PSYCH101: Introduction to Psychology
Unit 6: Social Psychology
Human beings are social beings. As psychologists, we acknowledge this fact by studying the ways in which an individual's social environment impacts his or her emotional and mental functioning. This is called social psychology - the focus of this unit. We will discuss the social behavior of individuals, groups, and entire societies as well as the influences that our relationships to these entities have on us as individuals. The readings conclude with a discussion of the theories related to human motivation and emotion.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- understand major topics in social psychology, including presentation, attitudes and persuasions, conformity, compliance, obedience, cognitive dissonance, prejudice and discrimination, aggression, and prosocial behavior;
- describe the theories and research of important social psychologists, including Philip Zimbardo, Stanley Milgram, Albert Bandura, Abraham Maslow, Alfred Kinsey, Solomon Asch, William Masters, and Virginia Johnson;
- identify the factors inherent in situational versus dispositional influences on behavior;
- identify cognitive biases in real-life situations, including the fundamental attribution error, actor-observer bias, self-serving bias, just-world hypothesis, bystander effect, and the lessons learned from the Stanford Prison Experiment; and
- describe the major theories of motivation and emotion, such as the drive theory, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, James Lange theory, Cannon-Bard theory, Schachter-Singer two factor theory, and cognitive-mediational theory.
Watch this introductory lecture on social psychology.
Read the Introduction and 7 sections of Chapter 12, which provides an overview of social psychology. Many psychologists would agree that most emotional and behavioral problems are essentially social and interpersonal problems. Not only are psychological difficulties typically caused or maintained by interpersonal processes, but also problems typically manifest themselves in the course of personal relationships. Many emotional and behavioral problems are rooted in "normal" interpersonal processes – precisely the processes that social psychology describes. As you study this unit think about how people impact one another. How does this impact our homes, community, and world?
Read this article to learn about this important theory regarding causal inferences in social psychology.
As you watch this video, consider the following questions: What happens when we consider our own behavioral attributes? Are we more likely to think we are victims of our own circumstance?
Read this article to learn about this important concept in social psychology.
Read this article to learn about Stanley Milgram's controversial yet seminal studies on obedience. As you read this section consider Milgram's claim that "The social psychology of this century reveals a major lesson: often it is not so much the kind of person a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines how he will act".
Read this selection and watch the videos, which explain Milgram’s experiments.
Read this article to learn about the influence of the group on individual action through social facilitation, social loafing, deindividuation, group polarization, and groupthink.
Read this selection regarding the psychology of groups. A major controversy (real or alleged) from the last 25 years is the concept of “group think”. Think about examples of how the desire for harmony or conformity in a group could result in irrational or a dysfunctional decision-making outcome.
Read this article to learn about the research and theory related to stereotypes.
Many of us like to believe that we are in control of our own actions. However, social psychologists have often found that the attitudes, actions, and even the mere presence of other individuals can influence our behavior. As you read this section on prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping, think about how other individuals and/or social norms may affect behaviors of the individual, group, community, and world.
selection about aggression and violence. Simply stated, violence, such as
assault, rape or murder, is an extreme form of aggression. Violence has many
causes, including frustration, exposure to violent media, violence in the home
or neighborhood and a tendency to see other people's actions as hostile even
when they're not. Certain situations also increase the risk of aggression, such
as drinking, insults and other provocations, and environmental factors like
heat and overcrowding. Think about the
impact of aggression and violence on the development of person throughout their
lifespan. How can lifelong trauma impact a person’s biological and
Watch this video on aggression and consider the following questions. As genes, cells, and DNA can cause aggression, and aggression can cause crimes, does this mean that criminals can successfully argue that it's their DNA, something they can't control, that's making them do what they do? What role does testosterone play with aggression?
Read the Introduction and four sections of Chapter 10, which cover emotion and motivation. Think about an everyday interaction with friends or peers. You should be able to differentiate between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and be able to apply Maslow's hierarchy of needs to this real-world situation.
Watch this video to differentiate between the James-Lange theory of emotion as well as the Cannon-Bard theory, the Schachter-Singer theory, and the Lazarus theory. Which theory makes the most sense to you? Why?
Take this assessment to check your understanding of the materials presented in this unit.
- There is no minimum required score to pass this assessment, and your score on this assessment will not factor into your overall course grade.
- This assessment is designed to prepare you for the Final Exam that will determine your course grade. Upon submission of your assessment you will be provided with the correct answers and/or other feedback meant to help in your understanding of the topics being assessed.
- You may attempt this assessment as many times as needed, whenever you would like.