Sociocultural Psychology
Levels of
Analysis
Weekly Lesson Objectives
• Familiarize yourselves with the IB syllabus outline for this
section
• Gain an overview of how the Sociocultural LOA has
developed
• Outline the principles that define the Sociocultural level of
analysis
• Describe the role of situational and dispositional factors in
explaining behaviour
The IB syllabus:
Questions to check your
understanding:
1. What did early psychology largely confine itself
to?
2. As psychology developed, what did some
psychologists begin to take into account?
3. What is social influence?
4. Why has the study of culture grown in
importance in psychology?
5. What type of synthesis holds the best promise
for the understanding of human behaviour?
The IB syllabus
Unit Understandings
There is a bi-directional relationship
between the presence of others on the
individual behavior and the individuals
influence on the behavior of the group and
psychologists attempt to study this in a
systematic manner.
Essential questions
• To what extent is our behaviour
determined by the society in which we
live?
• How do psychologists study the effect
of socio-cultural factors on human
behaviour?
• How does our social cognition
influence our behaviour?
Learning Plan
Approximate times
•
The background, principles of the Sociocultural LOA (1 week)
•
Describe the role of Situational & Dispositional Factors (1 week)
•
Discuss two Errors in attributions (1 week)
•
Evaluate Social Identity Theory (1 week)
•
Explain the formation of stereotypes and their effect on behaviour (1 week)
•
Explain Social Identity Theory and discuss compliance techniques (2 weeks)
•
Evaluate research on conformity & Discuss factors influencing conformity (1
week)
•
Culture: Definitions, dimensions, ‘emics’ & ‘etics’ (1 week)
•
General Learning Outcomes Workshop: Principles/ Methodology & Ethics (1
week)
Seminar: Placing the Sociocultural
LOA in perspective….
In groups, examine the following article on your assigned topic and come up with
detailed answers to the following questions, which we will discuss as a class:
1. Brief description of what the article is about.
2. To what extent do we need the presence of others ? How do we know this?
What evidence from the readings suggests this?
3. To what extent are we social beings? How do we know this? What evidence
from the readings suggests this?
4. What is the comparative role of nature (the biological) and nurture (the social
environment) in our development?
5. Any MECG issues raised?
Readings: Attachment Theory (Harlow & Harlow, 1962) Kitty Genovese (Doorman,
2003), Wolf Children (McCrone, 1993) Deprived Children (Curtis, 1977)
Background of the Sociocultural LOA:
Researchers form two main camps when it comes to the
Sociocultural LOA:
Experimental Social Psychologists
• They believe that the only valid way to gain knowledge about
social phenomena, processes and events is by using the scientific
method
• They view the social world as separate from the individual people
acting within it
Critical Social Psychologists
• They believe that the scientific method is not the only way to get
knowledge and is often not the best way to gain knowledge in
social psychology
• They view the social world as produced by people interacting with
each other
Background of the Sociocultural LOA:
•
Nowadays Critical Social Psychology dominates the field - significant amount of
research is ‘naturalistic’ e.g. participant observations (covert/overt) (immersing
themselves in the social setting they are studying for an extended period of time),
surveys & interviews are used to collect data to develop and support a theory.
•
The research of Experimental Social Psychologists was criticized as having low
ecological validity. However, ‘naturalistic’ methodologies cannot explain cause and
effect relationships.
•
Overt observations (where the group know they are being observed) require the
researcher to gain the trust of the group being observed, e.g. O’Reilly (2000) studied
British expatriates on the Costa Del Sol in Spain, and did not find them unhappy with
their lives as expats, she carried out interviews and observed their behavior in many
different settings. She needed to be non-judgmental and see the world through their
eyes.
•
Covert observations (where the group don’t know they are being observed) are
sometimes used with groups that would be hostile to an outsider, perhaps due to the
illegal nurture of their activities. E.g. drug users. In covert observations the
researcher does not reveal their intentions to the group and records their behavior
without gaining informed consent. This raises ethical concerns and also difficulties
collecting the data as they often have to rely on memory and cannot carry out
interviews, for fear of being ‘discovered’.
Principles that define the Sociocultural Level of Analysis:
•
The principles of an LOA are what all psychologists from that LOA agree
upon, it guides their research and influences the conclusions that they
come to.
Human beings are social animals and we want connectedness with, and a
sense of belonging to others
•
The social and cultural environment influences the individuals behavior
•
Humans are social animals and we construct our conceptions of the
individual and social self
•
Peoples views of the world are resistant to change
Take notes using Textbook P.101-102
Background of the Sociocultural LOA:
Questions to check your understanding
1.
Give two ways in which the approaches of experimental and
critical social psychologists differ from each other.
2. Give one strength and limitation of the experimental social
psychological approach
3. What approach dominates today?
4. What methodologies do critical social psychologists prefer?
5. What is the difference between a covert and overt observation?
6. Using an example, describe what an overt observation is.
7. What is a limitation of overt observations?
8. What is a covert observation, and what type of topics are they
used to study?
9. What is a limitation of covert observations?
10. Outline the principles of the Sociocultural LOA
Background of the Sociocultural LOA:
Questions to check your understanding
1.
Give two ways in which the approaches of experimental and
critical social psychologists differ from each other.
2. Give one strength and limitation of the experimental social
psychological approach
3. What approach dominates today?
4. What methodologies do critical social psychologists prefer?
5. What is the difference between a covert and overt observation?
6. Using an example, describe what an overt observation is.
7. What is a limitation of overt observations?
8. What is a covert observation, and what type of topics are they
used to study?
9. What is a limitation of covert observations?
10. Outline the principles of the Sociocultural LOA
The principles of the Sociocultural
LOA
- Cover your notes and write three bullet
points on each of the key principles of the
Sociocultural LOA
•
Sociocultural cognition
•
IB Syllabus Says: Describe the role
of situational and dispositional
factors in explaining behavior.
Principles Demonstrated:
•
•
•
Human beings are social animals and we want connectedness
with, and a sense of belonging to others
The social and cultural environment influences the individuals
behavior
Humans are social animals and we construct our conceptions of
the individual and social self
Attributions………
• Imagine you are sitting in a restaurant, waiting
for your date to show up. He or she is late.
• Most people would look for explanations of why
he or she has not arrived yet….. What would
these be?......
• Make a comprehensive list of reasons
why……in a realistic way!
Attribution Theory
Attribution Theory
• Social Cognition: how we think and understand social
situations
• Definition: Attribution: How people interpret and explain causal
relationships in the world. The process of deciding what caused
behavior
• Heider (1958) was one of the first people to study attribution
theory. He concluded that when people are trying to understand
behavior, they are acting like naive psychologists.
• We don’t simply passively observe our own and others actions,
but actively seek to explain them. From observing peoples
actions people make inferences about intentions and
responsibility
Situational & Dispositional Factors
• People tend to make an attribution about behavior depending
on whether they are performing it themselves or observing
somebody else doing it. This is known as the actor-observer
effect.
• When people discuss their own behavior they tend to attribute it
to situational factors – that is, something to do with
external factors – The social situation/ circumstances they
were experiencing were responsible, the cause seems to be
due to some external influence – i.e. environmental factors,
other people, chance
• When people observe someone else's behavior, they are more
likely to attribute it to with dispositional factors – that is,
something to do with personal (internal factors) The
person performing the actions was responsible - The
causes of the action are due to some aspect of the individual i.e. their personality, ability, mood
Attributions in the restaurant…
1. Look at the list of reasons you made earlier
2. Put a “D” next to the reason if it is dispositional and put
a “S” next to the reason if it is situational
3. Which one do you have more of? Any cross cultural
differences?
4. Review: Using a real life example explain the difference
between situational and dispositional attributions
Attribution
Zimbardo’s et al. (1973) Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE)
• This is a classic study which is still relevant today.
• In 2004 U.S. Military personnel committed numerous abuses
against prisoner held and the Abu Ghraib.
• How could the prison guards act in such a way even when they
say they would never do anything to harm another person.
• He argues that ‘belonging needs’ (A key principle of the LOA) of
the guards quickly turns into conformity to the ‘social norm’ of
the group they were in
• In his book The Lucifer Effect (2007) Zimbardo revisits the SPE
in to examine the power of the situation.
Attribution
Zimbardo’s et al (1973) Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE)
• Zimbardo believes that most people underestimate the influence of
the situational factors on behavior.
• There is a tendency for western (individualist) (Eastern –
collectivist- situational more important) societies to attribute
behavior to dispositional factors, and in everyday life it appears
as if unacceptable behavior must come from something inside the
person.
• Zimbardo believes that people have a ‘good/evil’ dichotomy which
emphasizes fixed dispositional factors in explaining behavior
• Rather than viewing our personal attributes as fixed, Zimbardo
believes that it is more realistic to think of our attributes in
degrees, such as the degree of evil or honest the we show in
different situations
• According to Zimbardo (2007) “people and situations are usually in
a state of dynamic tension. Although you probably think of yourself
as having a consistent personality across time and space that is
likely not be true”
Attribution
Zimbardo’s (1971) Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE)
Activity:
• Read about the SPE and complete the key study sheet
on the topic
• Pay particular attention to the Essential Question: What
does the study tell us about the role of situational and
dispositional factors? (make reference to the results from
the Comrey Personality Scales and Mood Adjective
Self-Report)
• We will then discuss this as a class
SAQ:
• (Define/Describe/Explain/Outline/St
ate/Analyze/ Distinguish between)
the role of situational and
dispositional factors in explaining
behavior.
Errors in Attribution
THE IB SYLLABUS
SAYS:
• Discuss two
errors in
attributions
Video: social cognition 16 mins
The Fundamental Attribution Error
(FAE)
• Attribution theory argues that people are more likely to explain
another person’s actions by pointing to dispositional factors, rather
than to the situation.
• When people overestimate the role of dispositional factors in an
individual’s behaviour—and underestimate the situational factors—it
is called the Fundamental Attribution Error (Ross, 1977)
• Since people gather information by observing others, this
often leads to illogical conclusions. For example, after watching
George Clooney play several roles as a kind, loving male, when
asked to describe him, people may say that he is kind and loving.
• One attributes these characteristics to his personality (dispositional)
and not to the fact that he auditioned for and was given these roles
in the films (situational).
• VIDEO: FAE and Education….
Research Support for FAE:
• Jones and Harris (1967)
• Lee et al. (1977)
PROCEDURES
AIMS
EVALUATION
FINDINGS & CONCLUSIONS
Why is FAE so common?
• Some psychologists argue that it is because people tend to think of
themselves as adaptable, flexible, and ever-changing human beings.
• They do not like to think of themselves as a “type” of person. However,
when they look at others, they do not have enough information about them
to make a balanced decision, so they attribute behaviour to disposition.
• When they consider their own behaviour, they tend to think that they
would have acted differently under different circumstances.
• Placing the blame on the individual is common practice in western
culture. People are held responsible for their actions.
• Some areas of psychology use specific theories to explain behaviour by
referring to internal processes (eg biological LOA). People are more likely to
say that a murderer is evil than to refer to environmental factors as
explanations.
• In the western judicial system, juries look for a satisfactory motive if they are
to convict someone of murder.
Research Support for FAE: Jones and Harris (1967)
AIM
To investigate their hypothesis of whether people would attribute apparently freelychosen behaviors to disposition, and apparently chance-directed behaviors to
situation
PROCEDURE
• Participants read pro- and anti-Fidel Castro essays.
• Participants were asked to rate the pro-Castro attitudes of the writers.
FINDINGS & CONCLUSIONS
• When the participants believed that the writers freely chose the positions they
took (for or against Castro), they naturally rated the people who spoke in favor
of Castro as having a more positive attitude towards Castro.
• However, when participants were told that the writer's positions were determined
by a coin toss, they still rated writers who spoke in favor of Castro as having, on
average, a more positive attitude towards Castro than those who spoke against
him. (goes against their hypothesis and demonstrates FAE)
• In other words, the participants were unable to see the influence of the
situational constraints placed upon the writers; they could not refrain from
attributing sincere belief (dispositional factors) to the writers.
EVALUATION
• Classic study demonstrating FAE, lead to a lot of further research
• Ethnocentric (all American sample)
• Cross cultural replication required
Research Support for FAE: Ross et al. (1977)
AIM
• The aim of this ingenious study was to see if student participants would make the fundamental
attribution error even when they knew that all the actors were simply playing a role.
PROCEDURE
• In their study, participants were randomly assigned to one of three roles: a game show host,
contestants on the game show, or members of the audience. The game show hosts were
instructed to design their own questions. The audience then watched the game show go
through the series of questions.
• When the game show was over, the observers were asked to rank the intelligence of the people
who had taken part.
FINDINGS & CONCLUSIONS
• They consistently ranked the game show host as the most intelligent, even though they knew
that this person was randomly assigned to this position, and— more significantly—he or she
had written the questions.
They failed to attribute the role to the person’s situation—that is, being allowed to ask the
questions and instead attributed the person’s performance to dispositional factors—in this case,
intelligence. Participants showed the FAE even when they know it was random.
EVALUATION
• There are some concerns about the experiment. First, the sample is somewhat problematic.
The researchers made use of student participants. University students spend their days
listening to professors who are seen as authorities. Therefore, one cannot be sure that this
response to authority figures who ask questions and give answers is not a learned response
rather than an attribution error.
• Second, student samples are not representative of the greater population, and therefore it is
questionable whether the findings can be generalized.
• However, this study reflects what we see in everyday life. People with social power usually
initiate and control conversations; their knowledge concerning a particular topic can give others
the impression that they are knowledgeable on a large range of other topics as well. Medical
doctors and teachers are often seen as experts on topics that are not within their area of
expertise. When they publish something outside of their field, their work is rarely challenged.
The role of culture and the FAE (Fiske & Taylor, 2008)
• There are cultural differences that somewhat limit the
universality of the FAE It is far stronger in people from
individualist cultures.
• People from collectivist cultures also explain behaviour
based on dispositional factors , but do so to a lesser
degree.
• East Asians to use situational factors in their judgment.
They were socialized by their cultures to have an
interdependent self and abide by situational norms.
• In contrast, socialization in individualist cultures produces
an independent self, where people feel less compelled to
consider the larger group.
Self-Serving Bias (SSB)
• Another error in attribution is the self-serving bias
(SSB) (Miller & Ross, 1975). This is seen when
people take credit for their successes, attributing
them to dispositional factors, and dissociate
themselves from their failures, attributing them to
situational factors.
• Lau & Russel (1980) found that American football
coaches and players tend to credit their wins
internal factors—for example, being in good shape,
the hard work they have put in, the natural talent of the
team—and their failures: external factors—for
example, injuries, weather, fouls committed by the
other team.
Why do we tend to employ the SSB?
• Greenberg et al. (1982) argue that the reason we do this is to protect
our self-esteem. If we can attribute our success to dispositional
factors, it boosts our self-esteem and if we can attribute our failures
to factors beyond our control we can protect our self-esteem. In other
words, the SSB serves as a means of self-protection.
• It can also be argued that cognitive factors play a role in SSB.
According Miller and Ross (1975), we usually expect to succeed at a
task. If we expect to succeed, and we do succeed, we attribute it to
our skill and ability.
• If we expect to succeed and do not succeed, then we feel that it bad
luck or external (situational) factors that brought about this
unexpected outcome. This also explains why it is not always one way
or the other.
• If we expect not to do well, and in fact we do not do well, then we
attribute it to dispositional factors; if we expect to fail, and we are
successful instead, we tend to attribute our success to external
(situational) factors— and luck.
• What has been described so far is commonly observed in people in
the western world. There is, however, an exception. It has been
found that people who are severely depressed tend to make more
dispositional attributions thus blaming themselves for feeling
miserable.
The role of culture and the SSB
• It also seems that there are cultural differences in SSB. In studies
carried out by Kashima and Triandis (1986), significant cultural
differences were found between US and Japanese students.
• In their experiment, Kashima and Triandis asked participants to
remember details of slides of scenes from unfamiliar countries.
When asked to explain their performance, the Americans tended
to attribute their success to ability while the Japanese tended to
explain their failures in terms of their lack of ability. This is called a
modesty bias.
• Chandler et al. (1990) also observed this bias in Japanese
students, and Watkins and Regmi (1990) found the same in
Nepalese students. Why should this be the case?
• The role of culture is pivotal in understanding the modesty bias.
Bond, Leung, and Wan (1982) found that Chinese students who
exhibited the modesty bias instead of the SSB were more popular
with their peers.
• Kashima and Triandis argue that it is because of the more
collective nature of many Asian societies: if people derive their
self- esteem not from individual accomplishment but from group
identity, they are less likely to use the SSB.
A cross-cultural correlation study on the self-serving
bias: Higgins and Bhatt (2001)
AIM
• To investigate the role of culture in self-serving bias (to see whether it is an etic –
culturally universal) or an emic (culturally specific)
PROCEDURE
• Participants consisted of college students from two universities in India, one an English
speaking university and the other a Gujarati-speaking university (n 195), and one
university in Canada (n 162). More females than males participated in both samples.
Self Report Data were collected with an Open Ended adaptation of the Attributional Style
Questionnaire. The questionnaire was written in English and then translated into Gujarati
and then back translated. The answers to the questionnaires were analyzed with
correlations.
FINDINGS
• Results showed that there were both emic and etic aspects of causal attributions and
that both groups used the self-serving bias to explain negative events in terms of the
situation. Participants from India used the most situational explanations for both positive
and negative events.
• In addition, participants from both cultures used the self serving bias for taking credit for
positive events, though participants from India used the larger situational factors to take
credit for positive events more so than did participants from Canada.
CONCLUSIONS
• The authors concluded that the self-serving bias was an etic but also contained emic
features, as participants from Canada and India had culturally relevant ways of using it.
EVALUATION
• The Higgins and Bhatt study does not show cause and effect as data was analyzed with
correlations. Cultural sensitivity and back cross- translating are strengths.
The brain and the self-serving bias: Blackwell et al.
(2003)
AIM
•
The aim of the study was to investigate the neural basis of the self serving bias and responsibility.
PROCEDURE
•
The sample consisted of 12 normal males.
•
Ten statements from the Internal, Personal, and Situational Attributions Questionnaire were each presented
for 30 seconds to participants in an fMRI scanner.
•
The first statements related to attributions of positive events, such as “A friend brought you a present” and “A
friend believes you are honest.” Participants read the statements silently and imagined being in the situation
described.
•
Next, they decided if the main cause of the situation was internal (if it was something about you), external
personal (it was something about the friend), or external situational (it was something about the situation).
Participants pressed a button to select one of the three responses.
•
The second 10 statements related to attributions of negative events, such as “A friend refused to talk to you”
and “A friend betrayed the trust you had in her.” Once again, participants pushed one of three buttons to
indicate their attribution.
FINDINGS & CONCLUSIONS
•
The results showed that participants used significantly more dispositional than situational attributions. In
addition, participants made more dispositional attributions for positive events than for negative events.
What was the brain doing?
Self responsibility activates the premotor cortex which is related to goal directed behavior. The premotor
cortex is of particular importance because it links attributions to the theory of mind.This area may be related to
understanding others’ intentions as well.
EVALUATION
•
It was impossible to simulate the complexities of real social interaction in the study. Participants just imagined
the situation, possibly preventing important brain activity from surfacing.
•
Blackwell and colleagues realize that real social interactions are not reducible to the study task. The future
fMRI scanning studies should offer chances to see the brain during real social interactions.
•
Blackwell and colleagues realize that the study sample is small. The study should be replicated using different
samples.
Self Serving Bias (SSB)
• The role of culture and the SSB
• Why do we tend to employ the SSB?
• A cross-cultural correlation study on the selfserving bias: Higgins and Bhatt (2001)
• A cross-cultural correlation study on the selfserving bias: Higgins and Bhatt (2001)
• The brain and the self-serving bias: Blackwell
et al. (2003)
Questions to check your
understanding
1. What does FAE stand for?
2. Explain what FAE means
3. Why is FAE so common?
4. Outline a study of FAE
5. Evaluate a study of FAE
6. Explain the role of culture in the FAE
7. What does SSB stand for?
8. Explain what SSB means
9. Why do we tend to employ the SSB?
10.Outline a study of SSB and culture
11.Outline a study of SSB and the brain
12.Evaluate a study of SSB
13.Explain the role of culture in the SSB
LAQ Planning Workshop
•
In groups, work together to plan an outline to a question
on the following topics – produce a plan on MS Word,
and then present to class and attach to the class wiki
(Participation & completion grade)
1. With reference to research (theories and
studies) discuss two errors in attributions
2. Compare two errors in attributions
3. Contrast two errors in attributions
4. With reference to research (theories and
studies) outline and evaluate two errors in
attributions
Command terms…..