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Social Psychology Research Paper

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Social psychology refers to the scientific study of the influence of other people, actual or implied in this case on the behavior, pattern and conduct of a person. It is general practice that people do not behave the same I different environs.

Obedience

            A scientist named Milgram studied obedience in depth and came up with various findings relating to the virtue.  The study was an effort by a key authority figure to see how students would react to an order that did not conform with their conscience in that it was an unacceptable act.  The aim of the goal was to find out how exactly the subject being ordered would react in this kind of environment, given set of conditions that orders were being communicated vertically. The study involved participants who drew papers to decide who would be the teacher and who would be the learner. Both papers read “teacher” and the actor said he had the role of the learner to play. This implied the participant would always be the teacher. This however was unknown to the subject.

            The teacher and learner were then separated from a direct reach and visibility of each other. They therefore could not communicate. The confederate (learner) was quick to mention that he had a heart condition to the teacher. (Catherine, 2009) .The teacher responded by asking for an electric shock from the electro shock generator. The learner would ideally have this used on him during the experiment to treat the heart condition. The teacher then received word pairs in a list and was supposed to teach this to the learner. The teacher read the word pairs aloud to the learner later followed by one word of every pair. Four possible answers would then be read and the learner was supposed to press a button to indicate his response. An incorrect answer would warrant administration of a shock to the learner. The voltage was increasing by 15 volts per every wrong answer. A correct answer would warrant progress to the next pair of words.

The subjects actually believed that this for every wrong answer the teacher actually administered shock to the learner. The learner had set up a table with a tape recorder connected with the electro shock generator. It played sounds that had been pre-recorded for each shock level. The actor then banged on the wall after some voltage increments and complained of his heart condition. The learner would stop responding. Many people at this point were eager to check on the learner. Some subjects paused at 135 volts wanting to know the purpose of the experiment but after being reassured, it continued. Some subjects would nervously laugh depicting signs of sympathy when they heard screams coming from the learner. The subjects occasionally received signs from the experimenter to continue. The experiment was halted at a voltage of 450 volts. (Robert, 2001).

Results

            Milgram had initially called on students in Yale to predict the behavior of 100 hypothetical teachers. Many argued that very few teachers (0-3%) would actually inflict a voltage of 450 volts. Milligram’s colleagues also had the opinion that very few subjects would progress under this voltage. Milgram concluded that obedience without conformity to ones conscience is disturbing. The subjects were finding it difficult to continue adding more voltage on the learner. The findings were:

Adults would go to great lengths in trying to follow an order.

Ordinary people doing their jobs can become agents of destruction

 

 

Conformity

            Solomon Asch decided to study conformity i.e. the tendency of an individual to follow the unspoken rules and patterns of a group in which he belongs. He accepted out a sequence of experiments intended to demonstrate the power of conformity in groups.

Students were instructed that they would engage in a ‘vision test’. The subjects did not know that the other participants were to assist the experimenter in that it was planned. The confederates at first answered the questions correctly but eventually started giving wrong answers.

Results

            75% of all the participants went down with the rest of the collection at least one time. The results later indicated participants had given the wrong answer at least one third of the time. This is after tallying of different results had been done. The participant’s ability to tell the length of the line was tested. They were supposed to write down their ideas on papers which would then be scrutinized. The results indicated that the participants were very accurate. They had chosen the correct answer approximately 985 of the time. The experiment also tried to determine the consequences of the number of people on conformity. There was virtually no effect on the participant’s answers when only one confederate was present. Presence of two confederates showed some slight result. The level of conventionality seen with three or more confederates was very significant.

Asch establishes out that having one of the confederates give the accurate answer while the rest giving an incorrect one lowered conformity significantly. Just 5-10% of the applicants conformed to the rest of the group. Morris and Miller have supported this finding to the extent that the presence of social support is important if conformity has to be combated.

Students who got the answer right said they avoided giving the same response to avoid being ridiculed.

 This gave the conclusion that conformity is influenced by both needs to fit in and believe other people are smarter or better informed. This is practical in real life situations where people want to conform to a general pattern. This is in order to avoid being seen as crazy or having an abnormality in the way they think. It I common that in a class of students, majority of the class gives the same answer when expected to answer aloud. This is not because it is true but because they want to conform to a general pattern. (Smith , 2007).

Social perception

            This refers to the part of perception that actually allows people to understand the individuals and groups of their social world. It is an element of social cognition and allows people to determine the effect of other people in their personal life.

Altruism

Studies the following:

            Unselfish behavior and attitude towards the welfare of others. It conforms to the zeal and urge of an individual to work towards the benefits of others.

Intentional behaviors that benefit other persons

Behaviors that have no obvious gain for the provider

Behaviors that have obvious costs for the provider (time and resources)

 There are theories that seek to explain what altruism is all about and it’s characteristic. These include:

1. Hedonism: Selfish acts that seek to benefit the actor in the following ways:

(A) Gives emotional satisfaction

(B) Reduces negative feelings in the actor

2. Reciprocal Altruism: Natural selection favors animals that are actually altruistic towards each other if the profit to each is greater than the price of altruism.

Bystander effect

            A social psychological phenomenon refers to cases where individuals do not tender help in a crisis to the victim where other people are present. In the past the amount of help has been thought to be inversely proportional to the number of bystanders present. The more the bystanders present in an emergency, the less the likelihood that help will be extended. (David, 2005)

This is because each of the present bystanders looks upon the other as also present and expects them to be willing to assist. It is therefore a condition registered in the mind of the bystander.

Social Loafing

            This term as used in social psychology refers to the occurrence where people exert fewer attempts to achieve an objective when they work in a group than when they work alone. It has been known even in corporate organizations and government institutions that when people work in a group without each person having to specialize, they more often than not engage in lazing around at the expense of engaging their minds in the work they are supposed to do. This is because each and every individual relies upon his colleague and believes the work will go to completion despite the circumstances underlying.

            Groups are therefore less productive sometimes compared to individual assignments. Rope pulling experiments have been used to prove this fact. People during rope pulling exert very little effort since they have the belief in them that it is a collective responsibility.

Empathy

            This is the key ingredient to helping. Empathy felt towards a person helps them regardless of what they gain from it. Relieving a person’s suffering is an achievement. The social exchange theory takes control once a person stops feeling empathetic.

Batson in his contribution said that people sometimes helped others out of selfish reasons. He was trying to discover a way to distinguish between motives that individuals have. The level of empathy changes with the situation and differs from one person to the other. (Obedience to Authority: An experimental view Stanley Milgram 1974) Empathy has seen the emergence of institutions, some of which are voluntary seeking to help in times of crisis. This promotes better relations in the society and unity is boosted.

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