Complete Psychology


Section 5 Social psychology

Chapter 21 Issues and themes in social psychology
The aim of this chapter is to provide you with a basic introduction to the various themes and issues that are important for the study of social psychological processes. Our starting point will be to look at how social psychology has been defined and the historical basis to these definitions. The next part of the chapter focuses on two approaches that social psychologists take in their studies. The first is the experimental approach. We shall see that the main proponents of this approach are those who come from a social cognition perspective. The second approach is called critical social psychology; we will focus on one perspective - social constructionism - from this school. We then move on to study the types of experimental and non-experimental research method and strategy that social psychologists use, and the ethical considerations that this work involves.

Chapter 22 Attitudes, persuasion and attitude change
The aim of this chapter is to present you with an overview of attitudes, persuasion processes and attitude change. Initially, we will explore how the term 'attitude' has been defined, what functions attitudes serve, how attitudes are structured, how they develop and how we measure them. We then move on to look at the relationship between attitudes and behaviour and at what psychologists know about how attitudes change. Finally, we look at how people may be persuaded to change their attitudes and, theoretically, their behaviour.

Chapter 23 Attribution
The aim of this chapter is to present you with an introduction to many of the theories and models psychologists have developed to explain how people attribute behavioural outcomes to different types of cause. We will explore the nature of the attribution process by looking at a number of different models. We will focus on what attributions 'look like' and the circumstances that lead to different kinds of attributions. The second part of the chapter will focus on various errors and biases that result from the attribution process.

Chapter 24 Impression formation and social interaction
The aim of this chapter is to provide you with an overview of some of the theories and evidence that social psychologists have used to study impression formation and social interaction. The chapter will begin with a section on how we form impressions of others and also why we attempt to manage the impressions others form of us. The second part of the chapter will look at nonverbal communication in social interaction. Finally, we will move on to look at a few examples of social behaviour including attraction, aggression and helping.

Chapter 25 Social influence and group processes
This chapter provides an introduction to some of the theories and evidence that social psychologists have used to study social influence and other group processes. We begin by identifying different types of group and then move on to research that has been used to understand how groups can influence people to change their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. The second part of the chapter looks at work on how a person's performance can be influenced by other people watching them. The third part looks at group decision making, group performance and what happens when poor decisions are made. We then turn to conditions when people behave in ways they normally would not. For instance, we will look at the conditions under which people obey authority. The role of leaders will also be discussed in terms of group performance. Finally, we study how groups behave towards one another, with special reference to conflict and discriminatory behaviour.