Social Psychology, 7th Edition
THE SELF: AN INTEGRATED THEME
Social psychology is sometimes described as a scientific discipline consisting of loosely connected research topics with no "grand theory" to connect everything. Although we have no single theory that neatly packages social psychology for our students, I end the analysis of the topic areas in each chapter with a discussion of how these particular theories and studies "fit" into our overall understanding of social behavior. Throughout the text I emphasize a core concept in social psychology: the self. Social psychology is the study of how the individual, as a self, interacts with the social world. As selves we become active agents in our social world, not only defining reality but also anticipating the future and often changing our behavior to be in line with the anticipated reality. This essential fact of social living has always been at the heart of this book, and it reflects the orientation of social psychology in the twenty-first century. To that end, the theme of the self is reflected in this text through the following:
-In Chapter 1, a section titled "The self is shaped by" and shapes "the social environment" introduces this central theme.
-The central theme of the self is integrated through the discussion of key concepts, including the following examples: Chapter's extensive examination of various self-related theories; Chapter 4's discussion of how self-esteem and self-regulation influence the hindsight bias and thought suppression; Chapter 5's look at the role of the self in attitude formation and persuasion; Chapter 6's analysis of reducing prejudice through self-regulation; Chapter 7's discussion of compliance and self-consistency; Chapter 8's coverage of reduced self-awareness and deindividuation; Chapter 9's research on gender differences in body esteem; Chapter 10's analysis of the self-inclusionary process of intimacy; Chapter 11's look at the self-regulation of aggressive thoughts; and Chapter 12's research on how giving and receiving help can affect self-esteem.
-Beginning with Chapter 3's analysis of the self, each chapter concludes with a "Big Picture" summary. These summaries discuss how we, as self-reflective creatures, can use the social psychological knowledge covered in the chapter to understand and actively shape our social world.
EMPHASIZING SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY'S RESEARCH BASIS
Often I hear from instructors that students enter the course assuming that social psychology is "just plain common sense." It's a common goal among most social psychology instructors to emphasize that social psychology is research based and relies heavily on the experimental method. With this common goal in mind, I emphasize research methods throughout the book in the following ways:
-Chapter 2, "Conducting Research in Social Psychology," expands on the introductory chapter's distinction between the scientific process and everyday thinking. This chapter explores the process of conducting research, diverse scientific methods and research strategies, emerging new scientific methodologies and measuring instruments, and includes comprehensive coverage of survey construction, meta-analysis, and ethical issues.
-Each chapter contains newly published research on social behavior and in-depth descriptions and critiques of selected studies.
-"Applications" sections at the end of Chapters 3-12 demonstrate how the theories and research in a particular area of social psychology can be applied to real-world settings and to your life.
TEXT ORGANIZATION CHAPTER BY CHAPTER
Revising a textbook is like renovating a building. The goal is to retain those designs and features that are essential in maintaining the integrity and attractiveness of the original product, while enhancing and updating the contents so that it will continue to serve a useful function. Just as successful architects base their renovations on the feedback of those who actually live in the buildings being restored, I have substantially based my "renovations" of this seventh edition on the opinions expressed by professors and students who used the sixth edition. For those of you who "inhabited" previous editions, I think you will find many familiar features among the new additions. The primary goal of this updating process was to make the seventh edition of Social Psychology an even better structure for teaching and learning. The seventh edition offers the following familiar features:
-Critical thinking questions encourage students to examine their own social surroundings while they simultaneously digest social psychological theories and research. These questions often invite students to guess a study's hypotheses or results, or to provide an alternative interpretation of findings. The questions, many of which are new, are either inserted in the captions of figures, tables, and photos, or are displayed in prominent critical thinking sidebars. Answers to the former can be found in the chapter, while the end-of-book appendix offers possible answers to the latter.
-Coverage of diversity and cultural analysis is fully integrated in each chapter, rather than treated as a separate boxed insert or separate chapter. As in previous editions, I seek to foster a sense of inclusion for all readers. For example, in the discussion of social behavior in a cross-cultural context, the particular aspect of culture highlighted is individualism versus collectivism. Why? Throughout much of the history of American social psychology, the concept of individualism has been an influential, yet unexamined, force directing our analysis of social life. Today that is no longer the case. As the study of social psychology has become a cross-cultural endeavor, some of the basic assumptions about the relationship between the individual and the group have been questioned. This text discusses how people from individualist and collectivist cultures respond to similar social situations, helping students to understand the richness and flexibility of social life.
-The evolutionary perspective illuminates how a universal pattern of social behavior might have developed. One of the benefits of cross-cultural research is that it allows us to not only identify those aspects of social behavior that vary from one culture to the next but also to identify social behaviors that are not culturally constrained. When a universal social behavior is identified, discussion turns to how this pattern of behavior may have evolved. Throughout the text I examine how evolutionary forces might have left us with certain behavioral capacities, while also recognizing that current social and environmental forces encourage or discourage the actual development and use of these capacities.
-Social neuroscience uses the latest cutting-edge technology to study the relationship between neural processes of the brain and social processes. This "window into the brain" provides another layer of knowledge in our understanding of social interaction.
-More than twenty Self/Social Connection Exercises contain self-report questionnaires currently being used by researchers. The results of studies employing them are also part of the text material. In these exercises, students are encouraged to consider how this text material relates to their own lives. Thus, as students learn about various social psychological theories and relevant research findings, they also learn something about themselves.
-Bulleted end-of-section summaries provide a concise presentation to better facilitate students' studying. The bulleted summaries in the sixth edition were well received and have been retained in the new edition.