Enter hilarious blog title here: Social Psychology

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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Social Psychology

Mei En is a champ!!!
'nuff said.

I have finally started to read my textbook for social psychology. I realised that it is quite easy to read, as well as being rather interesting.

It's quite funny too.

Susan T. Fiske (from Social Beings)
"To illustrate social psychology at work, try this exercise. Take a clean sheet of paper, and fold it in half the long way. Now open it up, and fold one top corner down to meet the centre crease. Then fold down the other top corner the same way. Now fold the paper in half again along the centre crease. Fold one of the long sides backward to the outside of the crease, making another fold parallel to the central one. Flip the paper over and repeat this last step on the other side. What is this shape? What does it look like?

If you are like most readers, you have probably read this far and not done what I just asked you to do; you are reading on ahead to see if it is really necessary to put the book down, find a piece of paper, think through each instruction, fold the paper, and so on. No one will know whether you do it or not, so why bother until you find out if you really have to? You are especially unlikely to have followed these instructions if you are sitting someplace where others can see you.

Now try a thought experiment: Compare your reactions to those of students in my social psychology classes. In large and small classes alike, to a person, they all obediently take their pristine course syllabus, fold it in half, fold down the top corners, and construct... what? A paper airplane.

I never quite have the nerve to ask my students too take off their shoes and put them on their desks, or to stand up and face the back of the classroom and wave at the projection booth, but I suspect that if I did, they would probably comply. Why? Would they normally take off their shoes and put them on the desk in front of them? Would they normally fold their syllabus into a paper airplane? Then, why do they do it, semester after semester, year after year? Because I ask them to. But that's not the only reason. They comply because everyone else does. And why did you not fold the paper airplane when I asked you to? Because your professor is not standing over you, in person and in authority. (If you did do it, you are a remarkably cooperative and active learner; congratulations!) In the classroom -- as opposed to your room, the library, the lounge, or wherever you are reading this -- two simultaneous forms of social pressure occur: the professor's request and other people going along with it."

If you have actually gotten to the end of reading this, I congratulate you. And wow, 250 hugs... I do feel special!!


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