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Applying Social Psychology Theories To Explain Behavior

In Week 2, you were introduced to the bystander effect (Darley & Latané, 1968). The perceived diffusion of responsibility makes bystanders less likely to intervene in an emergency situation. It might be tempting to assume that aggressors and the bystanders who do nothing to intervene are just “bad” people; however, the reasons for how and why these behaviors occur are much more complex. In this assignment, you will consider how factors such as obedience to authority, perceived power, and diffused responsibility in the presence of others may explain varied responses to potential or actual harm to others.

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Darley, J.M. & Latané, B. (1968). Bystander interview in emergencies: Diffusion of responsibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 8(4), 377-383.

To Prepare:

  • Review the Hock (2013) readings on social psychology theories and principles. Think about the influence of environmental and social context on behavior.
  • Reflect on the following social media scenario:
    You are reading posts in your favorite social media site, when you come across a post by a 19-year-old male. He writes that he was raped at a party last night and he’s afraid they will post pictures of it online. He is contemplating suicide. You notice three types of behaviors in the comments to him:
  1. A small group of individuals are using profanity and belittling him. They are encouraging him to commit suicide.
  2.  A larger group of individuals are making supportive comments and providing the number for a crisis help line.
  3. Many of his online followers have not responded to his post.
  • Think about how social psychology theories or principles could be applied to explain the types of comments made to the 19-year-old in the scenario.

By Day 7

Submit a 2- to 3-page paper that addresses the following:

  • Describe the impact of social context on conformity, obedience, and helping behaviors.
  • Explain how social psychology theories or principles could be applied to account for each of the responses in the scenario (e.g., which principles/theories could explain response type A; which principles/theories could explain response type B, and so on). Be sure to support your assertions with scholarly content.
  • Provide at least one recommendation to help reduce the derogatory comments or increase the number of supportive comments in the scenario, based on what you have learned about social psychology.

Note: Support your statements with specific references to the Learning Resources and any additional sources you identify using both in-text citations and references. It is strongly recommended that you include proper APA format and citations.

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