(Essay) Applications of Social Psychology For this essay, you will look at the r


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(Essay) Applications of Social Psychology
For this essay, you will look at the relationship between common sources of stress and happiness, and apply principles discussed in the Unit 6 material to your own life.
First, find a three-day period during which you can keep a log of commonly-occurring stressful events. These events can run the gamut from small annoyances such as having to tidy up after young children to larger events such as having an exam. Note: For this activity, we are looking at everyday stressful events, not major stressors like depression, anxiety disorders, bereavement, etc. Hand in your log with your assignment, and use the data you have collected to discuss the following questions in an essay:
Were most of your stressful events chronic or acute?
How did you cope with these events?
How successful were your coping efforts?
What role, if any, did social support play in your coping with stress?
What tactics from Chapter 12 could you apply to your own life to lessen the effects of everyday stressors?
What other aspects of the Unit 6 material could you use to increase your happiness?
Integrate material from the unit readings as well as well as at least one video from the TED video series: TED Studies: Psychology: Understanding Happiness Collection at http://www.ted.com/read/ted-studies/psychology in your essay.
Resources
Aronson & Aronson (2020), Readings About the Social Animal: Reading 5
Branscombe & Baron (2017), Social Psychology: Chapter 12
TED Studies: Psychology: Understanding Happiness Collection at http://www.ted.com/read/ted-studies/psychology in your essay.
NO EXTERNAL RESOURCES ARE PERMITTED
Overview of Unit 6
Unit 6 is based on the last chapter of Social Psychology , which focuses on applications of social psychology helping individuals deal with adversity and live a happy life. This unit focusses on a “social cure” perspective—that is, using social psychology principles to manage stress, and increase our health, well-being, and sense of meaningfulness.
Objectives
Upon completing this unit, you should be able to:
Explain the relationship of social conditions to physical and psychological ailments.
Describe social and individual strategies that help alleviate the effects of stress.
Describe the sources of errors and biases that must be overcome in order to make the legal system fair.
Describe the influences on our happiness and explain how happiness can be increased.
Resources
Aronson & Aronson (2020), Readings About the Social Animal: Reading 5
Branscombe & Baron (2017), Social Psychology: Chapter 12
Topic 1: Stress and its Effects
All of us experience stress in our lives. Many conditions and events contribute to our sense of “being stressed.” Branscombe and Baron outline the results of research that has attempted to quantify what the common stressors are in people’s lives (keep in mind that there may be some large cultural effects here that we are not exploring). We know that stress undermines our health, although the causal relationships are complex. Experimentally, we cannot ethically subject people to long-term stressful conditions to see what the effects are on their health (although the ethical constraints on this model may not apply similarly to animals). Instead, we are largely reliant on correlational studies in humans – these studies show that people under stress experience worse health than people under less stress for the most part. However, it may also be true that some people are somehow predisposed to be less resilient to the effects of stress. There are plenty of anecdotal reports from people in terrible circumstances such as concentration camps or other forms of captivity who exhibit remarkable resilience, and appear to emerge relatively unscathed from their highly stressful ordeal.
What is clear is that social relationships can be an important way to mitigate the adverse effects of stress.
Topic 2: Social Tactics for Increasing Health-Related Behaviours
Social psychologists have been actively researching how to reduce the effects of stress. Branscombe and Baron discuss changing the way we think about ourselves – for example, forgiving ourselves for our failures and mistakes helps reduce negative feelings and appears to help us avoid the same mistakes in the future. As well as changing how we view our own past behaviour, we can also change the way we see ourselves in the future.
For decades, it has been known that physical health is linked to behaviour and attitude. In fact, a cost-effective approach Canadians have taken to preventing physical illness involves trying to convince the average citizen to modify his or her lifestyle with regard to diet, exercise, smoking, addictions, and stress management. By the same token, the surest means of preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies is to promote safe-sex practices, which often means encouraging people to change their behaviour.
Some of the methods you would employ to create a change of behaviour lie in the realm of social psychology. For example, how the message is framed has an impact on a person’s willingness to hear it—a frightening message, such as “excessive consumption of alcohol by a pregnant woman in the first trimester may cause irreversible birth defects” or “unprotected sex may lead to transmission of lethal diseases” may be rejected by the person who most needs to hear it. The messaging needs to be informative and motivational without creating so much fear or stress that the intended recipient ignores it in order to reduce their anxiety. As well, messages should provide information about how to make the change – for example, simply telling people that opioid use is likely to kill them if they overdose, the messaging need to include resources for change.
Topic 3: Social Psychology and the Legal System
Interpersonal Aspects of the Legal System
Much of the research in social psychology that has been applied in the judicial system is directed toward the issue of impartiality and the ways in which people such as police, lawyers, judges, jurors, suspects, witnesses, and so forth, are affected by prejudice, group pressure, social perception and cognition, physical attractiveness, and other factors. (Forensic psychologists are also interested in the motives, behaviour, and rehabilitation of criminals, but that is beyond the scope of this course.) Following are short summaries of some of the ways that social psychology research has been used to identify sources of bias that could impede the service of justice.
Pretrial Publicity
The Canadian criminal justice system differs in some important ways from the American one. In Canada, there may be a ban on the publication of details of the case. Before the case is resolved, there may be very little information in the media about the case and, therefore, members of the public have no real information about the details of the charges, the evidence, or the defense. For example, you may have heard of the trials of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka who were accused of a series of brutal rapes and murders. In 1993 and 1994, there was much controversy in the press about the Canadian practice of a publication ban during the Karla Homolka murder trial and in other high-profile cases.
There is evidence that negative pretrial publicity may predispose jurors toward a verdict of guilty. The issue is the defendant’s right to a fair trial versus freedom of the press. Homolka claimed to be a victim of Paul Bernardo, however, subsequent details released to the public indicated that she had actively participated in the crimes. If the details of Homolka’s involvement had been widely publicized, it is possible that she would not have received a conviction for manslaughter following a plea bargain.
Police Interrogation and Eyewitness Testimony
Another source of bias in the legal system involves interrogation by police and lawyers; the memory of suspects and eyewitnesses can be distorted by the characteristics of the interviewer and the types of questions asked, and by the affect, attitudes, and disposition of the interviewee. Nevertheless, eyewitness testimony retains an important role in our judicial system and tends to be convincing to jurors, regardless of its accuracy. On the positive side, research in this area has also identified conditions under which the testimony of witnesses is most likely to be accurate.
Legal Judgments
Judges and jurors may respond to superficial characteristics of defendants (or plaintiffs) in a way that biases the verdict, according to researchers who have investigated the behaviour of defendants, lawyers, judges, and jurors in real-life trials or in mock trials in the lab. This is unsettling, considering the skewed nature of the Canadian prison population, where uneducated males and First Nations people are heavily overrepresented. Given that a judge or jury may have to make a decision about an ambiguous situation such as a case of alleged sexual harassment, it is easy to see that variables such as the race, age, gender, or even the physical attractiveness of the defendant (or plaintiff), can have a decisive impact; judges and juries may be unaware of their own implicit biases.
Justice is often portrayed as a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales, as if the blindfold makes her impartial. In reality, justice is not blindfolded and therefore is anything but impartial.

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