PSY 105 Social Psychology: Norms

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Social psychology is about understanding individual behavior in a social context. Social psychologists therefore deal with the factors that lead us to behave in a given way in the presence of others, and look at the conditions under which certain behavior/actions and feelings occur.

Some studies focus on how attitudes are formed and attitudes can be changed by the social context surrounding the behavior. Amongst some of the most famous work in social psychology is that on obedience conducted by Milgram in his “electric shock” study, which looked at the role an authority figure plays in shaping behavior. Similarly, Zimbardo’s prison simulation notably demonstrated conformity to given roles in the social world (McLeod, 2007).

Consider the following norms in the United States: flushing the toilet after using it, saying hello when you answer the phone, respecting people’s personal space, and paying for things you buy at the store.

    1. Share your opinion by providing a scenario to justify your response to the following question: does one’s decision to conform to a particular norm of society stem from their personality or a matter of the particular social situation in which one finds oneself? *Be sure to reflect upon concepts in Social psychology related to conformity, social norms, etc.
    2. Explain in detail and be sure to justify your response to the following question: do you think the same is true of a decision to obey or not obey the instruction of a superior (someone in authority)? **Be sure to reflect upon concepts in Social psychology related to obedience.

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