Frustration-Aggression and Video Games

gamerCheck out the following article, which is an interesting combination of two topics we explore in the lecture on aggression: the effects of violent media and the frustration-aggression model.

In the studies described, the researchers find evidence for the idea that playing video games can be frustrating, and that this experience plays just as much a role in producing subsequent aggression as does the violent content of the media itself (since they find the effects for both violent and non-violent games).

What do you think?  Do you find their conclusions persuasive?  Moreover, what do you think about the creative DV used here to operationally define aggressive behavior?

Posted in Aggression, Chapter 12, Media | 5 Comments

Norms, Compliance, and Asking for Money

moneyRecently, I got an email from my alma mater. I’ve agreed to serve as a class agent, one of those people who pesters other graduates from my class to give money to our school (in large part, I do this because I figure it gets me out of having to give much money myself, but shhh–I’d prefer that they chalk up my pro-social behavior to more altruistic motivations). Anyway, here was the email I got, with language we’re supposed to use to convince our fellow alumni to make a donation, no matter how small:

When we get the class participation number up it does all kinds of things. Primarily, it sends a message to people who want to learn more about XXX College– whether they are prospective students, prospective faculty or staff, or anyone considering becoming part of the XXX community – that this is a place people enjoy being. It tells the world this is a place that has made a mark on us for the better. It signals to the classes before and after us that our place in the XXX community is well occupied and in good hands, and they should also rise to the occasion. And perhaps some may find it a bit easier to make a larger donation knowing that 75% of your classmates are right there doing what they can. The bottom line is, your donation may be a drop in the bucket. But don’t underestimate the power of its magnetic pull on more and bigger drops all around it now and into the future. And the cool thing is, you can send that message for the price of two lattes if that’s what you want to do. We just need you to do it, today. Please.

So what do you think? Good effort at compliance? What concepts from the course, particularly Chapter 8, do you see at play here?

Posted in Chapter 8, Social Influence, Social Norms | 15 Comments

Advertising and Attitude Change

manholeSo let’s put what we’ve read/talked about regarding attitude change into practice. Check out the ad above. What do you think, is it more likely to operate effectively via the central or peripheral route to persuasion? Why do you say that? Now consider the three factors that influence persuasion as discussed by the Yale Attitude Change approach–how would you evaluate the way in which the creators of this ad handled these factors?

In short, knowing all that you now know about the science of persuasion and attitude change, what about this ad works and doesn’t work in your opinion?

Posted in Attitudes, Chapter 7, Media | 21 Comments

Tweeting Out Reactance

turkey-twitterOn to Chapter 7…

Interesting story here on what happened in Turkey a few years ago when the government banned Twitter. Short answer? Twitter use skyrocketed.

Reactance at its finest, perhaps?

Posted in Attitudes, Chapter 7 | 12 Comments

More on the Psychology of Hazing

hazingPer our discussion of dissonance, check out this interesting blog post on the psychology of hazing.  Relevant to Chapter 6’s discussion of cognitive dissonance and our need to justify behavior, but also a variety of interesting topics we have discussed this term (and will discuss in the future).

Any responses?  For that matter, if we stipulate that hazing is a problem we’d like to eliminate, any social psychological ideas for how to combat the tendency?

Posted in Chapter 6, Cognitive Dissonance, Groups, The Self | 29 Comments

Pro-Social at Tufts?


This post was written by a student in last summer’s PSY 13 course, and is shared with the student’s permission…

I used to be involved with Tufts Free Compliments and after reading Chapter 11, specifically the bit about positive psychology, and emailing Professor Sommers about it, I decided to post about my experiences and observations on here. It’s important to note though that I’m no longer affiliated with the group and these are just my reflections two years after the fact.

I’m sure that plenty of you guys are familiar with TFC and what we used to do, standing outside Tisch complimenting passerby. I actually used to be the president of the club and was in charge of all sorts of things like setting up events and promoting the group on campus. I ran into some really interesting problems. The biggest one, and most notable was that there was a large group of students that hated us. I mean really hated us. I remember I was in Tisch one time doing homework and I overheard a group of people discussing how “creepy” and “weird” the group and the people in it were. Now we obviously didn’t think that, in our minds we were just outside having a good time and at the very least, trying to make people smile but what was most interesting to me, especially since starting this course is how a positive psychology group, one whose mission was to make people happy, could invoke such visceral reactions. It wasn’t just that one time I heard it; being creepy, non-genuine, and off-putting was a critique the group drew time and time again and is largely why we are no longer operational.

I think the answer is two-fold. First, our target group was students and students tend to be more stressed. It’s that whole “feel good, do good” and “feel bad, do bad” idea, that mood and stressors can affect and alter our behavior and opinions. Second, was the issue of anonymity. Few people know this but we did much more than just complimenting outside. We spent a lot of time coming up with other ways to increase the morale of campus with things like putting compliments in library books, drawing smiles in the snow, and things of that nature. When people knew it was TFC doing the event, the amount of negative responses was enormous. I even had people come up to me to tell me off in person. However, when our name wasn’t attached to the activity as with the compliments in books or putting balloons up on campus, the response was overwhelmingly positive. It seems that the action is not truly altruistic until we were able to separate the label of TFC from the positive psych action and people didn’t perceive those actions as helping or beneficial until the source wasn’t identifiable.

What do you guys think? As a member of the group, I think the experience was largely one of the better ones I had in college and while I personally don’t care what others think, I have to admit, I was always curious as to why the group was hated so much. On paper you’d think a club that’s purpose to make people smile was well received, just as you’d think that with 38 bystanders, Kitty Genovese would have been helped but as we’ve seen, that’s clearly not the case.

Posted in Chapter 11, Prosocial Behavior, Social Perception, Tufts | 31 Comments

What Men Really Want (at least in terms of prosocial behavior)

door-openSome interesting research that integrates several different issues we’ve been discussing: helping behavior, social norms, and self-esteem.  Basic finding?  Men don’t like it so much when another man holds a door open for them.

Reactions, questions, or comments?  (Other than my initial response, which in this case would be, hey, men, grow up, why don’t you?)

Posted in Chapter 11, Chapter 5, Gender, Prosocial Behavior, Social Norms, The Self | 22 Comments

The Laptop vs. Notebook Debate

compHere’s a link to a brief story describing the study I mentioned in a lecture in Week 2 regarding how taking notes via laptop differs, cognitively speaking, from taking notes by hand.

14 years ago when I started at Tufts, I’d say less than half of each class had a laptop with them.  Today, when I look out at the lecture hall, I see an army of hundreds of glowing apples staring back at me.

So what do you make of this argument that note-taking by laptop leads to lower-effort cognitive processes?  Do you buy the research finding?  Are you tempted to change your own note-taking strategies, at least for in-person classes?  Why or why not?

Based on this research, as well as complaints from students that they found other people’s laptop use distracting to them during class (sort of the second-hand smoke argument), I banned laptops for the first time in PSY 13 two years ago.  Another factor in this decision was the downside of multi-tasking, as I know I can’t be trusted to pay attention and engage when I have my laptop/phone available.  The no-laptop rule seemed to go pretty well this past spring in my class.  But what do you think about such rules and about this particular study?

Posted in Chapter 3, Social Cognition, Tufts | 35 Comments

Why Bikes Make Smart People Say Dumb Things

rage-1587We’re talking about the Fundamental Attribution Error this week, and so when the following link popped up on my Facebook feed, it seemed a nice fit for the class blog.  I’ve stolen the title of this post from here, an interesting read on why it is that pedestrians and drivers seem to get so disproportionately angry at cyclists.  The FAE comes into play, as does our resistance to change and a variety of other interesting psychological tendencies.

Give it a read and see what you think.  Have you ever experienced this, either as a biker or toward those who bike?  Can you think of other, similar examples?  Do you agree with the author that FAE comes into play here?

Posted in Chapter 4, Fundamental Attribution Error, Social Perception | 12 Comments

Cross-Cultural Social Perception (in this case, of beauty)

o-ESTHERHONGORIG-900A student who took PSY 13 with me a year ago sent me a link this week.  It’s to an interesting story on the Huffington Post in which a reporter sent a picture of herself (right) to contacts in 25 different countries, giving them permission to PhotoShop it to fit their country’s cultural standards of beauty.

The results are interesting on a number of levels.  In terms of Chapter 4’s discussion of cultural differences in social perception.  Also when it comes to the more general issues of social norms as well as attraction (a topic we’ll tackle in the second half of the course).  Check out the story and all the images, and let us know what your reactions are.

Posted in Attraction, Chapter 10, Chapter 4, Cross-Cultural, Media, Social Perception | 13 Comments