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Social Psychology

Outline and discuss the social-psychological approach in psychology.

Mohammed Badat

on 14 January 2013

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Transcript of Social Psychology

Allport, G.W. (1954a). ‘The historical background of modern social psychology’. In Lindzay, G. (Ed.). Handbook of social psychology. Reading: Addison- Westley.
Asch, S.E. (1953). Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of
judgements. In Guetzkow, H. (ed.), Groups, leadership and men: Research in human relations. New York: Russell and Russell.
Brunner H.G., (1993) ‘Abnormal behaviour associated with a point mutation in the structural gene for monoamine oxidase A’. Science, 262 (5133). pp. 578 – 580.
Farrington, D.P. (2002). Families and Crime. In Wilson, J.Q. & Petersilia, J. (eds.), Crime: Public policies for crime control (2nd edition). Oakland: Institute for Contemporary Studies Press.
Gergen, K.J. (1978). ‘Experimentation in social psychology: A reappraisal’. European Journal of Social Psychology. 8 (4), pp. 507 – 527.
Milgram, S. (1963). ‘Behavioral study of obedience’. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. 67 (4), pp.371 – 378.
Moscovici, S., & Lage, E. & Naffrechoux, M. (1969). ‘Influence of a consistent minority on the responses of a majority in a color perception task.’ Sociometry. 32 (4), pp. 365 – 380.
Piliavin, I.M., & Rodin, J.A. & Piliavin, J. (1969) ‘Good Samaritanism: An underground phenomenon?’. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 13, pp. 289 – 299
Rosenhan, D.L. (1973). ‘On being sane in insane places’. Science, 179, pp. 250 – 58
Watson, J.B. (1930). Behaviorism. (2nd edition). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. References Social Psychology…
Links to other psychological perspectives and subjects
Highly reductionist and deterministic.
Highly ecologically-valid, lacks ethics / quite scientific.
Supports nurture debate and situational factors.
Highly useful in explaining some aspects of behaviour but limited in explaining some behaviours. Summary Overall, social psychology is:
highly useful as it provides an in-depth-understanding of behaviours to a certain-extent,
but is limited due to its high-focus on explaining-behaviours through social-psychological ways, thus not-allowing it to explain behaviours holistically. Evaluation Conclusion A recent debate in social-psychology in the 1970’s is “The Crisis”, whereby many argued social-psychology:
Too individualistic - not focus on social factors;
Ignoring the historical and cultural-detail;
Experimental-methods invalid in psychology. - Gergen (1978) emphasised taking individual-differences into account was key when conducting highly-scientific experiments in order control individual-differences. The Crisis (1970's) Internal Debates Throughout The Development Of Social Psychology Social-psychology supports nurture;
It suggests that environmental, situational, social-influences effect our behaviour.
E.g., Farrington’s (2002, cited in Wilson & Petersilia) study suggests nurture-factors of upbringing are highly-significant in causing criminal-behaviour, and is supported by Watson’s (behaviourist) (1930, p.82) famous “Twelve-Infants” suggestion - (he could make children into anything he wanted), as opposed to nature-factors causing crime such as drug-abuse as supported by neurobiologists. Nature V Nurture Criticised by neurobiologists as social-psychology doesn’t consider individualistic explanations of behaviour
E.g. Brunner’s (1993) study on faulty-genes (individual-factor) as the cause of violent-behaviour.
E.g. Milgram’s (1963) study on obedience suggests it is caused by the presence of authoritative-figures (situational-factors) rather than an individual’s dispositional-characteristics. Debate:
Individual V Situational Factors However, social-psychology only suggests social factors influence behaviour, not necessarily determine it
E.g.- Farrington (2002) - “risk-factors” influencing criminality, not determining it.
Individual V Situational Factors General Debates Debates In Social Psychology Is social-psychology able to generalise its theories to society and to what degree?
A weakness of social-psychology -
Highly ethnocentric - theories developed from “Western” societies with research-samples consisting of white, male, student-volunteers
So, its theories are limited in generalizability to the wider, diverse world.
E.g. Moscovici et.al’s (1969) study on minority-influence - only used female-participants - questions the findings generalizability to males.
Thus, social-psychology’s theories may not be highly-applicable to all societies.
However, a counter-argument is that we are all inevitably the same as we are all human
Therefore social-psychology is able to be generalizable to a certain extent. Generalizability Strength of social-psychological-research - more likely to use longitudinal-research
Thus allows changes to be seen over time in greater-depth than using snapshot-studies used by neurobiologists.
E.g. Farrington’s (2002, cited in Wilson & Petersilia) study on disrupted-families turning to crime - took place over 18 months, - which allowed greater-rapport and insight into the participants as well as showing changes in development over time to be recorded.
(-) However, raises practicality-problems as well as researcher-bias. Longitudinal V Snapshot Familiar criticism raised - tends to study people in a highly-naturalistic-setting,
Thus not allowing control of possible ethical-issues from arising, especially when studying negative behaviours.
Protection of harm highly-likely to occur in social-psychology -important in controlling in order to maintain psychology’s reputation.
E.g., Rosenhan’s (1973) study on misdiagnosis of behaviours showed pseudopatients were exposed to psychologically-harmful conditions (depersonalisation).
Counterpoint - Justifiable to conduct unethical-research -
Only if usefulness of the findings outweighs the ethical-costs.
E.g. Rosenhan’s (1973) study - where the findings of lack of validity in diagnosing behaviours outweighed the ethical-costs. Strength - Highly-ecologically-valid in studying behaviour than neurobiologists as it studies behaviour in a highly-naturalistic (real-life) setting.
E.g., Piliavin et.al’s (1969) study on helping-behaviour took place in a real-life New-York subway - where participants encountered highly-true-to-life situations of helping drunk and ill victims.
Therefore, social-psychological research being highly-ecologically-valid allows findings to be easily-generalizable to our everyday-lives.
Counterpoint - lacks mundane-realism -
Studies people very simplistically as scientific-variables -
Thus limiting generalizability of the findings of research to everyday-life-scenarios.
E.g., Asch’s (1953, as cited in Guetzko) study on conformity - tested conformity using a line-test - isn’t representative of everyday-life-situations - e.g. jury’s decision-making in courts - information more complex. Ecological Validity Strength of social-psychological research -
Use of highly-scientific-experimental-methods -
Shows causal-relationships between variables like cognitivists, whilst maintaining ecological-validity by conducting naturalistic-observations unlike neurobiologists.
E.g. Piliavin et.al’s (1969) on helping-behaviour - field-experiments conducted in real-life subways to support his theory of the cost-benefit-arousal-model. Scientific Methods In Social Psychological Research
(+/-) Weakness of being deterministic - could produce negative ethical-implications.
E.g. Farrington’s (2002, cited in Wilson & Petersilia) study on disrupted-families turning to crime - could produce labels of disrupted-families as criminals, which could lead to self-fulfilling-prophecies.
Strength of being highly-deterministic -
highly-useful in identifying people for treatment
Those with higher-negative-social-factors can be treated quickly before any possible-harm is done. Implications? Weakness argued by humanists - produces “blame-culture” - deferring blame from ourselves, onto social-factors in society,
Producing negative-implications of absolvent of responsibility of our acts. Strength of being deterministic - helps prevent miscarriages of justice in courts
Defendants can’t be argued to possess “the exercise of free will” required to commit crime, if suffering from diminished-responsibility, in certain situations.
E.g., Milgram’s (1963) study on obedience - suggests Germans obedient under tyrannical-rule of Nazi’s (WWII), due to presence of Hitler, (authoritative-figure), not due to Germans dispositional-characteristics. Responsibility? Yes (humanists) - ignores free-will
suggests individuals have no control of their behaviour as it is determined by social-factors
Could produce negative-implications of fatalism - giving up and over-dependence on financial-social-welfare as treatments.
No - suggests social-factors only cause an increased chance of a behaviour occurring, not necessarily causing behaviours. Is it Deterministic? Yes. highly-deterministic - suggests social-factors responsible for controlling our behaviour.
E.g. Asch’s (1953, as cited in Guetzko) study on conformity suggests social-factors (group-dynamics) determine our chance of conformity, based on the finding - 62% participants conformed.
Thus, suggests that we all act in the same way due to social-factors determining our behaviours - ignores view that we are individuals, thus lacking validity as individuals may act differently amongst others. Being highly deterministic is a weakness in psychology.
Social-psychology is considered generally to be highly deterministic. Issues:
Determinism V Free Will Weakness – social psychology highly reductionist –
Only looks at social-psychological aspects of explaining behaviour -
Ignores other aspects of explaining behaviour (neurobiological, cognitive, etc.) – thus not able to explain behaviour holistically.
E.g. Farrington (2002, as cited in Wilson & Petersilia) on disrupted-families turning to crime - suggests environmental-risk-factors cause turning to crime, - but doesn’t consider neurobiological causes - E.g. “faulty genes” in Brunner’s (1993) study on explaining 5 brothers criminal-behaviour.
Therefore, this suggests social-psychology is highly-reductionist, thus making it also lack-validity in explaining-behaviour, thus the degree to usefulness in developing-treatments is limited -
It would only treat social-factors causing behaviours, as it’s developed only from a social-psychological-perspective. Reductionist? Being highly reductionist is considered to be a weakness in psychology as it doesn’t look at all the factors in explaining behaviour.
Social psychology is considered to be highly reductionist. Issues:
Reductionism V Holism Issues In Social Psychology
(+/-) The importance and influence of social anthropology on psychology and vice versa.
Much philosophical debates come into question when discussing human behaviour in social psychology. Social Anthropology Social Psychology seen as closest link between sociology and psychology.
Although part of psychology, it still relates to sociology and the role of external influences of wider society on behaviour rather than psychology’s greater emphasis of highly individualistic factors effecting behaviour. Sociology Similar Subjects How social influences can affect language development?
Relationship between social influences and language. Socio-linguistic Language Communications Social Cognitions Integrates Social Psychology & Cognitive Psychology:
How cognitive processes are affected by social influences in shaping behaviour? There has been an increasing relationship between cognitive and social psychology, since the 1970’s with:
Social psychology adopting the scientific experimental approach used by cognitive psychology.
The increasing use of cognitive psychology concepts in social psychology to explain behaviour. Cognitive Psychology Links to the development of individual psychology in how social psychology plays a role in explaining behaviours of individuals in society. Individual Psychology Psychological Perspectives Links To Social Psychology? …suggests society and individuals are highly-connected, with both having important roles in shaping behaviour. … shaped by nurture through environmental-factors and social-influences. …influenced by situational-factors, thus studying the behaviour of individuals in their social-context. Behaviour… Assumptions “the scientific investigation of how thoughts, feelings and behaviours of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others.” Definition Introduction To Social Psychology Outline and discuss the social-psychological approach in psychology. Social Psychology Strength of social-psychology - uses both-methods, -
unlike neurobiologists who use quantitative-methods only or psychoanalytic-perspective who uses qualitative-methods only
Thus allowing us greater-insight into both measurement and experience of behaviour.
E.g., Rosenhan’s (1973) study on the misdiagnosis of behaviours used quantitative-methods - observations of staff’s relationship with patients as well as qualitative-methods - describing the pseudopatients’ experiences of powerlessness, thus enabling us greater-understanding into how and how often pseudopatients were treated differently by staff.
Counterpoint - Lack of objectivity, arising from observer-bias.
E.g. Piliavin et.al’s (1969) study on helping-behaviour showed observers had been biased in recording helping-behaviours in the subway.
Therefore, social-psychology lacking objectivity, thus produces the implication that it also lacks reliability, as well as it being regarding as unscientific, due to lack of control unlike the neurobiologists. Type Of Data –
Quantitative V Qualitative However, social-psychology highly-contributory - in developing interventions of social-policy to help treat and improve the lives of those who suffer from mental-illnesses by helping cause change in attitudes within society, due to its use of highly, in-depth empirical-research to support its theories.
E.g. Farrington’s (2002, cited in Wilson & Petersilia) study on disrupted-families, found that criminal-behaviour arose from environmental-risk-factors, not from dispositional-characteristics, - suggests a need for increasing-social-welfare. Usefulness? (Allport, 1954a, p.5 as cited in Lindzay, G.) Is it Deterministic? Responsibility? Ethics
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