sábado, mayo 07, 2005

Half way there! 

Third class (of a total of 6). How can we process so much theory in such a short time? I hope that these concepts will ring true in everyone's experience in the future. For me, I need to learn by repetition so I always make notes of what I read and then write them to digest them. So I don't know yet how to skip this step. The one where I copy word for word from the source. So here it goes, from Myers, 2004, Exploring Social Psychology, McGraw Hill:Boston, 3rd Edition.

Module 11
Clinical Therapy: The Powers of Social Cognition
One of psychology’s most intriguing research frontiers concerns the cognitive processes that accompany psychological disorders. What are the memories, attributions, and expectations of depressed, lonely, shy, or illness prone people?

Social Cognition And Depression.
As we know from experience, depressed people are negative thinkers. … the negative thinking becomes self-defeating….

Distortion or Realism?
Are all depressed people unrealistically negative?

Underlying the thinking of depressed people are their attributions of responsibility.

…depressed people have been more likely than nondepressed people to exhibit a negative explanatory style… They are more likely to tribute failure and setbacks to causes that are stable (“It’s going to last forever”), global (“It’s going to affect everything I do””), and internal (“It’s all my fault”). The result of this pessimistic, overgeneralized, self-blaming thinking, …. Is a depressing sense of hopelessness.

Is Negative Thinking A Cause Or A Result Of Depression?
Do depressed moods cause negative thinking, or does negative thinking cause depression?

Depressed Moods Cause Negative Thinking
Without a doubt, our moods definitely color our thinking.

A depressed mood also affects behavior. The person who is withdrawn, glum, and complaining does not elicit joy and warmth in others. …found that depressed people were realistic in thinking that others didn’t appreciate their behavior. Their pessimism and bad moods trigger social rejection… Depressed behavior can also trigger reciprocal depression in others. College students who have depressed roommates tend to become a little depressed themselves… They may also seek out those whose unfavorable views of them verify, and further magnify, their low self-images..

Negative Thinking Causes Depressed Moods.
Why are some people so affected by minor stresses? Evidence suggests that a negative explanatory style contributes to depressive reactions.

“A recipe for severe depression is preexisting pessimism encountering failure,”

Depression is therefore both a cause and a consequence of negative cognitions.

Seligman believes that the decline of religion and family, plus the growth of individualism, breeds hopelessness and self-blame when things don’t go well.

In nonwestern cultures, where close-knit relationships and cooperation are the norm, major depression is less common and less tied to guilt and self-blame over perceived personal failure. In Japan, for example, depressed people instead tend to report feeling shame over letting down their family or co-workers (Draguns, 1990).

Social Cognition And Loneliness
Like depressed people, chronically lonely people seem caught in a vicious cycle of self-defeating social cognitions and social behaviors. They have some of the negative explanatory style of the depressed; they perceive their interactions as making a poor impression, blame themselves for their poor social relationships, and see most things as beyond their control.

Believing in their social unworthiness and feeling pessimistic about others inhibits lonely people from acting to reduce their loneliness… (patterns of behavior)

Social Cognition And Anxiety
Self-presentation theory assumes that we are eager to present ourselves in ways that make a good impression. The implications for social anxiety are straightforward: We feel anxious when we are motivated to impress others but doubt our ability to do so.

The natural tendency in all such situations is to be cautiously self protective: to talk less; to avoid topics that reveal one’s ignorance; to be guarded about oneself; to be unassertive, agreeable, and smiling.

Symptoms as diverse as anxiety and alcohol abuse can also serve a self-handicapping function. … The symptom is an unconscious, strategic ploy to explain away negative outcomes.

Social-Psychological Approaches To Treatment
So far, we have considered patterns of social thinking that are linked with problems in living, ranging from serious depression to extreme shyness to physical illness.

Inducing Internal Change Through External Behavior
Our actions affect our attitudes. The roles we play, the things we say and do, and the decisions we make influence who we are.

Consistent with this attitudes-follow-behavior principle, several psychotherapy techniques prescribe action.

Experiments confirm that what we say about ourselves can affect how we feel. …
So the most therapeutic commitments are both uncoerced and effortful.

Breaking Vicious Cycles
Social Skills Training
By observing and then practicing new behaviors in safe situations, the person can develop the confidence to behave more effectively in other situations.

“Nothing succeeds like success,” … “as long as there are no external factors present that the client can use as an excuse for that success!”

Explanatory Style Therapy
The vicious cycles that maintain depression, loneliness, and shyness can be broken by social skills training, by positive experiences that alter self-perceptions, and by changing negative thought patterns.

Then came the treatment phase: Layden instructed the students to keep a diary of daily successes and failures, noting how they contributed to their own successes and noting external reasons for their failures.

So what?
We must be aware of how cognitive explanations of our experience support our beliefs and how in turn, negative outcomes further fuel the self-fulfilling cycle of pessimism.

There are issues of oppression that become internalized and fuel externally by systems of inequality. Action directed and social issues serve to reduce external factors and consequently help break patterns of inaction typical of these syndromes. Placing ourselves and others in situations leading to success is another means to break this vicious cycle. Small measures become huge gains in this regard.

Social Influence

Social Psychologist study not only how we think about one another-- … but also how we influence and relate to one another…. (T)he powers of social influence. .. the cultural sources of gender attitudes, the forces of social conformity, the routes to persuasion, and the consequences of being with others and participating in groups.

Module 12
Human Nature and Cultural Diversity

Evolution And Behavior
In many important ways, we are more alike than different. … we share not only a common biology but also common behavior tendencies.

The universal behaviors that define human nature arise from our biological similarity.

To explain the traits of our species, and all species, the British naturalist Charles Darwin (1859) proposed an evolutionary process. As organisms vary, nature selects those best equipped to survive and reproduce in particular environments. Genes that produced traits that increased the odds of leaving descendants became more abundant. … This process of natural selection, long an organizing principle of biology, recently has become an important principle for psychology as well.

Evolutionary psychology studies how natural selection predisposes not just physical traits suited to particular contexts-- … --but psychological traits and social behaviors that enhance the preservation and spread of one’s genes.

The evolutionary perspective highlights our universal human nature.

…all humans rank others by authority and status. And all have ideas about economic justice … Evolutionary psychologist highlight these universal characteristics that have evolved through natural selection. Cultures, however, provide the specific rules for working out these elements of social life.

Culture and Behavior
Whether we define social justice as equality (all receive the same) or as equity (those who produce more receive more) depends on whether Marxism or capitalism shapes our ideology.

Evolutionary psychology incorporates environmental influences. … The cultural perspective, while acknowledging that all behavior requires our evolved genes, highlights human adaptability.

Cultural Diversity
In Japan, where there are 126 million people, of whom 125 million are Japanese, internal cultural differences are minimal compared with those found in Los Angeles, where the public schools have coped with 82 different languages (Iyer, 1993).

In a word divided by conflicts, genuine peace requires both respect for differences and understanding of our deep similarities.

Foreigners visiting Japan often struggle to master the rules of the social game—when to take their shoes off, how to pour the tea, when to give and open gifts, how to act towards someone higher or lower in the social hierarchy.

There is no better way to learn the norms of our culture than to visit another culture and see that its members do things that way, whereas we do them this way.

Just as a play moves smoothly when the actors know their lines, however, so social behavior occurs smoothly when people know what to expect. Norms grease the social machinery.

Cultures also vary in their norms for expressiveness and personal space. (ex.; issues of differences among cultures like formality, efficiency, punctuality)

Personal space is a sort of portable bubble or buffer zone that we like to maintain between ourselves and others.

Cultural Similarity
Thanks to human adaptability, cultures differ.

Although norms vary by culture, humans do hold some norms in common. Best known is the taboo against incest. … Although the taboo apparently is violated more often than psychologists once believed, the norm is still universal. .. Given the biological penalties for inbreeding.

This first aspect of Brown’s universal norm—that forms of address communicate not only social distance but also social status—correlates with a second aspect: Advances in intimacy are usually suggested by their higher-status person.

Although some norms are universal, the force of culture appears in varying norms, and also in the roles that people play. Cultures everywhere influence people by assigning them to play certain roles. … Playing a role often leads people to internalize their behavior. Acting becomes believing. …(re: gender roles), roles vary within and across cultures.

Evolutionary psychology The study of the evolution of behavior using principles of natural selection.

Culture The enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next.

So what?

Acknowledgement of biological evolution and its impact on behavior allows for psychologists as change agents to take a significant role towards adaptation. The extent to which behavior is framed within a culture also allows for the instrumental role of psychologists as change agents to direct social forms and personal manifestations. In the concept of evolutionary psychology this focus is maintained.

Module 14
How Nice People Get Corrupted

It’s not easy being a minority of one.

Asch’s Studies Of Conformity (about which line is longer)

Asch’s results are startling because they involved no obvious pressure to conform—there were no rewards for “team play,” no punishments for individuality.

Milgram’s Obedience Experiments
..testing what happens when the demands of authority clash with the demands of conscience has became social psychology’s most famous and controversial experiments. (It has become part of “our intellectual legacy”)

(Although Milgram’s methods did not exert pain, the claim remains that the stress was evident) Milgram did to his participants what they did to their victim: He stressed them against their will.

What Breeds Obedience?
Four factors that determined obedience were the victim’s emotional distance, the authority’s closeness and legitimacy, whether or not the authority was institutionalized, and the liberating effects of a disobedient fellow subject.

Emotional Distance of the Victim
Milgram’s subjects acted with least compassion when the “learners” could not be seen. … Full compliance dropped to 30 percent when teachers were required to force the learner’s hand into contact with a shock plate.

On the positive side, people act most compassionately toward those who are personalized. (so a hitchhiker or beggar would get results from eye contact)

Closeness and Legitimacy of the Authority
Other studies confirm that when the one making the request is physically close, compliance increases.

This rebellion (during the experimenter’s absence) against illegitimate authority contrasted sharply with the defferential politeness usually shown the experimenter.

(Asch and Milgram experiments) showed how compliance can take precedence over moral sense. (T)hey illustrated and affirmed some familiar social psychological principles: The link between behavior and attitudes, the power of the situation, and the strength of the fundamental attribution error.

Behavior and Attitudes
…that attitudes fail to determine behavior when external influences override inner convictions. … Torn between the pleas of the victim and the orders of the experimenter, between the desire to avoid doing harm and the desire to be a good subject, a surprising number of people chose to obey.

(In Greece, and in Nazi Germany) the military selected candidates based on their respect for and submission to authority. … Compliance bred acceptance.

Too often, criticism produces contempt, which licenses cruelty, which, when justified, leads to brutality, then killing, then systematic killing. Evolving attitudes both follow and justify actions. Staub’s disturbing conclusion: “Human beings have the capacity to come to experience killing other people as nothing extraordinary”…

The first acts of compliance or resistance bred attitudes that influenced behavior, which strengthened attitudes. Initial helping heightened commitment, leading to more helping.

The Power of the Situation
…(that culture is a powerful shaper of lives) and that immediate situational forces are just as powerful—reveal the strength of the social context.

In trying to break with social constraints, we suddenly realize how strong they are.

When fragmented, evil becomes easier.

The drift toward evil usually comes in small increments, without any conscious intent to do evil. Procrastination involves a similar unintended drift, toward self-harm…

The Fundamental Attribution Error.
Bad people do bad things; good people do good things.

Cruelty, we presume, is inflicted by the cruel at heart.

Gunter Bierbrauer (1979) tried to eliminate this underestimation of social forces (the fundamental attribution error).

So what?

There are social pressures towards conformity and the extent to which there is compliance to these pressures vary according to external/situational factors. The action and perpetuation of undesirable behavior has been shown as related to social characteristic of the situation related to distance from the individual and the situation.

Module 16
Indoctrination and Inoculation

Attitudes Follow Behavior
The greater the personal commitment, the more the need to justify it.

Persuasive Elements
….We can also analyze cult persuasion using the factors… Who (the communicator) said what (the message) to whom (the audience)?

The Communicator
Successful cults have a charismatic leader—someone who attracts and directs the members. As in experiments on persuasion, a credible communicator is someone the audience perceives as expert and trustworthy…

Trust is another aspect of credibility.

The Message
The vivid, emotional messages and the warmth and acceptance with which the group showers lonely and depressed people can be strikingly appealing.

The Audience
… most (recruits) are educated, middle-class people who, taken by the ideals, overlook the contradictions in those who profess selflessness and practice greed, who pretend concern and behave indifferently…

Potential converts are often at turning points in their lives…. Times of social and economic upheaval are especially conducive to someone who can make apparent simple sense out of the confusion…

Group Effects
External ties weaken until the group collapses inward socially, each person engaging only with other group members. Cut off from families and former friends, they lose access to counter-arguments. The group now offers identity and defines reality.

… Between education and indoctrination, enlightenment and propaganda, conversion and coercion, therapy and mind control, there is but a blurry line.

Condemning persuasion because of deceit is like condemning eating because of gluttony.

… for the persuader, an ineffective appeal can be worse than none.

To be critical thinkers… build your resistance to persuasion without becoming closed to valid messages… Be an active listener and critical thinker. Force yourself to counterargue.

Cult (also called new religious movement) A group typically characterized by (1) distinctive rituals and beliefs related to its devotion to a god or a person (2) isolation from the surrounding “evil” culture, and (3) a charismatic leader. (A sect, by contrast, is s spinoff from a major religion.)

So what?
The distinction between a culture and a cult is worth considering. The all encompassing environmental context of a culture seems to be a differentiating factor lacking in a cult. The grounding and rooting function of a culture is not as evident in the sense of unit offered by a cult. Here again, the need to belong and to be an individual could adds into the behavioral formula.

Module 17
The Mere Presence of Others

Are we affected by the mere presence of another person? “Mee presence” means people are not competing, do not reward or punish, and, in fact, do nothing except be present as a passive audience or as co-authors. Would the mere presence of others affect a person’s jogging, eating, typing, or exam performance?

The social-facilitation effect…

…the presence of others hinders performance

Arousal enhances whatever response tendency is dominant. Increased arousal enhances performance on easy tasks for which the most likely –“dominant”—response is the correct one.

If social arousal facilitates dominant responses, it should boost performance on easy tasks and hurt performance on difficult tasks.

So, crowding enhances arousal, which facilitates dominant responses.

The enhancement of dominant responses is strongest when people think they are being evaluated.

A good theory is a scientific shorthand: It simplifies and summarizes a variety of observations. … A good theory also offers clear predictions that (1) help confirm or modify the theory, (2) guide new exploration, and (3) suggest practical applications. Social-facilitation theory has definitely generated the first two types of prediction: (1) The basics of the theory (that the presence of others is arousing and that this social arousal enhances dominant responses) have been confirmed, and (2) the theory has brought new life to a long-dormant field of research.

…(I)t also suggests (3) some practical applications… (open areas divided by low partitions in working areas) … Might the resulting awareness of others’ presence help boost the performance of well-learned tasks, but disrupt creative thinking on complex tasks?

So what?
Issues of presence could have significant influence of on-line education since the impact of arousal and crowding could be minimal. This could possibly mean that it could be a facilitative venue for achieving complex tasks.

Module 18
Many Hands Make Diminished Responsibility

Social loafing
The tendency for people to exert less effort when they pool their efforts toward a common goal than when they are individually accountable.

Free-ride, they benefited from the group but gave little in return.

When being observed increases evaluation concerns, social facilitation occurs; when being lost in a crowd decreases evaluation concerns, social loafing occurs.

When rewards are divided equally, regardless of how much one contributes to the group, any individual gets more reward per unit of effort by free-riding on the group.

So what?
There is a gain in creating a structure of reflection and evaluation in which rewards are based on equity instead of equality.

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