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Joined 26 July 2008

Social Psychology E-PortfolioEdit

This is my E-portfolio for the Social Psychology unit at the University of Canberra. I am looking forward to sharing my learning experience with the rest of the people undertaking this unit. The Reading for this unit is Baumeister, R.F. & Bushman, B.J.(2008) Social Psychology & Human Nature. Belmont, CA: Thomson Hugher Education. Most of the information on this website will be taken from that text and the lecture. All others will be referenced under the week in which they appear.

Week 1 - Introduction to Social PsychologyEdit

Definition of Social Psychology

  • Social Psychology is a field of psychology that explores peoples behaviour and perceptions in regards to other people, places and situations.

Areas explored by Social Psychology

  • The Self
  • Nature vs Nurture
  • Social Thinking and influence
  • Prejudice and Agression
  • Relationships
  • Organisations, Marketing and Advertising
  • Conformity
  • Groups
  • Prosocial Behaviour
  • Environment

This is a very short list and mostly comprises of the points that will be covered in the Social Psychology unit this semester. I also know that a lot of these fall into larger categories or are even grouped together, if anyone wants to group them more accuratley together or add to this list you are more than welcome but you don't have to.

The 'ABC' of Social PsychologyEdit

The ABC is an important idea in Social Psychology.

  • A stands for Affects (feelings)
  • B stands for Behaviour (behaviour)
  • C stands for Cognition (thought)

Week 2 - Culture & The Social SelfEdit

Social Animal vs Cultural AnimalEdit

Baumeister and Bushman (2008) wrote about the difference between a social animal and a cultural animal claiming that humans are cultural, not social animals. Social animals are discussed as being able to work together, actually seek out the company of other animals and they learn and help one another (taken from 22/7/08 Social Psychology lecture by James Neil). While cultural animals, on the other hand, have a structured and much more complicated system of behaviour with each other. The comparison that came to mind for me was the difference between human and bees. Bees have a very structured society in which they work together to and communicate by dancing and it is through their dances that they are able communicate things like the distance and direction of where the food is. There communication is always accurate and it has a specific purpose. Humans are different because they use communication for a number of different things. Human communication is not always accurate and errors can emerge between people. Furthermore, human use communication for things, such as literature and performances that have no specific purpose related survival, such as finding food, water or shelter.

Reflective PracticeEdit

While reading these chapters for the lecture this week it occurred to me that this psychology of the self is very important if a person wanted to undertake critical reflection or reflective practice. Reflective practice is something that can be undertaken in any profession. It cannot easily be defined but one way to looking at reflective practice is a process in which a person examines their behaviour for underlying beliefs and assumptions that have influenced it and then use the findings to improve their behaviour the next time the same situation occurs (Bolton, 2005; Gould and Baldwin, 2004; Mamede and Schmidt, 2004; McKinlay & Ross, 2008; O’Hara & Weber 2006; Wong-Wylie, 2007.) This idea of reflective practice uses a lot of the concepts that were mentioned in the lecture and readings this week.

  • Self-Knowledge (Self-concept): The set beliefs that a person has about themselves. An example of this is believing that you are a good person, a strong person or even a failure. In reflective practice this would be the underlying beliefs that influence your behaviour
  • Interpersonal self (Public self): An image that a person conveys in public or to others. An example of this is changing your behaviour to show a different person in public, such as cheering for a certain football team even though you may not support that team. If a person finds that there Interpersonal self is not publicly acceptable they may try to alter their behaviour by undertaking reflective practice.
  • Self-awareness: the attention that is directed at the self. This is a person’s analysis of themselves. This is important in conducting reflective practice.
  • Private self awareness: examining the internal aspects of the self, such as emotions, beliefs and traits. An individuals self analysis, looking at how you think, feel and what they believe. This is a part of critical reflection, examining how the internal aspects of yourself affected your behaviour.
  • Public self-awareness: examining the aspects of the self that are public, what others can see and evaluate. An example of this is wearing a suit for a job interview to give the people evaluating you a good impression. In critical reflection, being aware of how others see you is important as well.
  • Self-regulation: What a person uses to control themselves and change behaviour, thoughts and feelings. This is the process that allows a person to stop socially unacceptable behaviour, such as, jumping on the table in a nice restaurant…most of the time. Through using self-regulation, a person would be able to alter the behaviour that they have changed through reflective practice.
  • Introspection: the process that allows a person to examine the contents of their mind or mental state. An example of this is when a person will use this to sit and think about an event that has happened and how that has made them feel. This is a process that should be used to conducted reflective practice.
  • Monitoring: the process of keeping an eye on behaviour that may need to be changed or altered. An example of this would be monitoring yourself, by watching that you do not bite your nails. To be actively using reflective practice at all times you need use monitoring to keep an eye on your behaviour at all times.


  • Baldwin, M. & Gould, N. (2004). Social work, critical reflection and the learning organization. Hampshire, England; Ashgate publishing limited.
  • Bolton, G. (2005). Reflective practice: Writing and professional development (2nd Ed.). City road, London; Sage Publications.
  • Mamede, S. & Schmidt, H.G. (2004). The structure of reflective practice in medicine, Medical Education, 38, 1302-1308.
  • McKinlay, L. & Ross, H. (2008). You and others: Reflective practice for group effectiveness in human services. Toronto, Ontario; Pearson education.
  • O’Hara, A. & Weber, Z. (2006). Skills for human service practice: Working with individuals, groups and communities. South Melbourne, Victoria; Oxford University press.
  • Wong-Wylie, G. (2007). Barriers and facilitators of reflective practice in counsellor education: Critical incidents from doctoral graduates. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 41(2), 59-76.

The Self & Self-RegulationEdit

The rest of these terms were referred to in this weeks reading and while they may not be directly related to reflective practice they are important in the concept of the self.

  • Social roles: the different roles that a person plays in society. This would include their role as a student and how they are perceived and perceive themselves, their role as a parent, a child, a friend, a lover, an employee and so on.
  • Public self-consciousness: Thinking about how other people perceive you. This is when a person decides not to buy something in public because of the public view they may present. It is when a person focuses on what other people think about them.
  • Social comparison: comparing the differences between oneself and another person. This is when I compare myself to my friend and think about the differences between us such as that she goes to university at the ANU and is studying a different degree.
    • Upward social comparison: Comparing the self against people who are better. Comparing my UAI to my brother who has a better UAI.
    • Downward social comparison: Comparing the self to people who are worse off. When I compare myself to people do not have the opportunity to attend university, like people who cannot afford it.
  • Intrinsic motivation: the desire to undertake an activity for the activities own sake. Playing the Nintendo Wii for no other reason than it is fun!
  • Extrinsic motivation: undertaking an activity because of rewards that will be obtained. Completing a unit that you do not particularly like because you will be rewarded with a completed degree.
  • Overjustification effect: intrinsic motivation decreases and extrinsic motivations increases when intrinsically motivated activities are rewarded. If you are being paid to play the Nintendo Wii, your enjoyment of playing it for its own value would lessen and you would be more likely to play it for the money.
  • Appraisal Motive: the desire to learn the truth about the self, whatever it is. That would be going to a dance instructor and having them evaluate your dancing ability.
  • Consistency motive: the desire for feedback that confirms what a person believes about themselves. Asking a number of people, who think that you are a good dancer, if you are a good dancer.
  • Self-handicapping: putting obstacles in the way so that when an anticipated failure occurs, it can be blamed on the obstacle and away from the self. This would be leaving an assignment till the last minute so that if you fail you can say that it was because you left it till the last minute.
  • Self-reference effect: information that can be related back to the self is remembered better, as it is processed more deeply and thoroughly, than other information. When I am able to apply a psychological principle, such as classic conditioning to myself, as in what I used to train my dog, then I will remember it better, because I have though more deeply about the information.
  • Endowment effect: an item owned by a person increases in value to that person. Therefore, my computer is worth more than yours regardless of the fact that they could be exactly the same, because it’s mine it has a higher value.
  • Self-esteem: how well a person evaluates themselves. So my self-esteem is pretty good at the moment because I see myself as a valuable person who can succeed.
  • Self-protection: trying to avoid losing their self-esteem. An example of this is that I avoid failure because it would lower my self-esteem.
  • Self-serving bias: This is when people take credit for their successes and reject the blame for their failures. That would be always thinking that when I pass an exam it is because I studied hard and earned my result. And then always thinking that when I do badly in an exam, it was because the exam was far too hard and the lecturer was being unfair. A more current example is at the Olympics, when one of our athletes wins, it is because Australia rules, however, when they lose, it is because of the air in Beijing.
  • Self-presentation: behaviour that endeavours to convey a certain image or information about the self to other people. This would be wearing a suit to convey a professional demeanour or waring a football teams colour to convey a support for that team.
  • Entity theorist: those who believe that people cannot change as their traits are fixed. In my opinion these type of people would believe that once a failure always a failure, once a winner always a winner, a person cannot change.
  • Incremental theorists: those who believe that their traits can be changed and improved. Therefore, these theorist believe that a person can become better at something through practice and by having a desire to change.
  • Learned helplessness: the belief that one’s actions will not give them the outcome they desire so they give up without trying. If a person wanted a part in a play but believed that even if they tried out they would not get the part so they do not try out for the part at all. Learned helplessness is a pattern of behaviour.
  • Planning fallacy: Because the planner does not allow for unexpected problems they believe that their plans will turn out better than they thought. Believing your research project will turnout perfectly regardless of the fact that you have not give yourself enough time if you need to get articles through document delivery.
  • Panic button effect: By believing that they have an option for escape or control people will be able to reduce their stress or suffering. By planning out my study schedule and working out how much time I have to do all of my assessment, I reduce my stress levels, even if the plans do not work out, the very fact I have them makes me feel as if I am in control.
  • Certainty effect: when making a decision, a person will put more weight on what is a definite outcome than what is a probable outcome. So if a person has a choice between definitely gaining $50 or probably gaining $100 they are more likely to take the $50.
  • Status quo bias: That people prefer to keep things the same than allow them to change. This one is pretty straight forward and I know I have felt it many times in my life. I have had to change from one school and group of friends to a new school where I haven’t know anyone. I have had manager at work change and leave all the time. What I have found from this is that I prefer things to stay the same because it is a comfort zone and I know the people I am around and can, or think I can at least, predict what will happen from day to day.
  • Omission bias: to follow the course of action that does not require the person to do anything. So if a person has a choice between making a decision against a proposal or making a decisions for a proposal or waiting to see what happens, they would be more comfortable waiting to see what happens.
  • Reactance theory: That people do not want their freedoms taken away and will seek to reclaim them. An example of this would be with the aboriginal community and the stole generation. So strongly wanted an apology from the government can be interpreted as seeking to reclaim there freedoms.
  • Self-defeating behaviour: any behaviour that bring defeat, failure and suffering on the self. An example of this would be not studying for an exam or leaving an assignment until the very last minute and putting it together in a rush.
  • Capacity to delay gratification: this is a person ability to give up a reward in the present for rewards in the future. By attending university a person is putting on hold the ability to earn a lot of money because then they will earn a lot more, well hopefully more, money in the future.

Week 3 - Social ThinkingEdit

'Social Cognition': A movement that began in the 1970’s that looked at developing methods and techniques so that people could directly and indirectly see and study mental process.

  • Cognitive Miser: This describes people’s desire not to do much extra thinking. The texts comments that if thinking were something we always wanted to do, we would spend all our time doing maths, which we don’t. So, in contrast, it may explain why TV is so popular, because when you are watching TV you don’t really have to think at all, just sit and watch.
  • Knowledge structures: These are what makes our automatic thinking work. They are sections of information that are in our memory and are activated when we come across the concept that triggers the section.
    • Schemas: These are knowledge structures that are represented by images that have information about different concepts. Schemas simplify our world by letting us know what can happen in a situation. So, my schema for shopping for shoes is going to shoe shops and looking for what I want. It may be there, it may not, I might find something better all together. All of these fit in to my schema of shopping. However, a violation of this schema would be if I went to a shoe shop and found sports equipment. This would need to be analysed as it is not apart of my shoe shopping schema.
    • Scripts: These are, again, knowledge structures, but these do not represent a concept, they guide our behaviour, just like a script in a play. If you were preforming in a play, you would read your line and follow the stage directions and preform the play. If you were to deviate a little from the official script, it would be okay and most people would over look it. However, it would be a big problem if you suddenly through the script out all together and did whatever you wanted. Scripts and Schemas are both socially learned and relate to social expectations of our behaviour.
  • Priming: this is activating an idea in someone’s mind or planting it there. This is the idea that if the information in question, or related information is presented to someone then, because the idea has been activated already, it will be more easily recognised or recalled. In my understanding, this is the idea of revision before an exam. By revising the information, it is activated in the mind so that when you come across that information, or something leading to it, it will be more easily brought to the conscious mind.
  • Framing: This is how we view a message, whether in a good way, seeing all the positives, or in a negative way, seeing all the bad things. The media can have a large influence on framing the messages that they send to us. A current affair, for example, they give us a message, a story that is framed a certain way to elicit a certain response from their viewers. So a story on a person’s hardships will be framed negatively, so that you sympathise with that person and side against the others. However, the media could just as easily side with the other side in order to make you think that the person is being unreasonable. So while the information may not change, our decisions and reactions may depending on the way that it is framed.
  • Counterregulation: Also know as ‘’what the heck’’ effect, it is the indulgence that occurs once a person has broken the regulation after they have initially broken it. So if a person is trying to study and they become distracted with cleaning. They then think to themselves, ‘’well, I’ve already missed out on studying for the day… ‘’’what the heck’’’ I’ve already wasted my study time I’ll just do something else.’’.
  • Attributions: after a particular behaviour or event occurs, attributions are the casual way people explain why or how they happened. These vary for different people and through studying them social psychologist can discover why people behaviour differently from each other. If three people are pulled over for speeding, one may think ‘’oh I was doing the wrong thing, I wont speed anymore.’’ This may result in them not speeding in the future. Another may think, ‘’oh that cop was so unfair, I wasn’t going that fast!’’ and not change their behaviour at all. And the third may think, ‘’well I know not to speed around this area again.’’ and continue to speed in a different area. The attributions were the explanation that each gave for their behaviour.
    • Actor/observer bias: This is the idea that the ‘’actor’’ will make external attributions for their behaviour, where an observer will make internal attributions for their behaviour. So, when working in retail, I often have people come into my work and become angry at me when I cannot provide them with something because I do not have it. Now in this situation, as an observer to their behaviour, I may make internal attributions such as ‘’they are so rude’’ and ‘’they must be a very arrogant person’’. However, the customer (the actor) would not think this way, they would think ‘’I haven’t been treat right’’ or ‘’they are supposed to have the item, that’s why I’m angry.’’
    • Fundamental attribution error (correspondence bias): This follows from the actor/observer bias. It is the tendency for an observer to see the behaviour of the actor and place the reason for such behaviour solely on the internal attributes of the person and not recognise that the situation has a role to play in this as well. therefore, in the above example, I would be making this error, by thinking that the only reason that they are angry is because of ‘’they’’ are an angry, arrogant person, when in truth, the current situation or the day leading up to the situation, has played a role in their behaviour as well.
  • Ultimate attribution error: This is when a person makes a fundamental attribution error about a whole group of people. An example of this, would be if I thought that all customers were arrogant and angry.
  • Heuristic: These are mental shortcuts, allowing us to make quick decisions based on estimations and probabilities. The following are different types of heuristics.
    • Representativeness heuristic: this is when we judge something as likely because it resembles what we see as a typical case, even though the percentage chance of occurrence is the same. So, when I have to tell a customer that the product they want is not available, I brace myself for them to become upset with me, as this is my representation of a typical case. However, the customer being alright with the situation is just as likely to occur. Now that I am thinking about it a little more, most of the customers I deal with do not become upset if we do not have a product in store for them. However, still judge that it is likely that they will become angry. This would come back to one of the themes of the texts, that bad thing hold more influence than good.
    • Availability heuristic: this is when we judge something as likely because we can easily recall an instance of it to mind. So I could judge that I and a lot of other student will become stressed the closer we come to the exam period because I can easily seeing a lot of stressed people around exam time.
    • Simulation heuristic: this is when we judge something as more likely because it is easier to imagine it. Therefore, people are more likely to judge that they will be able to walk to class without anything happening, rather than having a pack of kangaroos come down the campus. It could happen but because we can more easily imagine walking to class without incident, we rate the likelihood as higher.
    • Anchoring and adjustment: this heuristic is judging the frequency or likelihood of an event based on a starting point. Therefore, if you are given a stating point, say it the price of a car, you are likely to stay close to that number when making a bid because you would judge that the further you strayed from that number (the anchor), the less likely you would be to get what you wanted.
  • Beliefs: these are related to the information about facts and opinions that we have.
  • Attitudes: these, as opposed to beliefs are encompassing evaluations that we have towards object, people, issues and so forth.
  • Dual Attitudes: this is the different evaluative responses about the same thing. The two types of evaluative responses are as follows.
    • Implicit Attitudes: these are the evaluative responses that we have that are automatic and unconscious.
    • Explicit Attitudes: contrast to implicit attitudes, these are controlled and conscious evaluative responses.

Therefore, an example of dual attitudes would be that you may have values and beliefs that correspond with one political party (implicit attitude); however, consciously you behaviour in favour of a different political party (explicit attitude).

  • Mere exposure effect: this is the tendency for people to like something more, simply because they encounter time and time again. This can be seen with songs on the radio, you may not think about it when you hear it the first time, but after the fifth time hearing the song, you find that you have grown to like it.
  • Social learning (observational learning): This type of learning is done though seeing how others around you are treated. If they are rewarded for something, you are more likely to engage in that behaviour, but if they are not rewarded or punished, then you are not likely to engage in that behaviour. So, we lean not to speak through a lecture, because we have seen a person scolded for doing so.
  • Attitude polarization: as people reflect on their attitudes, they became more intense. So, again with political parties, if my attitude towards the greens gaining power in the House of Representatives, was very strong, then I would agree easily with anyone would agreed with me and argue strongly with anyone who did not. By doing this, my attitude would become stronger as I am constantly reaffirming it.
  • Cognitive dissonance theory: this theory states that psychological discomfort can be caused by a person’s attitudes and behaviour being different from one another. Therefore, if a persons attitude towards a football team is positive, but there behaviour towards that football team is negative, then the will encounter psychological discomfort and will strive to change either their behaviour, by acting positively for the team, or their attitude, finding out or convincing themselves that they don’t like that team.
    • Effort justification: this is an aspect of the Cognitive dissonance theory that finds that when a person must sacrifice or suffer for something, they convince themselves that, in the end, everything will be worthwhile. This can be seen with studying at university, (not in a bad way!) a student sacrifices so much, income, time, sports or pastimes that they like, in order to study, attend classes and complete assignments, all in the belief that in the end it will all be worthwhile.
    • Belief perseverance: with this, psychologists found that one a person believed something, it was resistant to change, not immune, but resistant, even when found that the evidence it was based on was found to be false.

These next term are focused on social influence and persuasion, so naturally, it has a lot of techniques that are seen in advertising.

  • Normative influence: following what the group is doing in an effort to be accepted by them. I am embarrassed to say that many times in my life I have fallen victim to this influence. The most common event in which I have done this is with fads. In primary and high school, when different music has become popular and my friends have liked that music, I would go along with them and say I like the music as well, too remain within the group.
    • Public Compliance: This is when a person gives the outward signs of being in agreement with the group, however, internally; they disagree with the values of the group. This would be a counsel of people deciding on whether or not to put a new parking lot in. The new member on the counsel may not agree with the decision, but goes along and votes for it anyway.
  • Informational influence: This is, because you think that the group knows more than you do, you follow along with them. I did this when I was playing in a higher grade of Netball. Because I didn’t know, really, what was happening, I just followed everyone else’s lead, whether it was right or wrong.
    • Private acceptance: This is a person internal belief that others are right in their beliefs. This is when a person is a part of a political party and genuinely beliefs that everyone there is right in their beliefs and values. The belief that others are right must be a real belief that the person holds.
  • Foot-in-the-door technique: this is a technique in which a person will ask for a small request and then continue until they can obtain a large request. An example of this is when a sales person will offer a product free of charge to get you to try it and then they will try and sell you a product that is ‘just as good as what you just tried’ only it cost more.
  • Low-ball technique: this is a technique where the person gets you to agree to something and then reveals all the hidden costs. The best example of this would be mobile phone plans. I was recently shopping for a new mobile phone and I had to be so careful not to fall for this tactic. Te sales person would show me a phone and tell me that it includes $130 worth of calls for $29 ($29 cap plan). But then I found that there was a higher call charge, connection fee and additional cost for the phone and insurance. I didn’t buy that phone, but it does illustrate this technique quiet nicely.
  • Bait-and-switch: this technique is when you are baited in with one, attractive, offer and then you are switch to a less attractive offer as the original is not available. This happens when you see a product in a catalogue and go into the store to fins that the product is sold out. However, because they don’t want you to leave empty handed (Of course this is all for the customers benefit…or not) they will up sell you to another product.
  • Labelling technique: this technique is based on placing a label on person, and then asking them to do something consistent with that label. When I worked in retail, my managers would always say “Oh she’s great, she’s always available to work when I need her to.” And because they said I would work when they needed me to I worked when they needed me to. It got to the point that I was making sure with work that I could plan something on my day off, just encase they needed me to work. Yes, that doesn’t happen anymore.
  • Legitimization-of-paltry-favours technique: in this technique, the person requests only a small amount, making it seem unreasonable to refuse. I have this when I am walking through the shopping centre and I walk past someone selling something, the conversations usually goes like this.
    • “Can I speak with you for a moment”
    • “No thankyou”
    • “Oh it will only take on second”
    • “…Ok…”

They ask for so little, it seems unreasonable to say no.

  • Door-in-the-face technique: this technique is when the requesters makes a request they know will probably be rejected and then stepping down to what they originally wanted which, by comparison appears more reasonable. This sound like standard negotiating strategy when selling a car. The seller will have a base price where they won’t sell the car for less than that amount. Therefore, the seller will start at a higher price allowing for a customer to haggle them down, but hopefully keeping the price as high as possible.

There are more techniques, but these seemed the most interesting.

Week 3 – Tutorial – CommunicationEdit

The focus of this tutorial was looking at the different types of communication.

Models of communicationEdit

There are many levels of communication, however, I was able to find a few of them in Daniel Chandler’s (2002) ‘’Semiotics: The Basics’’.

  • The first is the one that was mentioned in class the Transmission model of communication. This involves the sender ‘encoding’ the message for the receiver to hear and ‘transmitting’ the message through language. Then the receiver receives the message and ‘decodes’ the message, interpreting it as they can. This can be made into a feedback loop in the receiver seeks clarification on the meaning of the message.
  • The second model is the Saussure’s speech circuit and the focus of this model is decoding the signs in the language, as is the nature of semiotics. This is very similar in that one person is the sender of the message and the other is the receiver and the model also implies that there is feedback between the two parties. However, this briefly alludes to the fact that there is a ‘’code’’ that is implicit within our language and that there is also an assumption that this code is shared (Chandler, 2002). Therefore, I assume, from this model, that error’s in communication come from the ‘’code’’ being interpreted different by each individual, which is, again, why feedback is important.
  • The last model I am going to talk about is Jakobson’s model of communication. This model of communication has six factors and is said by Chandler (2002) to identify the importance of codes and social context. In the following, the six ‘factor’ will be italicised. The ‘’addresser’’ sends a ‘’message’’ to the ‘’addressee’’. This message must come from a ‘’context’’ that is familiar to the addressee. The ‘’code’’, being defined as a persons way of thinking (so it is more than the language, it is the cultural construct behind the message as well), must be familiar to each of the parties so that it can be encoded and decoded in a, at least, similar way. Finally, there must be ‘’contact’’ between the two parties, other wise the message cannot be sent. And the contact can be in person, by phone, email or anything else.

What I find best about this last model, and it relation to social psychology, is that it accepts the social context as important in the communication of two people. While the other models have this implied in there model, Jakobson has it in the factors of his model.

Body Language & the Levels & Depth of CommunicationEdit

We also looked at body language and it’s important in communication. We did an exercise in which we had to see where our personal space was by seeing how close we would let some get to us before it became uncomfortable. Once this had been established, we went in closer than our personal space allowed and saw how that affected our body language. It was very interesting the reactions that this exercise got, but all of the body language reactions revolved around protection or breaking the tension, things such as laughing or crossing of the arms tended to happen.

This leads me to talk about the levels and depth of communication. If crossing the arms can clearly demonstrate that someone is uncomfortable, than it is obvious that body language is important to communication.

  • In the tutorial we discussed the percentages we would attribute to the importance of verbal and non-verbal in communication.
    • Verbal – Including the words that are communicated I though would be around 15%.
    • Non-Verbal – Including tone, body language, facial expressions and posture, would be around 85%.

(These are just my opinion – feel free to disagree)

I came to these conclusions because of our discussion on phone, emails and sms. When we are communication in these ways we only have our words to communicate. Even this internet page is only allowing for verbal communication. Therefore, I believe that misunderstandings can happen a lot easier in these forums than if people were face to face with each other. However, people can still understand the message, so words only must have enough in them to be decoded effectively.

Week 4 - AggressionEdit

As the topics for the lectures in weeks 4 and 5 and the tutorial on prejudice are so closely related I am going to be putting them in one section,

In the week 4 lecture on aggression we watched the Ghosts of Rwanda and in the 3rd tutorial we watched Jane Elliot’s Blue-eyed, Brown-eyed experiment. I will comment on these as we come to terms that refer to them down in the posting.

However, before I do that I would like to let you know my first reaction to watching the Ghosts of Rwanda.

Initial ReactionEdit

After watching the documentary Ghosts of Rwanda, I was left with a feeling of disgust at the all the political sidestepping and excuses that were giving for not intervening in the genocide in Rwanda. Stepping aside from the obvious tragedy of the whole event and the awfulness of genocide alone, the most annoying thing I found about the politic that played such an important role in the world doing nothing about this tragedy was when a representative of the USA was asked why the were not intervening to prevent the genocide of the Rwandan people and her response was to babble on about how the word ‘genocide’ was a legal term and many factors had to be considered before the Rwandan situation could be classified as ‘genocide’. So, instead of answering the question she refused to define a term, I was disgusted.

Theory and DefinitionsEdit

After I was able to think past my initial reaction to this genocide, I started to think about what factors could have lead to this act of aggression. The first and most obvious would be prejudice between the Tutsi and the Hutu’s, included in this, I think would be a feeling of superiority of their own ethnicity and inferiority of the other. The other factor I think would contribute to such an act of aggression would be fear. Fear created and unleashed through propaganda by the extremist Hutu government.

I don’t know how relevant that was, but it was an immediate reaction that I needed to write down and I felt that sharing it would be the most useful thing to do.

Now, some terms from these two weeks readings that everyone received as it was kindly provided by our lecture.

  • Active Aggression: this is preforming a behaviour that harms others. An example of this from the Ghost of Rwanda is the genocide of the Tutsi’s.
  • Aggression: this is the act of harming another person who does not want to be harmed. Again, this can be seen in the Ghost of Rwanda again by the actions committed against the Tutsis.
  • Antisocial Behaviour: This behaviour either damages relationships between people or it can just be something that is not favourable in a cultural context. Therefore, antisocial behaviour is culturally determined. An example of this can be seen with eye contact. In western society it is polite to maintain eye contact when you are speaking with another person and to not maintain eye contact is considered antisocial behaviour. However, in the culture of Indigenous Australian’s it is considered bad manners to look and older person in the eyes and, therefore, when speaking with an elder they would keep their eyes down. Therefore, when working with people from different culture it is important to understand what could be considered antisocial behaviour and what is culturally sound.
  • Culture of honour: a society where there is a high value attached to a persons honour (respect, strength and virtue) and allows the society to preform violent actions if a persons honour is violated. This reminded me of Samurai, who adhered to a strict code of honour. The following link speaks about the Samurai and leads to information about Seppuku, which was a ritual suicide that allowed a Samurai to regain his honour through death.
  • Humiliation: this is when a person loses the respect of themselves or others or has been disgraced. This would be evident in a culture of honour, if a warrior were to lose or fail at something, that would constitute a disgrace and they would feel humiliated. Another example of this would be when a person is insulted and ridiculed, attacking all their insecurities. It’s not a nice feeling at all.
  • Deindividualation: this is a person losing their individuality (what makes them different), the process makes people less likely to engage in antisocial behaviour. An example of this can be found in the Stanford prison experiment ( In this experiment, prisonerwere given a number and that’s how they were referred to for the length of the experiment, as nothing but a number.
  • Displaced aggression: this is when you attack a target that is not responsible for your anger. Such as when you are unable to solve a maths problem and you become very frustrated that you cannot do it, and then, when another person comes to help you, you snap at them.
  • Fight or flight syndrome: When a person becomes stressed, they either become aggressive towards others or they run away from the object of their stress. So if a person was stressed with an assignment they were doing, they may procrastinate or not do the assignment (Flight) or they may get angry at having to do the assignment, the person who set the assignment or people they are working on the assignment with.
  • Hostile aggression: Motivated by a desire to harm someone, this is an impulsive and angry behaviour. So when people get into a fight at a bar because one person insulted the other, that would be hostile aggression, something that is not premeditated.
  • Hostile attribution bias: this is a person’s tendency to see unclear behaviours as being aggressive. Therefore, if you bump into another person and apologise, and they do not respond, this can be interpreted as aggressive.
  • Hostile perception bias: this is the view that social interactions are usually aggressive. I think of this as ‘’they did that on purpose’’. That is to say that a person assumes that something is done with hostile intentions. So, if another person knocks over you water bottle, than that is perceived as aggressive.
  • Hostile expectation bias: This is when we expect that a person will react aggressively to potential conflicts. I fall victim to this bias all the time in retail. When I explain to a customer that the product they want is not in stock or that we cannot do what they would like us to do. However, even though it is very rare that they will become aggressive, I always expect that they will.

However, I don’t think you can use this link unless you have access to the PsycARTICLES database on EBCOhost. For my fellow class mates this should not be a problem.

  • Norms: These are the standards in society that people are expected to follow. These are interesting because they change from culture to culture. For example, in Japan it is standard practice to take your shoes off when you enter someone’s house; it is incredibly rude not to do so. In Australia, on the other hand, it is standard that you wipe your feet before entering a person’s house, not necessarily common practice to remove your shoes. These are norms of the society.
  • Passive aggression: This is cause harm to someone by withholding behaviour. I image this to be seeing that someone is in danger of being harmed or is being hurt, is capable of stopping it from happening, but chooses not to. Such as watching a person being mugged and knowing that there is a police officer nearby, but choosing not to inform them of what is going on.
  • Relational aggression: this is causing intentional harm against someone by harming their relationship with others. This can be seen in offices, when a person starts spreading rumours about a co-worker so that the others in the office will alienated them.

Week 5 – Prejudice; Lecture and TutorialEdit

This posting on Prejudice will focus on the tutorial rather than the lecture, although the terms to be defined to come from the lecture as well, I found the DVD we watched in the lecture more interesting to discuss.

Australian Eye; Jane Elliot ExperimentEdit

The DVD that we watched in the tutorial was called Australia Eye and was about Jane Elliot’s Blue eyed brown eyed experiment. I though that this was a great choice to demonstrate prejudice. I also found it interesting that this video demonstrated just how culturally based racism and prejudice is. In the DVD Jane Elliot turned the tables, she created an environment in which non-brown eyed people were discriminated against and the brown eyed people, in this case mostly Indigenous Australians, were the dominate race. Throughout the entire experiment, these ‘Blue eyed’ people were treated terribly, they were made to feel stupid and worthless, their identity was taken away from them and they were forced to accept another one, one that they did not like.

I think that the Blue-eyed, Brown-eyed experiment is an excellent one for giving people to opportunity to experience and, at least, begin to understand what it is like to have your dignity, identity and self-worth stripped away, just because someone thinks that they are “helping” you. However, I must say that I don’t think that the experiment as very ethical as there was no de-briefing (that we saw anyway). To ensure the emotional wellbeing of the participants, I believe that this experiment needs to include debriefing for everyone involved in the experiment, both blue-eyed and brown-eyed, so that they can have a chance to process all of the issues that this experiment undoubtabley brought to the surface.

Theory and DefinitionEdit

The following are terms that are related to the subject of prejudice.

  • Aversive racism: this is when a person holds feelings of superiority, being of a higher class, and at the same time, thinks badly of minority groups. This was what was being demonstrated in Australian Eye, Jane Elliot set up the room so that the brow eyed people would be in a position of superiority and have them act as though they think lowly of the blued-eyed people (the minority). This was also seen in Rwanda, where the governing Hutu body, felt superior to and negative towards the Tutsi’s.
  • Categorisation: This is our human nature to divided things into categories. Take Canberra for example, while we are all Canberran’s we have divided ourselves into northsiders and southsiders, creating categories.
  • Confirmation bias: This is a persons desire to find information that agrees with what they believe, rather than information that disagrees. Therefore, if you believed that the University of Canberra was the best university in Australia, you would find all the information you could to support this theory and be more critical of any information that contradicted it.
  • Discontinuity effect (Risky shift): This is the effect of groups of people being more dangerous, and aggressive that people by themselves. In the movie and the book The Wave, the group become more dangerous and more hostile and more assured of their cause with the more people that joined their ranks.
  • Discrimination: is when people are treated differently based on the category that they are put into. While this is generally seen as a negative thing, I don’t think that it is always bad. Oh it is wrong when a person is denied a position based on the category that they are in; however, sometimes when a position is advertised, they are only advertising for people of a specific category. For example, I believe it was Action Buses, early in 2008 that requested special permission to only advertise for female drivers. Now that is discrimination, giving unequal treatment in an interview based on gender. However, this was acceptable because it was done to correct inequality in their workforce. Therefore, while it is primarily a negative thing, it can also be used positively.
  • Prejudice: This is the negative feeling towards a person, based entirely on a person being classified into group or category. Therefore, this would be the phenomenon of feeling disliking someone purely because they attend the ANU or live on the Northside of town. Prejudice does not require behaviour.
  • Racism: this is the attitude of prejudice towards the members of a particular race. This has been seen throughout history, even in Australia, where settler from England were racist against the Indigenous Australian’s through prejudice thought and action.
  • Scapegoat theory: This is blaming another group for all the problems and misfortunes that have occurred, which causes people to become even more hostile and feel more negatively towards that group. This was evident in Germany, when the Nazi government blamed the Jewish people for everything that went wrong in Germany. This caused an increase of in negative attitudes towards these people.

Week 7 - Tutorial - Cross-Cultural TrainingEdit

In this weeks tutorial we looked as culture in relation to social psychology

The Story of my NameEdit

In this exercise we explored how our parents chose our name and the origins of our surnames. From this we could see how our culture could be seen in our names. Obviously our last name provides insight into our past as they would commonly originate from were our family had originated from. Our first and middle names, however, could vary quiet a bit, from being a family name passed down to being something our parent chose just because they liked it. My first name was chosen for this reason, because my parents liked it, nothing more than that. My surname gives me a connection with Italy as that is where my family is from and thus, my name is from. My middle name however, stumped me, I had never inquired about my middle name. I followed up on this and asked my parents were my middle name came from to discover that it was my Godmothers middle name and that is why it was given to me. I found it fascinating how much history and thought our parents can put into our names.

Culture ShockEdit

This is the concept that affects sub-cultures within the main-stream culture. It is when a person visiting a particular culture, realise (or is smacked in the face) with the reality that the culture that they are now in is very different from the one that they have come from. This phase comes after a ‘honeymoon’ period in which a person feels like they are on a holiday and that they are just ‘checking out the sights’ as it were. Symptoms of culture shock that we discussed in or tutorial were Homesickness, Dropping out of university, and being critical of the new culture, among other things.

The following article was one that measured culture shock from a British perspective and identified 7 core elements to it.

Mumford, D.B. (1998) The measurement of culture shock. Social Psychiatry, 33(4), 149-154. Retrieved from PsychInfo Database.

One thing that I believe is clearly evident is that culture shock would affect people from different culture differently. Coming from a collectivist culture to and individualist culture as opposed to the opposite would mean a wide range of different experiences and reactions and all these would impact on how a person would think, feel and react. The above article does recognise that it is only a starting point, but it must also be noted that it is only a British starting point, even Australian or Americans may react differently to culture shock in these countries than what is seen here, let only how people from non-western cultures like China and Japan would react. This type of research is important because as a multicultural society that has people from cultures all over the world settling in Australia, we should be aware of how culture shock can negatively affect a person mental well being.

Cultural MappingEdit

This was the final topic that we discussed in our tutorial this week. We discussed how cultural mapping could help people entering the country, or more specifically the university, to avoid or manage culture shock by making the ‘culturally competent’. This is the concept of successfully learning, adapting or adopting the culture of another place. This is being aware of the culture, customs and behaviours of a culture enough to actively participate within it.

The proposal that we discussed in class has been proposed by someone but I foolish forgot to write down the name of the person so I’m not sure who has coined this program idea. The idea is to create session run or at least assisted by native Australian students to illustrate and inform international students of some simple, basic aspects of our culture. obviously the sessions would be directed by the needs of the international students, what they wanted to know, however, it would begin with just some general commonplace behaviour in situations that a student is likely to encounter, such as asking a lecturer or tutor for help with an assignment. For these sessions a number of different approaches could be used to inform the international students.

1/ Cultural Mapping – creating a map depicting what the situation is as how one would go through it, ie. How you would approach a lecturer, the type of language you would use, the time at which you would see them ect.

2/ Role model – obtaining help from a person in the course of someone else that you know so that you can use them as some to model your actions after, ie. Watch how they interact with the lecturer, what they do and what type of questions they ask.

3/ Role Play and Feedback – This is when native Australians demonstrate a situation for the international student by play the part. The international students then have a chance to practice the situation and practice what they should do. They then receive feedback on what they did right, wrong and what they can do better.

4/ Homework – This is taking what they have learnt from the class and applying it to the real world, in a real situation, they can then return to the sessions and give feedback on how it all worked.

I think that this program, or something similar, is a great idea as it allow international students to seek assistance in adjusting to life in Australian and even in university, so that they can more comfortably live and enjoy themselves.

Week 10 – RelationshipsEdit

The Concept of LoveEdit

  • While listening to the lecture this week I found a few things really interesting. The first was the concept of love and that you can say I love my classes, I love my partner or I love my relatives. With all these different types of love it occurred to me that maybe love is a concept that cannot be defined. Or, my other thought was that maybe there is a definition of love but because the word love is so over used we cannot identify it. Is it possible that we say love when we just mean that we really really like something?
  • Sternberg’s Triangular Model of Love speaks about;
    • Passion: Sexual arousal, longing, desire.
    • Intimacy: Understanding, closeness, familiarity, confidence.
    • Commitment: Consciously making the decision to stay with your partner in a relationship.

When these three are placed in the triangle seven different types of love are evident.

    • Consummate Love: This combines all three types of love. This would probably be considered a successful long term relationship.
    • Liking: Is intimacy. This can be an instant repour with someone you would know a little about and would like to know more about.
    • Romantic Love: Passion and intimacy. A new relationship just starting out, probably the dating stage.
    • Infatuation: Passion. This could be categorised as a one night stand, no intimacy, no commitment.
    • Fatuous Love: Passion and commitment. When people are together because they are attracted to each other and stay together for that reason, but know nothing about one another and have very little deep communication.
    • Empty Love: Commitment. This could be a stereotypical arranged marriage, people who don’t know each other and are not attracted to each other, but have a commitment to each other.
    • Companionate: Intimacy and commitment. This is friendship, a very close friendship not just a passing acquaintance, but someone that you trust.

By looking at this model, all the types of love have to do with human relationships. Therefore, it would not be accurate to use the word love to describe how one feels about a class or object. Which bring me back to my thought that Love is an over used word, applied to things that we really like, not things that we actually love.

Theory and DefinitionsEdit

  • Ingratiation: This is the action people undertake to get others to like them. I have encountered this many times, when people will tease and do awful things to other people just to be accepted by the ‘popular people’.
  • Social allergy effect: this is the effect that a partner’s habits that you find annoying to begin with, become more and more annoying over time. In the movie Chicago one of the criminals speaks about Ernie who kept popping his gum. This habit became more and more annoying over time until she shot him…It wasn’t that they habit had changed in anyway, it was that the mere repeated exposure to it had made it more and more annoying.
  • What is beautiful is good effect: this is the assumption that those that are beautiful will be better than other people in other areas as well. This doesn’t just relate to physical attractiveness but also to nationality as well, basically, this phenomenon is seen in physical traits. During World War II people with blue eyes and blonde hair, know as the Aryan race, where seen to be the best of the best. Because they had these traits, they were smarter, more attractive and superior in every way. Granted this probably had a lot to do with the propaganda that was present in Germany at the time, but this effect is seen, because of their physical appearance was superior, all other traits were considered superior. Unrelated, but something I always find amusing, is the fact that blonde hair and blue eyes are genetically recessive traits, otherwise known as weaker traits. It’s amusing that the perfect race is constructed of genetically weak genes. Good thing that the colour of ones eyes, hair or skin, has absolutely no baring on their mental abilities…well that’s my opinion anyway.
  • Rejection sensitivity: this is when a person expects to be rejected by others and therefore, becomes hypersensitive to the possibility of rejection, resulting in the person closing off to people attempting to get close to them. It is the feeling that if I never let anyone in than I can’t get hurt. However, by pushing people away, you are assuring rejection and therefore, increasing the rejection sensitivity.

These next two theories of Sexuality are basically the old nature versus nurture debate.

  • Social construction theories (Nurture): states that sexuality, attitudes and behaviours, and sexual desires are strongly shaped by the culture and society that a person lives within.
  • Evolutionary theory (Nature): this theory, on the other hand, states that trough natural selection, sex drive has been shaped and has now become innate within human beings.

Like I said, both compose the two sided of the nature vs nurture debate. I personally do not come done on either side of this debate, preferring to believe that both are important and both have their place in shaping human nature and behaviour. Not only the current text book by most of the required reading I have throughout my university education tends to agree with that, that a mixture of nature and nurture is responsible for human behaviour.

  • Paternity uncertainty: this is the fact that while a woman can be 100% (save hospital mix ups anyway) that a baby is hers; a man cannot have that same certainty. I have heard of research conducted, and I have been unable to remember where I heard it or have been able to find it again, so I question the validity of what I am writing, however, this research looked at this principle and how it could extend to grandparents. Therefore, the maternal grandmother would be most fond and willing to expand resources on a grandchild because they can be most certain of their relationship to the child (they are certain that their daughter is theirs and they are certain that the grandchild is their daughters). Where as the paternally grandfather would be the least confident of their relationship to the child (they are not positive that their son is theirs and they are not positive that the grandchild is their son’s). As I have said because I cannot find or remember the study that spoke if this, please take it with a grain of salt, however, if nothing else it does fit the this concept.

Week 11 - Groups and LeadershipEdit

The Hawthorne effectEdit

This is the concept that people who are aware that they are being watch change their behaviour, not only by being consciously aware of what they are doing but also because through unconscious actions as well (Week 11 Social psychology Lecture).

I love this concept! Strangely enough just before I came to this lecture I was watching season 4 of House, an episode called ‘Ugly’ and this was a theme running throughout the episode. Please click on the link to read the episode description because I will be using it as an example for the Hawthorne effect. In this episode the case that the doctors are working on was being film. Because of the presence of the camera’s the character being to act differently. The conscious actions are things like putting on makeup or a tie to improve their appearance, or explaining medical concepts in greater detail for the benefit of the camera. The unconscious actions where that of not contributing to the differential diagnosis because they were unconsciously afraid that if they gave the wrong answer then it would be on television, therefore, it was safer not to answer.


Three factors can be attributed to this concept;

  • The individual losses their awareness of themselves in a way that causes them to no longer evaluate what they think is right and wrong they just stay with the groups norms, what everyone else thinks.
  • It can lead to people acting badly because they are apart of a group and anonymous within that group, so they can lessen the blame that is on themselves and they don’t worry about what anybody outside the group is thinking.
  • Accountability; if people can lessen their own accountability to doing the wrong thing by being in a group then they are more likely to do the wrong thing.

A good example of this phenomenon can be seen in the book/movie, The Wave. The Wave does go back to the concept of deindividuation that was seen in Nazi Germany under Hitler. In this story, the students lose their identity to become a member of The Wave movement, so much so that they attack and beat all those who do not conform to their movement. They become so uniformed to what they are being told (ordered) to do that they forget to think if it is right or wrong. In the story, students who were outcasts found respect within the movement, where those who were popular were outcast if they reject the norms of the group. Therefore, those who experienced Deindividuation in this story were those who become members of the Wave movement. Furthermore, as mentioned in Week 4 under Agression, the Stanford prison experiment is a good example of this phenomenon. Here is the link again.

Theory and DefinitionsEdit

  • Groups: This is another one of those terms that really doesn’t have a specific definition. However, it can be defined as a collection of two or more people. While two people has often been thought of as a pair and not a group, having two people around each other can cause a lot of effect associated with groups.
  • Optimal distinctiveness theory: this is the feeling that people have that involves people who feel similar to the group they want to be different and when they feel different from the group they seek to be similar. So in a high school setting, popular kids who are in the ‘in’ crowd will seek to distinguish themselves from the herd, we as those who are outsiders will seek to prove that they are the same as the popular group.
  • Evaluation apprehension: this is the concern people feel about how others are judging their performance. This would be if I were worried about what others, who are looking over my shoulder, are thinking about my writing as I am writing this.
  • Social loafing: This is the phenomenon of people, when working in a group with others don’t work as hard as they would if they were working alone. I have been luck and not experienced this in any of my groups throughout uni but I have heard of this happening. It when you are working in a group you feel that you don’t need to work as hard to achieve the same level of work as if you were working alone and therefore, you do not work as hard.
    • Bad apple effect: From this comes the bad apple effect, which states that if there is one person loafing, then it will spread to the rest of the group. This is if one person in a classis not doing any, or not a lot, of work, then this will spread and the rest of the class will stop working.
  • Brainstorming: this is often used as a technique in class rooms to generate ideas about a topic. Say the group is trying to think of ways to conduct fundraising. The entire group would be encouraged to generate ideas about the best fundraising strategy such as, a bake sale or a fun-run ect. These ideas could then be discussed at length and a conclusion drawn from it.
  • Transactive memory: this is when different people in a group remember different things. For example, in a presentation about a youth program, one group member would remember everything about the purpose and aims of the program, where another could remember all about the method if conducting the program and so on.
  • Self-censorship: this is when a person chooses not to comment when they disagree with the groups plan or decision. An example would be when working in a group on a uni assignment, choosing not to voice your opinion when the group has already decided how they are going to tackle the assignment, even if you know of a better way to do it.

Week 11 - Tutorial - Australia ZeitgeistEdit

This week in tutorials we spoke about the participation of people in their society. The first thing that was discussed was three concepts related to this;

Social Capital: This is the quality of the social networks that we have, in economic terms this would be our resources. This is also the concept of community involvement, where the community is dynamic and every changing not static. This nature of community is necessary to maintain it and promote social inclusion. Social capital also facilitates a civil society, were everyone is involved.

Social Disengagement: This is almost the opposite of social capital; it is social isolation or disconnection. It is when a group of people or a person is excluded from the main stream of society, completely singling them out.

Zeitgeist: This concept sits in between the above two concepts. This is the ‘spirit of the time’ or the flavour. An example of this can be that when we think of the 60’s we think of free love, fighting against the war, things like that. Therefore, this concept is ‘How we will be seen when were looking back at this time’. This is the collective consciousness of the time.

After discussing these concepts we listened to a talk given by Hugh Mackay entitled ‘Social Disengagement: A breeding Ground for Fundamentalism’. The link to the printed version of this link is:

From this we identified social issues that Australia is facing and then, in groups, discussed how we can do things differently.

Of the many ideas my groups came up with, we decided to discuss the social disengagement with politics.

Mackay, said at one point in his talk that politics calls for engagement; however, there is a ‘mood of disengagement’ in Australia, using the 2004 federal election as an example.

This semester I was also taking a Government class and one thing that was often discussed in that class was that people do as little as possible when it comes to politics. The first point is that when we are voting in the federal election people don’t vote for a party, they vote for the head of the party, so in the last election, people weren’t voting for liberal or labour, they were voting for Howard or Rudd, the person they liked better. Furthermore, the actual logistics of an election is that we are voting for a particular candidate in our electorate, not for the party leader, this is an American concept which Australians seem to have trouble letting go of. Another point is that the public can exercise a large amount of influence over the Australian government, we just don’t, because we’re not interested to do so.

This leads me to the proposal that we came up with for how we could address this political disengagement. In this country people will sms vote for shows such as Big Brother, Australian Idol, Dancing with the Stars ect, so why not use this concept to engage the public with politics. Every night at prime time, have a quick 30 second ad informing people about a political agenda that was up for discussion on that day, and then give the chance to find out more, by logging on to a website that has more details about the weeks events, and then they can texts a vote for whether they agree or disagree with the proposal put forward by the government.

This idea gives Australian society a direct way of contributing to their government.

Week 12 - Prosocial BehaviourEdit

  • Altruistic helping: this is the phenomenon of wanting to increase another person well being and seeking nothing in return. Throughout the holocaust this phenomenon was seen in people who would, a great person risk to themselves and for no profit would risk their lives to help others. The novel, The Diary of Anne Frank, depicts a time during the Holocaust were Anne Frank and her family were hiding for the Nazi’s by people acting to help them while seeking nothing in return.
  • Audience inhibition: This is when a person prevents themselves from helping another for fear that there offer will be rejected and that they will feel like a fool. I experienced this when I was working on the University of Canberra Open day, I had to walk up to people and ask them if they wanted a tour of the library. I didn’t want to do this because I was afraid that I would look like a fool if they did not want tour. However, I was able to overcome my audience inhibition as it was apart of my job to ask.
  • Belief in a just world: this is believing that people generally deserve what they receive, receive what they deserve and that the word generally is a fair place. This brings to mind the concept of Karma which essentially a more developed version of this notion.
  • Cooperation: this is when people work together, pulling their own weight to achieve a common outcome. So, when working on a group presentation for university, an example of this would everyone dividing the work out evenly and everyone completes their task so that they assignment as a whole is completed.
  • Egoistic helping: This is almost the opposite of Altruistic helping in that a person is attempting to increase their own well being by helping another person. However, this is not always a bad thing. An example of this can be a person offering employment to a person without as much experience as the employer would like. They are giving the person a job that they would not necessarily have gotten otherwise, which is helping that other person, and at the same time they are filling a vacant position with a person that they can train to do the job the way they want them to. However, this can also go very badly if the employer abuses that person by, for example, paying them a lower wage. However, then the question would have to be asked, is this really helping if the person is being taken advantage of, even if they are not aware of it?
  • Empathy: Being able to react and understand another person emotional state by sharing that emotional state. The easiest way I have always been able to understand this is by the following story which I heard ages ago:

Sympathy is a man who sees another man drowning and jumps in with him. Indifference is a man who sees a man drowning and does nothing, walks on by. Empathy is in between these two phenomenons, it is when a person sees a man drowning, feels for their problem, and throws them a rope. It is a state of being emotional connected with another’s distress, but not drowning in it.

  • Forgiveness: it is when a person ceases to be angry and vengeful against another person. Come on, we’ve all been there, when a person has wrong you and you are so angry at them you want to seek out retribution for being wronged. But forgiveness is when you stop having though feelings and vengeful thoughts.
  • Negative state relief theory: This is the theory that attests that the only reason people help other people is in order to relieve their own distress. An example of this would be if I was witnessing someone getting hurt and I felt badly about and my motivation to help that person was so that I didn’t feel badly about what was happening.
  • Obedience: This is the concept of following to commands of a person perceived to be in a position of Authority. The most famous study of this concept was conducted by Milgram in response to the events of World War II. This is a link to a portion of the book Violence in War and Peace that is online, it has most of the Milgram experiment, unfortunatley it does not have all of it there as itis only a portion of the book.

Another example of this phenomenon was seen in America when a guy called up a fast food franchise and ordered the manager to strip search, and a lot of other unpleasant things, to a young employee, stating that he was with the police. The mere accretion of authority made the manager comply with the awful requests.

Week 13 - Environmental PsychologyEdit

This area of psychology is one that I find intriguing rather than interesting…but then again it is new and therefore, I may find it interesting later on down the track. One thing I can say about it is, like most things they only emerge when there is a consumer demand for them and there is defiantly a demand for this, as the environment is become more and more prominent in the world, climate change being the prime example.

These definitions do not come from the text mentioned at the top of this page, but from the readings for this week

Oskamp, S., & Schultz, P. W. (1998). Environmental issues: Energy and resource conservation. In S. Oskamp & P. W. Schultz (1998). Applied social psychology (2nd ed.) (Ch11, pp. 205 - 228). Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Sundstrom, E., Bell, P. A., Busby, P. L., & Asmus, C. (1996). Environmental psychology 1989–1994. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 485-512

Theory and DefinitionsEdit

  • Crowding: This is the emotional and mental reaction of feeling as though there are too many people in a given space. This concept has led to research on how crowding can affected peoples stress levels. However, being able to control these conditions can actual decrease the negative psychological symptoms that are associated with it. Therefore, feeling that there are too many people living in your house, this could happen regardless of how big the house is or how many people are living there. However, if you feel as though you can control whether you stay or go or that you can control whether other people can stay or go, this can alleviate the negative effects
  • Density: This is physical sensation of a number of people in an area. Therefore, a city like Sydney would have a greater density than a city like Canberra, which is more spread out.
  • Environmental Stress: These are environmental conditions that disrupt people from operating to the best of their potential. This could something as large as a hurricane or as little as rain. As this dustups the optimal functioning of a persons life it is an environmental stress.
  • Behavior Setting: This is the actual physical and the social place that people conduct their lives within, that can affect how they behaviour. Therefore, for a uni student this would be University, Library, Home, Part time job. A uni students behaviour would change in each of these settings, for example, in the library you would speak more quietly, than you would at home, and you may talk less at uni than you would at your part time job.
    • An area of psychology related here is one that is exploring how nature-based therapy can be a positive and have healthy effects on people. One of these types of therapy is Adventure-based therapy. The following article explores Adventure-based counselling, its application and its effects.

Fletcher, T.B., & Hinkle, J.S. (2002). Adventure based counseling: An innovation in counseling. Journal of counseling & development, 80, 277-285.

  • Environmental Risk: This are risks in our environment that change how we behave. Some people don’t eat fish because it can contain Mercury if eaten in high quantities. And people will take the bus to work so that they don’t risk damaging the environment.
  • Environmental Assessment: this is trying to assess how people’s thoughts feelings and behaviour are affected by the physical environmental setting that they are in. For example people assess the colours of walls in restaurants to determine which coloured wall is going to be more affective in making people feel hungry.
  • Environmental concern: This is the phenomenon of people engaging in proenvironmental though, feeling and behaviour in regards to the interaction between people and the environment. Therefore, people such as Hayden Panettiere (an actress) who protest whaling, would be demonstrating Environmental concern as they concerned with how people are interacting with their environment.

Final thoughts about the CourseEdit

The main thing that occurred to me by the end of this course was just how dependent on the cultural setting this area of psychology is…okay there is really no great shock there however, what did shock me was how often evolutionary psychology was discussed as well. While, as I said, the social environment and culture have a large affect of our social behaviour, it became evident during this course that throughout the evolution of man kind we have developed from social creature into cultural creatures, into creature who need and want other around them, who see the value of it.

And I think that this information is worth knowing, because by exploring how and why we behave in certain ways we can prevent real disasters from happening. Time flows like a river and history repeats. I think of the Second World War and the research has come from that event, by learning how persuasion, obedience, conformity and a lot of other concepts work and affect people we are able to see problems before they arise and, if not stop them, at least be prepared for them.

Or, on the flip side of this argument, a friend of mine comments, every time I speak about psychology that it as useless as philosophy in that it is just there so that people can get paid lots of money to contemplate things that don’t matter… Now that’s why he doesn’t study psychology.

I have enjoyed the interaction in this unit and the content, it has brought together a lot of the units I have already done in my degree and incorporate aspects of other units I was doing this semester, not matter what field you end up in this course was useful and interesting.