Chapter summary imageDo we think and act differently when we're around other people?

WHAT IS SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY?

  • Social psychology examines how the thoughts, actions, and behaviour of individuals influence and are influenced by groups.
  • Humans are social beings, meaning that we actively seek out others to interact with, and in so doing we learn about them and ourselves.
  • Our interactions depend on social perception. But this perception can be flawed: The fundamental attribution theory, pre-existing schemas, the attractiveness bias, and the self-fulfilling bias can all affect our ability to interact with others.

WHAT COGNITIVE PROCESSES UNDERLIE SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR?

  • Social cognition focuses on the underlying processes, such as attention and memory, that make social behaviour possible. Biological structures and processes in the brain help us navigate our social environment.
  • The fusiform face area of the brain allows us to recognize faces.
  • The amygdala is involved in social category processing.
  • The superior temporal sulcus processes biological motions.
  • Mirror neurons in the inferior frontal gyrus help us feel empathy.

HOW DOES SOCIAL INFLUENCE AFFECT OUR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS?

  • Through social pressure, social influence can lead people to conform, obey, and mimic others.
  • Social influence affects performance and plays a role in persuasion.
  • Social influence can have a positive or negative effect on us.
  • The chameleon effect, conformity, obedience, compliance, and the bystander effect are all examples of the power that others have on our thoughts and behaviours.

HOW ARE SOCIAL RELATIONS INFLUENCED BY PSYCHOLOGICAL PHENOMENA?

  • Fear and anger can affect social relations through prejudice, stereotyping, and conflict. Prejudice can be conscious or unconscious.
  • Aggression and conflict represent negative aspects of social interaction, with complex biological, societal, and cultural influences.
  • Self-conscious emotions such as guilt can lead to social repair.
  • Group relations can be improved through co-operation and altruism.