This week we focused on Social Identity Theory. Here is what you should know at the end of this week.
Social Identity Theory works on the basic assumption that we have a personal identity and several social identities.
Groups are defined as having a common goal, but also having a role on our self-esteem. Standing at the bus stop and waiting for the 161 does not make us a group.
There are three steps to SIT: identification with the group (seeing that you have common traits); social comparison (seeing your group as us and others as them) and then an effect on your self-esteem.
In negative situations, groups see themselves as different and “them” as all the same. This is called in-group/out-group homogeneity theory. The process is reversed for positive situations.
The theory can be used to explain many behaviours – it has high heuristic validity. You should be able to describe how the theory could be used to explain parentification and sexuality, as well as how it can explain conflict and conflict resolution (The Robber’s Cave, Sherif).
One of the problems with the theory is that it does not have high predictive validity. You should be able to explain this.
Another study for you to consider. In a study by Taylor, Wood & Lichtman (1983), they found that breast cancer patients who engaged in downward comparison (comparing themselves to someone worse off than themselves) had better recovery times and more positive self-esteem; those who engage in upward comparison (comparing themselves to someone better off than themselves) tended to have longer recovery times and were more likely to suffer from depression.
Take a look at this video on football hooliganism. How does this link to what we are talking about in class?
This week was spent discussing how we interpret the world around us, trying to understand why things happen. Our focus was on attribution theory. At the end of this week, you should be able to discuss the following:
What is the Fundamental Attribution Error?
What is Self-Serving Bias?
What is Modesty Bias?
What is Defensive Attribution?
Can you use the Just World Hypothesis and Cognitive Dissonance to explain these errors?
Here is a short summary of the study of Modesty Bias for you – since I am not sure that I explained it very well. Fahr, Dobbins & Cheng (1991) examining self-reports of 982 Chinese workers in Taiwan found that Chinese employees rated their job performance less favorably than did their supervisors. This modesty bias occurred relatively uniformly across gender, various educational levels, and age groups. These results are contrary to the typically reported U.S. finding that self-ratings of performance are more lenient than are supervisory ratings. The findings suggest that culture plays a critical role in shaping workers’ perceptions of their own work performance.
Also on Friday we discussed why people join gangs. Here is a list of reasons. Notice how they reflect the principles of the SCLOA.
A Sense of “Family” – Young people might feel that they don’t receive enough support or attention at home. They may be trying to escape a negative home life, or may be looking for a father figure.
Need for food or money – Gangs may present themselves as a means of survival to youth who lack basic essentials such as food, clothing and shelter. More and more, gang members use their affiliation to make a profit through illegal activities, such as selling drugs and auto theft.
Desire for protection – Communities with high gang activity often see young people join a gang just to survive. It is often easier to join the gang than to remain vulnerable and unprotected in their neighborhoods.
Peer Pressure – Kids and teens face constant pressure to fit in, and they may not have the support they need to avoid the pressures to join a gang. Peer pressure can come in the form of intimidation, coercion, a dare, harassment, friendly persuasion, or repetitious begging.
Family history or tradition – Families can have gang involvement spanning over multiple generations. This is one of the toughest forms of pressure to escape, as the gang lifestyle is deeply rooted in family traditions and values.
Excitement – Some young people get a rush out of defying authority, or committing crimes. They may be attracted to the gang lifestyle, as it lives outside the law and participates in many illicit behaviors.
To Appear Cool – Gangs have mastered the art of manipulation to attract potential recruits. They wear the latest fashion trends, throw the hottest parties, and drive the coolest cars.
At the end of this week, you should understand the following vocabulary:
Covert vs. overt observations
Participant vs. non-participant observations
Lab vs naturalistic observations
Foot in the door technique
Dispositional vs. situational factors
You should also be able to describe the Milgram experiment and what it says about dispositional factors and their role on human behaviour. In addition to all of this, I introduced you to the SAQ. We are really starting to make some progress now….
It is finally time to go on holiday. It seems like a long time since we started the school year! This week was spent wrapping up our first sample IA. I was impressed at how well many of your did on this assessment. I think that we are ready to move on to the SCLOA! This week we wrapped up our study of research methods by learning the following things about case studies:
They are holistic – that is, they look at many aspects of an individual or group. This is in contrast to experimental research that can often be reductionist in nature.
Case studies use many forms of triangulation: source (aka data) triangulation, method triangulation, researcher triangulation and theory triangulation.
Case studies may either be retrospective or prospective in nature. Retrospective case studies have the problem that they rely on self reported data and human memory. Often data cannot be verified. Prospective studies have the problem of attrition – that is, participants may drop out of the study over time for various reasons.
In addition, we started to peek at the Socio-cultural level of analysis. We learned the basic principles that define this level of analysis.
Here is a list of the principles that we discussed:
Human beings are constantly being influenced by other people, even when they believe that they are acting independently.
We have an individual and a social identity.
Our behavior is the result of dispositional and situational factors.
Culture affects our behavior.
When we get back from break, we will start studying social psychology in depth. Very exciting. And no, I didn’t forget about Cialdini’s article on plane crashes that I keep forgetting to discuss in class. Don’t worry – it will be part of what we do after the break.
If you want to start thinking about gang behaviour for our discussions after the break, you may want to watch this video. A rather interesting link to animal behaviour….
Sorry for the late posting. My two trips away back to back have put me behind. Clearly my priorities were in the wrong place!
Psychologists use both quantitative (experiments, quasi-experiments, correlations…) and qualitative (observations, questionnaires, interviews, case studies) research methods in order to study human behaviour. Each method has its own strengths and limitations.
Observations may be either overt or covert. The researcher may either join the group and interact with the participants in order to observe behaviour – a participant observation. A researcher may also observe “from a distance” where there is no interaction with the participants – a non-participant observation. Observations may be in the lab or they may be naturalistic. Observations do not establish cause and effect relationships.
Case studies are in-depth investigations of an individual or group. Case studies are a combination of research methods. When carrying out a case study a researcher may use interviews, observations, questionnaires, or archival research in order to get a holistic picture of the case. This is known as method triangulation. In addition, case studies are usually implicit – that is, they seek to help the individual or group and the goal is not to generalize to a larger population. However, often information from a case study can be tranferred to another group if there are enough similarities between the case and the other group or individual.
Here is a little video on one of the earliest case studies in psychology. Watch it – and then go on line and see if you can explain why it is a case study.
This week we wrapped up our introduction to experiments. We looked at what we do with data by carrying out the Stroop test and finding out that our results were significant. Here are the important ideas from this week:
Descriptive statistics help us to understand the “nature” of the data – including both its range and its variance. Outliers can have a significant effect on these statistics.
Inferential statistics help us to determine the extent to which our results could simply be due to chance. If I calculate my statistics and get a value that exceeds the critical value, my results are significant – that is, my results are not due to chance. I then reject the null hypothesis. If I calculate my statistics and get a value that does not meet the critical value, then my results are insignificant. I then retain the null hypothesis. My results are most likely due to chance.
You should know the following descriptive stats: mean, median, mode and standard deviation.
You should be able to describe the four levels of data: nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio. For each level of data, you should be able to tell me which statistic is the most appropriate.
You should know the definition of a Likert Scale and how a psychologist would most appropriately determine the meaning of the data.
Next week is the big first quiz of the course. How exciting!