Notecard SC

1. Socio Cultural Level of Analysis
* Psychologists recognize that human behavior can be only fully
understood if the social contest in which behavior occurred is taken
into account.
* Principles that define the socicultural level of analysis
1) Human beings are social animals and we have a basic need to
‘belong’. The biological and cognitive system that makes up the
individual are embedded in an even larger system of
interrelationships with other individuals. The relationship
between the individual and the group is bidirectional: as the
individual is affected by being part of a group, the individual can
also effect behavior in the group.
2) The culture influences behaviour. Culture can be defined as the
norms and values that define a society. In an ever more
multicultural society, there is a need to understand the effect of
culture on a person’s behaviour, because the study of culture may
help us to better understand and appreciate cultural differences.
3) Because human are social animals, they have social self. People
do not only have an individual identity, but also a collective of
social one. Social identities are very important to the definition of
who we are, and many behaviors are determined by membership
of groups such as family, community, club, or nationality.
4) People’s views of the world are resistant to change. A world view
can be defined as the way the world is understood: how it is
supposed to work, why it works the way it does, and what values
are essential in the world community. Clearly, culture helps to
shape our world view and our communities instill in us values
which have been passed down from generation to generation.
According to social and cultural psychologists m the sense of self
is developed within social and cultural contexts.
2. Attribution Theory
* Attribution: defined as how people interpret and explain causal
relationship in the social world. Humans have a need to understand
why things happen
* Fritz Heider
-The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958)
-From observing other people’s actions, people make inferences
about intention and responsibility.
-Actor-observer effect:
People ten to make and attribution about behaviour depending
on whether they are ‘Performing’ it themselves or observing
somebody else doing it
-Situational factors: what people tent to attribute to when people
discuss their own behaviour.
-Dispositional factors: something to do with personal (internal)
3. Errors in Attribution
*Fundamental attribution error
-When people overestimate the role of dispositional factors in an
individual’s behaviour – and underestimate the situational factors. Since
people gather information by observing others, this often leads to
illogical conclusions.
-Why is it common? Because people tend to thing of themselves as
adaptable, flexible, and ever-changing human beings. They do not like to
think of themselves as a ‘type’ 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 behavior, they tend to think they would have acted
differently under different circumstances.
*Self-serving Bias (SSB)
- People take credit for their successes, attribution them to dispositional
factors, and dissociate themselves from their failures, attributing them to
situational factor.
- Lau and Russel (1980)
American football coaches and players tend to credit their wins to
internal factors – for example, being in good shape, the hard work they
have put in, the natural talent of the team – and their failures to external
factors – for example, injuries, weather, fouls committed by the other
- Why is it common?
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
booster 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 means or self protections
- Miller and Ross (1975)
Cognitive factors plays role in SSB because 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 to not succeed, then we
feel that it is bad luck or external factors that brought about his
unexpected outcome.
*Modest Bias & Culture differences
-Kashima and Triandis (1986)
Found significant difference between US and Japanese students.
When asked to explain their performance on remembering different
slides, the American tented to attribute their success to ability while the
Japanese tended to explain their failures in terms of their lack of ability.
-Collective nature of many Asian societies: if people derive their selfesteem not from individual accomplishment but from group identity they
are less likely to use the SSB.
5.. Social Identity Theory
Henri Tajfel
* Assumes that individuals strive to improve their self-image by
trying to enhance their self-esteem, base on their personal identity or
various social identities.
(people can boost their self-esteem through achievement or through
affiliation with successful groups, and indicates the importance of
social belonging)
* Based on cognitive process of social categorization
-explain social phenomena such as ethnocentrism, in-group
favoritism, stereotyping, and conformity to in-group norms.
*We categorize as in-group (us) and out-group (them) even when
randomly assigned to a group
*Self-esteem is contained by Social Comparison (the benefits of
belonging to the in-group instead of the out-group)
* Tajfel et al., 1974
- Boys randomly assigned to a group based on their preference for
Klee or Kandindsky paintings rated the out-group as less-likeable
even though the out-group members were never actually disliked
- Group identity alone appears not to be responsible for intergroup
conflict. In the absence of competition, social comparison does not
necessarily produce a negative out come
Cialdini et al. (1976) found college football supporters were more
likely to represent their winning team by wearing team clothing and
other insignia than when the team lost
Bias to view group actions as positive because of our human need for
a positive self-concept
Further research has shown that group identity alone is not enough to
produce intergroup conflict - there must be competition as well
*Evaluation (+/-)
(-)Describes but does not predict
(-)There are situations where personal identity is stronger than the
group identity
(-)Theory on its own is reductionist because it ignores the
interaction of the environment and the self
(-)Think about cultural expectations, rewards as motivators, sense of
belongingness, rewards used to motivate the in-group
4. Research Methods at the Sociocultural level of analysis
* The goal of the sociocultural research is to see how people interact
with each other. It is important that the behavior of the participant
is as realistic as possible, to avoid studies that lack ecological
validity. Therefore, a significant amount of research is naturalistic.
*Participant observation
-researchers immerse themselves in a social setting for an extended
period of time and observe behavior.
-Overt observations
>Requires researcher to gain the trust of the group that is to be
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