Open main menu


Joined 29 July 2008



What is Social Psychology?Edit

It is difficult to actually define ‘Social Psychology’. There is no definite, agreed upon definition. There are many varying definitions that all combine to contribute to the meaning of Social Psychology. Some of these definitions include:

  1. Human Behaviour in social context. (J. Neill, 2008)
  2. How the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others. (F. Allport, 1935)
  3. A joint function of personal and situational influences. (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008)
  4. Social psychology is the study of how people and groups interact. (Wikipedia, Social Psychology [1])

What all of these definitions do agree upon however is the importance of our affect/feelings, behaviours, and thoughts/cognitions and how they shape and are shaped by our interaction in the social world. These interactions can occur between two individuals, an individual to a group, and a group to another group. The image below helps to demonstrate the many influences and interactions that surround social psychology.

There are 3 domains that Social Psychology is comprised of. These are:

  • Social Perceptions = How we interpret social objects.
  • Social Influence = Attitudes and behaviours brought about by others.
  • Social Interaction = How we interact with others in the social world.


Food for thought!Edit

When setting out on this E-portfolio endeavour, James had a few wise words for us. Something in particular that caught my interest was … “Feel free to comment on other people’s postings. But don’t just do editing others pages anytime you feel like it. There’s a respect that needs to be shown for other people’s pages and contributions”. This got me thinking about socially accepted rules of behaviour online. Although we are participating in an online open forum like Wikiversity, which is an online free-content media which allows anyone to create or edit the content available, there seems to be an unspoken set of rules that those interacting with each other online are obliged to abide by.

So I did a bit of looking around on the internet regarding unspoken socially accepted behaviours online, and found an interesting blog on Problogger that had been written that addressed the idea, “What are the Unspoken Rules of Social Networks?”, by Daniel Scocco. [2]

The post talks about social networks and what is and what is not expected in the behaviour of its users. Essentially, it comes down to the users needing to play under the rules of the community, ‘Usually these rules will encourage you to be active in the community and to actually help it grow’. So I guess in essence it’s like the saying goes, treat others as you yourself would like to be treated.

Just thought this was an interesting ‘social’ idea to think about! Melissadedrick 06:53, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Culture and NatureEdit


A persons psyche is their psychological mind, as opposed to the brain which is a physiological entity. It cannot be found in any one place in the brain but is a by-product of mental activity which happens through an individual learning and interacting with the environment. The psyche is influenced by factors both part of nature and of culture. These natural things include genes, hormones and brain structure. The cultural things include learned experiences that we’ve had from within our home and out in society.


Nature is – the physical world around us, include its laws and processes (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008, p. 32).

One of the ways in which some social psychologists have tried to explain our social behaviour is the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution, proposed by biologist Charles Darwin in the 1800’s, explains how change occurs in nature. How a type of plant or animal may evolve into a somewhat different kind of creature. As a result of these changes, some features may remain and others will disappear. This is known as natural selection. Natural selection is a process whereby those members of a species that survive and reproduce most effectively are the ones that pass along their genes to future generations (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008, p. 33). Therefore, natural selection chooses which traits will disappear and which ones will endure.


Culture is – an information-based system of abstract ideas which a group of people share.

These ideas may be common ways of doing things, ways of communicating between people, or ways of thinking about certain things.

Humans are both social and cultural animals. In other words, humans are animals which seek to connect with others and learn from others, preferring to live, work and play with other members of their species. Further, evolution has shaped the human psyche to enable the creation of culture and take part in this culture. This culture includes the division of labor, the deliberate sharing of knowledge, and being able to resolve conflict in different ways.

Human Social LifeEdit

  • Nature Says Go, Culture Says No

It’s the hedonistic part of our nature that tells us to go and give in to our impulses and wishes, to just give in to our automatic responses that are our survival or animal instincts. However, it is our culturally learnt self control and restraint that helps us to find a balance between meeting our needs and acting cooperatively and appropriately within the culture (following things such as moral codes and laws).

Cultural Evolutionary TheoryEdit

The notion of how humans acquire cultural rules and then balance these with their human impulses is an interesting one.

A paper by Brian Paciotti, Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd (date unknown) [3] explores this in their research about cultural evolutionary theory. Cultural evolutionary theory links individual-level and society-level phenomena (p. 1).

The research offers many opinions and ideas on the mechanisms of the brain and how our natural actions are taught to be confined by our learned cultural rules. Some of the main points that are discussed include:

  • Research on conformity suggests that regardless of pre-existing habits, people are susceptible to the influence of others (p. 3).
  • An understanding of the intricacies of the human imitation in regards to their population-level effects is a major outstanding question (p. 4).
  • Co-evolutionary processes create innate “social instincts” that result in the capacity for individuals to function within group-level sets of cultural rules or social institutions (p. 4).
  • At the innate level, all humans share the same social psychology. At the cultural level, quite diverse institutions inform people who are in their groups, how members should be rewarded and punished, and how other groups should be treated (p. 5).

Melissadedrick 10:05, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

The Social SelfEdit

The SelfEdit

The self is made up of three components:

  • Self knowledge or self-concept = includes self-awareness, self-esteem, self-deception
  • Interpersonal self = includes self-presentation, member of groups, relationship partner, social roles (gender, ethnicity, social identity), reputation.
  • Agent self or executive function = includes decision making, self-control, taking charge of situations, active responding.

The “self” is how an individual would describe themselves. Essentially, it is a pile of descriptives that we use to characterise somebody as different to somebody else. Can also include things such as what an individual may value or promote such as political or religious viewpoints.

What is the purpose of the “self”?

There are many varied theories and perspectives about the purpose and the function of the “self”. From a psychological stand point, the “self” is seen as a collection of cognitively-held beliefs that a person possesses about themselves. However, the “self” seems to extend beyond the physical self to include psychologically meaningful personal possessions and personal space.

The self is a very complex thing and has come to be seen as something which is:

  • Dynamic and changeable
  • Multiple/Plural
  • Hierarchical
  • Situationally and cognitively influenced
  • Culturally constructed

The Social SelfEdit

A large and significant portion of our “self” and its “behaviour” is socially directed and influenced. This is due to the fact that humans are group-based creatures and we seek out social contact with others of our species. Therefore, a lot of the behaviour that we engage in is directed into some sort of social context.

Because the “social self” is such a large and significant part of the “self”, it’s important for us to gain social acceptance. In order to be socially accepted we play these certain social roles where society creates and defines these roles which then individuals seek out and adopt these roles in order to pave their way and be accepted in society.

Self ConstructsEdit

There are ways in which to measure and study aspects of the self. This is through the operationalisation of these self constructs:

  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Concept
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Self-Congruence

Self-Esteem The most commonly referred to self construct is self-esteem. It refers to global feelings of self-worth or self-value. Most of what makes up one’s self esteem doesn’t so much come from within, but is often based on and closely related to social comparisons (ie. Too fat/too thin, not smart enough).

Self-Concept We have a multidimensional, hierarchically structured domain of self-concept which includes concepts of physical self-concept, academic self-concept and social self-concept. There is a debate surrounding our projections of self-concept and whether the set of self cognitions we have flow from the top down (ie. Whether we have global self impressions which filter down into our specific aspects of self) OR whether we get our global impressions by the addition of all the specific contexts within which we see ourselves in.

Self-Efficacy Self-efficacy is the belief in ones ability to succeed at a given task. This may be ones belief in their capacity to perform well in a test or being able to create a rapport with children in a classroom.

Self-Congruence Self-congruence is where the sets of ideas and information that you hold about your actual self, your ideal self, and your personally experiences to create these ideas of self, must be congruent to each other. If there is a particular incongruence between any of these three aspects, then we will experience certain anxiety about ourselves.

Food for thought!Edit

The Looking-Glass Self


The looking-glass self is one theory which addresses the notion of how people learn about themselves. This theory presents the idea that people learn about themselves by imaging how they appear to others. The term was coined by Charles Horton Cooley in 1902, who proposed that there are three components to the looking-glass self:

  1. You imagine how you appear to others.
  2. You imagine how others will judge you.
  3. You develop an emotional response (such as pride or mortification) as a result of imagining how others will judge you.

(Baumeister & Bushman, 2008, p. 80).

This theory was influential in its idea that people learn about themselves from others. However, does this mean that if someone lived in total isolation and never met another person that you would never learn anything about yourself??

The notion of the looking-glass self has been studied and found to be both partly correct and partly incorrect. From studies just like George Herbert Mead’s in 1934, there is ample evidence to show that people greatly respond to the feedback that they receive from others. HOWEVER, if the looking-glass self really is the main source of self-knowledge, then you would think that the things that everyone else thinks about someone and how that person thinks about themselves would be pretty much the same!! But most research suggests that a person’s self-concept is often quite different from what other people think about them (Shrauger & Schoeneman, 1979).

Melissadedrick 00:40, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Social ThinkingEdit

Initially influenced by the movement of behaviourist thought, social thinking can otherwise be thought about as social cognition. The concept focuses on thoughts about people and social relationships in the world around you. Our social perception consists of what we create and store in our minds regarding our social world such as how we form impressions of people or how we come to learn why people do the things that they do.

Social PerceptionEdit

Our social perception is created and influenced through different means:

  • Communication – both verbal and non verbal (body and facial language, dress, tone of voice)
  • Impression formation and management – which explains how we form initial social impressions through thinking about people in terms of social categories, stereotypes, schemas (which are structures of knowledge stored in the mind which represent information about a particular concept) and scripts (which are structures of knowledge stored in the mind which define situations and guide our behaviour according to that situation).
  • Attribution Theory – which explains how we form deeper social impressions based on observed behaviour.

The Duplex MindEdit

There are a lot of mind processes that occur regarding social cognition, both automatic/unconscious and conscious processes. We most often rely on our automatic processes when our system is under stress, when we’re tired, distracted by something else important etc. This can also be seen in research done on eyewitness testimony where one event is recalled by eyewitnesses in different ways due to the difference in perceptions of the event under significant stress. When not under stress, we are much more free and able to take time over processing information and use our conscious thinking processes.


Attributions are the inferences people make about events in their lives and the causal explanations people give to their own, and to other peoples, behaviours.

We make these attributions to feel a sense of cognitive control, to be able to partly predict the future, and then this prediction gives some sort of a guide as to how to respond appropriately to the given event or behaviours.

Attributions can be explained by internal and external factors. The Correspondence Inference Theory explains attributions saying that a correspondent inference is made when a behaviour is made to correspond to a person’s internal beliefs. We are most likely to make such a correspondence with a behaviour when we perceive that behaviour to be freely chosen, intended, to have uncommon or unusual consequences, and has low social desirability. This correspondence describes the perception of behaviour to be internal. The Correspondence Bias, which would be to perceive the behaviour as having common consequences and be highly socially desirable, would be attributed to external factors.

Additionally, the actor/observer bias states that actors tend to attribute their behaviour to mostly external factors as we are fully aware and informed of what has contributed to our behaviour. We also are not able to see one’s self behaving. Observers are attributed with performing behaviour which is due to internal factors. This is generally because we are not aware and informed of contributed to their actions and therefore find it easier to attribute another’s actions to internal factors.


Heuristics are mental shortcuts or rules of thumb. They provide us with quick estimates about the likelihood of uncertain events.

The representative heuristic is the tendency to judge the frequency or likelihood of an event by the extent to which it resembles the typical case. In making these judgements people rely on specific information, the representativeness of how much a particular event resembles the characteristics which are stored to identify that event.

The availability heuristic is the tendency to judge the frequency or likelihood of an event by the ease with which relevant instances come to mind. The ease with which these relevant instances come to mind is influenced by a number of factors: the actual frequency of the event, how noticeable the event is, how recent the event is, and whether attention was paid to the event. This also explains why people tend to overestimate the frequency of events such as dramatic deaths.

The simulation heuristic is the tendency to judge the frequency or likelihood of an event by the ease with which you can imagine or mentally simulate an event. This explains why more easily imagined events are judged to be more likely. People tend to respond more emotionally to situations when they can easily imagine a different outcome.


Aggression is any behaviour that intentionally harms another person who is motivated to avoid that harm. Extended from aggression, violence is aggression that has extreme harm as its goal. Aggression and acts of violence are often associated with antisocial behaviour, as this kind of behaviour damages interpersonal relations and/or is culturally undesirable. Ironically, aggressive acts very seldom achieve or produce the intended, desired consequences and therefore often bring about serious unintended consequences, mostly antisocial ones.

Aggressions: Innate or Learned?Edit

Freud proposed that people have an innate instinct that causes them to behave aggressively. However, social learning theory enforces that aggression is not an innate drive but is a learned behaviour. Learning and cultural socialisation, where people observe and copy the behaviour of others around them, can either inhibit or encourage aggressive action. In essence, aggression is a product of both nature and learning.

Inner Causes of AggressionEdit

In 1939 a group of psychologists published a book which proposed the frustration-aggression hypothesis. This hypothesis proposed that: “the occurrence of aggressive behaviour always presupposes the existence of frustration” and “the existence of frustration always leads to some form of aggression” (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008, p. 299). This hypothesis was based on Freud’s ideas mentioned just above regarding human’s innate instincts, where we are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain. The frustration-aggression hypothesis deemed to explain that people became frustrated when their pleasure-seeking or pain-avoiding behaviour got blocked and so therefore acted out aggressively. However, it was soon after found that there can be aggression without frustration, and frustration without aggression.

Anger and unpleasant moods increase likelihood of aggression. Although anger does not directly cause aggressive behaviour, the belief that aggression can help get rid of anger effectively increases it.

There are three hostile cognitive biases:

  • Hostile attribution bias – the tendency to perceive ambiguous actions by others as aggressive.
  • Hostile perception bias – the tendency to perceive social interactions in general as being aggressive.
  • Hostile expectation bias – the tendency to assume that people will react to potential conflicts with aggression.

These concepts explain how people are much more likely to behave aggressively when they perceive ambiguous behaviours from others as stemming from hostile intentions than when they perceive these behaviours as coming from other intentions.

It has also been found in cultures and societies around the world that young men past the age of puberty commit the most violent acts and crimes.

External Causes of AggressionEdit

The weapons effect is a concept which was coined in order to explain the phenomenon that people behave more aggressively in the mere presence of a weapon.

Following on from this idea, research in the area of aggression has shown that exposure to violent media increases aggression.

Environmental factors greatly contribute to increased levels of aggression. Hotter temperatures are associated with higher levels of aggression and violence. Also unpleasant environmental events such as loud noise, overbearing crowds, foul odours, air pollution, and second hand smoke can increase aggression.

Furthermore, lifestyle factors such as consuming lots of junk food and alcohol can lead to increased aggression.

Aggression and SocietyEdit

Aggression is universal, however cultural rules restrict and govern aggression in different ways. These rules have been developed as a better way of surviving in a social world and offers ways of resolving conflicts and problems in a non-violent manner. However, there are people within society who chose to break these rules. Violent individuals typically think of themselves as better than other people, having grandiose or inflated opinions of their own worth. The term ‘’narcissism’’ describes the condition of thinking that oneself is superior, feeling entitled to preferential treatment, having low empathy for “lesser” human beings.

Ghosts of RwandaEdit

The television documentary ‘Ghosts of Rwanda’ chronicles the Rwandan genocide on 1993. Watching this was incredibly emotional and left me stunned. All I could think was that it showed to us the ultimate act of aggression and violence. The film covers the mass killing of hundred of thousands of Rwandan Tutsis and Hutus. Over the course of about 100 days, atleast 500 000 people were killed. The genocide was fuelled by a resurgence of civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi militias. This horrific event demonstrates the involvement of many aspects of social psychological phenomena such as prejudice, discrimination, altruism and particularly aggression. It also presents significant evidence for the concept of confirmation bias, related to issues of prejudice, whereby humans have the tendency to seek out information that confirms their own views, and to disregard evidence that is contrary to those views. Although there are psychological concepts which help to explain the reasoning behind such atrocious acts, you just cannot grasp how something so horrible can be done.


The term prejudice is defined as a negative feeling or attitude toward an individual based solely on his or her membership in a particular group (Baumeister & Bushman, 2008, p. 403). These prejudiced feelings can lead people to discriminate against others. Discrimination refers to the unequal treatment of different people based on the groups or categories to which they belong. Interestingly, sometimes discrimination can occur without prejudiced feelings. This might occur for logistical reasons such as holding a height requirement to go on a ride at the theme park. This may mean that this requirement might discriminate against children, short statured people, or the elderly, however no prejudice against these groups was part of this discrimination. One of the factors associated with discrimination is stigmas. Stigmas are characteristics of individuals that are considered socially unacceptable. These can include being overweight, mentally ill, sick, poor etc. Individuals with stigmas are often the targets of prejudice and discrimination. Even those who are merely associated with a stigmatised person can be discriminated against.

Stereotypes are beliefs that associate groups of people with certain traits. This refers to what we think and believe about various groups and can be either good or bad. Stereotypes are hard to change, even if they are constantly being disconfirmed. One of the reasons why we do this is that people tend to put exceptions to the rules into another category which is called a subtype. Subtypes are categories that people use for individuals who do not fit a general stereotype.

Most stereotypes are negative and most prejudices depict outgroups as inferior and as having bad traits. Outgroup members, or “them”, are people who belong to a different group or category than we do. In opposition, ingroup members, or “us”, are people who belong to the same group or category as we do.

Some more common prejudices are associated with race, ethnicity, religion, gender, weight, and sexuality.

Why does prejudice exist?Edit

Stereotypes and prejudices are learned through socialisation. However research has shown that the tendency to hold stereotypes and prejudices may be innate. This stems from the tendency for humans to align with similar others and contest against different others. This contest includes forming negative stereotypes and discriminating against these others. Ingroup favouritism supports this idea where there are more favourable attitudes towards and preferential treatment of people in one’s own group.

Evolution may have had a hand in instilling this readiness in us to form groups and hold prejudices against rival groups. The discontinuity effect suggests that groups are more prone to hostile competitiveness than individuals are. This has, it is thought, something to do with the evolutionary idea of realistic conflict theory which suggests that competition between groups over scarce resources leads to intergroup hostility and conflict.

Overcoming Stereotypes and Reducing PrejudiceEdit

People overcome prejudice by making conscious efforts to be fair and equal. The ‘’contact hypothesis’’’ proposes an initiative to help reduce prejudice and overcome stereotypes. The hypothesis proposes that regular interaction between members of different groups reduces prejudice. However, it does only work under extremely limited conditions whereby members of both groups must be of equal status, the contact must be positive, and the outgroup members must be seen as typical members of their group. This proposal deems to address the idea that prejudice stems from ignorance. According to this view, people who have very little contact with other groups have no information about them. This hypothesis suggests that if people could resolve ignorance by having more interactions and gaining first hand information about outgroups, then prejudice would diminish.

Stereotypes and Prejudice in Australian SocietyEdit

A research study conducted by David Mellor (2003) [4] from Deakin University, Australia looked at the racism experiences by Aborigines in Australia. The study, ‘Contemporary Racism in Australia: The Experiences of Aborigines’ came to find that the racism experience of Aboriginal people within Australia is severe and pervasive. Mellor found that there was substantial agreement among his interviewees that non-Aboriginal people hold negative stereotypes about Aboriginal people. He states that the stereotypes held are seen to be freely perpetuated in society by both individuals and the media. I think that due to the complete rejection of Australian Aboriginal history and culture which happened as a result of complete British invasion, the stereotypes and prejudice that exist in society are partly due to the issue of ignorance about the people and their culture. There is so much of a need to create a relationship with the Indigenous community of Australia, learn their history, learn about their culture, their stories, their thoughts, and them as people. They are one of the most over-researched people in the entire world. So why do we not seem to know anything about them??


The Need to BelongEdit

Throughout the field of social psychology, much research suggests that Homo sapiens seem to need contact with other members of their species and experience a powerful drive to form and maintain relationships. According to social brain theory, the driving force behind the evolution of intelligence and the brain was the need to understand others so as to form and maintain these relationships. People usually form relationships easily and readily but are reluctant to let them end. Belongingness consists of two parts: regular social contact with others, and close, stable, mutually intimate contact.


  • Ingratiation is what we actively do to try and make someone like you. These things can include giving someone a compliment or sending someone flowers.
  • Similarity is a significantly common cause of attraction. This describes how we tend to like those who are similar to us. These similarities can come from many factors regarding a particular person such as race, class, ethnicity, also values, beliefs, attitudes, political viewpoints, and physical attractiveness. It is also a lot easier for those who are similar to maintain and sustain their relationship as opposed to those who are dissimilar. A relationship of dissimilar people can sometimes lead to cognitively dissonant.
  • The Matching Hypothesis – states that people tend to pair up with others who are similar to them in physical attractiveness. People are naturally, thought of as a result of evolutionary processes, attracted to those who are more similar to themselves than those who are different or ‘exotic’. We tend to easily fall into liking those who are culturally similar to us.
  • Propinquity – being near someone on a regular basis causes attraction. However, it can also lead to conflict and friction.


  • Ostracism refers to being excluded, rejected and ignored by others.
  • The initial reaction to rejection is often closer to numbness than to anxiety or sadness. Repeated experiences of rejection or social exclusion can create aggression in some people. Subsequently, aggression can lead to further rejection.
  • Among adults, the most common explanation for rejection is deviance. Among children, it is a lot more complicated. Children are rejected by their peers for three main reasons: because they are aggressive or violent, they are withdrawn or socially isolated, or they are different from other children in some way.
  • Loneliness and rejection have been proven to have a seriously negative affect on health.


  • Passionate love or romantic love refers to having strong feelings of longing, desire, and excitement towards a special person.
  • Companionate love or affectionate love refers to a high level of mutual understanding, caring, and commitment to make the relationship succeed. This kind of love is important for a long, happy, stable and trustworthy relationship. Research has shown that married people and particularly happy married people live longer, healthier lives than single or divorced people.

Types of RelationshipsEdit

Exchange relationships are those which are based on reciprocity and fairness, where people expect something in return. Each person does something for the other in the expectation of getting some direct benefit. An example of an exchange relationship would be between the family doctor and a regular patient. On the other hand, communal relationships are based on mutual love and concern without expectation of repayment. An example could be of two childhood friends who would give support without expectation.

There are four types of attachment which aim to explain how the style of interaction that is learned at childhood is carried on into adulthood and influences how we relate to others:

  1. Secure attachment – characterised by comfort with intimacy and no excessive fears of abandonment.
  2. Dismissing avoidant attachment – characterised by avoidance of intimacy and discomfort with close relationships, viewing partners as unreliable and uncaring.
  3. Fearful avoidant attachment – characterised by avoidance of intimacy and discomfort with close relationships, viewing the self as unlovable.
  4. Preoccupied or anxious/ambivalent attachment – characterised by excessive desire for closeness to the point of desiring to merge with the partner. Also has worry about abandonment.

Genetic Sexual AttractionEdit

My topic for our social psychology essay assessment was about genetic sexual attraction. I researched and wrote about this phenomenon known as genetic sexual attraction. GSA has become remarkably widespread in both knowledge and research. It occurs where closely-genetically related adults form consenting intimate relationships. Dissimilar to the concepts of child and sexual abuse, genetic sexual attraction creates a situation where the relationships that develop are between adults. Moreover, the participants are adults who have been separated for many years since the birth of one partner, and although they are biologically related, in cultural and anthropological terms they have no kinship affinity (Greenberg, 1993, p. 6) [5]. The occurrence of GSA can be explained by many of the same socio-cultural causes associated with everyday attraction. Academic research shows that elements of similarity, proximity, and familiarity, are the most common reasons for people to become attracted and have intimate feelings. This is also true of those who experience genetic sexual attraction. Supporting the concept are findings of the matching hypothesis, which asserts that people are attracted to and form romantic relationships with others similar to them in physical attractiveness. The consequences associated with these kinds of taboo relationships include social, family and friend rejection, personal isolation and depression, and imprisonment. It was a really interesting topic and I recommend anyone who finds it interesting as well to read the article by Greenberg. I also watched a documentary about genetic sexual attraction called ‘Sleeping With My Sister’ where they interviewed couples who were blood-relatives who met later in life and fell in love. It was so interesting! I recommend having a little peak at it.

Groups and Prosocial BehaviourEdit

In human evolution there is a natural tendency to form groups. Humans can use the power of cultura to form groups that can achieve more than individuals can. Groups provide many benefits such as safety in numbers, provide for each other ie. Food, services, and groups can accomplish tasks which would be too difficult for individuals alone.

Complementary roles, in other words the differentiation of roles in groups, produce better results and outcomes. Putting the nest interest of the group as a collective above those of the individual makes a more efficient running and satisfied group. The social facilitation theory states that the presence of others can make people perform better as there is an increase in arousal and so there is a tendency to perform given roles at a higher level.

How Groups ThinkEdit

Groupthink refers to the tendency of group members to think alike. It is especially likely if the groups is similar and cohesive, has a strong leader, is isolated from other ideas, and has high self-esteem.

Prosocial BehaviourEdit

Prosocial behaviour involves doing good for others and/or society. By obeying rules, conforming to norms, cooperating, and helping others, we can build relationships which allow society to function efficiently. Generally, we tend to behave better when others are watching us and are in public. The evolutionary theory of kin selection suggests that we prefer to help others who are related to us. This applies to those who, as addressed in previous topics, are part of our social group or cultural group also. Not only are we motivated to help those that are similar to ourselves, by our emotions also power this want to help. Altruistic helping is motivated by empathy. Our emotional response to the feelings of other helps us to be motivated to reduce other’s stress and distress. Positive moods also increase helping. Bad moods, such as those associated with guilt, can also promote helping.

Australian ZeitgeistEdit

This week’s tutorial looked at the Australian Zeitgeist, the ‘spirit’ or the particular ‘vibe’ of the times for Australia. In essence, it describes the ethos of a cultural group of people during a particular era or time where some kind of socio-cultural transformation and progression is occurring. Hugh Mackay in his speech about Australian Zeitgeist raises many significant points and issues of how the Australian people as a society have grown and progressed through our history and how that has shaped the ideologies and the way we think and feel today. One of the ideas that he raises is in regards to the gender revolution in the 1970’s, where he voices how it transformed society’s view of women and therefore the home life and ideas about marriage and family. As a result of this gender revolution, our changed views about marriage have led to 45% of contemporary marriages ending in divorce. Our changed views on family and home life have been affected too where a lot of families are now being brought up in a broken home as a result of divorce. He speaks of these kinds of events which have led the Australian population to feel a sense of anxiety and insecurity in a time of such self-confessed self-absorption.


Environmental psychology is a recently new discipline which refers to the relationship between people and their environment, both natural and man made. The environment is so significant and important to our quality of life and overall survival.

Negative Environmental InfluencesEdit

  • Human spatial behaviour

Density and Crowding – Density is where there are a lot of people in one space. Crowding is a subjective uncomfortable feeling or experience of being in a space with a high density of people.

  • Environmental Stressors

These stressors are environmental conditions that interfere with optimal human functioning. They can include: crowding, daily hassles and life events, noise, and temperature. Noise is one of the main environmental stressors that affect peoples mood and social behaviour.

  • Environmental Risks

Studies on peoples risk perception includes environmental risks such as natural disaster, diseases, pollution, food contamination, accidents, nuclear power, and terrorism. The risks which we tend to perceive as being the most risky, are the environmental variables which we can’t control and therefore it is something which should be greatly feared.

  • Environmental Design

Architecture and consumer design – we are constantly having to shape and reshape our surroundings and our environment.

These are some of the negative effects that the environment have on society. However, the environment is the most important source of our survival. Seeing as we know how important it is, why don’t individuals make more of an effort to look after their environment and make a few small changes for the better? Although we are now starting to promote initiatives to save the earth and many strategies have been put in place, it has taken years and years of activists protesting for the government and the media to act on behalf of the people. After all, politics and the media are the two most influential powers that we have. They are the one’s who set the agenda’s for society to think about and gain information about.

In relation to societies mental health, the research that has been conducted presents us with some shocking conclusions which relates depression, anxiety and loss of motivation on our environmental surroundings and how we feel about those surroundings.

Being only a new discipline I hadn’t really thought that far in depth about the environment and its negative effects not only on societies physical health but mental health as well.