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Chapter 21
Social Interaction
Group Behavior
 How people behave as part of a group often differs from how
they behave as individuals
Social Facilitation
 Refers to the concept that people often perform better when
other people are watching
 Presence of others may improve performance due to
evaluation apprehension, or the concern about the opinion of
 Evaluation apprehension may motivate people to try harder
in order to impress others.
Social Loafing
 Refers to members of a group tending to slack off when
working together for a common goal.
 Social loafing may occur due to diffusion of responsibility, or
the tendency for members of a group to feel less responsible
for accomplishing a task when the effort is shared among the
Risky Shift
 The tendency for people to take greater risks as part of a
group than they would as individuals.
 People may feel more powerful or less vulnerable as part of a
Group Decision Making
 Many important decisions are made by groups rather than
 Psychologist shave identified a number of social decision
schemes, or rules that govern group decision making.
Majority-Wins Scheme
 Group comes to agreement on a decision that was initially
supported by a majority of group members.
 Most often applies to situations in which there are no right or
wrong answers.
Truth-Wins Scheme
 Members of a group come to realize that one option is
clearly better than the others.
Two-Thirds Majority Scheme
 Groups concur with a decision after two thirds of their
members come to an agreement about the correct choice.
First-Shift Scheme
 Applies to groups that are deadlocked 50-50.
 If one person changes his or her mind, the others may follow
and shift their vote.
 Members of a group often share similar attitudes
 The shared attitudes that group members hold are likely to
grow stronger, or more extreme, through time.
 Polarization can be positive or negative (prejudice example).
Group Leadership
 Leaders often differ in how they operate.
 Leaders may fit into authoritarian, democratic, or laissez-
faire categories.
Authoritarian Leaders
 Absolute control over group.
 Give orders, expect orders to be carried out without
Democratic Leaders
 Encourage groups member to express and discuss ideas and
to make their own decisions.
 Consensus builders
 Will often follow the vote of the majority
Laissez-Faire Leaders
 Encourage group to express and explore own ideas.
 Leader takes a less active role in the process, gives minimal
 Allows group to dictate decisions, even if they seem to be
Section 2: Conformity
 Conform: modify one’s attitudes and behavior to make them
consistent with those of other people.
Importance of Groups
 Groups could be, for example, friends, those in a school
extracurricular activity or members of a family.
 Groups can fulfill our needs for belonging, affection and
 Groups also offer support when we are facing tough times in
our lives or difficult situations.
 Groups may also help us in accomplishing a task by dividing
up the workload.
Social Norms
 Refers to the standards that people share regarding behavior
in a given situation.
Tell you what is appropriate to wear to school, church, a
wedding, or around the house on a Sunday afternoon.
Social norms can be explicit or implicit.
Explicit norms are spoken or written rules. Example: speed
Implicit norms are unspoken, unwritten rules. Example: What
to wear in a given situation.
Asch’s Studies of Conformity
 Psychologist Solomon Asch wanted to know to what extent
people will conform to social norms.
 When study participants were faced with a question with an
obvious answer but accompanied by other participants who
gave the wrong answer, 75% of participants went against
their own judgment at least once and conformed to the rest
of the group.
Why Do People Conform?
 Factors may include:
 Cultural Influences: some cultures, particularly those of
many Asian countries, the group is valued over the individual.
 Need for Acceptance: people desire to be liked or accepted
by others.
 Other Factors: when there is a unanimous viewpoint held in
a group, it is often tough for others to go against everyone,
however when there is not unanimity, it may not be as
difficult. Example: Asch experiment.
3. Obedience
 Necessary to protect safety and community
 Has led to people following terrible orders: Nazis/Jews,
Serbs/Muslims, Turks/Armenians
Milgram’s Studies of Obedience
 Yale psychologists, studies from 60s and 70s
 Influenced by Holocaust
 Wanted to determine bounds of obedience to authority, how
we react to commands, etc.
 Ads for participants in newspaper
 Only men solicited, 40, age 20-50
 Supposed to be a study on learning, effects of punishment on memory
 Told volunteers split into teachers and learners, really only teachers
 Learner had to memorize word pairs
 If correct answer given, nothing, if wrong answer, shocks administered,
increasing in voltage with each mistake
 Teachers given sample shock, 45 volts, not harmful, but unpleasant
 Told they could quit at any time, but when hesitant, pushed continue by
researcher in room
 At 300 volts, learners pounded on wall, screamed in pain, 35
of 40 teachers continued
9 teachers quit between 300 and 450 volts
Approximately 2/3 gave shocks up to 450 volts
Teachers showed great stress (sweating, stuttered, nervous
laughter, told researcher they wanted to stop, etc.)
Experiment repeated with women, college students
In each case, at least half went all the way to 450 volts
Why do People Obey?
 Socialization – taught from childhood to obey authority figures
 Foot - in- the- Door Effect – tendency to give in to major demands once
given in to minor ones
Ex. Small shocks lead to large shocks
Ex. Soldiers trained to follow small orders, more likely to follow life
and death orders in combat
Confusion About Attitudes – chaotic environment (screaming, pounding
on wall) makes it more likely for people to be confused about their own
beliefs than in a serene setting
Buffers – when buffered, people more likely to follow hurtful, immoral
orders, than when personally confronted with recipient
Ex. Current military conflict often happens at distance, may be easier to
kill from distance than up close, hand to hand combat
4. Aggression
 Words or actions meant to hurt others
 Why are we aggressive?
 Views: biological, psychoanalytical, cognitive, sociocultural
Biological View
 Much of social behavior is genetic
 Aggression help people survive, reproduce
 Aggressive humans historically more likely to survive, pass
on genes
Psychoanalytic View
 Freud viewed aggression as natural response to frustrations of
daily life
Thought people feared hurting others, thus repressed them
Encouraged venting aggressive impulses, or catharsis
Ex. Watching aggressive sports
Studies have found it unclear whether catharsis decreases or
increases aggressive tendencies
Cognitive View
 Aggression not influenced by: biological tendencies,
repressed urges
 Aggression is influenced by: values, perception, choices
 Implies choice trumps biology, subconscious forces
Learning View
 People learn to repeat behaviors that are reinforced
 Violent acts may create positive results for perpetrator
(control over others, respect of peers, etc.)
Sociocultural View
 Argue some cultures encourage independence and
 May promote aggression
 Children in communal cultures such as Thailand/Jamaica less
aggressive than children in US