From the definition of social psychology being that it is a psychology branch that studies affective, cognitive and behavioral processes of people as a consequence of their interactions and groups as well as other factors. Accordingly social psychologists examine these effects. A common subject for social psychologists is the relationship between people’s behavior and their social setting. This paper herein will explore how social psychology be used to change people’s behavior in a community towards racial tensions, through psychological theories and studies. It is based on various scientific studies of how people’s behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are usually influenced by imagined, realistic or an implied presence or opinion/perception of others or themselves (Crisp & Rhiannon 23). In psychology, social behavior is defined as human behavior.
Prejudice and Stereotyping.
Prejudice and Stereotyping are two examples of forms of social behavior. First, stereotyping is an assumptions, generalizations or characterizations that individuals are bout the behaviors of a particular type of group based on an image they have about how those type of group are. Stereotyping occurs in people because of the human tendency to have consistency and order marched up with the fact that people like to classify things. As a result, people are often afraid of the unknown. Consequently, they are quick to define or classify people from something they have an already existing frame of reference. On the other hand, prejudice is a negative attitude that people possess of a particular type of group. Some features of this behavior are negative feelings, tendency to discriminate and beliefs based on stereotypes. Prejudice is formed in the same manner as stereotype with the only difference being that a person who is prejudiced may not take action on their attitude. Both stereotyping and prejudice have a substantial effect on racial tension such as racism, homophobia, and sexism among others.
Attitude behavior consistency
A person’s attitude represents their cognitive evaluation of a certain entity through thought or experience (Baumeister 53). The actions that follow this come in the form of behavior. We learn that a specific behavior is usually pre-determined by the intention to act and react in a certain way. The intention thus is a function of attitude towards a particular norm.
Consistency then adds the predictability element in essence because it is usually considered socially, that a person who holds favorable attitudes towards an object or situation will perform appropriate behaviors and in a particularly logical way and vice versa (Heath & Dan 67).
Theory of planned behavior (TPB)
The theory of planned behavior explains all that in all behaviors, people have the ability to exert self-control (Kahneman 98). It focuses mainly on behavioral intent. It tells us of how we perceive various likelihoods of expected outcomes and that we also tend to evaluate subjectively the benefits and risks of the resulting outcome.
Behavioral Intention. These are motivational factors that influence a certain outcome. The stronger the intention, the more likely for us to perform it. They could be in monetary forms, political forms or simply motivated by feelings towards a person or place.
Social Norms. These are natural, environmental and customary codes of various behaviors in a group or a larger cultural context. They are considered a standard for different clusters of people thus influencing behavior. The may be hereditary of simply acquired.
Social Identity Theory
This theory is an approach contributed to psychology by Henri Tajfel. It simply is defined as a person’s overall sense or view of who they are often based on their customary group or membership. In other words, “the status quo” (Wearing 4). The groups, in which we are born, raised or immersed into, are a great source of self-esteem, pride and also play a huge role in the determination of our overall behavior and way of doing things. We behave in certain ways based on such perceptions that we have gained over time. Behavior, in essence, is then critically determined by self-categorization that breeds positive/negative aspects against an “out-group” usually in order to enhance our beliefs and self- image.
Elaboration Likelihood Model.
Based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model, they are two ways in which people make decisions and thus get persuaded. These are by application of central route and peripheral route to decision making. Central route is whereby an individual is motivated and is, therefore, able to pay attention to the information, he/she will adopt conscious and logical thinking t decision making. On the other hand, peripheral route thinking is whereby people do not pay attention to the argument, but get swayed by external characteristics such as the way the speaker is dressed. From the elaboration of the two ways I which people arrive at decisions above, one can clearly see that knowledge of the Elaboration Likelihood Model can be a powerful tool in helping people change their attitudes such as stereotyping and prejudice. If people are taught about this model and become aware of how they arrive at decisions, they can critically evaluate how they made a decision and know whether it was based on bias or logic. As a result, if it was based on bias, they would see that they were wrong and see the logic I what the speaker was saying.
In Conclusion, therefore, behavior is a form of human psychology that communicates our thoughts, desires, feelings and interpretations of various cognitive, visual or physical situations that come our way. Most behaviors become habits. This can either be positive or negative. Social psychology is thus a largely important field in studies that seek to understand the human beings and even animals in their entirety. We must value them and also seek to understand the various loopholes within ourselves and the community around us deeper and gather intellect on causes of our actions and change for the betterment of ourselves and the society as a whole.
Baumeister, Roy F. Encyclopedia of Social Psychology. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 2007. Print.
Crisp, Richard J., and Rhiannon N. Turner. Essential Social Psychology. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2010. Print.
Heath, Chip, and Dan Heath. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard. New York: Broadway, 2010. Print.
Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. 2002. Print.
Wearing, Michael. Social Identity. New York: Nova Science, 2011. Print.
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