Intro to Social Psychology 

Notes:
 
    Ψ  Social psychology is the scientific discipline that attempts to understand & explain how the 
thought, feeling, & behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied 
presence of others.
 
    Ψ  Social psychology: a science that studies the influences of our situations, with special attention 
to how we view & affect one another.

    Ψ  Social psychology: A broad field whose goals are to understand & explain how our thoughts, 
feelings, perceptions, & behaviors are influenced by interactions with others. It includes the study 
of stereotypes, prejudices, attitudes, conformity, group behaviors, & aggression.
 
    Ψ  Social psychology: The scientific study of how people think about, influence, & relate to 
one another.

 Differences between Psychological & Sociological Psychology

      • Psychological Social Psychology: 
  
       The central focus is on the Individual. 
  
          Researchers attempt to understand social behavior by analyzing immediate stimuli, 
          psychological states, & personality traits. 
  
          Prediction of behavior is the primary goal of research. 
  
          Experimentation is the primary method of research followed by surveys. 

    • Sociological Social Psychology: 
  
         Central focus is on the group. 
  
         Researchers attempt to understand social behavior by analyzing societal variables, 
         such as social status, roles & norms. 
  
         Description of behavior is the primary goal of research. 
  
         Surveys & participant observation are the primary research methods. 

Ψ  Social Psychology is the scientific study of...      

    Social Thinking. Its about 
  
          how we perceive ourselves & others. 
           what we believe. 
            judgments we make. 
             our attitudes.       
           
    Social Influence. Its about 
  
          culture. 
           pressures to conform. 
            persuasion. 
             groups of people.       
           
    Social Relations. Its about 
  
          prejudice. 
           aggression. 
            attraction & intimacy. 
             helping. 
           
Overarching Theories of Social Psychology

Ψ We construct our social reality. 
Ψ Our social intuitions are powerful & are shaped by behavior. 
Ψ Attitudes shape behavior & are shaped by behavior. 
  
Ψ Social influences shape behavior. 
Ψ Dispositions shape behavior. 
  
Ψ Social behavior is also biological behavior.
Ψ Feelings & actions toward people are sometimes negative & sometimes positive. 

Ψ Social Psych's principles are applicable in everyday life. 

Notes on the effects of Human Values

Ψ It would seem self evident that the values we hold influence our judgments. If what we think is based on incomplete, 
unverifiable or misinterpreted data our human bias will results in wrong conclusions. The fix obviously lies in the application of 
the scientist method.

Hindsight Bias

    Hindsight Bias - the tendency to exaggerate, after learning an outcome, one's ability to have foreseen how something 
    turned out. a.k.a as the I-knew-it-all-along phenomenon. Conductive to arrogance.
 
    As defined above it would seem that there is nothing good about hindsight bias. The article below counterbalances this negativity.

  Article:

     "Hindsight Bias - NOT just a convenient memory enhancer but an important part of an efficient memory system.

     It is said that hindsight is 20-20. According to new research, hindsight bias -- the way our impression of how we acted or would 
have acted changes when we learn the outcome of an event -- is actually a by-product of a cognitive mechanism that allows us to unclutter
our minds by discarding inaccurate information and embracing that which is correct.

     Researchers in the Adaptive Behavior and Cognition (ABC) research group at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, 
Germany, have developed a model of hindsight bias called Reconstruction After Feedback with Take the Best (RAFT). Drs. Ulrich 
Hoffrage, Ralph Hertwig and Gerd Gigerenzer, authors of the RAFT model, published their research in the May issue of the Journal of 
Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, published by the American Psychological Association.

     Hindsight bias can occur when people make a judgment or choice and are later asked to recall their judgment. If, in the interim, they're 
told what the correct judgment would have been, their memory of their own judgment may become biased toward the new information. For 
instance, suppose a person was asked to estimate how many votes John McCain would get in the Michigan primaries. If before the election,
he estimated 30%, and then learned that the actual figure was 50%, he may later recall that his answer was 40%.

     The basic idea of the RAFT model is that any feedback or correct information a person receives after he has given his initial judgment 
automatically updates the knowledge base underlying the initial judgment. If a person cannot remember this initial judgment, he will 
reconstruct it from what he currently knows about the situation. And what he currently knows is the updated version of what he used 
to know. So while feedback does not directly affect a person's memory for the original response, it indirectly affects the memory by 
updating the knowledge used to reconstruct the response. Rather than thinking of hindsight bias as a flaw of human cognition, as previous 
research suggests, Hoffrage, et al. argue that it's a by-product of an adaptive mechanism - one that makes human memory more efficient.

     To test their RAFT model, the researchers set up experiments in which, for instance, 80 student volunteers at the University of Chicago 
were provided with nutrition information about certain foods such as fat content, number of calories and protein content. Then participants 
were shown a list of the same foods split into pairs and the researchers asked them to decide which item in the pair had the higher cholesterol 
content. They were also asked how much confidence they had in their choice. Either a day or a week later they returned to the laboratory 
and were asked to recall the decisions they made about the food-item pairs and how confident they were in their decisions. Some 
participants were simply asked to recall their earlier decision. Others first got to see the actual cholesterol content of each food item and 
were then asked to recall their earlier answers. 

     Consistent with the model, the researchers found that knowledge of nutrition values was updated such that it was more consistent with 
the feedback (i.e., the actual cholesterol content), whereas this knowledge remained unchanged when no feedback was given. Based upon 
these results, the RAFT model was able to make precise predictions about when hindsight bias occurs. In fact, the researchers found that 
the model's predictions were accurate up to 80 percent of the time. Furthermore, when the researchers reminded participants of the cues 
they originally used to make their decisions, the incidence of hindsight bias dropped.
 
    "RAFT is the first process model that is able to predict for an individual item of an individual participant whether hindsight bias will occur, 
disappear or even reverse," states lead author Hoffrage. "It is a cheap price we have to pay for a much larger gain: a well functioning memory 
that is able to forget what we do not need, such as outdated knowledge, and constantly updates our knowledge by increasing the accuracy 
of our inferences."
 
    Article: "Hindsight Bias: A By-Product of Knowledge Updating?," Ulrich Hoffrage, Ph.D. , Ralph Hertwig, Ph.D., and Gerd Gigerenzer, 
Ph.D., Max Planck Institute for Human Development; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, Vol. 26, No. 3
APA News Release, May 14, 2000, Contact: APA Public Affairs Office (202) 336-5700. Retrieved March 23, 2006 from APA online 
site: http://www.apa.org/releases/hindsight.html 

Ψ Common sense is usually right - after the fact (in hindsight).

Research Methods

Notes on Theories        

A theory is an integrated set of principles that explain & predict observed events. Theories are a scientific shorthand.       

Theories are ideas that summarize & explain facts.       

Theories not only summarize, the also imply testable predictions called hypotheses (guesses as to cause).       
 
 A good theory:      
 
 1.  effectively summarizes a wide range of observations.      
 
 2.  makes clear predications that:            
 
           a.  confirm & modify the theory. 
             b.  generate new exploration. 
              c.  suggest practical applications. 
              
Correlation      
        
        A correlation is an association / relationship between the occurrence of two or more 
        events, a correlation coefficient is a signed number signifying the strength & direction 
        of that relationship.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       Perfect positive correlation coefficient (+1.00) (always) 
        Positive correlation coefficient (+0.01 to +0.99) (sometimes happens) 
         Zero correlation (0.00) (events happen at random) 
        Negative correlation coefficient (-0.01 to -0.99) (sometimes) 
       Perfect negative correlation coefficient (-1.00) (Never) 
  
      Correlations are positive if  the occurrence of the events in each domain increase together. 
      Correlations are negative if  the occurrence of the events in one domain increases as the 
      occurrence of events in the other domain decreases. 
      
 Correlation is not causation! it is a clue that can be used to predict.
 
Surveys

  Four potentially biasing influences in Surveys 
  
 Unrepresentative samples 
  Order of questions 
   Response options 
    Wording of the questions 

Experiments        
              
                  An experiment is a method for identifying cause & effect relationships by following 
              a set of rules & guidelines that minimize the possibility of error, bias & chance occurrences.   
              
                Disadvantage: Information obtained in one experimental situation or laboratory situation 
              may not apply in other situations.    
                Advantage: Identifies cause & effect. Random selection is how you draw the sample of 
              people for your study from a population. 
              
                  Random assignment is how you assign the sample that you draw to different groups (control or 
              experimental) in your study. We randomly assign in order to help assure that our groups are 
              similar to each other (i.e., equivalent) prior to changing the independent variable.
              
              Conducting an experiment: seven rules:       
              
 - Rule 1: ask (hypothesis) 
        - Rule 2: identify variables 
               - Independent variable (treatment) 
               - Dependent variable (resulting behavior) 
        - Rule 3: choose subjects (random selection) 
        - Rule 4: assign subjects randomly 
               - Experimental group 
               - Control group 
        - Rule 5: manipulate independent variable 
               - administer treatment 
               - Use double-blind procedure 
        - Rule 6: measure resulting behavior (dependent variable) 
        - Rule 7: analyze data 
        
 General Ethical Precautions       
 
   Do no harm! 
         Secure informed consent. 
          Explain the procedures before hand. Use deception only if essential 
           & justified by a significant purpose. 
            Keep confidential all personal information. 
             Fully explain the experiment afterward, including any deception.    
           
           Precautions about Findings          
           
             Report Honestly 
             Limit Misinterpretation    
           
 Ψ  Mundane realism can be defined as a superficial similarity to real life. It is not important in an experiment.    
 
 Ψ Experimental realism is important, an experiment should absorb & involve the participants.   
    
 Ψ  Generalization from laboratory to life: Does not always happen. Be cautious!

Improve your study habits! 

    A common complaint from students is that their study is ineffective; because, students 
are often poor judges of what they know, the use of self tests such as those in most texts 
& most textbook support web sites can fix this.

    A plan for time management using the right sort of goals is effective in improving 
study results.

Types of study goals:

1. Time       
    2. General       
       3. Specific performance goals 

    Reward yourself when goals are reached (self-reinforcement).

Take notes! 

- Use your own words. 
    - Use an outline format. 
        - Associate new material with old. 
            - Ask yourself questions as you study, then look for the answers.

Stop procrastinating:

     1.  Stop thinking or worrying about the final goal, conquer today's work. 
         2.  Break the overall task down into smaller more reachable goals. 
             3.  Write down a realistic schedule that you know you can follow.

Read the textbook!

Ψ   Many students don't bother to read the textbook before going to the lecture that will cover the material. Trying to get 
anything out of a lecture without reading the material first is like trying to find a new, unfamiliar place without using a map 
or a GPS device. You can get lost real quick. This is especially true because most instructors in the traditional college 
setting make the assumption that the student has in fact prepared for the class by reading the assignment to be covered 
by the lecture. The instructors then use the lecture to expound on the information the student has supposedly got from the 
reading. If the student's have failed to do the reading, the lecture may not make a lot of sense.    

Think Critically!

Ψ   Critical thinking means making reasoned judgments. It is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully 
conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, 
observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief & action. 

Ψ   A Critical thinker

  raises vital questions & problems, formulating them clearly & precisely. 
  
  gathers & assesses relevant information. Uses abstract ideas to interpret that information effectively. 
  
  comes to well-reasoned conclusions & solutions by testing them against relevant criteria & standards. 
  
  thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing & assessing, as need be, their assumptions, 
implications, & practical consequences. 
  
  communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems. 

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                 Social Psychology
                   Robert C. Gates