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When we began writing this book, our overriding goal was to capture the excitement of social .,, psychology. We have been pleased to hear, in many kind letters and e-mail messages from professors and students, that we succeeded. One of our favorites was from a student who said that the book was so interesting that she always saved it for last, to reward herself for finishing her other work. With that one student, at least, we succeeded in making our book an enjoyable, fascinating story, not a dry report of facts and figures.
There is always room for improvement, however, and our goal in this, the fourth edition, is to make the field of social psychology an even better read. When we teach the course, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the sleepy students in the back row sit up with interest and say, "Wow, I didn't know that! Now that's interesting." We hope that students who read our book will have that very same reaction.
Social psychology comes alive for students when they understand the whole context of the field: how theories inspire research, why research is performed as it is, how further research triggers yet new avenues of study. We have tried to convey our own fascination with the research process in a down-to-earth, meaningful way and have presented the results of the scientific process in terms of the everyday experience of the reader. However, we did not want to "water down" our presentation of the field. In a world where human behavior can be endlessly surprising and where research results can be quite counterintuitive, it is important to prepare students by providing a firm foundation on which to build their understanding ofthis challenging discipline. Here, in more detail, is how we present a rigorous, scientific approach to social psychology in a way that, we hope, engages and fascinates most students.
Social psychology is full of good stories, such as how the Kitty Genovese murder prompted research on bystander intervention, how the Holocaust inspired investigations into obedience to authority, and how reactions to the marriage of the crown prince of Japan to Masako Owada, a career diplomat, illustrates cultural differences in the self-concept. By placing research in a real-world context, we make the material more familiar, understandable, and memorable.
Each chapter begins with a real-life vignette that epitomizes the concepts to come. We refer to this event at several points in the chapter to illustrate to students the relevance of the material they are learning. Examples of the opening vignettes include the tragic death of Amadou Diallo in New York, who was shot forty-one times by four white police officers as he reached for his wallet in the vestibule of his apartment building (Chapter 3, "Social Cognition: How We Think about the Social World"); the possible use of subliminal messages in one of George W Bush's campaign ads, in which the word rats was flashed on the screen for a thirtieth of a second while an announcer discussed Al Gore's prescription drug plan (Chapter 7, "Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings"); the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 in Washington, D.C., in which survivors were rescued by complete strangers (Chapter 11, "Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help?"); and a murder trial in which an innocent man was sentenced to death because of faulty eyewitness testimony (Social Psychology in Action 3, "Social Psychology and the Law"). To illustrate more specifically the way in which the opening vignettes are tied to social psychological principles, here are a couple of examples in more detail:
Our storytelling approach is not limited to these opening vignettes. There are several "mini-stories" woven into each chapter that illustrate specific concepts and make the material come alive. They each follow a similar format: First, we describe an example of a real-life phenomenon that is designed to pique students' interest. These stories are taken from current events, literature, and our own lives. Second, we describe an experiment that attempts to explain the phenomenon. This experiment is typically described in some detail, because we believe that students. should not only learn the major theories in social psychology but also understand and appreciate the methods used to test those theories. We often invite the students to pretend that they were participants in the experiment, to give them a better feel for what it was like and what was found. Here are a few examples of our "mini-stories" (if you thumb through the book, you will come across many others):
It might seem that a storytelling approach would obscure the scientific basis of social psychology. On the contrary, we believe that part of what makes the story so interesting is explaining to students how to test hypotheses scientifically. In recent years, the trend has been for textbooks to include only short sections on research methodology and to provide only brief descriptions of the findings of individual studies. In this book, we integrate the science and methodology of the field into our story, in a variety of ways.
Unlike virtually all other texts, we devote an entire chapter to methodology (Chapter 2). "But wait," you might say, "how can you maintain students' interest and attention with an entire chapter on such dry material?" The answer is by integrating this material into our storytelling approach. Even the "dry" topic of methodology can come alive by telling it like a story. We begin by presenting two pressing real-world problems related to violence and aggression: Does pornography promote violence against women? Why don't bystanders intervene more to help victims of violence? We then use actual research studies on these questions to illustrate the three major scientific methods (observational research, correlational research, and experimental research). Rather than a dry recitation of methodological principles, the scientific method unfolds like a story with a "hook" (What are the causes of real-world aggression and apathy toward violence?) and a moral (Such interesting, real-world questions can be addressed scientifically). We have been pleased by the reactions7to this chapter in the previous editions.
We describe prototypical studies in more detail than most texts. We discuss how a study was set up, what the research participants perceived and did, how the research design derives from theoretical issues, and the ways in which the findings support the initial hypotheses. We often ask readers to pretend that they were participants in order to understand the study from the participants' point of view. Whenever pertinent, we've also included anecdotal information about how a study was done or came to be; these brief stories allow readers insights into the heretofore hidden world of creating research. See, for example, the description of how Nisbett and Wilson (1977) designed one of their experiments on the accuracy of people's causal inferences on page 150 and the description of the origins of Aronson's jigsaw puzzle technique on pages 498-499.
As you will see from flipping through the book, we include a large number of charts and graphs detailing the results of individual experiments. The field of social psychology is expanding rapidly, and exciting new work is being done in all areas of the discipline. In this fourth edition, we have added a great deal of new material, describing dozens of major studies done within the past few years. We have added hundreds of new references, more from the past few years. Thus the book provides thorough coverage of up-to-date, cutting-edge research.
In emphasizing what is new, many texts have a tendency to ignore what is old. We have striven to strike a balance between the latest research findings and classic research in social psychology. Some older studies (e.g., early work in dissonance, conformity, and attribution) deserve their status as classics and are important cornerstones of the discipline. For example, unlike several other current texts, we present detailed descriptions of the Schachter and Singer (1962) study on misattribution of emotion (Chapter 5), the Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) dissonance study (Chapter 6), and the Asch (1956) conformity studies (Chapter 8). We then bring the older theories up to date, following our discussions of the classics with modern approaches to the same topics, including culture, gender, self, and emotion (e.g., Cross, Bacon, & Morris, 2000; Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, & Nisbett, 1998) in Chapter 5; self-esteem maintenance (e.g., Steele's self-affirmation theory and Higgins's self-discrepancy theory) in Chapter 6; the process of dissonance reduction in different cultures (e.g., Sakai, 1998; Stone, Wiegand, Cooper, & Aronson, 1997; Viswesvaran & Deshpande, 1996) in Chapter 6; and minority influence (e.g., Wood, Lundgren, Ouellette, Busceme, & Blackstone, 1994) in Chapter 8. This allows students to experience the continuity and depth of the field, rather than regarding it as a collection of studies published in the past few years.
To illustrate more concretely how the fourth edition has been updated, here is a sampling of new research that is covered:
To understand behavior in a social context, we must consider such influences as culture and gender. Rather than adding a chapter on these important topics, we discuss them in every chapter, as they apply to the topic at hand. In many places, we discuss the wonderful diversity of humankind by presenting research on the differences between people of different cultures, races, or genders. We also discuss the commonalties people share by illustrating the applicability of many phenomena across culture, race, and gender. Here are examples:
In recent years, social psychologists have become increasingly interested in an evolutionary perspective on many aspects of social behavior. Once again, our approach is to integrate this perspective into the parts of chapters where it is relevant, rather than devoting a separate chapter to this topic. We present what we believe is a balanced approach, discussing evolutionary psychology as well as alternatives to it. Here are examples of places in which we discuss the evolutionary approach:
One of the best ways to capture students' interest is to point out the real-world significance of the material they are studying. From the vignette that opens each chapter and runs throughout it to the discussions of historical events, current affairs, and our own lives that are embedded in the story line, the narrative is highlighted by real, familiar examples. Applications are an integral part of social psychology, however, and deserve their own treatment. In addition to an integrated coverage of applied topics in the body of the text, we include additional coverage in two ways.
Interspersed throughout the fourth edition are Try It! exercises in which students are invited to apply the concepts they are learning to their everyday life. There are three such exercises in each chapter. They include detailed instructions about how to attempt to replicate actual social psychological experiments, such as Milgram's (1963) lost letter technique in Chapter 11 and Reno and colleagues' (1993) study on norms and littering in the second Social Psychology in Action module, "Social Psychology and the Environment." Other Try It! exercises reproduce self-report scales and invite the students to fill them out to see where they stand on these measures. Examples include Singelis's (1994) measure of people's interdependent and independent views of themselves in Chapter 5 and the Need for Cognition Scale in Chapter 7. Still others are quizzes that illustrate social psychological concepts, such as a Reasoning Quiz in Chapter 3 that illustrates judgmental heuristics, or demonstrations that explain how to use a particular concept in a student's everyday life, such as an exercise in Chapter 9 that instructs students to violate a sex-role norm and observe the consequences. Each exercise varies in format and time required. Additional Try It! exercises can be found on our companion Web site www.prenhall.com/aronson. The Try It! exercises are certain to generate a lot of student interest and make social psychological concepts more memorable and engaging.
Following Chapter 13 are three "modules" devoted to applied topics in social psychology—one on health, one on the environment, and one on the law—under the umbrella of "Social Psychology in Action." You might wonder why these modules use a different naming and numbering system than the other chapters. The reason is that they are designed to be free-floating units that can be assigned at virtually any point in the text. Although we do occasionally refer to numbered chapters in these modules, they are constructed as much as possible to stand as independent units that could be relevant at many different points in a social psychology course.
In talking with many professors who teach social psychology, we have been struck by how differently they present applied material. Some prefer to assign this material at the end of the course, after they have covered the major concepts, theories, and research findings. Others prefer to integrate it with the more theoretical material when relevant. Our applied modules are designed to be used in either way. In fact, there are several ways in which the chapters in our book could be assigned. The box above presents two sample outlines that instructors have used successfully with our book. Surely there are others; we present these to illustrate the flexibility of the order in which the chapters and applied modules can be assigned.
A really good textbook should become part of the classroom experience, supporting and augmenting the professor's vision for the class. Social Psychology offers a number of supplements that will enrich both the professor's presentation of social psychology and the students' understanding of it.
Elliot Aronson is delighted to acknowledge the general contributions of his best friend (who also happens to be his wife), Vera Aronson. Vera, as usual, provided a great deal of inspiration for his ideas and acted as the sounding board for and supportive critic of many of his semi-formed notions, helping to mold them into more sensible analyses. He would also like to thank his son, Joshua Aronson, a brilliant young social psychologist in his own right, for the many stimulating conversations that contributed mightily to the final version of this book. For this, the fourth edition, Linda Tropp provided valuable specific research assistance.
Tim Wilson would like to thank his graduate mentor, Richard E. Nisbett, who nurtured his interest in the field and showed him the continuity between social psychological research and everyday life. He thanks his graduate students, Sara Algoe, David Centerbar, Elizabeth Dunn, Debby Kermer, Jaime Kurtz, Jay Meyers, and Thalia Wheatley, who helped keep him a well-balanced professor—a researcher as well as a teacher and author. He thanks his parents, Elizabeth and Geoffrey Wilson, for their overall support. Most of all, he thanks his wife, Deirdre Smith, and his children, Christopher and Leigh, for their love, patience, and understanding, even when the hour was late and the computer was still on.
Robin Akert would like to thank her students and colleagues at Wellesley College for their support and encouragement. In particular, she is beholden to Patricia Berman, Jonathan Cheek, Regan Bernhard, and Alison Bibbins. Their advice, feedback, and senses of humor were vastly appreciated. She is deeply grateful to her family, Michaela and Wayne Akert, and Linda and Jerry Wuichet; their inexhaustible enthusiasm and boundless support have sustained her on this project as on all the ones before it. Once again she thanks C. Issak for authorial inspiration. Finally, no words can express her gratitude and indebtedness to Dane Archer, mentor, colleague, and friend, who opened the world of social psychology to her and who has been her guide ever since.
No book can be written and published without the help of a great many people working with the authors behind the scenes, and our book is no exception. We would like to thank the many colleagues who read one or more chapters of this edition and of previous editions of the book.