Chapter 14: Social Psychology Michael L. Farris Psychology 101
Did you know that… • Revealing too much about yourself when first meeting someone can convey a negative impression? (Nevid, p.482) • People tend to believe that attractive people have more desirable personality traits than unattractive people? (Nevid, p.492) • At least thirty-eight people in a quiet urban neighborhood heard the screams of a woman who was viciously attacked by a knife-wielding assailant but did nothing? (Nevid, p.494) • Most people who participated in a famous but controversial study administered what they believed to be painful and dangerous electric shocks to other people when instructed to do so by the experimenter? (Nevid, p.507)
Why First Impressions Count So Much • Personal disclosure: We generally form more favorable impressions of people who are willing to disclose personal information about themselves, but revealing too much too soon can lead to a negative impression. • People who disclose too much about themselves in the first stages of a social relationship tend to be perceived as less secure, less mature, and more poorly adjusted than those who are more restrained regarding what they say about themselves. • Cultural differences also come into play in determining how much disclosure is deemed acceptable. People in East Asian societies, such as China and Japan, tend to disclose less about themselves than people in the West. Nevid, p.482.
Why Early Impressions are Hard to Break • An impression is a type ofsocial schema, a mental image or representation we use to understand our social environment. • We filter information about others through these schemas. • One reason that first impressions tend to be long-lasting is that we filter new information about people through the earlier impressions or social schemas we formed about them. So if someone about whom we hold a favorable impression (schema) does something to upset us, we’re more likely to look for extenuating factors that explain the person’s behavior (“He must be having a bad day”) than to alter our existing impression. • On the other hand, when we hold a negative impression of someone, we’re more likely to ignore or explain away any positive information we receive about that person. Nevid, p.483.
Self-Fulfilling Prophecies • Self-fulfilling prophecy: An expectation that helps bring about the outcome that is expected. For example: If you form an impression of someone as being unfriendly, this belief can become a type of self-fulfilling prophecy if it leads you to be defensive and hostile when dealing with this person, and they respond to you in an unfriendly way. • Teachers who expect students to do poorly may convey their lower expectations to their students. Expecting less of themselves, the students may apply less than their best efforts, leading them to under-perform, just as the teacher expected. Nevid, p.484.
Attributions • An attribution is an assumption about the causes of behavior or events. When interpreting our social world, seek to understand the underlying causes of events we observe. We tend to explain these events by attributing them to either dispositional causes (internal) or situational causes (external). • Dispositional causes are internal factors, such as internal traits, needs, or personal choices of the person (“actor”). • Situational causes are external or environmental factors, such as pressures or demands imposed upon the actor. • Why is the pizza guy late? Nevid, p.484.
Attributions • The fundamental attribution error is a term that social psychologists use to describe the tendency to attribute behavior to internal causes, such as traits like intelligence or laziness, without regard to the situational influences that may be involved. • People tend to overlook the situational influences when explaining other people’s behavior. If the pizza guy is late and you are waiting, you are more likely to assume that he is lazy or unmotivated (theoretically). If you ARE the pizza guy and you’re late, you are more likely to blame external factors, like traffic or the weather. This tendency to blame outside factors for our own misfortunes, yet blame the person when it happens to someone else is called the actor-observer effect. Nevid, p.484.
Attributes • A specific type of attributional bias occurring in performance situations is the self-serving bias. • This is the tendency to attribute personal successes to internal or dispositional causes and personal failures to external or situational causes. • In other words, people tend to take credit for their successes but to disclaim responsibility for their failures. • If you achieve a good grade on an exam, you are likely to attribute it to your ability or talent (an internal attribution). • Yet you are likely to attribute (blame) a poor grade to an external cause beyond your control, such as too little time to study or unfair questions on the exam. • Self-serving biases serve to enhance our self-esteem. Nevid, p.485.
Cognitive Dissonance • According tocognitive dissonance theory,inconsistencies between attitudes and behavior lead to a state of dissonance, or emotional discomfort. People are motivated to reconcile discrepancies between their behavior and their cognitions. • For example, smokers who believe that smoking causes cancer but continue to smoke may reduce cognitive dissonance by altering their behavior (quitting smoking), altering their belief (adopting the belief that smoking isn’t really all that harmful), or using a form of rationalization to explain away the inconsistency (“cancer doesn’t run in my family”). • Perhaps the most common way of reducing dissonance is not to change either beliefs or behavior, but simply to ignore inconsistencies until they fade away (“I’ll worry about my smoking when I get older”). Nevid, p.487.
Persuasion • Nevid, p.488
Sleep • Each one of us will spend about 25 years of life asleep. • Contrary to common belief, people are not totally unresponsive during sleep! • Studies show that you are more likely to awaken if you hear your own name spoken, instead of another. • A sleeping mother may ignore a jet thundering overhead, but wake at the slightest whimper of her child. P.127.
Sleep • Some people can even do simple tasks while asleep (like attend class)! • Just Kidding • In one experiment, people learned to avoid an electric shock by touching a switch after a tone sounded. • Eventually, they could do it without waking. • This is much like the basic survival skill of turning off your alarm clock without waking. • Of course, sleep does impose some limitations. There is no evidence that you can learn math, a foreign language, or other complex skills while asleep, especially when the snooze takes place in class (Coon, p.228).
The Need for Sleep • Sleep is an innate biological rhythm(natural bodily cycle), so it can never be entirely sidestepped (Coon, p.228). • Sleep will give way temporarily, especially during times of great danger. However, there are limits to how long humans can go without sleeping. • A rare disease that prevents sleep always ends the same way: The patient falls into a stupor, followed by coma, followed by death (Oliwenstein, 1993).
Microsleeps • In various studies, animals have been placed on moving treadmills over pools of water. This is not a good way to get to sleep. Even so, sleep always wins. • The animals soon begin to drift into repeated microsleeps (a brief shift in brain activity to patterns normally recorded during sleep). • When you drive, remember that a microsleep can lead to a macro accident. Even a driver whose eyes are open can be asleep for a few seconds. Roughly 2 out of every 100 highway crashes are caused by sleepiness (Coon, p. 228). • If you are struggling to stay awake while driving, you should stop, quit fighting it, and take a short nap. Tests show that coffee helps, too.
Sleep Deprivation • How long can a person go without sleep? • With few exceptions, 4 days or more without sleep becomes intolerable, but longer sleepless periods are possible. • The world record is held by Randy Gardner, who at age 17 went 268 hours (11 days) without sleep. • Surprisingly, Randy needed only 14 hours of sleep to recover. • It is not necessary to completely replace lost sleep. As Randy found, most symptoms of sleep deprivation (sleep loss) are reversed by a single night’s rest.
Effects of Sleep Loss • What are the costs of sleep loss? Age and personality make a big difference (Coon, p.228). Randy Gardner remained clear-headed to the end of his vigil. DJ Peter Tripp’s behavior became quite bizarre (remember the coat of fuzzy worms?). • In general, people show little impairment on complex mental tasks after 2 or 3 days without sleep. But most do decline in their ability to pay attention. Staying alert and following simple routines becomes very difficult. • As sleep expert Wilse Webb says, “It’s not your thinking or memory that goes, it’s your will to continue; you would prefer to be asleep.” • For a driver, pilot, or machine operator, this may be enough to spell disaster.
Effects of Sleep Loss • It is not necessary to completely go without sleep to feel the effects of sleep loss. • One third of all adults and most college students get too little sleep every night. • Even this partial sleep deprivation leaves many people exhausted, groggy, and unproductive by midday. • Just one hour of lost sleep can affect mood, memory, and the ability to pay attention (Coon, p.229).
Determining Your Optimal Sleep Needs • How can I tell how much sleep I really need? • Pick a day when you feel rested. Then sleep that night until you wake the next morning without an alarm clock. • If you feel rested when you wake up, that’s your natural sleep need. • If you’re sleeping fewer hours than you need, you are building up a sleep debt every day.
Sleep Deprivation Psychosis • Severe sleep loss sometimes causes a temporary sleep deprivation psychosis like DJ Peter Tripp suffered. • Confusion, disorientation, delusions, and hallucinations are typical of this reaction. • Hallucinations may be visual, like Tripp’s “coat of furry worms”, or tactile, such as feeling cobwebs on the face. • Fortunately, such “crazy behavior” is not common. • Hallucinations and delusions rarely appear before 60 hours of wakefulness. • The most typical reactions to sleep loss are trembling hands, drooping eyelids, inattention, staring, increased pain sensitivity, and general discomfort.
Circadian Rhythms • Circa: (about); diem: (a day). • Circadian rhythms (p.129) are cyclical changes in body functions and arousal that vary on a 24 hour schedule. • Every 24 hours your body undergoes a marked cycle of changes called circadian rhythms. • During the day, large changes take place in body temperature, blood pressure, amino acid levels, hormones, and other bodily processes.
Circadian Rhythms • These changes peak sometime each day. For example, output of the hormone adrenaline, which causes general arousal, is 3 to 5 times greater during the day. • Most people are more energetic, alert, and in a better mood at the high point of their circadian rhythms. • Differences in such peaks are so basic that when a “day person” rooms with a “night person”, both tend to give their relationship a negative rating (p.229). This is easy to understand; what could be worse than having someone bouncing around cheerily when you’re half asleep, or the reverse? • Rhythms of sleep and waking are so steady that they continue for many days, even when clocks and light-dark cycles are removed. • However, under such conditions, humans eventually shift to a sleep-waking cycle that averages 25 hours, not 24. This suggests that external time markers, especially light and dark, help tie our sleep rhythms to a normal 24 hour day. Otherwise, many of us would drift into our own unusual sleep cycles.
Circadian Rhythms • Core body temperature is a good indicator of a person’s circadian rhythms (p. 129). • Most people reach a low point 2-3 hours before their normal waking time. • Both the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accidents occurred around 4 A.M. Might circadian rhythms have played a role in human error? • Rapid travel to a different time zone, shift work, depression, and illness can throw sleep and waking patterns out of synchronization with the body’s core rhythm. Mismatches of this kind are very disruptive.
Sleep Patterns What is the normal range of sleep? • A few individuals can get by on only an hour or so of sleep a night, and feel perfectly fine. However, this is rare. • Only 8% of the population are short sleepers, averaging 5 hours of sleep or less per night. • On the other end of the scale we find long sleepers, who doze 9 hours or more and tend to be daytime worriers. • The majority of us sleep on a familiar 7 to 8 hour per night schedule. • Urging everyone to sleep 8 hours would be like advising everyone to wear medium size shoes. Some need more or less sleep than the average person.
Shift Work and Jet Lag • Jet Lag (p.129): Disturbed body rhythms caused by rapid travel to a different time zone. • Basically, the peaks and valleys of a traveler’s circadian rhythms are out of phase with the sun and clocks. • Shift work has much the same effect as jet lag, causing fatigue, irritability, upset stomach, nervousness, depression, and a loss of mental agility. • For major time zone shifts (5 hours or more), it can take from several days to 2 weeks to resynchronize.
Shift Work and Jet Lag • Adaptation to jet lag is slowest when you stay indoors (in a hotel room, for instance), where you can continue to sleep and eat on “home time”. • Getting outdoors, where you must sleep, eat, and socialize on the new schedule tends to speed adaptation. • A 5 hour dose of bright sunlight early each day in a new time zone is particularly helpful. The same principle can be applied to shift work. In this case, workers should be bathed in bright light during their first few night shifts on a new schedule. • The direction of travel also affects adaptation. If you fly west, adapting is relatively easy, taking an average of 4 to 5 days. If you fly east, adapting takes 50% longer, or more. Why? • When you fly east, the un rises earlier than what you are used to. When you fly west, the sun comes up later. Getting up at 7 A.M. in New York will be like getting up at 4 A.M. in Los Angeles.
Preadaptation • Preadaptation (Coon, p.231): Matching sleep-waking cycles to a new time schedule before an anticipated change in circadian rhythms. Before traveling, for instance, you should go to sleep 1 hour earlier (or later) each day until your sleep cycle matches the time at your destination. • If you are unable to do that, it helps to fly early in the day when you fly east. When you fly west, it is better to fly late. (Remember, the E in east matches the E in early). • Most college students have “burned the midnight oil” at one time or another, especially for final exams. • However, it is wise to remember that any major deviation from your regular schedule will probably cost more than it is worth.
Melatonin • Often, you can accomplish as much during 1 hour in the morning as you could have in 3 hours of work after midnight. The 2 hour difference in efficiency might as well be spent sleeping. • If you feel you must depart from your normal schedule, do it gradually over a period of days. • In general, if you can anticipate an upcoming body rhythm change (when traveling, before finals week, or when doing shift work), it is best to adapt yourself to your new schedule beforehand. • Melatonin (p.129): A hormone released by the pineal gland in response to daily cycles to light and dark. It is normally produced at night, and is suppressed during daylight.
Melatonin & Resetting the Body’s Clock • Melatonin has a strong impact on the timing of body rhythms and sleep cycles. As far as the brain is concerned, it’s bedtime when melatonin levels rise. • To reset the body’s clock in a new time zone, a small amount of melatonin can be taken about an hour before bedtime. This dose is continued for as many days as necessary to ease jet lag. • The same treatment can be used for rotating work shifts, too.
Stages of Sleep: The Nightly Roller Coaster Ride • Sleep patterns can be measured with an electroencephalograph (EEG) or “brain wave machine”. • The brain gives off tiny electrical signals that can be amplified and recorded. • Beta Waves (pgs.130,132): Small, fast brain waves associated with being awake and alert. • Immediately before sleep, the pattern shifts to larger and slower waves called Alpha Waves (large, slow brain waves associated with relaxation and falling asleep). • Alpha waves also occur when a person is relaxed and thoughts are allowed to drift. • As the eyes close, breathing becomes slow and regular, pulse rate slows, and body temperature drops. Soon after, four separate sleep stages can be identified, based on a combination of brain-wave patterns and behavioral changes.
The Four Stages of Sleep: Stage 1 • Stage 1: As you lose consciousness and enter light sleep, your heart rate slows even more. In stage 1 sleep, the EEG is made up mainly of small, irregular waves with some alpha. • Persons awakened at this stage may or may not say they were asleep. • Breathing becomes more irregular. • The muscles of your body relax. This may trigger a reflex muscle contraction throughout the body called a hypnic jerk. • This is quite normal, so have no fear about admitting to your friends that you fell asleep with a hypnic jerk.
The Four Stages of Sleep: Stage 2 • Stage 2: As sleep deepens, body temperature drops further. • Also, the EEG begins to include sleep spindles (Coon, p.233), which are short bursts of distinctive brain-wave activity that indicate a person is asleep. • Spindles seem to mark the true boundary of sleep. Within 4 minutes after spindles appear, most people who are awakened say they were asleep.
The Four Stages of Sleep: Stage 3 • In stage 3, a new brain wave called delta (p.130-132)begins to appear. • Delta waves are very large and slow brain waves that occur in deeper sleep (stages 3 and 4). • The presence of delta waves signals deeper sleep and a further loss of consciousness.
The Four Stages of Sleep: Stage 4 • Stage 4: Deep Sleep (the deepest level of normal sleep) is reached after about an hour. • In stage 4, brain waves become almost pure delta (large and slow), and the sleeper is in a state of oblivion. • If you make a loud noise during stage 4 sleep, the sleeper will awaken in confusion and may not remember the noise. • After spending some time in stage 4, sleepers return through stages 3 and 2 to stage 1. Further shifts between deeper and lighter sleep occur throughout the night.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) • REM or Rapid Eye Movement (p.131): Swift eye movements during sleep, strongly associated with dreaming. • About 85% of the time, people awakened during REM sleep report vivid dreams. • In addition to rapid eye movements, REM sleep is marked by a return to fast, irregular EEG patterns similar to stage 1 sleep. • REM sleep is easy to observe in pets, such as dogs and cats. Watch for eye and facial movements and for irregular breathing. • You can forget about your pet iguana, though. Reptiles show no signs of REM sleep. They’re LIVIN’ the dream, baby!
What is the purpose of REM Sleep? • Early in life, dreaming may stimulate the developing brain. • Newborn babies spend a hearty 8 or 9 hours a day in REM sleep. That’s about 50% of their total sleep time. • In adulthood, REM sleep increases after learning, so it may help restore brain chemicals needed for learning and memory. • Dreams may prevent sensory deprivation during sleep and aid the processing of emotional events. • REM sleep also seems to help sort and integrate memories formed during the day (p.131). • Speaking very loosely, it is as if the dreaming brain reviews messages left during the day, in order to decide which are worth keeping. • Although we have much to learn, it is clear that REM sleep and dreaming are valuable for keeping the brain in good working order.
REM Sleep Deprivation • How important is dream sleep? Is it essential for normal functioning? • To answer these questions, researcher William Dement awakened volunteers each time they entered REM sleep. • He was punched in the face repeatedly. • Just kidding. • Soon, it seemed that their need to dream was growing more urgent. • By the fifth night, many had to be awakened 20 or 30 times to prevent REM sleep.
REM Sleep Deprivation • When the volunteers were finally allowed to sleep undisturbed, they dreamed extra amounts. This effect, called a REM Rebound, explains why alcoholics often have horrible nightmares after they quit drinking. • Alcohol suppresses REM sleep and sets up a powerful rebound when it is withdrawn. • It is worth remembering that while alcohol and other depressant drugs may help a person get to sleep, they greatly reduce the quality of sleep. • Dement’s volunteers complained of memory lapses, poor concentration, and daytime anxiety. For a while, it looked like people deprived of REM sleep might go crazy. But this is now known as the “REM myth”. • Later experiments showed that missing any sleep stage can cause a rebound for that stage. In general, daytime disturbances are related to the total amount of sleep lost, not to the type of sleep lost.
NREM SLEEP & Somnambulism • NREM (Non Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep (p.131): Sleep characteristic of stages 2, 3, and 4. • Somnambulism (sleepwalking) and sleeptalking occur in NREM sleep, stages 3 and 4. • Being deeply asleep probably explains why sleeptalking makes little sense and why sleepwalkers are confused and remember little when they are awakened.
Night Terrors & Nightmares • Night Terrors (Coon, p.235): More intense than ordinary nightmares. A state of total panic where a person may hallucinate frightening dream images into the room. Most children outgrow the problem by adolescence. (Nevid, p.137) • Night terrors occur during NREM sleep. • Since night terrors occur when the body is not immobilized, the person may sit up, scream, get out of bed, or run around. • Victims remember little afterward. Other family members, however, may remember the incident for quite some time!
Night Terrors & Nightmares • Night terrors are most common in childhood, but they continue to plague some adults throughout their lives. • Nightmares (p.137): A bad dream that occursduring REM sleep. • Most people have about 2 nightmares a month. Nightmares are much less severe than Night Terrors. People are more susceptible to nightmares when they are under emotional stress, have high fevers, or are suffering from sleep deprivation.
How to Eliminate a Nightmare • A bad nightmare can be worse than any horror movie. You can leave a theater, but often we remain trapped in our most terrifying dreams. • Yet, bad as they may be, most nightmares can be banished by following three simple steps: • Write down your nightmare, describing it in detail. • Next, change the dream any way you wish, being sure to spell out the details of the new dream. • The third step is imagery rehearsal (Coon, p.235), in which you mentally rehearse the changed dream before you fall asleep again.
How to Eliminate a Nightmare • Imagery rehearsal may work because it makes upsetting dreams familiar while a person is awake and feeling safe. • Or perhaps it mentally “reprograms” future dream content. • In any case, the technique has proved helpful for many people (Krakow et al., 1996).
Sleep Disturbances : Things That go Wrong in the Night • Hypersomnia: Excessive daytime sleepiness. This can result from depression, insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, sleep drunkenness, periodic limb movements, drug abuse, and other problems. • Insomnia: Difficulty in getting to sleep or staying asleep; also, not feeling rested after sleeping. • Narcolepsy: Sudden, irresistible, daytime sleep attacks that may last anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour. Victims may fall asleep while standing, talking, or even driving. • Nightmare Disorder: Vivid, recurrent nightmares that significantly disturb sleep. • Periodic Limb Movement Syndrome: Muscle twitches (primarily affecting the legs) that occur every 20 to 40 seconds and severely disturb sleep. • For more information, please refer to Coon p.236 or Nevid p.136.
Sleep Disturbances : Things That go Wrong in the Night • REM behavior disorder: A failure of normal muscle paralysis, leading to violent actions during REM sleep. • Restless Legs Syndrome: An irresistible urge to move the legs in order to relieve sensations of creeping, tingling, prickling, aching, or tension. • Sleep Apnea: During sleep, breathing stops for 20 seconds or more until the person wakes a little, gulps in air, and settles back to sleep; this cycle may be repeated hundreds of times per night. • Sleep Drunkenness: A slow transition to clear consciousness after awakening; sometimes associated with irritable or aggressive behavior.
Sleep Disturbances : Things That go Wrong in the Night • Sleep Terror Disorder: The repeated occurrence of night terrors that significantly disturb sleep • Sleep-Wake Schedule Disorder: A mismatch between the sleep-wake schedule demanded by a person’s bodily rhythm and that demanded by the environment. • Sleepwalking Disorder: Repeated incidents of leaving bed and walking about while asleep.
Dream Interpretation • How meaningful are dreams? Calvin Hall, a noted dream expert, collected and analyzed over 10,000 dreams (Hall et al., 1982). • Hall found that most dreams reflect everyday events. • The favorite dream setting is usually a familiar room in a house. • Action usually takes place between the dreamer and two or three other emotionally important people – friends, enemies, parents, or employers. • Dream actions are also mostly familiar: running, jumping, riding, sitting, talking, and watching. • For more information, please see Coon p. 237 or Nevid pgs. 132-134.
Dream Interpretation • About half of all dreams have sexual elements. • Dreams of flying, floating, and falling occur less frequently. • Hall also found that if you are dreaming more now, you may be enjoying it less. • Unpleasant emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness are more common in dreams than pleasant emotions (Coon, p.237). • Most theorists agree that dreams reflect our waking thoughts, fantasies, and emotions. How deep should we dig in interpreting dreams?
Psychodynamic Dream Theory • Some theorists believe that dreams have deeply hidden meanings. Others regard dreams as practically meaningless. • Psychodynamic Theory (p.134): Emphasizes internal conflicts, motives, and unconscious forces. • Freud’s book “The Interpretation of Dreams” in 1900 first advanced the idea that many dreams are based on wish fulfillment (an expression of unconscious desires). • Freud believed that the contents of our dreams reflect internal conflicts and unconscious motives. • While many of Freud’s ideas are attractive, there is evidence against them. For example, volunteers in a study of starvation showed no particular increase in dreams about food or eating. • Freud’s response would probably have been that dreams rarely express needs so directly. One of Freud’s key insights is that ideas in dreams are expressed as images or pictures, rather than in words.
Psychodynamic Dream Theory • Freud believed that dreams express unconscious desires and conflicts as disguised dream symbols (images that have deeper symbolic meaning). • Death might be symbolized as a journey, children by small animals, or sexual intercourse by horseback riding or dancing. • Similarly, a woman sexually attracted to her best friend’s husband may dream of stealing her best friend’s wedding ring and placing it on her own hand, an indirect symbol of her true desires.
The Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis • Scientists Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley have a radically different view of dreaming. • After studying REM sleep in cats, Hobson and McCarley believe that dreams are made in this way: • During REM sleep, brain cells are activated that normally control eye movements, balance, and actions. However, messages from the cells are blocked from reaching the body, so no movement occurs. Nevertheless, the cells continue to tell higher brain areas of their activities. • As it struggles to interpret this information, the brain searches through stored memories and manufactures a dream. Hobson and McCarley call this view of dreaming the Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis. • Hobson explains that the brain is turned on (activated) during sleep, and then generates and integrates (synthesizes) its own sensory and motor information.