Social Psychology Revision: Motivation, Attribution, Happiness, Elm, and Attitudes

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Revision Questions – Social Psychology (PAUL) Mon 20th May


1. What is the definition of social psychology?

Allport (1954) – “the scientific investigation of how thoughts, feelings and behaviours of individuals are influenced by others”

2. What is the main issue surrounding the measurement of behaviour?

Behaviours can be observed and measured however the feelings, thoughts, beliefs, intentions, goals and motivations that go behind the behaviours are not observable making measuring and finding true intent difficult.

3. What are the basic influences that impact upon us in social psychology?

We are impacted by people around us, our culture, evolution, social issues and our own personal morals/beliefs.

4. What are the 4 Levels of Explanation?

Intrapersonal = individuals experience of the social environment

E.G. Cognitive Balance Theory
Motivational theory of attitude change (Heider, 1958). Attitudes need to be consistent and balanced. E.g. if you like a celebrity and they endorse a product – balance – you also like the product. Weigh up all the potential results and the one that requires the least amount of effort is usually chosen.

Interpersonal = individuals interacting with others in a dynamic relationship

E.G. Attribution Theory
Using outside information to judge cause from an outcome.

Positional = individuals interactions in specific circumstances but with the role of a social position

Ideological = individuals interactions that take into account general norms/beliefs and the relationships between groups (e.g. minority influence, prejudice, discrimination etc.)

5. Give a brief history of social psychology:

Began in the 19th Century mainly through the 1940’s when psychological warfare had a big impact. Propaganda was found to hugely influence the morale of troops and this led to attitude change.

1950’s – 1960’s were the BOOM YEARS where a lot of new theories (field, dissonance, balance, attitude theory etc.) these were coming up with results however they were often criticised as having “fun and games” (Ring, 1967). Milgram’s study for example was extremely unethical.

Gergen (1973) played a huge role as he highlighted issues with social psychology and developed the Social Constructionist Movement. This was however slightly reductionist using the basic concept of science that A + B must = C. Attitudes and behaviours do not hold consistency with space and time in which some people say it cannot be considered a true science.

Later Rosenthal & Fade (1966) suggested experimenter and participant effects – two breakthroughs in studying behaviour accurately and making room for error.

Experimenter Effects = experimenter provides subtle cues that influence participants answers in a desired way. (Festinger, 1980 opposed this and said if that’s the case why had his experiments not supported his hypothesis)

Participant Effects = participants use cues to work out the true aim of the study and either play up to expectations or deliberately rebel against the hypothesis. Also links in with demand characteristics (Orne, 1962) However, it has been argued that people will act differently just knowing they are in an experiment.

6. How Can These Problems Be Overcome?

Use Experimental Methods – consider ethics, remove experimenter where possible, standardization and report methodologies.

Multiple Perspectives – combination of theories and perspectives to look at the “big picture” and avoid reductionism.

Apply – examine the theories in their social domain (in practice) for ecological validity

Accept Limitations – cannot “prove” anything


7. What Is Attribution Theory?

* How we understand the world around us
* How we assign causes to behaviours

Heider (1958) calls us “lay” psychologists in the sense that we wander around and subconsciously giving reasons to peoples behaviours.

8. What is Correspondent Inference Theory?...
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