Social psychology is an interesting topic that has resulted in various research findings on how people behave in groups. In many cases, the results of some well-known experiments contradict how we would expect them to act in social situations. Often a person's behavior will be very different in a group situation.
10 interesting findings in the scope of social psychology
1. The presence of other people can have a big impact on a behavior
When a number of people witness something, such as an accident, the more people present, the less likely it is that someone will come along to help. This is known as the bystander effect.
2. People will strongly comply with requests from an authority figure
People will go to great lengths, and sometimes do dangerous things, to obey authority figures. In his famous obedience experiment, psychologist Stanley Milgram discovered that people would be willing to give dangerous electric shocks to others when instructed by researchers. In these conditions, the researcher becomes a figure who has the authority to shape the behavior of the person.
3. The need for conformity leads people to move according to the group's choices
Most people would agree with a group's choice, even if the group was wrong. In Solomon Asch's conformity experiment, people are asked to rate which line is the longest of the three paths shown. When other group members choose the wrong line, the participants in the group tend to choose the same thing.
4. Situations can have a big influence on our social behavior
Situational variables can play a major role in our social behavior. In the Stanford Prison Experiment, psychologist Philip Zimbardo found that participants' taking on roles assigned to them could even be so extreme that the experiment had to be stopped after six days. Those who were put into the role of prison guards, began to abuse their power, while those who played the role of prisoners became anxious and stressed.
5. People tend to look for things that confirm what they believe
People tend to confirm their beliefs and ignore information that contradicts what they already think. This is known as expectation confirmation. This section plays a major role in presenting what is known as a confirmation bias, a type of cognitive bias. This tendency to seek confirmation makes us sometimes avoid information that contradicts what we think and believe.
6. The way we classify other people helps us understand the world, but it also tends to lead to stereotyped perspectives
When we categorize information about social groups, we tend to overestimate differences between groups and minimize similarities within groups. This is part of why stereotypes and prejudices can emerge and be present in our midst.
7. Our basic attitude has a big influence in the existing social environment
Our attitudes, or how we evaluate different things including people, ideas, and objects, can be both explicit and implicit. An explicit attitude is an attitude that we form consciously and that we are fully aware of. Implicit attitudes, on the other hand, shape and operate subconsciously but still have a strong influence on our behavior.
8. Our expectations influence the way we view other people and the way we think about how they should behave
Our perceptions of other people are often based on such things as expected roles, social norms, and social categorizations. Because we expect people who are in certain roles or part of certain social groups to behave in certain ways, our initial impressions of someone often rely on these mental thoughts to make quick judgments about how we expect people to behave.
9. We blame external factors when we fail ourselves, but blame others for their failures
When describing a behavior, we tend to attribute the good things we get to internal factors and the bad things we get to external factors. However, when it comes to other people, we usually attribute their actions to internal characteristics. For example, if we get a bad score on a test, it's the teacher's fault; if a classmate gets bad grades, it's because our friend didn't study hard enough. This tendency is known as the actor-observer bias.
10. Sometimes it's easier to follow the group's opinion than to fight what's happening
In groups, people often follow the opinion of the majority instead of causing chaos. This phenomenon is known as groupthink and tends to occur more frequently when group members have a lot in common when the group is under stress, or in the presence of a charismatic leader.
Apart from these 10 things, of course there are still many interesting things from the scope of social psychology. If this brief explanation can help us in understanding the environment or social situation that is now or that we will face.