Case Examples in Social Psychology Part III

Photo Credit: Video Block

Photo Credit: Video Block

By Dr. Monique M. Chouraeshkenazi

(1) When one is decision making and it is predicated of a pros and cons list and the decision is based on the outcome, it is considered an example of felicific calculus. Felicific calculus is a concept based on utilitarianism, which is indicative of the totality (degree) of what that a specific event is likely to cause pleasure. It is based on a mathematical algorithm coined by political reformer, Jeremy Bentham (Crimmins, 2015). However, I believe the best answer is decisional framing because of the “good” versus “bad” theory of Jane’s decision-making efforts. Jane (the case study) weighed the positives and the negatives of marrying Jim. After making a list (and checking it twice), she realized there was more optimistic attributes to marrying him than not. This example is predicated on the decisional framing concept or framing effect. The framing effect is a cognitive predisposition that is indicative of an individual’s decision-making based on how a scenario or situation is presented (University of California, San Diego, n.d.). If there are other scenarios presented (i.e. Jim has a criminal record, has significant familial problems, medical illness, etc.), would she still marry him? If determining her decision to marry Jim was presented in different scenario, would her answer still be yes? It is the psychological aspect of how information is presented, which determines a person’s inclination to choose. 

(2) The results from Kenrick and Guiterres’ study varied but was consistent with their hypothesis. Group 1 was tasked with watching Charlie’s Angels and two confederates interrupted the movie with a survey on the beauty of a woman (or how attractive was the woman in the photo) they wanted to set up on a blind date with a mutual friend. Results showed negative ratings of the photo of what was considered an “average” rating of the photo shown from a class yearbook. Because the experiment was not predicated on the specific conditions, the results could be interpreted two ways, which aligned with the researchers’ hypothesis (Aronson & Aronson, 2012). The effects were either the participants gave negative ratings because of the obvious beauty within the movie (and it influenced their opinion) or negative ratings were given due to the constant negative perception of the need for flawless beauty within the media (Aronson & Aronson, 2012). 

            Those who were not exposed to the movie still had results in correlation to the hypothesis. Kenrick and Gutierres found all three-group’s exposure to the Charlie’s Angels movie, before and after voting on average women’s photos, were influenced by “attractiveness.” Aronson and Aronson (2012) stated the effect resulted, regardless of exposure, showed lower ratings of average females due to the stigma of physical attractiveness of women in the media, hence the contrast effect. 

(4) The region-beta paradox is a philosophical (or even psychological) concept that people can recover quickly from extreme emotions and/or pain then from less troubling situations/incidents (Saunders, 2018). Gilbert and his colleagues’ approach to the paradigm is compared to the severity of pain/injury when it comes to medical procedures. The researchers believe there is an “intensity” of an individual’s medical condition that will constitute an immediate response. Those who are injured want to recover quickly when their injuries are severe (Aronson & Aronson, 2012). Since there is specific consequences to how an individual will react to medical condition, the severity constitutes the responses. Aronson and Aronson (2012) expressed that individuals are most likely to react to a severe medical emergency than something less life-threatening. 

(5) Social cognition is a subsidiary component of social psychology, which is indicative of how people cognitively process information of others within a social environment. This concept is predicated on Social Cognitive Theory—learning occurs within a social setting between individuals and influences are based on attitudes, environments, and behaviors (LaMorte, 2018). Understanding the scenario of blue versus green hats, there is a preconceived notion about both groups before getting to know the people. It is the classic cliché: judging a book by its cover. By observing all the blue hats wearers within the group setting, all individuals seem to the best of everything and seem to have nicer attitudes. The green hats group seem to be rowdier and somewhat rude. The individual in the green hat that bumped into another and spilled the drink essentially speaks for the entire group of “greenies” as being clumsy and rude. As a result, assumptions are made about two groups of people based on one personal experience about an individual’s encounter. Not getting to know everyone at the party develops a stereotypical (positive and negative) notion about an entire population based on a few encounters. 

(6) Cognitive biases are difficult to mitigate because human beings are influenced (trained) to judge others based on multiple factors (i.e. upbringing, social environment, work, etc). Markway (2014) expressed people are hard-wired, especially for negative or dangerous situations, to judge people and situations; it is an instinct to judge. The most powerful elements of a human being are behavior, attitudes, and decisions. Bias is a powerful characteristic of individuals because it something that is learning through teaching or observing, especially for serious matters (i.e. racism, discrimination, prejudice, etc.). However, the consequences of not having bias can result in lack of subjective opinions or reasoning, which can negatively impact social environments (almost like a catch 22).

  It is important to mitigate bias in research, reports, and other matters that requires objective reporting. Nonetheless, bias is needed to understand different opinions or others to collaborate and provide solutions to making something better. The challenge is bias is stereotyped as a negative characteristic; therefore, the concept is associated with unconstructive factors. Having bias toward music, food, clothes, and so forth are not considered negative bias—more like preference. However, bias presents more negative scenarios than normal, subjective reasoning. For instance, studies have shown that bias impacts workplace performance. Pallais and Sack (2017) found minority workers job performance dropped when working for biased employers. The study completed at Harvard University determined biased managers believe minority staff works are low-grade employees. The bias resulted in lower job performance, which validated their belief that minorities are the worse employees. Another research study showed bias in potential candidates’ names. Applicants whose curriculum vitae had difficult names or names that were obviously of a different ethnical background where discriminated against (University of Oxford, n.d.). Bias is unavoidable and if the concept is used as a negative connotation, there will be division on controversial matters.


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