Social Psychology Social Beliefs and Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

I have had friends that I've known since I was in grade school. Our initial interaction occurred because of our attraction toward one another. We had so many things in common, such as the same favorite television shows and the same favorite sports. Our proximity to one another also aided in the development of this attraction toward one another. We all lived on the same block and therefore had more opportunities to interact with one another outside of the school setting.

Although physical attractiveness did not necessarily influence our friendship, according to Myers (2012), it is usually the first step in any sort of relationship, even those that are platonic in nature. The theory of physical attractiveness is based on research conducted that tends to suggest that people who are viewed as being more physically attractive are seen as being more approachable (Myers, 2012). My relationship with my friends can also be explained by proximity and interaction. Being closer to a person physically allows them to become more attractive since one is exposed to them almost daily (Myers, 2012). Our interactions on a daily basis, according to Myers (2012), also mediated this friendship and increased our attraction toward one another. Although attractiveness varies from culture to culture, the research conducted on social interactions states that anyone who is viewed as more attractive will have an easier time interacting with just about anyone (Myers, 2012).

Chapter 12: Prosocial Behavior

It has always been instilled in me that in order for good things to come my way, I too must do good for others. As a volunteer for a clothing drive a couple of years ago, I was able to assist those individuals that had nothing for themselves. They were losing their homes, their food supply was running low, and most importantly, they had no warm clothes for the impending colder weather. With a group of other individuals, I assisted these unfortunate people in packing up brown bags of donated clothing so that they may take some home to their families. I just couldn't stand the idea of them not having enough clothes, so I added an extra piece of clothing to every bag.

This prosocial behavior can be explained from a social psychological perspective. Myers (2012) explains the term altruism as being the reason that motivate people to do good for others. It is the complete opposite of being selfish and only thinking about one's own problems (Myers, 2012). However, social-exchange theory is explained in this chapter as being the motivator behind everyone's desire to display prosocial behavior. It serves to explain that individuals are subconsciously motivated by the rewards that are gained by assisting others and that witnessing the costs of the more unfortunate individuals allow us to learn something from their situation as well (Myers, 2012). Internal and external rewards are offered to those who display prosocial behavior. Internally, one feels accomplished, filled with less guilt, and have a positive self-image, while externally one may be rewarded with a "thank you" or a "you're great" statement (Myers, 2012). Both serve as reinforcements for positive and prosocial behavior.

Chapter 13: Conflict and peacemaking

There are wars taking place all over the world. These are conflicts that have arisen and have gotten completely out of control. I have witnessed these conflicts all over the media. An example of a partially resolved conflict is the war between the United States and Iraq. This war went on for about ten years because of the conflicts that arose between the two different governments. Hundreds of thousands of individuals, most of which were Iraqis, died as a result of this conflict. After the war ended, tensions were still running high and the process of fixing things and achieving peace had to be started.

This chapter explains the psychological phenomenon behind these atrocious acts of violence. In a conflict, there is always more than one side, and it is the disagreement between these sides that ultimately lead to a war. The theory of misperception can be used to explain why it is that this occurs. According to Myers (2012), conflict arises from a "perceived" notion of unfairness and inequality. When one side feels that they are being mistreated or that they are not receiving their share of the available resources, then conflict arises (Myers, 2012). Mirror-image perception most appropriately explains this situation as well. If both sides have the same argument for their own side, then both sides are fighting a lost cause. That is, mirror-image perception is the idea of having the excuse that one's side needs to be protected or saved from the other, while the opposing side thinks that same thing (Myers, 2012). In the end, contact, communication, and cooperation are what Myers (2012) states as being the theories behind peacemaking and conflict resolution. Being able to speak to each other and understand each other's point-of-views helps in the forming of better relations and understanding with the opposing sides.

Chapter 14: Social Psychology and the Law

When thinking about the results of a controversial trial that one does not completely agree with, one automatically blames the jurors for their decision. This was the case during the Casey Anthony trial where a young woman was accused of murdering her child. When the verdict was read, millions of viewers, me included, were completely astonished about the results. The jurors were quickly blamed for not reading a guilty verdict -- one that most people were already convinced of. Witnessing this act allowed me to think about the psychological phenomenons that were occurring.

Everyone is subject to the act of persuasion, including jurors. Myers (2012) explains this at play in this chapter. The characteristics of the defendents greatly influence the decision made by the jury. If jurors identify with the defendant, they are more likely to give a favorable decision for the accused. This identification could come in terms of gender, race, culture, or political beliefs (Myers, 2012). Just as with any form of persuasion, physical attractiveness also influences the decisions made by individual jurors. The more attractive a defendant is, the more likely that a jury is to give an innocent verdict…

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