Social Psychology (4th Edition)

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9780130288646: Social Psychology (4th Edition)
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Highly rated by users, this complete and integrative study of social psychology employs a real-world story-telling approach to convey the science of the field in a fascinating, memorable, and entertaining manner, helping readers understand the whole context of the field—how theories inspire research, why research is performed as it is, how further research triggers new avenues of study—and how all of this impacts their everyday lives. Brings material to life with real-life vignettes and "mini" stories within every chapter that include detailed descriptions of both classic and modern research (complete with hundreds of current references) plus example of a real-life phenomenon. Offers thorough chapters on methodology, social cognition, social perception, self-knowledge, self-justification, attitudes and attitude change, conformity, group processes, interpersonal attraction, prosocial behavior, aggression, and prejudice—with concluding sections on social psychology and heath, the environment, and the law. Includes "Try It!" exercises to promote critical thinking and help readers apply concepts to their everyday lives, and offers an interactive website for additional support and enrichment. For psychologists or those interested in an engagingly written, scientifically-oriented introduction to social psychology.

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About the Author:

Elliot Aronson graduated from Brandeis University (where he worked with Abraham Maslow) and received his Ph.D. from Stanford University, working under the guidance of Leon Festinger. He has done pioneering research in the areas of social influence, persuasion, prejudice reduction, and AIDS prevention. Aronson has written or edited eighteen books, including The Social Animal, The Handbook of Social Psychology, Age of Propaganda, The Jigsaw Classroom, Methods of Research in Social Psychology, and Nobody Left to Hate. He is among the world's most distinguished social psychologists. He is the only person in the 107-year history of the American Psychological Association to have earned all three of its major academic awards: for Distinguished Teaching, for Distinguished Research, and for Distinguished Writing. He has served as president of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology and president of the Western Psychological Association. In 1992, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is currently professor emeritus at the University of California at Santa Cruz and a visiting professor at Stanford University.

Tim Wilson did his undergraduate work at Williams College and Hampshire College and received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Currently a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, he has published numerous articles in the areas of introspection, attitude change, self-knowledge, and affective forecasting. His research has received the support of the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Mental Health. He has been associate editor of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and a member of the Social and Groups Processes Review Committee at the National Institute of Mental Health. He has been elected twice to the Executive Board of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology and is a Fellow in the American Psychological Society. Wilson has taught the Introduction to Social Psychology course at the University o f Virginia for more than twenty years. He was recently awarded an All University Outstanding Teaching Award.

Robin Akert graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she majored in psychology and sociology. She received her Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Princeton University. She is currently a professor of psychology at Wellesley College, where she was awarded the Pinanski Prize for Excellence in Teaching. She publishes primarily in the area of nonverbal communication and is the co-author of Interpretation and Awareness: Verbal and Nonverbal Factors in Person Perception.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

When we began writing this book, our overriding goal was to capture the excitement of social psychology. We have been pleased to hear, in many kind letters and e-mail messages from professors d students, that we succeeded. One of our favorites as from a student who said that the book was so interesting that she always saved it for last, to reward herself for finishing her other work. With that one student, at least, we succeeded in making our book an enjoyable, fascinating story, not a dry report of facts and figures.

There is always room for improvement, however, and our goal in this, the fourth edition, is to make the field of social psychology an even better read. When we teach the course, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the sleepy students in the back row sit up with interest and say, "Wow, I didn't know that! Now that's interesting." We hope that students who read our book will have that very same reaction.

Social psychology comes alive for students when they understand the whole context of the field: how theories inspire research, why research is performed as it is, how further research triggers yet new avenues of study. We have tried to convey our own fascination with the research process in a down-to-earth, meaningful way and have presented the results of the scientific process in terms of the everyday experience of the reader. However, we did not want to "water down" our presentation of the field. In a world where human behavior can be endlessly surprising and where research results can be quite counterintuitive, it is important to prepare students by providing a firm foundation on which to build their understanding of this challenging discipline. Here, in more detail, is how we present a rigorous, scientific approach to social psychology in a way that, we hope, engages and fascinates most students.

A Storytelling Approach

Social psychology is full of good stories, such as how the Kitty Genovese murder prompted research on bystander intervention, how the Holocaust inspired investigations into obedience to authority, and how reactions to the marriage of the crown prince of Japan to Masako Owada, a career diplomat, illustrates cultural differences in the self-concept. By placing research in a real-world context, we make the material more familiar, understand able, and memorable.

Opening Vignettes

Each chapter begins with a real-life vignette that epitomizes the concepts to come. We refer to this event at several points in the chapter to illustrate to students the relevance of the material they are learning. Examples of the opening vignettes include the tragic death of Amadou Diallo in New York, who was shot forty-one times by four white police officers as he reached for his wallet in the vestibule of his apartment building (Chapter 3, "Social Cognition: How We Think about the Social World"); the possible use of subliminal messages in one of George W Bush's campaign ads, in which the word rats was flashed on the screen for a thirtieth of a second while an announcer discussed A1 Gore's prescription drug plan (Chapter 7, "Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings"); the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 in Washington, D.C., in which survivors were rescued by complete strangers (Chapter 11, "Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help?"); and a murder trial in which an innocent man was sentenced to death because of faulty eyewitness testimony (Social Psychology in Action 3, "Social Psychology and the Law"). To illustrate more specifically the way in which the opening vignettes are tied to social psychological principles, here are a couple of examples in more detail:

  • In 1994, after ending an office romance, a woman threw a bag of her lover's letters, cards, and poems into a dumpster. A homeless man, searching through the dumpster for something to sell, stopped to read the letters and became quite curious as to how two people who had been so in love could now be apart. He found the phone number of the woman's lover on a piece of stationery and decided to give him a call and find out. "I would have called you sooner" he told the former boyfriend, "but this was the first quarter I was given today." (De Marco, 1994). What would possess a man who was down on his luck—no home, no money, no food—to spend his only quarter on a phone call to a complete stranger? As we note at the beginning of Chapter 4, on social perception, we all share a certain fascination about why people do what they do, and that observation leads nicely into a discussion of research on social perception and attribution.
  • Chapter 6, on self-justification and the need to maintain self-esteem, begins with an intriguing tale from the mass suicide of the Heaven's Gate cult in California not long ago. The members of this cult believed that in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet was a large spaceship that would carry them off to a new incarnation. Several weeks before the mass suicide, a few members of the cult purchased a high-powered telescope so that they could glimpse the spaceship that was to be their salvation. They had no trouble finding the comet but were disappointed when they did not see a spaceship in its wake. How did they deal with the dissonance this must have caused? We answer this question with a discussion of dissonance theory and other modern approaches to self-esteem maintenance. (In case you are wondering what happened, the members of the cult did not reduce dissonance by abandoning their beliefs about existence of the spaceship; they had invested too much time, energy, and commitment for that. Rather, they assumed that the telescope must be defective and demanded their money back.)

"Mini-Stories" in Each Chapter

Our storytelling approach is not limited to these opening vignettes. There are several "mini-stories" woven into each chapter that illustrate specific concepts and make the material come alive. They each follow a similar format: First, we describe an example of a real-life phenomenon that is designed to pique students' interest. These stories are taken from current events, literature, and our own lives. Second, we describe an experiment that attempts to explain the phenomenon. This experiment is typically described in some detail, because we believe that students should not only learn the major theories in social psychology but also understand and appreciate the methods used to test those theories. We often invite the students to pretend that they were participants in the experiment, to give them a better feel for what it was like and what was found. Here are a few examples of our "mini-stories" (if you thumb through the book, you will come across many others):

  • In Chapter 4, on social perception, we introduce the concept of the fundamental attribution error by discussing public reaction to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Immediately after Diana's death, Queen Elizabeth was openly and strongly criticized by the British people and the media for her lack of grief and for remaining in Scotland at Balmoral Castle during the week preceding the funeral. The public and the media made a dispositional attribution about the queen's behavior—namely, that she was uncaring and unmoved about Diana's death. The queen offered a different explanation: that staying in seclusion in Scotland was the best thing for her grieving grandsons.
  • In Chapter 8, on conformity, we discuss normative social influence and the effect that it has had recently in Japanese public schools. Bullying, in which a class (or even the whole student body) alternates between harassing and shunning one student because or she is different in some way, has become a problem. The result of this treatment in a highly cohesive, group-oriented culture is profound: Twelve teenage victims of bullying killed themselves in one year.
  • In Chapter 9, on group processes, we introduce the topic of deindividuation with a description of a scene from Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In this scene, we see a potential lynch mob through the eyes of the novel's protagonist, 8-year-old Scout. The mob has gathered to lynch Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape. The mob meets many of the conditions identified by social psychological research for deindividuation: It is dark, the men are dressed alike, and they have hats pulled over their ears. Then Scout unwittingly performs a brilliant social psychological intervention by singling out one of the men she recognizes, calling him by name, and asking after his son, who is her classmate. She succeeded in turning a faceless mob into a collection of individual citizens, thereby defusing a very dangerous situation.
  • In Chapter 12, on aggression, we present an interesting historical observation: For hundreds of years, the Iroquois lived a peaceful existence, rarely, if ever, engaging in aggressive behavior. All of this changed in the seventeenth century when the newly arrived Europeans brought the Iroquois into direct competition with their neighbors, the Hurons. Within a short time, the Iroquois developed into fierce warriors. What does this say about the causes of aggression and its roots in culture? This story leads into a discussion of research on the cultural and economic roots of violence.

Social Psychological Methods: Another Good Story

It might seem that a storytelling approach would obscure the scientific basis of social psychology. On the contrary, we believe that part of what makes the story so interesting is explaining to students how to test hypotheses scientifically. In recent years, the trend has been for textbooks to include only short sections on research methodology and to provide only brief descriptions of the findings of individual studies. In this book, we integrate the science and methodology of the field into our story, in a variety of ways.

Separate Chapter on Methodology

Unlike virtually all other texts, we devote an entire chapter to methodology (Chapter 2). "But wait," you might say, "how can you maintain students' interest and attention with an entire chapter on such dry material?" The answer is by integrating this material into our storytelling approach. Even the "dry" topic of methodology can come alive by telling it like a story. We begin by presenting two dressing real-world problems related to violence and aggression: Does pornography promote violence against women? Why don't bystanders intervene more to help victims of violence? We then use actual research studies on these questions to illustrate the three major scientific methods (observational research, correlational research, and experimental research). Rather than a dry recitation of methodological principles, the scientific method unfolds like a story with a "hook" (What are the causes of realworld aggression and apathy toward violence?) and a moral (Such interesting, real-world questions can be addressed scientifically). We have been pleased by the reactions to this chapter in the previous editions.

Detailed Descriptions of Individual Studies

We describe prototypical studies in more detail than most texts. We discuss how a study was set up, what the research participants perceived and did, how the research design derives from theoretical issues, and the ways in which the findings support the initial hypotheses. We often ask readers to pretend that they were participants in order to understand the study from the participants' point of view. Whenever pertinent, we've also included anecdotal information about how a study was done or came to be; these brief stories allow readers insights into the heretofore hidden world of creating research. See, for example, the description of how Nisbett and Wilson (1977) designed one of their experiments on the accuracy of people's causal inferences on page 150 and the description of the origins of Aronson's jigsaw puzzle technique on pages 498-499.

Emphasis on Both Classic and Modern Research

As you will see from flipping through the book, we include a large number of charts and graphs detailing the results of individual experiments. The field of social psychology is expanding rapidly, and exciting new work is being done in all areas of the discipline. In this fourth edition, we have added a great deal of new material, describing dozens of major studies done within the past few years. We have added hundreds of new references, more from the past few years. Thus the book provides thorough coverage of up-to-date, cutting-edge research.

In emphasizing what is new, many texts have a tendency to ignore what is old. We have striven to strike a balance between the latest research findings and classic research in social psychology. Some older studies (e.g., early work in dissonance, conformity, and attribution) deserve their status as classics and are important cornerstones of the discipline. For example, unlike several other current texts, we present detailed descriptions of the Schachter and Singer (1962) study on misattribution of emotion (Chapter 5), the Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) dissonance study (Chapter 6), and the Asch (1956) conformity studies (Chapter 8). We then bring the older theories up to date, following our discussions of the classics with modern approaches to the same topics, including culture, gender, self, and emotion (e.g., Cross, Bacon, & Morris, 2000; Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, & Nisbett, 1998) in Chapter 5; self-esteem maintenance (e.g., Steele's self-affirmation theory and Higgins's self-discrepancy theory) in Chapter 6; the process of dissonance reduction in different cultures (e.g., Sakai, 1998; Stone, Wiegand, Cooper, & Aronson, 1997; Viswesvaran & Deshpande, 1996) in Chapter 6; and minority influence (e.g., Wood, Lundgren, Ouellette, Busceme, & Blackstone, 1994) in Chapter 8. This allows students to experience the continuity and depth of the field, rather than regarding it as a collection of studies published in the past few years.

Significant Changes to the Fourth Edition

To illustrate more concretely how the fourth edition has been updated, here is a sampling of new research that is covered:

  • Chapter 3, "Social Cognition: How We Think about the Social World": This chapter has been reorganized and updated to reflect the growing emphasis on automatic (nonconscious, involuntary, unintentional, and effortless) thinking versus controlled (conscious, voluntary, intentional, and effortful) thinking. The automatic versus controlled application of stereotypes is used as an illustration of these two modes of thinking, including a new opening vignette that discusses the case of Amadou Diallo, who was shot forty-one times by four white police officers as he reached for his wallet in the vestibule of his apartment building. This possible case of automatic stereotyping is contrasted to cases in which people apply stereotypes more consciously and deliberately, as in the case of racial profiling. More than forty new references have been added, including the work of Bargh and Chartrand (1999), Chen and Andersen (1999), Devine and Monteith (1999), and Mussweiler and Strack (2000).
  • Chapter 4, "Social Perception: How We Come to Understand Other Peopl...

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

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9780131217874: Social Psychology, Media and Research Update (International Edition)

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