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Critical Social Psychology

Emotions – Critical Social Psychology

2a.What is our current knowledge from the point of view of Mainstream (experimental)
social psychology, regarding the essential questions?
Social psychology the process of understanding and explaining how the idea, the thought, feeling
and the real behavior of individuals are directly influenced by the real actual, imagined or
implied physical presence of others.
The initial modern social psychology was a real experiment carried out by Norman Triplett on
the social facilitation. It was based on the social development of the early invention of bicycle
whose increasing popularity of competitive sport was still improving. What Triplette had first
noticed was that the present observers and lovers of the sport had made assumptions that those
who were competing currently had a better opportunity of winning than just competing against
others. To test and prove this assumption, Triplett invented an analogue of the general situation

Emotions – Critical Social Psychology 2

by use of school children trying to wind fishing reels while jumping and counting at the same
time and he noticed most of the children did far much better when they were exposed to a
competitive environment. The most notable feature and the one that made the most impact in this
experiment was not actually the results but the real life application of the experiment and its
analogue application. Triplett experiment marked the beginning of the use of real life
experimental social psychology. The application and the writing of the very first social
psychological books by Ross in the year 1908 marked another pillar in the development of
experimental social psychology. The last landmark was during the Second World War and
Hitler, leader of the then Germany, and one of the European psychologist finally fled the Nazi
regime he had founded, and brought about the gestalt perspective or view to social psychology.
Also that period saw social psychologist began serious scrutinizes at issues that affected and
reflected the Zeitgeist of that period. The issue of constant immigration to parts of North
America from Europe where they were searching and looking for attitudes among the ethnic
minorities that were migrating. Finally the following issues need to be raised.

  1. What prompts these attitudes among the migrating classes? Before migrating, what
    eventually convinces them that they have made the right decision? Does mainstream social
    psychology (MSP) naturalized the phenomenon and if so how? What is the role of the
    subject (the individual) and what model of human beings is it using.
    The social psychology is overly engaged with maladaptive heuristic, biases and attitudes. This
    characterization lacks the focus to consider the constant multi-process models of the social
    thought and ultimate action. These models, especially those ones in reference to attitudes have
    emphasized the situational and the fundamental individual differences.(Krueger and

Emotions – Critical Social Psychology

Acevedo,2002 ). The major variables responsible for the determination of thoughts and real
actions are the relatively thoughtful ones verses when they mostly reliant on some mental
shortcuts. The positive psychological movement aims at focusing on human actions, capabilities
and talents. However the exclusive focus is limited to whichever direction i.e. adaptive or
maladaptive. Social psychology is slightly more than actual social cognition and actual social
cognition is even more than work on heuristics and biases i.e. the burgeoning work on the
implicit processes. There are several work processes and behavioral effects that are consistent
with the implicit process while those that are inconsistent with their relatively narrow and biased
characterization of the field are excluded. For instance the implication that dominates the view
on work attitude and social influence is literally that attitudes are normally rationalized after a
fact rather than based on careful and natural thought, and that people mindlessly go with the
majority i.e. they naturally conform to the principle of majority rules.
First there is need to ask whether attitudes are invariably or relatively rationalized. Attitudes
are the single most outstanding and indispensable construct in social psychology as researchers
have considered their relative thoughtful and non thoughtful processes of effectiveness and
influence. (Kelman and Hovland, 1953)
The most prominent models of attitudes and behaviors is the theory of reasoned action.
(Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975) The model is based on the overall subjectivity utility theory that
entails that people’s evaluation and analysis are determined by the basis of information based on
the underlying information and knowledge that people have regarding those existing objects.
Consider whether the relative social influence research has emphasized the mindless conformity
to whims and wills of the majority. The research has revealed that the majority influence is not

Emotions – Critical Social Psychology 4

always a mindless endeavor. The hearing of what others think motivates and influences issue
relevant thought that may result in different opinions. The conformity to majority in some cases
may represent the simple heuristic process but may also represent some effortful and more
relative reasoned cognitive process.

  1. Are attitudes invariably or relatively rationalized? Consider whether the relative social
    influence research has emphasized the mindless conformity to majority from the
    perspective of Critical social psychology.
    The current and relevant multi-processes models in social psychology put more emphasis on
    behavior and judgment which in some cases are based on positive relative simple cues and
    heuristics, but in some instances are the outcome of an effortful analysis and evaluation process.
    For instance, in a sturdy to determine levels of conformity, where students read a proposed
    policy that didn’t affect them directly and personally, they were largely influenced by the mere
    number of the arguments as presented before them and not the real issues and quality of the
    arguments. The mere reliance on the numbers or numerosity heuristic actions led to maladaptive
    analysis and evaluation when the actual arguments were weak i.e. the weaker the proposals the
    more support it drew and received from the students. However, when the same proposal was
    later characterized with issues that had a direct impact on them, on personal relevance, the
    evaluation process changed. This time round the number of arguments did not matter but the
    issues and substance of the argument were the only ones being favored. Increasing the number of
    arguments made a change only when they were strong. (Petty and Cacioppo, 1984). When the
    arguments were not strong and more arguments were presented, the less the number of students
    who favored it. This approach was rational and meaningful. Many situational and personal

Emotions – Critical Social Psychology

individual differences variables have been known to moderate the extent and range of
information processing methods in this manner. These are multi-process models i.e. ELM, HSM
and MODE. These models are of significant importance because they account for the paradoxes
in most of the psychological literature. For instance, some researchers have proved and
demonstrated that some critical judgements can be wrong when the dependants rely wholly on
limited individuating information instead of the useful category information. At the same time,
some other researchers have also shown that some individuals rely too much on the category
kind of information. The multi-process models combine all these sources and provide an
integration of all these perspective by the identification of all the conditions that people rely on
when seeking each type of information. (Krueger and Acevedo, 2002).
Irrationality stems from the sturdy of judgment errors where the lack or failure to analyze
facts constitutes an error, the irrationality paradox. The basic concept of ecological rationality or
irrationality of a decision or judgment can only be made by an analysis and evaluation of the
structure of the natural environment or the experiment. Human rational behavior is ultimately
shaped by a scissors whose cross blades are the existing structure of the real task environment
and the calculations capabilities of the participants. By just looking one single blade, someone
may not be able to understand how the scissors cut. The environmental structures also include
the statistical structures, for instance the signal to noise ratio, the structure and shape of the
distributions, the size and nature of the sample and the social structures. The real structure of the
information in the natural environment, what initially appeared like a dull cognitive dream or
illusion turns out to be a razor sharp scissors. The environmental structure together with unbiased
mind is the logical sufficient to produce the existing phenomenon. The argument that
environment plus an unbiased mind is enough to produce the phenomena. The moral question is

Emotions – Critical Social Psychology 6

that people normally make mistakes but for someone to understand and differentiate accurate
from bad judgment, one has to analyze the nature and structure of the environment. For instance,
a task environment that has substantial and unsystematic error, for instance when people are
asked current and general knowledge questions they are confident of answering correctly at least
100% but the average correct answers is 80%. This is known as the overconfidence bias and it’s
mostly attributed to wishful thinking. The analysis and evaluation of the environmental structure
reveals however the large unsystematic error which if there are non cognitive bias leads to
regression that leans towards the mean. Therefore the environmental structure is logically and
reasonably sufficient for the conditions. Now it can be asked if there is a natural trace of the real
cognitive bias.
5) In conclusion, the problem oriented method and approach of social psychology has not fully
answered and fulfilled its promise, other research alternatives are needed to contribute to the
eventual maturation of the field. Other researchers have imputed that social psychology is not
really focused on negative aspect as claimed or that the negative focus has eventually laid the
most efficient path that leads towards the general and rewarding understanding of the social
cognition and natural behavior. The researchers have reiterated that, in their pursuit to discuss the
initial exposition, they only seek not a disproportionate positive and enhanced social psychology
but a real balanced field that addresses all the range of human behavior. The modern and
contemporary social psychology is characterized by unwavering preoccupation with almost
natural troublesome behavior and a tendency of flawed cognition. These properties and traits of
social psychological research have ultimately impeded the development and continued research
on the theories with explanatory power and the ample ability to generate fiction books and
nontrivial conclusions. For instance in from the perspective of the orthodox game theory, the

Emotions – Critical Social Psychology

average cooperative behavior in a non zero sum game like the prisoners dilemma gives an
anomalous and irrational appearance. If rationality is normally defined in terms of only self
interest then rational players will definitely defect, which will eventually lead to poor outcomes
for all the players. Many players however cooperate and make positive contribution to social
psychology. In one framework and in analyzing the social judgment beyond the actual utilization
stage or cognitive stage that may include interpersonal and other contextual effects and
influences. Accurate judgment can only occur if the judge has access to the relevant Information
who then detects and correctly applies and utilizes the right information. The contemporary and
relevant multi-processes models in social psychology put more emphasis on behavior and
judgment which in some cases are based on some relative simple cues and heuristics, but in some
instances are the outcome of an effortful analysis and evaluation process. For instance, in the
sturdy to determine levels of conformity, the students were largely influenced by the mere
number of the arguments as presented before them and not the real issues and quality of the
arguments. There are some decisions which are largely influenced by the decision of others and
not the issues at hand. In forecasting and predicting the future theoretical developments a
tentative estimate is that some success will be achieved by importing directly the theoretical
advances and experiences from the neighboring fields. The relative influence on social research
has left the mindless conformity to whims and wills of the majority but in some cases the
decisions of the minority takes precedent. The research has revealed that the majority influence
is not always a mindless endeavor. There are some cases where the decisions are influenced by
the genuine concerns. The hearing of what others think motivates and influences issue relevant
thought that may result in different but accurate decisions. The conformity to majority in some

Emotions – Critical Social Psychology 8

cases may represent the simple heuristic process but may also represent some effortful and more
reasonable approach.

Kelman, H., Hovland, D.(1953) Reinstatement of the communicator in delayed measurement of
opinion change. Journal of abnormal and social psychology.
Krueger, J., Acevedo, M., (2002) Why cooperate? Social projection as a guide to doing good,
Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Psychology press
Fishbein, M, Ajzen, I. (1975) Belief, attitude, intention and behavior. An introduction to theory
and research. Addison- Wesley

Emotions – Critical Social Psychology

Petty, R., Cacioppo, J (1984) The effects of involvement on response to argument quantity and
quality. Central and peripheral routes to persuasion. The journal of Personality and Social
Sartre, J (1948). The Emotions: Outline of a Theory, New York: Philosophical Library

Rorty, A. (ed.), 1980. Explaining Emotions, Los Angeles: University of California Press,
Rozin, P,. Lowery, L., Imada, S., and Jonathan H.,( 1999). “The CAD Triad
Hypothesis: A Mapping Between Three Moral Emotions (Contempt, Anger, Disgust) and Three
Moral Codes (Community, Autonomy, Divinity),” Journal of Personality and Social
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Zajonc, R (2000). “Feeling and Thinking: Closing the Debate over the Independence of Affect,”
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