Thesis: Human Interaction From a Psychology Perspective

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Psychology - Human Interaction

THE EFFECTS of SOCIAL SITUATIONS on HUMAN BEHAVIOR

Human Behavior in Social Situations:

Human behavior reflects a complex interrelationship between elements of individual psychological development and external circumstances. In that regard, social situations involving other people is among the most significant external circumstances that influence the behavior of the individual. Normal psychological responses to social circumstances have the potential to be exploited and in the most extreme examples, may produce a social psychosis capable of transforming a society entirely.

Experiments into the Impact of Perceived Deferred Responsibility:

Stanley Milgram conducted an infamous series of experiments before the era where ethical guidelines prohibited certain types of experiments capable of traumatizing participants (Gerrig & Zimbardo 2005). The experimental design consisted of a mock laboratory in which volunteers believed they were assisting an experimenter conduct a study on human learning. In reality, the purpose of the experiment was to determine the limits of deference to authority.

Specifically, participants believed they were administering painful electric shocks to unseen subjects as a punishment for providing incorrect responses to test questions.

Many of the participants continued administering what they believed to be extremely painful shocks to subjects who screamed out in apparent pain and demanded to be released fro the experiment. Any appeals on behalf of the hidden subjects were met with verbal assurance fro official-looking experimenters dressed in white lab coats that they and not the study participants were fully responsible for any resulting harm to the supposed study subjects. Years later, even the participants expressed their own surprise and disappointment that they were capable of ignoring their own consciences by virtue of assurances that someone in higher authority was responsible for their actions (Macionis 2003).

The Significance of the Phenomenon of Deference to Authority:

In principle, the Milgram experiments demonstrated the degree to which normal individuals are susceptible to blind obedience and deference to authority. The implications of the experiment were that large-scale incidents of societal atrocities such as witnessed in connection with Nazi ideology during World War II are functions of normal human psychology rather than to a pathological psychosis as many had suggested previously (Henslin 2002)

While most individuals are susceptible to elements of this principle, different people vary substantially in their resistance to following directions that violate their sense of morality and their perception of the distinction between right and wrong. In that respect, higher levels of self-esteem are associated with greater psychological independence (Branden 1999). The Stanford Prison Experiment and the Impact of Social Situations and Groupthink:

In 1970, Stanford University Psychology professor Phillip Zimbardo conducted an experiment known as the Stanford Prison Experiment (Gerrig & Zimbardo 2005) in which he randomly assigned student-participants to be either "prison guards" or "prisoners" in a jail that he set up in the basement of the Psychology building on the Stanford campus. Whereas the subjects in the Milgram experiments received verbal instructions and encouragement from individuals they perceived to be authority figures, Zimbardo provided no specific instructions to his subjects detailing their expected behavior as either prison guards or prisoners.

Within half the time originally scheduled for the experiment, the students assigned to be guards had orchestrated such… [END OF PREVIEW]

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