October 22, 2012
Social Psychology: Bringing It All Together
Social psychology is the scientific study of human thoughts, feelings, and behavior as they relate to and are influenced by others (Feenstra, 2011). It is a broad field that covers a variety of topics. Social psychologists study a variety of topics, including views of the self, persuasion, attraction, and group processes. Researchers study all aspects of social psychology and in some cases enlist the help of a “confederate”, someone who appears to be a naïve part of the experiment. The confederate ensures that the experiment is going as planned. A part of social psychology is developing a sense of self. As human beings, we like organization and patterns. We naturally categorize and organize information that comes into our environment. They are called self-schemas or self-concept, knowledge structures about the self. Schemas are organized packages of information. We have schemas about ourselves as well. Our self-schema is influenced by our culture, social life and environment around us. Self-concept is a set of ideas and beliefs that are gathered from capabilities or characteristics of oneself. Self-concept is gathered from academics, gender, and sexuality. Self-schema on the other hand, is put together by one self on what we believe of one self. It is not gathered by what we do or what skills we may have. If we are self-determined then we may think others who lack or have less determination are lazy or don’t want a better life. In reality we may be a self-handicapping type of person. All because our acting self wants to portray a better version of whom we really are. Self-esteem and self-efficacy have lots to do with our acting self. Self-esteem is the way you feel and value yourself. Self-efficacy is your evaluation of your ability to perform tasks. Our acting self may affect how we act so that we resent an image of ourselves that we want others to have. For example, our acting self may portray having high self-esteem and high self-efficacy but in reality that may be far from the truth. In reality we may be a self-handicapping type of person. All because our acting self wants to portray a better version of whom we really are.
When we meet people, we all try to figure out who the other person is, making an attribution. Attributions are our explanations of the behavior of us and others. We need to make judgments in our everyday social interactions about why we act the way we do and why others act the way they do. Generally, we explain others’ behavior as due to either to something internal to the person or to something external to the person. When making an internal attribution you blame personality, attitudes, or some other dispositional factor for the action. Salespeople who attribute their performance to internal factors make internal attributions. When you make an external attribution you attribute situational factors for the action. For example, if a bystander is rude to a female she may think he’s having a bad day; an external attribution. When people attribute behavior to dispositional factors when there are clear situational factors at work, they are engaging in correspondence bias, is known as fundamental attribution error. Such as, a person who is late for a business meeting blaming the traffic is an external attribute. People tend to have relatively stable patterns in making such decisions. The pattern is that person’s explanatory style. The explanatory style of a person who makes internal, stable, and global attributions for positive and negative things may be: "I always forget to make that turn" (internal)
OR "That turn can sure sneak up on you" (external)
“The economy is just bad right now. I just have to hang on until it gets better.” (unstable) OR they might think: “My degree is worthless because...