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…..