Web Exercises

  1. Social Psychology in the News; Social Psychology, Social Media, and Technology. Define social influence and social norms. Distinguish between informational and normative social influence, and between descriptive and injunctive norms. Visit http://climateoutreach.org/resources/using-social-norms-and-social-networks/. Click “Download” to view the pdf. Explain how the Schultz et al.’s (2007) research described at the site illustrates the distinctions between informational and normative social influence and between descriptive and injunctive norms. How might highlighting norms sometimes produce results undesirable from an applied perspective? In your answer, make reference to the Schulz et al.’s research, the Talking Climate page’s international flight example (see the fifth paragraph in the article), and Cialdini’s focus theory. Finally, suggest how social media networks might be used to promote environmentally sustainable behavior; and make explicit reference to concepts of social influence in your answer. This exercise helps you define social influence, define social norm, describe the focus theory of normative conduct, and distinguish between descriptive and injunctive norms.
  2. Your text reviews Cialdini’s six fundamental principles of social influence. Online, attempts at social influence often occur on websites’ landing pages in an effort to boost conversion or click-through rates. Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landing_page; define landing page. You may wish additionally to click the links for click-through rates and conversion rates in the second paragraph to better understand these terms. Then visit http://unbounce.com/landing-pages/six-principles-of-persuasion-landing-pages/. Define three of Cialdini’s six principles. For each principle, supply an example from the Unbounce article illustrating how a landing page might use the principle to increase conversion or click-through rates. Finally, provide three examples of Cialdini’s principles in action on landing sites you have encountered in your own online experience. This exercise should enable you to identify and describe the six principles of social influence and to give an example of each.
  3. What is a social norm? Distinguish between descriptive and injunctive norms. Visit makingconnections.redlands.edu. Select “Social Psychology” from the “Areas of Psychology” pulldown menu. Select and read the “Using Social Norms to Enhance Pro-Social Behavior” article. Describe the study in two or three sentences, identifying the independent and dependent variables and the control groups. Are the global and provincial norms described in the article descriptive or injunctive norms? Justify your answer. How might you explain the difference in results between the two experimental conditions? This exercise provides practice in defining social norms and in distinguishing between descriptive and injunctive norms.
  4. View the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCVlI-_4GZQ to bring your textbook’s discussion of Milgram’s obedience research into relief. Describe Milgram’s motivation for conducting the research. Briefly describe Milgram’s shock studies in a brief paragraph. Why might the studies be considered unethical today? Suggest how Milgram’s results remain relevant today; and make explicit reference to world events. How might you investigate obedience in a way that is consistent with contemporary standards for ethical research involving human participants? This exercise will enhance your ability to summarize Milgram’s obedience studies and explain the controversy surrounding them.
  5. Social Psychology Applied to Law: Coerced Confessions. Your text highlights Saul Kassin’s research on coerced confessions. Enrich the discussion in your textbook by reading an interview with Kassin at http://thepsychreport.com/conversations/coerced-to-confess-the-psychology-of-false-confessions/. This exercise will heighten your appreciation of social psychology’s application to law and criminal justice. Distinguish between coerced-compliant and coerced-internalized confessions; and relate the difference between social influence and persuasion. Explain how jurors’ overwhelming tendency to believe confessions reflects the fundamental attribution error. The middle portion of the interview focuses on the Reid technique, the interrogation method in general use in the United States. The Reid technique includes a deception detection phase, then an extended interrogation phase. Think back to Chapter 5 in your text: how does the technique’s deception detection phase contradict the science of deception detection? Explain how elements of the Reid technique’s extended interrogation phase are designed to elicit confessions. Relate your discussion to research on social influence, making explicit reference to Cialdini’s principles, Milgram’s obedience experiment, and Zimbardo’s prison experiment as appropriate. This exercise will help you define social influence, explain why we succumb to it, and compare and contrast it with persuasion, compliance, conformity, and obedience. It will also reinforce the six principles of social influence and allow you to revisit Milgram’s obedience studies.
  6. Doing Research; Social Psychology, Social Media, and Technology. Facebook landed in hot water for a minute in 2014; read the article at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/researcher-apologizes-for-facebook-study-in-emotional-manipulation/ to find out why. Then view the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pOuh8S8cIg for a brief, clear review of some of the main principles underlying ethical psychological research. Briefly explain how the Facebook study may have violated these principles. Consider the following questions in your discussion: Did the Facebook study involve deception? If the study involved deception, was it justified? How would the researchers themselves justify any deception they may have used? Did users’ agreement with Facebook’s terms of service and data use policy constitute sufficient informed consent? Was there any physical or psychological risk to participants? Were participants protected from harm? Were participants debriefed? Evaluate the Facebook study with respect to Rosnow and Rosenthal’s (1997) cost-benefit table. How might the researchers have conducted the study in a more ethical fashion? This exercise provides a real-world illustration of deception and other ethical issues in psychological research.