional behaviour that is meant to harm and that the victim wants to avoid harm. It is interesting to think that, via this explanation, if a victim was masochistic (enjoys pain) this would not be defined as an aggressive act. The brutal example provided in the Baumeister and Bushman text was Armin Meiwes, who killed and cannibalized Bernd Juergen Brandes, when he responded to an online ad seeking a man ‘for slaughter’.
Hostile aggression is hot and impulsive. Instrumental aggression is cold and premeditated. Passive aggression is harming others by withholding. Active aggression is harming others by performing a behaviour. Violence is defined as aggression that has extreme physical harm (such as injury or death) and antisocial behaviour is classed as behaviour that damages interpersonal relationships or is culturally undesirable.
In context with the Clockwork Orange example, Alex and his droogs would have been described as both violent and displaying antisocial behaviour in the antics that they demonstrated.
In studies pertaining to gender and aggression, it has been noted that when male rats are under stress they demonstrate ‘fight or flight syndrome’, whereas female rats demonstrate ‘tend and befriend syndrome’. This is reflected in human behaviour too.
Also noted in the text was the concept of deindividuation, where a sense of anonymity and absence of individuality can make a person prone to engage in antisocial behaviour. Like what happens in a riot situation.
Further information regarding types of aggression can be viewed on the google book Human Aggression .
Ghosts of Rwanda
The Frontline documentary was made at the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide and details one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century . The documentary interviewed Diplomats that remained after the call to evacuate was made and Government Officials and eye witnesses. This documentary really showed the failures of international powers that led to the slaughter of 800,000 people to occur. The mass violence of Hutu against Tutsi tribes left a nation of corpses.
The Kigali Memorial Centre, in Rwanda, was opened on the 10th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, in April 2004. This memorial was constructed on the site where over 250,000 people are buried . Below we see a rememberance wall at the Kigali Memorial Centre in Rwanda.
Doing a little more research proved that, more than 30 years after the atrocities, that the Rwandian people’s pain is just as fresh .
I must admit that I don’t think I have seen anything as confronting as this documentary. I understand what the objective of watching it was, but it was very hard. I spent most of the time just listening, because the visual was too much for me. What was worse for me was going through the comments provided on you tube  where the blame game of who was responsible for the genocide was pitting strangers savagely against each other – HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING FROM THIS ATTROCITY PEOPLE!
This week’s topic was Prejudice, which is defined as a negative feeling toward an individual based solely on his or her membership in a particular group. In human nature there is a natural tendency to sort things into groups (which we call categorization). Social Categorisation is sorting people into groups on the basis of characteristics they have in common which can include
- sexual orientation)
Discrimination is when there is unequal treatment of different people based on the groups or categories to which they belong.
Further still we have beliefs that associate groups of people with certain traits, which are called stereotypes and are usually negative in nature. If someone does not fit into a stereotype, we then can employ subtypes which are categories that people use for individuals who do not fit a general stereotype.
Blue-eyed/Brown-eyed Experiment - Jane Elliott
In the tutorial we watched the Australian Eye Story on the blue-eyed/brown-eyed experiment by Jane Elliot . I found this documentary of an adult sample who attended an anti-discrimination workshop, very confronting. Elliot demonstrated the effects of prejudicial constructs, such as the effects of being in an in-group (people who belong to the same group or category as we do) and out-group (people who belong to a different group or category than we do) members and demonstrated preferential treatment of, or more favorable attitudes toward, people in one’s own group (in group favoritism). Also demonstrated in the documentation was displaced aggression.
In the film there was evidence of the following aspects of prejudice:
In-group favoritism – preferential treatment of, or more favorable attitudes toward, people in one’s own group. Demonstrated by brown-eyed group, when they made comments like ‘stupid blue-eyes, not bright like brown-eyes’.
In-group members (people who belong to the same group, or category, as we do) and Out-group members (people who belong to a different group, or category, than we do) were quickly established.
Stigma by association was shown by the blue-eyes when asked if the gentlemen was given a chance – most said yes.
Minimal group effect – when people show favoritism toward in-group members even when group membership is arbitrary or randomly determined.
Out-group homogeneity bias – the assumption that out-group members are more similar to one another than in-group members are to one another.
In tutes, we also discussed the Contact hypothesis – where regular interaction with a minority person reduces prejudice. There was an example where someone had grown up with another person from another race and never saw them as any different.
The need to belong is one of the most basic needs. This is the desire to form and maintain close, lasting relationships  with other individuals and also includes having positive regular social contacts. What was very interesting to learn was that neutral social contacts can also be satisfying such as TV viewing or eating together. Amazingly if we fail to meet the need to belong can lead to significant health problems. Loneliness can effect a person’s immune system and therefore ability to recover from sickness or injury. You could try to satisfy the need to belong by joining a group, through which you could develop close friendships.
When learning about attraction I was curious about the process of developing initial closeness, similarity is an important contributor. Thinking about my husband we are very, very different in all spheres, so I found this theory not relevant to my current circumstances. We also learned that it is also important to adapt your behaviour in different situations, which is known as self-monitoring.
Other key things learnt for me was that attraction is classed as anything that draws two or more people together, making them want to be together and possibly to form a lasting relationship. I will admit that I’d really only thought of the physical aspects, but this definition opened my eyes to think past the obvious. I found it funny to learn of the bad apple effect (the idea that one social loafer can cause other people to loaf as well) because it made me think of all the times my mum wouldn’t let me hang out with another kid at school because they were a ‘bad influence) – turns out that apparently mum had a point! I have always been conscious of the level of ingratiation (what people actively do to try to make someone like them) that I do. I sometimes feel like a try-hard by being complementary and actually listening to what people say. Through this week I also learned more about reinforcement theory (the proposition that people and animals will perform behaviors that have been rewarded more than they will perform other behaviors) which compounded what I’d previously covered in the Learning Unit.
I’ve witnessed rejection sensitivity (a tendency to expect rejection from others and to become hypersensitive to possible rejection) first hand as I have lived with someone who is so chronically sensitive to any form of criticism or possible rejection. It was really sad, I couldn’t even say that a fork needed rewashing without her crawling in a hole!
When I started reading about the social allergy effect, which is the idea that a partner’s annoying habits become more annoying over time, I couldn’t stop laughing for the longest time. Coming up to my first wedding anniversary and I completely agree that every time he bites his nails, sucks his thumb, or cuts a loud fart in my general direction it aggravates me more than the last time.
Rejection can be demonstrated internally and externally. Inwardly a person can experience a range of feelings including depression and suicidal thoughts, helplessness. Outwardly a person can develop eating disorders, or demonstrate promiscous or aggressive behaviours.
Bowlby’s Attachment Theory demonstrated various different attachment styles which were:
I remind myslf of this theory by remembering the acronym ASA. Bowlby’s theory basically postulates that how children interact will dictate how they relate in their adult lives. This theory was revamped in the 80’s and in it’s current form states that people are capable of change and, as such they are able to develop new styles of relating to each other.
Further research on healthy relationships is available at .
In tutes we participated in the What's in a name? exercise. In this exercise we had to pair up and explain what your name means, where it comes from, any nicknames. I found it really interesting to learn about the history and origin of class member's names, and a lot of people had a giggle at the origin of mine - since it's been changed on several occasions. We didn't really have any ethnic names in the class, which I was dissapointed in, because this interests me - With some additional research I found a few good websites with origins of some other countries:
African specific 
Various Nationalities Last Names
We also went through culture shock , which occurs after the honeymoon tourist period. If you successfully move through culture shock you can adjust and adapt (bi-cultural) or if you don’t move past culture shock you breakdown and have to leave.
A group is classified as at least 2 people doing or being something together. If there is conflict between groups, this can assist in developing feelings of belonging to your group. For example, if two teams class in sport this helps you to feel more like a team member to engage in the dispute.
To have a loss of self-awareness and of individual accountability in a group is to have deindividuation. Deindividuated people usually behave badly, such as mob violence and the Nazi movement.
Conversely, optimal distintiveness theory (from Marilynn Brewer ) states that when people feel very similar to others in a group, they seek a way to be different, and when they feel different, they try to be similar.
In studies of social facilitation (presence of others increases a dominant response)– cyclists who raced alone were slower than those who had competition or someone watching. This demonstrates evalutation apprehension (concern about how others are evaluating you).
Narcissists are people who see themselves as better than others and are constantly trying to win the admiration of others. Reminds me of some car owners I know :)
The social loafer (free-rider problem) is where people reduce their effort because they are in a group. Haven’t we all encountered this in university group projects - where the majority of you put in all the effort and at the end of it there were a few rogues that just sat back, did bubkis, and got an equal share of credit?
As I said, there were always a few losers like this in the groups that I’ve been involved in. This could be due to the bad apple effect, where one social loafer can cause others in the group to loaf as well. You know who you are lazy-bones! P.S - good luck getting someone to give you a free ride in the real world after uni, ha, ha, ha!
Groups can brain-storm, and can encounter what is known as group-think (where group members think alike). They can also have self-censorship – where members can chose not to express doubts or other information that goes against a group’s plans. A risky shift is the tendancy for groups to take greater risks than would’ve been taken individually, which can lead to a group polarisation effect.
Learning from conflict and incivility - Cormaggio .
A Zeitgeist  is classified as the Spirit" or "flavour" of the times or an "era" (for a particular society at a particular time). So what is the Australian Zeitgeist?
In Hugh Mackay’s address at the 6th Annual Manning Clark Lecture in 2005, he states a 4 key issues that are making up the flavour of the Australian times including:
- The gender revolution from the 1970s which has effected birth and divorce rates and changed the character of the Australian family.
- Economically there is a wider divide between the rich and poor, and the possibility of having a 3 tiered class system.
- Information technology revolution – which is still not completely understood how this is effecting us.
- Cultural Identity – Coming to terms with our multiculturalism.
For further information on this speech please see Mackay, H. (2005). Social disengagement: A breeding ground for fundamentalism. 6th Annual Manning Clark Lecture, 3 March, National Library of Australia, Canberra . Further information about Hugh Mackay can be found on his homepage .
Also of interest, I found a brilliant Government website dedicated to 'Australia's Culture and Recereation' .
I also found articles based on how Australia is changing . Of particular current interest is the economic changes that are facing Australia (and other nations more globally), that will change (if it hasn't already) the zietgiest of Australia. In previous years we have seen economic boom periods, full of plenty, with no forseeable end. Now we have entered into more uncertain economic times, with fears of a recession .
The introduction to Chapter 8 of the Baumeister and Bushman text tells the story of Oskar Schindler . I have never seen Schindler's List  and I admit that this was purposely. I'm a bit ostridge-like in nature and my grandmother was in a concentration camp, before coming to Australia. As such I never knew the story until reading it in the text. The heroism shown by Schindler and his wife was nothing short of a miracle that saved the lives of 1200 Jewish people. The text demonstrated that he was no saint, and died from Alcoholism at age 66, but I think that this just amplifies the message that a common man, can do very uncommon things for the good of mankind.
Prosocial behaviour is the act of doing something that is good for other people, or society as a whole. If a society has people that follow the rules, then it is said to have effective 'rule of law'. Research shows positive correlation between effective rule of law and happiness. Think the smurfs 'la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la! Very happy and prosocial indeed!
The act of reciprocity is the obligation to return in kind what another has done for you (if you scratch my back...).
Through the need to belong in our genes, we have a culture that encompassess fairness. Norms are standards established by society and we see equity and equality as part of these standards, to live in a world based on fairness and social exchange. If we outperform, compared to another, we may experience sensetivity about being the target if a threatening upwards comparison.
The common dilemma (tragedy of the commons) is the depletion or destruction of resources that are owned collectively. The example of the fishery I thought was very relevant now, even though it was the first example provided to explain the theory. We still have issues with the management of Australia's waterways. The Government authority responsible for this vital role is the Australian Fisheries Management Authority .
In Chapter 8 the concepts of conformity, and normative and informational influence were discussed at length. Further information is in the notes from Social Thinking above. I found it strange that the text would have an entire chapter dedicated to the subject but also mention it earlier.
From an evolutionary viewpoint it pays to receive help, but not to provide it (according to Dawkin's The Selfish Game). An documentary analysis of this book can be found here . This documentary was recorded in 2006 (the 30th anniversary of the publication of Richard Dawkins' book) and interviews the author.
Alot of prosocial behaviour occurs because someone is watching you, which begs the motivational question of determined vs free will (or acts) in prosocial behaviour? Example - you pick up litter off the road, in front of someone. Was your motivation to pick up the litter because of true altruism (eg. a better world was had by all, because there was less litter), or was the act motivated by the need to appear that you were altruistic in nature? Further information on supposed free will can be found here . This matter is discussed through the explaination of altruistic helping (through empathy - when a helper does something to increase another's welfare without expecting anything in return) and egotistic helping (to increase their own welfare, and not empathy based). The negative state relief thory says that people only help others to eliviate there own distress.
The damsel in distress theory was so tragic to read - this being the fact that attractive people are more likely to be helped. I found an American study that supported this theory .
According to Oskamp & Schultz, environmental psychology is the interactions and relations between people and their environments. They also stated that the discipline has looked at how the environment affects human thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. In the current times a lot of the research has focussed on how human actions affect the environment. It is a new theme that has grown out of social psychology.
I think this makes sense to focus on everything we are doing that is putting the planet in jeopardy, and I was glad to hear this in the lecture. Organisations such as Greenpeace , and individuals such as Al Gore  have been trying to demonstrate the effects of our existence. There are also dedicated psychology interest groups including the APS Interest Group  and APA Division 34 
Environmental psychology is known by over 10 other names such as:
- environmental social sciences
- architectural psychology
- ecological psychology
- behavioural geography
- environment-behavior studies
- person-environment studies
- environmental sociology
- social ecology
- environmental design research
In studying Human spatial behaviour we looked at Density (which is the number of people per space) and the concept of Crowding (which is the negative feelings and experiences we get from density).
I found it very interesting to think in evolutionary terms that 'it is not a man's nature to be too much indoors’ and the studies into Richard Louv’s Nature-Deficit Disorder. I find it to be true on a personal level. If I don’t get outdoors very often (especially just to walk, or sit on the grass as squish my bare feet into it is a favourite of mine) I get grumpy. Studies have proven links to lack of outdoor activity and Vitamin D deficiencies from lack of sunlight . This deficiency is associated with osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, 'stroke', heart disease, depression (particularly seasonal), body muscle mass wasting, gum disease, & certain forms of cancer and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.
Population Psychology is the bigger picture examination of the impacts of human population and consumption on the environment. For a current population counter please see the ABS website .