MSc Mass Communication Spring 2012 Social Psychology – II Code 5640
Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad
MSc Mass Communication Spring 2012 Social Psychology – II Code 5640
Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad
MSc Mass Communication Spring 2012 Social Psychology – I Code 5639
Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad
Some powerful forces can transform hostility into harmony. In the light of this statement, discuss the factors that can play an important role in the process of “PEACE MAKING”.
The term “peacemaking” is used in two ways. First, peacemaking is sometimes used to refer to a stage of conflict, which occurs during a crisis or a prolonged conflict after diplomatic intervention has failed and before peacekeeping forces have had a chance to intervene. In this context peacemaking is an intervention during armed combat.
The second way the term is used is to mean simply “making peace.” Idea of making peace implies a certain devotion towards that goal. Peacemaking is necessary and important in cases of protracted violence that do not seem to burn themselves out and in cases where war crimes and other human devastation demand the attention of outside forces. In both cases, peacemaking always implies the threat of violent intervention as an act of last option. In the second case it may demand violent intervention sooner rather than later.
Social psychologists have focused on four strategies for helping enemies become comrades. We can remember these as the four C’s of the peacemaking: Contact, Cooperation, Communication, Conciliation.
Might putting people into close contact reduce their hostilities? There are good reasons to think so. yet, despite some encouraging early studies of desegregation, other studies show that in schools mere desegregation has little effect upon racial attitudes, like the one study by social psychologist Walter Stephan (1986). According to him, sometimes desegregation has led to increased prejudice (especially by Whites toward Blacks) and sometimes to decreased prejudice (especially by Blacks towards Whites). But on balance the effects are minimal for both Black and White students. In most schools, interracial contact is seldom prolonged or intimate. When it is structured to convey equal status, hostilities often lessen.
Here equal-status contact means the contact made on equal basis. Just as a relationship between people of unequal status breeds attitudes consistent with their relationship, so do relationships between those of equal status. Thus, to reduce prejudice, interracial contact should be between persons equal in status.
Although equal-status contact can help, it is sometimes not enough. Contacts are especially beneficial when people work together to overcome a common threat or to achieve a superordinate goal. A superordinate goal is a shared goal that necessitates cooperative effort; a goal that overrides people’s differences from one another.
In his boys’ camp experiments, Sherif used the unifying effect of a common enemy to create cohesive groups. Then he used the unifying power of cooperative effort to settle the conflicting groups. Taking their cue from experiments on cooperative contact, several research teams have replaced competitive classroom learning situations with opportunities for cooperative learning. Their heartening results suggest how to constructively implement desegregation and strengthen our confidence that cooperative activities can benefit human relations at all levels.
Extending these findings, Samuel Gaertner with his fellows (1990, 1991) reports that working cooperatively has especially favorable effects under conditions that lead people to define a new, inclusive group that dissolves their former subgroups. If, for example, the members of two groups sit alternately around a table, (rather than on opposite sides), give their new group a single name, and then work together, their old feelings of bias against the former outsiders will diminish. “Us” and “them” become “we”.
Conflicting parties can also seek to resolve their differences by bargaining either directly with one another or they can ask a third-party to mediate by making suggestions and facilitating their negotiations. Or they can arbitrate by submitting their disagreement to someone who will study the issues and impose a settlement.
When a pie of fixed size is to be divided, adopting a tough negotiating stance tends to gain one a larger piece (for example, a better price). When the pie can vary in size, as in the dilemma situations, toughness more often backfires.
Third-party mediators also help resolve conflicts by facilitating constructive communication. Their first task is to help the parties rethink the conflict and to gain information about the other party’s interests. By prodding them to set aside their conflicting demands and opening offers and to think instead about underlying needs, interests and goals, the mediator aims to replace a competitive “win-lose” orientation with a cooperative “win-win” orientation that aims at a mutually beneficial resolution. Mediators can also structure communications that will peel away misperceptions and increase mutual understanding and trust.
Sometimes tension and suspicion run so high that communication becomes all but impossible. Each party may threaten, coerce or retaliate against the other. Unfortunately, such acts tend to be reciprocated, thus escalating the conflict. In such times, small conciliatory gestures by one party may elicit reciprocal conciliatory acts by the other party. Thus tension may be reduced to a level where communication can occur. One such conciliatory strategy, GRIT (graduated and reciprocated initiatives in tension reduction), aims to alleviate tense international situations.
Those who mediate tense labor-management and international conflicts sometimes use one other peacemaking strategy. They instruct the participants in the dynamics of conflict and peacemaking. The hope is that understanding – understanding how conflicts are fed by social traps, perceived injustice, competition and misperceptions and understanding how conflicts can be resolved through equal-status contact, cooperation, communication and conciliation – can help us establish and enjoy peaceful, rewarding relationships.
How can we increase altruism? Describe different measures to help others.
Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. It is a traditional virtue in many cultures and a core aspect of various religious traditions, though the concept of “others” toward whom concern should be directed can vary among cultures and religions. Altruism or selflessness is the opposite of selfishness.
Altruism can be distinguished from feelings of duty and loyalty. Altruism is a motivation to provide something of value to a party who must be anyone but one’s self, while duty focuses on a moral obligation towards a specific individual (e.g., a god, a king), or collective (e.g., a government). Pure altruism consists of sacrificing something for someone other than the self (e.g. sacrificing time, energy or possessions) with no expectation of any compensation or benefits, either direct, or indirect (e.g., receiving recognition for the act of giving).
Much debate exists as to whether “true” altruism is possible. The theory of psychological egoism suggests that no act of sharing, helping or sacrificing can be described as truly altruistic, as the actor may receive an intrinsic reward in the form of personal gratification. The validity of this argument depends on whether intrinsic rewards qualify as “benefits.”
The term altruism may also refer to an ethical doctrine that claims that individuals are morally obliged to benefit others. Used in this sense, it’s usually contrasted to egoism, which is defined as acting to the benefit of one’s self.
The concept has a long history in philosophical and ethical thought. The term was originally coined in the 19th century by the founding sociologist and philosopher of science, Auguste Comte, and has become a major topic for psychologists (especially evolutionary psychology researchers), evolutionary biologists, and ethologists. Whilst ideas about altruism from one field can have an impact on the other fields, the different methods and focuses of these fields always lead to different perspectives on altruism. In simple terms, altruism is caring about the welfare of other people and acting to help them.
There has been some debate on whether or not humans are truly capable of psychological altruism. Some definitions specify a self-sacrificial nature to altruism and a lack of external rewards for altruistic behaviors.However, because altruism ultimately benefits the self in many cases, the selflessness of altruistic acts is brought to question. The social exchange theory postulates that altruism only exists when benefits outweigh costs. Daniel Batson is a psychologist who examined this question and argues against the social exchange theory. He identified four major motives for altruism: altruism to ultimately benefit the self (egoism), to ultimately benefit the other person (altruism), to benefit a group (collectivism), or to uphold a moral principle (principlism). Altruism that ultimately serves selfish gains is thus differentiated from selfless altruism, but the general conclusion has been that empathy-induced altruism can be genuinely selfless. The empathy-altruism hypothesis basically states that psychological altruism does exist and is evoked by the empathic desire to help someone who is suffering. Feelings of empathic concern are contrasted with feelings of personal distress, which compel people to reduce their own unpleasant emotions. People with empathic concern help others in distress even when exposure to the situation could be easily avoided, whereas those lacking in empathic concern avoid helping unless it is difficult or impossible to avoid exposure to another’s suffering. Helping behavior is seen in humans at about two years old, when a toddler is capable of understanding subtle emotional cues.
In psychological research on altruism, studies often observe altruism as demonstrated through prosocial behaviors such as helping, comforting, sharing, cooperation, philanthropy, and community service. Research has found that people are most likely to help if they recognize that a person is in need and feel personal responsibility for reducing the person’s distress. Research also suggests that the number of bystanders witnessing distress or suffering affects the likelihood of helping (the Bystander effect). Greater numbers of bystanders decrease individual feelings of responsibility.However, a witness with a high level of empathic concern is likely to assume personal responsibility entirely regardless of the number of bystanders.
Many studies have observed the effects of volunteerism (as a form of altruism) on happiness and health and have consistently found a strong connection between volunteerism and current and future health and well-being.In a study of older adults, those who volunteered were significantly higher on life satisfaction and will to live, and significantly lower in depression, anxiety, and somatization.Volunteerism and helping behavior have not only been shown to improve mental health, but physical health and longevity as well.One study examined the physical health of mothers who volunteered over a 30-year period and found that 52% of those who did not belong to a volunteer organization experienced a major illness while only 36% of those who did volunteer experienced one. A study on adults ages 55+ found that during the four-year study period, people who volunteered for two or more organizations had a 63% lower likelihood of dying. After controlling for prior health status, it was determined that volunteerism accounted for a 44% reduction in mortality. Merely being aware of kindness in oneself and others is also associated with greater well-being. A study that asked participants to count each act of kindness they performed for one week significantly enhanced their subjective happiness. It is important to note that, while research supports the idea that altruistic acts bring about happiness, it has also been found to work in the opposite direction—that happier people are also kinder. The relationship between altruistic behavior and happiness is bidirectional. Studies have found that generosity increases linearly from sad to happy affective states. Studies have also been careful to note that feeling over-taxed by the needs of others has conversely negative effects on health and happiness. For example, one study on volunteerism found that feeling overwhelmed by others’ demands had an even stronger negative effect on mental health than helping had a positive one (although positive effects were still significant). Additionally, while generous acts make people feel good about themselves, it is also important for people to appreciate the kindness they receive from others. Studies suggest that gratitude goes hand-in-hand with kindness and is also very important for our well-being. A study on the relationship happiness to various character strengths showed that “a conscious focus on gratitude led to reductions in negative affect and increases in optimistic appraisals, positive affect, offering emotional support, sleep quality, and well-being.”
As social scientists, our goal is to understand human behavior, thus also suggesting ways to improve it. We therefore wonder how we might apply insights from research on altruism to increase altruism.
UNDOING THE RESTRAINTS ON HELPING
One way to promote altruism is to reverse those factors that inhibit it. Given that hurried, preoccupied people are less likely to help, can we think of ways to encourage them to slow down and turn their attention outward? If the presence of others diminishes each bystander’s sense of responsibility, how can we enhance responsibility?
Reduce Ambiguity, Increase Responsibility
If Latane and Darley’s decision tree (Figure 14-2) describes the dilemmas bystanders face, then assisting people to interpret an incident correctly and to assume responsibility should increase their involvement. Leonard Bickman and his colleagues (1975, 1977, 1979) tested this presumption in a series of experiments on crime reporting. In each, supermarket or bookstore shoppers witnessed a shoplifting. Some witnesses had seen signs that attempted both to sensitize them to shoplifting and to inform th6m how to report it. But the signs” had little effect. Other witnesses heard a bystander interpret the incident: “Say, look at her. She’s shoplifting. She put that into her purse.” (The bystander then left to look for a lost child.) Still others heard this person add, “We saw it. We should report it. It’s our responsibility.” Both face-to-face comments substantially boosted reporting of the crime.
The potency of personal influence is no longer in doubt. Robert Foss (1978) surveyed several hundred blood donors and found that neophyte donors, unlike veterans, were usually there at someone’s personal invitation. Leonard Jason and his collaborators (1984) confirmed that personal appeals for .blood donation are much more effective than posters and media announcements—if the personal appeals come from friends. Nonverbal appeals can also be effective when they are personalized. Mark Snyder and his co-workers (1974) found that hitchhikers doubled the number of ride offers by looking drivers straight in the eye. A personal approach makes one feel less anonymous, more responsible.
Henry Solomon and Linda Solomon (1978; Solomon & others, 1981) confirmed the benefits of reducing anonymity. They found that bystanders who had identified themselves to one another—by name, age, and so forth—were more likely to offer aid to a sick person than were anonymous bystanders. Similarly, when a female experimenter caught the eye of another shopper and gave her a warm smile prior to stepping on an elevator, that shopper was far more likely than other shoppers to offer help when the experimenter later said, “Damn. I’ve left my glasses. Can anyone tell me what floor the umbrellas are on?” Even a trivial momentary conversation with someone—”Excuse me, aren’t you Suzie Spear’s sister?” “No, I’m not”—dramatically increased the person’s later helpfulness.
Helpfulness also increases when one expects later to meet the victim and other witnesses again. Using a laboratory intercom system, Jody Gottlieb and Charles Carver (1980) led University of Miami students to believe they were discussing problems of college living with other students. (Actually, the other discussants were tape-recorded.) When one of the supposed fellow discussants had a choking fit and cried out for help, she was helped most quickly by subjects who believed they would soon be meeting the discussants face-to-face In short, anything that personalizes bystanders—a personal request, eye contact, stating one’s name, anticipation of interaction—increases willingness to help.
Personal treatment probably makes bystanders more self-aware and therefore more attuned to their own altruistic ideals. That people made self-aware by acting in front of a mirror or TV camera exhibit increased consistency between attitudes and actions. By contrast, “deindividoated” people are less responsible. Thus, circumstances promoting self-awareness—name tags, being watched and evaluated., undistracted quiet-should also increase helping. Shelley Duval, Virginia Duval, and Robert Net. (1979) confirmed this. They showed University of Southern California womer their own image on a TV screen or had them complete a biographical questionnaire just before giving them a chance to contribute time and money to people in need. Those made self-aware contributed more. Similarly, pedestrians who have just had their picture taken by someone became more likely to help as-other pedestrian pick up dropped envelopes (Hoover & others, 1983). To be self-aware, yet not self-preoccupied, makes people more likely to put their ideals into practice.
Guilt and Concern for Self-Image
Earlier we noted that people who feel guilty will act to reduce guilt and restore their self-worth. Can heightening people’s awareness of their transgressions therefore increase desire to help? A Reed College research team led by Richard Katzev (1978) wondered. So when visitors to the Portland Art Museum obeyed a “Please do not touch” sign, experimenters reprimanded some of them: “Please don’t touch the objects. If everyone touches them, they will deteriorate.” Likewise, when visitors to the Portland Zoo fed unauthorized food • the bears, some of them were admonished with, “Hey, don’t feed unauthorized food to the animals. Don’t you know it could hurt them?” In both cases, 58 percent of the now guilt-laden subjects shortly thereafter offered help to another experimenter who had “accidentally” dropped something. Of those not reprimanded, only one-third helped.
People also care about their public image. When Robert Cialdini and his colleagues (1975) asked some of their Arizona State University students to chaperon delinquent children on a zoo trip, only 32 percent agreed to do so. With other students the questioner first made a very large request—that the students commit two years as volunteer counselors to delinquent children. After getting the door-in-the-face in response to this request (all Tefused), the questioner then counteroffered with the chaperoning request, saying, in effect, “OK, if you won’t do that, would you do just this much?” With this technique, nearly twice as many—56 percent—agreed to help.
Cialdini and David Schroeder (1976) offer another practical way to trigger concern for self-image: Ask for a contribution so small that it’s hard to say no without feeling like a Scrooge. When they had a solicitor approach suburbanites and say, “I’m collecting money for the American Cancer Society,” 29 percent contributed an average of $1.44 each. When the solicitor added, “Even a penny will help,” 50 percent contributed, averaging $1.54 each. When James Weyant (1984) repeated this experiment, he found similar results: The “even a penny will help” boosted the number contributing from 39 to 57 percent. And when 6000 people were solicited by mail for the American Cancer Society, those asked for small amounts were more likely to give—and gave no less on average—than those asked for larger amounts (Weyant & Smith, 1987). When approaching previous donors, bigger requests (within reason) do elicit bigger donations (Doob & McLaughlin, 1989). But with door-to-door solicitation, there is more success with requests for small contributions, which are difficult to turn down and still allow an altruistic self-image.
Labeling people as helpful can also strengthen a helpful self-image. After they had made a charitable contribution, Robert Kraut (1973) told some Connecticut women, “You are a generous person.” Two weeks later, these women were more willing than those not so labeled to contribute to a different charity. Likewise, Angelo Strenta and William Dejong (1981) told some students a personality test revealed that “you are a kind, thoughtful person.” These students were later more likely than others to be kind and thoughtful toward a confederate who dropped a stack of computer cards.
What is prejudice? Elaborate social sources of prejudice with examples from Pakistani Society.
Prejudice is a baseless and usually negative attitude toward members of a group. Common features of prejudice include negative feelings, stereotyped beliefs, and a tendency to discriminate against members of the group. While specific definitions of prejudice given by social scientists often differ, most agree that it involves prejudgments (usually negative) about members of a group.
Types of Prejudice
Prejudice can be based upon a number of factors including sex, race, age, sexual orientations, nationality, socioeconomic status and religion. Some of the most well-known types of prejudice include:
Prejudice and Stereotyping
When prejudice occurs, stereotyping and discrimination may also result. In many cases, prejudices are based upon stereotypes. A stereotype is a simplified assumption about a group based on prior assumptions. Stereotypes can be both positive (“women are warm and nurturing”) or negative (“teenagers are lazy”). Stereotypes can lead to faulty beliefs, but they can also result in both prejudice and discrimination.
According to psychologist Gordon Allport, prejudice and stereo types emerge in part as a result of normal human thinking. In order to make sense of the world around us, it is important to sort information into mental categories. “The human mind must think with the aid of categories,” Allport explained. “Once formed, categories are the basis for normal prejudgment. We cannot possibly avoid this process. Orderly living depends upon it. ” This process of categorization applies to the social world as well, as we sort people into mental groups based on factors such as age, sex and race.
However, researchers have found that while when it comes to categorizing information about people, we tend to minimize the differences between people within groups and exaggerate the differences between groups. In one classic experiment, participants were asked to judge the height of people shown in photographs. People in the experiment were also told that:
“In this booklet, the men and women are actually of equal height. We have taken care to match the heights of the men and women pictured. That is, for every woman of a particular height, somewhere in the booklet there is also a man of that same height. Therefore, in order to make as accurate a height judgment as possible, try to judge each photograph as an individual case; do not rely on the person’s sex.”
In addition to these instructions, a $50 cash prize was offered to whoever made the most accurate judgments of height. Despite this, participants consistently rated the men as being a few inches taller than the women. Because of their prejudgment that men are taller than women, the participants were unable to dismiss their existing categorical beliefs about men and women in order to judge the heights accurately.
Researchers have also found that people tend to view members of outside groups as being more homogenous than members of their own group, a phenomenon referred to as the out-group homogeneity bias. This perception that all member of an out-group are alike holds true of all groups, whether based on race, nationality, religion, age or other naturally occurring group affiliation.
Social Sources of Prejudice:
} Masters view slaves as lazy, irresponsible, lacking ambition—as having those traits that justify slavery
} Once these inequalities exist, prejudice helps justify the economic and social superiority of those who have wealth and power
} People view enemies as subhuman and depersonalize them with labels
The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
} negative beliefs predict negative behavior (or problems in life)
} If a person thinks we are clever or stupid or whatever, they will treat us that way.
} If we are treated as if we are clever, stupid or whatever, we will act, and even become, this way.
} The person has thus had their prophecy about us fulfilled!
} This is also known as the Pygmalion Effect.
} a self-conforming apprehension that one will be evaluated based on a negative stereotype
} refers to being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one’s group (Steele & Aronson, 1995)
} Black college freshmen and sophomores performed more poorly on standardized tests than White students when their race was emphasized.
} When race was not emphasized, however, Black students performed better and equivalently with White students.
} The results showed that performance in academic contexts can be harmed by the awareness that one’s behavior might be viewed through the lens of racial stereotypes.
} Self-concept—our sense of who we are—contains not just personal identity (our sense of personal attributes and attitudes) but also a social identity
◦ A person may identify his self a man, a Filipino, a psychology student of USJ-R, a member of the school’s student council, a chess player, and so on..
} The group definition of who you are—your race, religion, gender, academic major—implies a definition of who you are not.
} The circle that includes “us” (the ingroup) excludes “them” (the outgroup)
} Thus, a mere experience of being formed into groups may promote ingroup bias.
} Due to human quest for a positive self-concept
} If prejudice is socially accepted, many people will follow the path of least resistance and conform to fashion
} They will act not so much out of a need to hate as out of a need to be liked and accepted.
Emotional Sources of Prejudice
Frustration and Aggression(The Scapegoat Theory)
} Pain and frustration (a blocking of a goal) often evoke hostility.
} When the cause of our frustration is intimidating or unknown, we often redirect our hostility (displaced aggression)
Cognitive Sources of Prejudice
} One way we simplify our environment is to categorize—to organize the world by clustering objects into groups (Macrae & Bodenhausen, 2000)
} Perceived similarities and differences
} Distinctive people and vivid or extreme occurrences often draw attention and distort judgment.
} We define people by their most distinctive traits and behaviors
Fundamental Attribution Error (Lee Ross)
} In explaining others’ actions, we frequently commit the fundamental attribution error.
} We attribute people’s behavior so much to their inner dispositions that we discount important situational forces.
} The error occurs partly because our attention focuses on the persons, and not the situation.
} Essentially, the fundamental attribution error involves placing a heavy emphasis on internal personality characteristics to explain someone’s behavior in a given situation, rather than thinking about external situational factors.
} Imagine yourself walking down a crowded sidewalk, carrying loaded bags from shops. If someone bumps into you, you are probably inclined to think “what an idiot! That person has no respect for others, he clearly saw me!” In this assessment of the person’s behavior, you fail to consider situational factors like someone else bumping into that person, or your failure to realize that your bags are taking up more room than you think they are, thus forcing people to bump into you as they try to get around you.
} On a specific day a waitress is talking rude to her customers. The customers now think that she is a really bad person. What the customers don’t realize is that usually most people find the waitress friendly but today the waitress is experiencing one of the hardest days in her life. Her husband just left her for another woman, and she just lost her son in a car wreck. If the customers were aware of the problems the waitress just had, they actually wouldn’t mind her negative attitude as much considering her current state.
What is persuasion? What are the essential elements of Persuasion? Give summary of the case study “Resisting Persuasion: Attitude inoculation”.
Persuasion refers to the process by which a person’s attitudes or behaviour are, without duress, influenced by communication. Persuasion pervades over almost all human activities and it is geared to information transmission in such a way as to get people to revise old pictures (Predisposition) in their minds, or form new ones, and thus change their behaviour. To some others persuasion is seen as “Communication to influence choices”. Still to others it is “a process that changes attitude, belief, opinion or behaviour”.
Actually, we try to sell ideas, concepts, products etc. through the art of persuasion. Persuasion may be carried out in offices, workplaces, homes, etc. by fellow workers or neighbours.
Persuasion has been treated as an art, a craft and a science since ancient times and classical thinkers like Aristotle and Cicero devoted whole treatises.to the topic. In the middle ages, it was one of the basic liberal arts which was mastered practically by all the educated men. Even the religious preachers used the spoken word to move the men to virtue. In the form of advertising, persuasion is supporting a major industry these days.
Components of Persuasion:
The components or factors involved in the communication process are source, message, channel, receiver and destination. Source factors include the perceived sender of the communication. The “message” refers to what he says and includes style, content and organization, while “Channel” designates the medium (e.g. press, radio, television) through which the message is communicated. As regards the “receiver” factors, it refers to the persons (e.g. age, sex, etc.) to whom the communication is directed and the “destination” indicates the behaviour (e.g. voting) the communication is designed to influence.
The process of persuasion involves a series of successive steps: The communication is presented; the person pays attention to it; he comprehends the contents of the message and also the basic conclusion being urged. However, for persuasion to be effected the individual must agree with or yield to the point being urged and then finally act on it or in other words carry out the behaviour implied due to the new change in his attitude. For example, he enlists in the army, starts contributing to a charity etc.
A group of social psychologists at Yale University have developed a communication model of persuasion that identifies the following major components: the source; the message itself; the context of the message; and the audience.
1. The Source
The source of a persuasive message is the communicator who is presenting it. A source is more persuasive if he or she is seen as credible(believable) and attractive. There are two ways to be credible: claiming to be an expert, and appearing to be trustworthy. When a tennis star endorses a particular brand of athletic shoe, she is persuasive because she is an expert. When an actor who always plays heroes endorses a product, he is persuasive because his career as a “good guy” makes him appear trustworthy.
There are also two ways for a source to be attractive: physical appeal and similarity to the audience. When automobile commericals feature beautiful men and women at the wheel, advertisers hope that the models’ physical appeal will make the commerical persuasive. When a beer commerical portrays a group of blue-collar men enjoying a particular brand of beer, the commerical is persuasive to audience members who consider themselves similar to the characters depicted.
2. The Message
Persuasive messages can involve emotional appeals or rational arguments. When time is limited, short emotional appeals may be more effective than rational arguments. For example, anti-smoking campaigns with slogans like “Smokers Stink!” may be more persuasive than lists of recent statistical findings about the health of smokers versus nonsmokers.
Should a message be one-sided or should it present both sides of an issue? Research shows that when the audeience is highly involved and already sympathetic, a one-sided message is more persuasive. In contrast, when an audeince is undecided or uninvolved, a two-sided message seems more fair and persuasive. There is also evidence that more intelligent audiences are persuaded better by two-sided messages, probably because they more readily recognize that there are two sides to the issue.
3. The Context :
Advertisers often have difficulty overcoming the internal arguments that compete with their persuasive messages. When we listen to or read a persuasive message, we are usually free to limit our attention or silently counter argue with its arguments. For this reason, many salespeople will try to prevent internal counterarguing by distracting a customer. For example, if a customer is urged to “try out” a new appliance while the salesperson talks about its features, the cusotmer will already be paying attention to two things- using the appliance and listening to the salesperson – and will have difficulty rehearsing counterarguments. Laboratory research has shown that when subjects are distracted, they are more likely to accept a persuasive message than when they have been allowed to concentrate on their counterarguments.
4. The Audience:
Numerous research efforts have focused on the recipients of persuasive messages, the audience, to discover when some people are more persuadable than others. Many audience characteristics interact with message variables, like involvement or intelligence. Intelligent recipents are more persuaded by complex messages, while unintelligent recipients are more persuaded by simple emotional messages.
Other audience reasearch has identified characteristics like age or lifestyle as relevant to persuasiveness. For example, young people may be more likely to accept a message that promised popularity, while older people would find security or health amore appealing promise.
RESISTING PERSUASION: ATTITUDE INOCULATION
This exposure to persuasive influences has perhaps made you wonder if it is possible to resist unwanted persuasion. Of course it is. If, because of an aura of credibility, the repairperson’s uniform and doctor’s title have intimidated us into unquestioning agreement, we can rethink our habitual responses to authority. We can seek more information before committing time or money. We can question- what we don’t understand.
STRENGTHENING PERSONAL COMMITMENT
Before encountering others’ judgments, make a public commitment to your position. Having stood up for your convictions, you become less susceptible (or should we say less “open”?) to what others have to say.
How might we stimulate people to commit themselves? From his experiments, Charles Kiesler (1971) offers one possible way: Mildly attack their position. Kiesler found that when committed people were attacked strongly enough to cause them to react, but not so strongly as to overwhelm them, they became even more committed. Kiesler explains:
When you attack a committed person and your attack is of inadequate strength, you drive him to even more extreme behaviors in defense of his previous commitment His commitment escalates, in a sense, because the number of acts consistent with his belief increases, (p. 88)
Perhaps you can recall a time when this happened in an argument, as those involved escalated their rhetoric, committing themselves to increasingly extreme positions.
There is a second reason a mild attack might build resistance. Like inoculations against disease, weak arguments prompt counterarguments, which are then available for a stronger attack. William McGuire (1964) documented this in a series of experiments. McGuire wondered: Could we inoculate people against persuasion much as we inoculate them against a virus? Is there such a thing as attitude inoculation? Could we take people raised in a “germ-free ideological environment”—people who hold some unquestioned belief—-and stimulate their mental defenses? And would subjecting them to a small “dose” of belief-threatening material inoculate them against later persuasion?
That is what McGuire did. First, he found some cultural truisms, such as ‘It’s a good idea to brush your teeth after every meal if at all possible.” He then showed that people were vulnerable to a massive, credible assault upon these truisms (for example, prestigious authorities were said to have discovered that too much tooth brushing can damage one’s gums). If, however, before having their belief attacked, they were “immunized” by first receiving a small challenge to their belief, and if they read or wrote an essay- in refutation of this mild attack, then they were better able to resist the powerful attack.
Define Social Psychology. Also explain major Social psychological theories.
According to psychologist Gordon Allport, social psychology is a discipline that uses scientific methods “to understand and explain how the thought, feeling and behavior of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of other human beings” (1985).
Social psychology looks at a wide range of social topics, including group behavior, social perception, leadership, nonverbal behavior, conformity, aggression and prejudice. It is important to note that social psychology is not just about looking at social influences. Social perception and social interaction are also vital to understanding social behavior.
Major Social Psychological Theories:
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is the founder of psychoanalytic theory. This theory assumes that every person has a given amount of vital psychic or mental energy called libido energy. The libido, the source of this psychic energy and the various channels through which it is expressed, are of utmost importance to personality development. It claims, the mind is divided into two parts, the conscious and the unconscious. The mind is like an iceberg, with the conscious part represented by the portion of the iceberg above the water. That part of the mind of which the individual is aware includes all the information that can be recalled from memory, but even so is much smaller than the unconscious. The unconscious part of the mind consists of emotions, desires, instincts, and knowledge of which the person is not aware. Yet it has an influence on individual’s behaviour.
There are a large of number of theories based on the principles basic principles of social-learning theory but for our purpose we will present the basic principles of social-learning theory from which the more specific theories have been derived. Behaviourism is the traditional term used for social-learning theory. Social-learning theory argues that theories of human behaviour must be built on observable events and processes, and reject unobservable mentalistic concepts and processes such as the id, ego, repression, and so on. This theory does not deny the existence of such processes but argues that, because they are unobservable, they are useless in explaining human behaviour. Rather, relationships between observable conditions in the individual’s environment and observable behaviours are the subject matter of social-learning theory.
Social-exchange theory is based on learning theory. This theory explains social behaviour in terms of the mutual reinforcement people exchange with each other. It explains how individuals seek to initiate exchanges with others by weighing the “profit” they would anticipate from potential changes with alternative partners. Profit is determined in light of the investment a person must have to be eligible to enter the S exchange, the costs he or she has to pay, and the reward obtained. If investment, say education; and costs, say time expended; are high, then reward must be high for the exchange to be profitable. The basic principle of exchange theory is that behaviour performed in exchanges that have been profitable in the past will increase in frequency, and those from unprofitable exchanges will decrease. Social-exchange theory attempts to explain social behaviour and thus at times utilizes mental processes to explain the behaviour in question. The existence of a memory and the ability to recall it is inherent in the notion of a history of past reinforcement. Also, the individual’s calculation of the profit level of potential exchanges implies mental processes because possible outcomes are predicted. The heavy reliance on the established principle of learning theory, dified by the inclusion of limited mental processes, has made social-exchange theory -1ry popular as an explanation of social behaviour.
Cognitive theories of human behaviour stress mental processes, such as – rrceptions, knowledge, ideas, and expectations, as the major determinants of behaviour, “he processes of gathering information, giving it meaning, organizing it into knowledge, .ad similar mental activities are seen as the most important component of human shaviour. The un-observable nature of these mantel events has hindered the empirical isting of cognitive theories. Their existence has to be inferred from behaviours that can e measured, and such inferences are frequently difficult. A number of cognitive theories f behaviour have been developed, but w„e will limit our review to the two most widely Jiscussed theories: symbolic-interaction and cognitive-consistency theory.
This theory emerged in the early nineteenth century having roots in philosophy, psychology, and sociology. George Herbert Mead (1934) was the most influential spokesperson of this theory. The focus of the theory is upon human social interaction. Social interaction, the theory assumes, can best be understood by studying humans because people evidently possess the ability to perform the process of thinking, reasoning, and planning, which is not possessed by other animals. Thus, the theory calls attention to cognitive processes and therefore has a psychological base. The approach is likewise very sociological because one of its major concerns is to understand the cooperative dimension of human social behaviour, which was the essence of society in Mead’s view. Human cooperative behaviour is different from cooperative behaviour in animals, which is controlled by instincts. Society (cooperative behaviour) is made possible precisely because humans possess the higher mental process and therefore live in a symbolic world as well as a physical world. Unlike animals, which respond to stimuli directly, people respond to stimuli mediated by their symbolic world. The stimuli impinging upon people are given meaning through cognitive processes and then are responded to according to the attached meaning. This theory suggests that people mentally explore the possible reactions- of others to specific behaviours and use this information to decide how to act toward other people. People, unlike animals, possess the ability to experience themselves in their imaginations. Through role taking, a person places himself or herself in another person’s social role and imagines the other’s reaction to the planned course of action. For example, a person can mentally role play how a teacher, spouse, or friend would feel about a particular behaviour or act in order to decide if the behaviour will likely achieve the desired effect. If the response of the other is similar to what was anticipated, then the other’s behaviour is said to have social meaning. Out of this role taking process cooperative behaviour emerges, and society is created. The degree of consensus between anticipated and actual behaviour is usually quite high but generally is not perfect. Social interaction that always achieves total agreement between anticipated and actual responses would probably be boring however, little or no overlap would produce anarchy or chaos, and cooperation could not occur. Social interaction is ‘seen by this theory as occurring within a common definition of the situation. The role taking occurs within the context of a perceived social setting (tennis game, marriage, or school) and surrounding environment (a ground, home, or street). It assumes that even if the definition of the situation does not reflect social reality, the consequences are real for the people involved. Thus if members of a group believe that another group hates them, then the first group will probably attack the other even though in reality there is no hatred.
Cognitions are those things that each of us uses to make sense out of our everyday worlds. It includes our perceptions — how we perceive and code events and experiences that occur around us as well as the knowledge, opinions, and beliefs, that we hold about ourselves, about our behaviour, and about our environment. The question of how these interdependent cognitive elements, organized together into larger whole has been one of the primary concerns of consistency theory. The assumption that has influenced the majority of the work in this area is that each individual attempts to establish and maintain some degree of consistency or balance among those cognitions that are related to each other. For example, if I am strongly convinced that there is a direct link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, it would be inconsistent for me to smoke cigarettes. Similarly, if I were to observe a close friend — whom I have previously attributed characteristics of honesty and morality — shoplifting, i would experience inconsistency among related cognitive elements. This theory has the belief that individuals will tend to behave in ways that minimize the internal inconsistency among their interpersonal relations, their intra-personal cognition, and their beliefs, feelings, and actions. The consistency principle holds that the individual does not attempt to behave in ways that would be consistent to his or her own observation. These theories also assume that when inconsistency occurs it is an uncomfortable state. Consequently, it creates pressure within the individual to eliminate or reduce it. Inconsistency or imbalance thus has a motivational quality and may be a major force for attitudinal or behavioural change in the individual. There are numerous areas in which cognitive-inconsistency can occur.
1. When’ logical inconsistency exists. For example, I believe that all men are mortal but that I, a man, will live forever.
2. When there is a conflict between actions and self-definitions or cultural mores, for example, I may consider myself a relatively mild mannered and self-controlled professor. If I hit a student in the class, I would feel some psychological imbalance because of my action and my definition of self.
3. When there is an inconsistency between a cognition and a more encompassing cognition. For example, if I am a secular man but voted a religious political party in the elections. This behaviour would be inconsistent on my part.
4. When inconsistency is created by conflict between present and past experiences. For example, a person who just stepped on the thumbtack with bare foot but felt no pain. The cognitive elements of stepping on tack but feeling no pain simply do not follow.