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PSY 3140, Social Psychology 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit V Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

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  1. Evaluate the underlying principles in the field of social psychology. 2.1 Apply the attachment theory to attitudes and behaviors in romantic relationships. 2.2 Identify factors that attract people to each other.
  2. Analyze the conclusions of empirical research in social psychology. 5.1 Explain the difference between environmental factors that lead to increased (social facilitation)

versus decreased (social facilitation and/or loafing) task performance.

  1. Examine how our own biases influence perceptions of various behaviors. 7.1 Apply theories and principles that indicate how one’s decision-making is influenced within

relationships and groups.

Course/Unit Learning Outcomes

Learning Activity

2.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 12, pp. 369–398 Unit V Assessment

2.2 Unit Lesson Chapter 12, pp. 369–398 Unit V Assessment

5.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 8, pp. 231–261 Unit V Assessment


Unit Lesson Chapter 8, pp. 231–261 Chapter 12, pp. 369–398 Unit V Assessment

Reading Assignment Chapter 8: Group Processes, pp. 231–261 Chapter 12: Intimate Relationships, pp. 369–398

Unit Lesson Group Processes A group is two or more people who are interacting with each other or are classified together in some way. Why do you join groups? What functions do groups serve? Why have you considered joining a group? Group cohesiveness refers to how connected to each other group members feel (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). When groups are more cohesive, members are likely to stay in the group. Why might it be important that individuals stay in the group? Groups can provide you with meaningful information, help define your identity, provide social support, and offer feelings of safety. All of these can serve to ease one’s way through the social environment. Furthermore, social roles, as you learned about before, are often well defined in groups and help make social interactions possible, but they have costs as well. One cost is that social roles can lead people to lose aspects of their own personal identities, as demonstrated in Zimbardo and his colleagues’


Groups and Attraction

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mock prison study found in Chapter 7. Can you think of any other costs that social roles might have on behaviors and performance of a group? Can you think of any ways in which social roles might be helpful to the group? Why do you think that it might be difficult to decide on some examples of the benefit of social roles to the group? Not all groups are easy to join, and not all groups allow everyone access. Yet, it appears that these types of groups can be all the more attractive. Recall the theory of cognitive dissonance you learned about in Chapter 6. If you put in time, effort, or embarrassment into joining a group, it would feel very dissonant to think that exertion was for nothing. Instead, you are motivated to strengthen your positive opinion of the group, continue on your path to join the group, and become more committed to it. If some type of initiation is involved with joining the group, an authority hierarchy may also be established. As you learned previously, authority can enhance obedience and, in the case of groups, make members more committed. Groups can also establish social norms for behaviors. Violating the social norms of the group has consequences, such as rejection. As social creatures, humans hold a need to belong, and rejection can lead to downstream consequences, such as threats to self-esteem, need for control over decisions, and one’s sense of existence. While group membership offers many benefits above, being part of a group or simply being around others might also affect an individual’s performance on a task. Zajonc (1965) investigated this phenomenon, calling it the social facilitation. To explain this effect, he hypothesized that having others present increased physiological arousal. This arousal can result in better or worse task performance depending on the difficulty of the task itself. An easy task becomes easier (i.e., performance improves), and a difficult task becomes more difficult (i.e., performance declines). There is some debate about exactly why this effect occurs. It may be simply because of the presence of others, or it may be due to anxiety felt about being evaluated on one’s performance (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). In either case, the others around you need to be members of your own species for social facilitation to occur; humans do not make cockroaches solve mazes faster, and cockroaches do not make humans better at playing pool!

Have you ever wondered why some people never contribute to a group assignment? Do you sometimes cringe when you think about working in a group? If you are one of these people, have you ever wondered why you work so well independently, but when you get into a group you have a hard time concentrating and focusing on the assignment? Being around others, as part of a group working together, relaxes us, a process known as social loafing. When social loafing occurs, an individual reduces his or her performance, even for simple tasks (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Working together as a single unit makes it more difficult for any single person’s performance to be individually evaluated, so the pressure to perform at a higher level dissipates, and some individuals start to slack off. For an example of how this works, watch the following short

video clip. BBC (Producer). (2017). Hiding in the crowd (Segment 3 of 10) [Video file]. Retrieved from

https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=145408&loid=496984

The transcript for this video can be found by clicking the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films on Demand database. Keep in mind that social loafing does not occur in every instance and for every person. Research indicates that men are more likely to be social loafers than women are and that loafing is stronger in Western cultures than in Asian cultures (Karau & Williams, 1993). What do you think might account for gender and culture

Have you ever worked on a group project and did not perform your best? Social loafing could be to blame. (Samborskyi, 2018)

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differences in social loafing? Do you think that people are aware that they are social loafing? If they are not aware, what might account for this lack of awareness? If groups can affect an individual’s performance, one may wonder whether the process can be reversed and an individual can influence a group’s actions. Certainly, a designated leader can influence a group’s actions, but the type of leader needed to be effective varies by situation. Can you think of a situation where a task leader would be more effective? When would a social leader be more effective? Individuals can also influence group decision-making. While conventional wisdom suggests that groups will always work together to find a compromise, called depolarization, it is more common for groups to shift to a more extreme position than their initial stance, called group polarization. Another example in which groups come to a consensus is groupthink. Groupthink is a kind of decision-making in which the group minimizes conflict through thinking alike and public agreement while putting less emphasis on considering the facts in a realistic manner (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Groupthink occurs most often when a group is cohesive; limits minority opinions; is ruled by a strong, direct leader; and makes the decision under quick, stressful conditions. Explore your textbook for examples of historical cases of groupthink. Was there anything particularly surprising about what you found? What are some ways a group may avoid falling prey to groupthink? To hear more about the principles of groupthink, view the following video: Bill Moyers (Producer). (1989). Public mind: “Groupthink” (Segment 5 of 12) [Video file]. Retrieved from

https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=4935&loid=42957

The transcript for this video can be found by clicking the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films on Demand database. Intimate Relationships What makes you happy? Many people would place relationships at the very top of the list about what makes them happy. Do you agree? Often, people feel lonely and worthless when they lack meaningful relationships of any kind. What determines with whom you will form relationships? Though you might not be aware of the type of people you enter into a relationship with, research has identified three reliable predictors: similarity, proximity, and physiological arousal. Is it birds of a feather flock together or opposites attract that predicts to whom we will be attracted? Research suggests that similarity is more important for attraction. Therefore, birds of a feather flock together seems to be a more accurate assessment of to whom you are attracted. Similarity includes the matching of two peoples’ interests, attitudes, values, backgrounds, and/or personality (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). In a study using college students in dormitories, Newcomb (1961) found that similarity in background, attitudes, and values predicted friendship formation of the roommates, and this can be applied to romantic relationships as well. What do you prefer in the long term: partners who are more similar to you or those who are more dissimilar? People usually want long-term partners who are most similar to themselves because it helps validate their worldview. However, when couples are different, seeing the differences as a way to learn from one’s partner acts as a positive for the relationship.

PSY 3140, Social Psychology 4



Additionally, you are more likely to form relationships with people whom you interact and see the most—those in close proximity to you. Does proximity make sense for explaining the formation of relationships? Proximity most likely works because you are constantly exposed to these people, and because of mere exposure, you are more apt to like the person (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). In your opinion, do you think that just being around someone more often will make you like him or her more? Has this effect ever happened to you before? It may also be the case that we become attracted to those people who are around us when we experience physiological arousal. Physiological arousal can account for the feelings (e.g., pounding heart, butterflies in stomach) we experience when we are sexually attracted to another person, so when we experience these feelings for other reasons, such as being scared or stressed, we may misattribute the feelings as attraction (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Review the Spotlight on Research Methods on page 373 of your textbook for a classic study on the misattribution of arousal. Similarity, proximity, and physiological arousal can account for why you are attracted to and spend time with others, but what role does physical attractiveness play? Despite what you might expect, physical attractiveness does not play as crucial a role in long-term relationship development, but it does play a role. You (and other people) may have a type that you find most attractive, but research has identified a few characteristics that seem to be universally desirable. In general, symmetry (in particular, facial symmetry), average faces that do not contain any extreme or unusual features, and a waist-to-hip (for women) or waist- to-shoulder ratio (for men) of about 0.70 are all deemed attractive across many different cultures (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). From an evolutionary perspective, each of these may represent better quality genetics and/or fertility, both of which are critical for producing successful offspring. Beyond attraction, you also form attachments to different people in your life, the first of which is to whoever is your primary caregiver when you are an infant. The relationships you have as an adult are influenced by these attachment styles because this initial relationship with your caregiver sets the expectation for your future relationships. (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Researchers originally conceptualized the following attachment styles, including secure attachment, avoidant/fearful attachment, and anxious/ambivalent attachment (Ainsworth, 1979). To learn more about the gold standard of measuring attachment in infants, you can view the video on Mary Ainsworth and the Strange Situation Paradigm. Davidson Films Inc. (Producer). (2005). Mary Ainsworth: The strange situation (Custom Segment 20) [Video

file]. Retrieved from https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=44897&loid=505924

The transcript for this video can be found by clicking the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films on Demand database. Recent studies have determined four attachment styles for adult relationships based on whether one holds a positive or negative view of the self and of others. There are many quizzes available (including one on page 384 of your textbook) that help to determine the type of attachment style you have in close relationships. Feel free to take one of these quizzes after completing this unit’s readings and see whether or not you agree if this attachment style fits you.

You might strike up a relationship with a fellow gym-goer because of proximity; you see this person often, making it more likely that you will interact. (Nyul, n.d.)

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Many close relationships are long-term, so what factors allow researchers to predict commitment to a relationship over time? One common idea is that relationship commitment is based on one’s own satisfaction with the current relationship and available alternative relationships, called interdependence theory (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). High levels of commitment typically result from higher satisfaction and/or few acceptable alternatives, while low levels of commitment typically result from lower satisfaction and/or alternatives that are more acceptable. To make things a little more complicated, investments into a relationship can tip the equation in one direction or another. If you have put many years, dollars, effort, or even children into a relationship, it may be harder to leave, even if you are not very satisfied or have better alternatives. Can you think of a time where it seemed harder to leave a situation than simply continue it because of what you had already invested? What type of investments hold the most influence over you? While gender and sexual orientation are best viewed as continuums, most research on close relationships focuses on male-female dichotomies and heterosexual couples, as these populations are currently more accessible. Given that, it seems men and women value different things in potential partners, from what they are most attracted to, experiences of jealousy, and opportunity for promiscuity. Going back to the big questions of social psychology, these differences have been explained by both evolutionary (nature) and cultural (nurture) influences. No matter your life circumstances, you will be part of some kind of social group. The group could be very large or just one other person. The group could be something you are born into, like your family or culture, or it could be something you choose to enter, like a club or even a relationship. Indeed, it is hard to abstain completely from interacting with and joining the social world. You may be involved in many different groups or relationships at one time, and they can evolve over time. It does not matter whom or what your social groups entail; what matters is that they influence how you think, act, and feel. Ultimately, they each play a role in shaping who you were, who you are, and who you may become. Reflect on some of the groups and relationships of which you have been a part. How did they shape who you are now?

References Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1979). Infant–mother attachment. American Psychologist, 34(10), 932–937. Heinzen, T., & Goodfriend, W. (2019). Social psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Karau, S. J., & Williams, K. D. (1993). Social loafing: A meta-analytic review and theoretical integration.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65(4), 681–706. Newcomb, T. M. (1961). Acquaintance process. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. Nyul. (n.d.). Young people chatting in gym bar (ID 96233378) [Photograph]. Retrieved from

www.dreamstime.com Samborskyi, R. (2018). Partner colleagues start-up development exam studying prepare presentation (ID

116067951) [Photograph]. Retrieved from www.dreamstime.com Zajonc, R. B. (1965). Social facilitation. Science, 149(3681), 269–274.

Suggested Reading The PowerPoint presentations below serve as a companion to the chapters in this unit. You are encouraged to view them for a deeper understanding of the material presented in this unit. Click here to view the Chapter 8 PowerPoint Presentation. Click here to view the presentation as a PDF. Click here to view the Chapter 12 PowerPoint Presentation. Click here to view the presentation as a PDF.

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In order to access the following resources, click the links below: In this unit, you learned about the effects of groups and social interactions. However, what if the interactions were with non-human entities like robots? What are the implications of that? The article below explores that question. Hertz, N., & Wiese, E. (2017). Social facilitation with non-human agents: Possible or not? Proceedings of the

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, 61, 222–225. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1541931213601539

Learning Activities (Nongraded) Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information. Test yourself on concepts covered in Chapters 8 and 12. Mastering this material will help you complete the assessment in this unit. Click the links below to view the flashcards and quizzes for each unit. Click here for the Chapter 8 Flashcards. Click here for the Chapter 8 Quiz. Click here for the Chapter 12 Flashcards. Click here for the Chapter 12 Quiz.


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