Psychoanalysis Essay, Research Paper

A Day in my Life:

An Analysis of Social Psychology

As I sit in my apartment, waiting for my friend Heather to pick me up, I begin to feel very frustrated. It is neither the first nor the second time, for that matter, that she has been late. In fact, she has been late so many times that I have lost count. She used to make external attributions for her constant inability to be punctual, such as telling me that her alarm clock broke or that her mother called her just as she was about to leave. Once she even externally attributed her tardiness on a dog attacking her right before she left to come and pick me up, but she looked fine and had no wounds on her, so I started to wonder. I slowly began to realize that all of the external attributions that she had been making as excuses were not truly valid, and so I began to make an internal attribution for her behavior. In other words, I stopped attributing her behavior to external factors and realized that that is just the way that she is. Thus, I was able to distinguish between external and internal attributions in order to accurately judge the character of my friend.

As I am sitting there waiting for her to pick me up, my mind wanders, and I start to think back to the time that I first became friends with Heather. We became friends mainly due to proximity. To be honest, I did not really like Heather very much when I first met her. She seemed to be rude and snobby to me, and I just did not get a good feeling from her. However, due to the fact that she lived next door to me and that our mothers were good friends, I saw her on a regular, frequent basis, and so, due to the mere exposure effect, I gradually began to like her. Thus, due to proximity and the mere exposure effect, just because we lived close to each other and saw each other frequently, I began to like Heather and became friends with her.

The sound of Heather?s horn outside interrupted my thoughts; she had finally arrived at my apartment to pick me up. We had to pick up another one of our friends, and then we were all going to go shopping together at the local mall. We arrived at Julie?s dorm building, parked in the parking lot, and walked over to Julie?s room. We were somewhat rudely greeted at the door by her roommate, Becky, who we had not met before. She did not say much to us; she barely said hi and did not even seem to attempt to smile. Heather and I exchanged glances of disapproval; we both thought that Becky was rude. We stayed in their dorm room for a while, talking and gossiping as we were waiting for Julie to get ready. As we were all talking, Becky started being nice and friendly, and she apologized for acting rudely when we first got there; she explained that she had gotten in a fight with her boyfriend and, as a result, was not in a good mood earlier. We all continued to talk together, and I began to like Becky, gradually disregarding the rudeness she displayed when we first met her. Heather, however, still disliked Becky because she was still more influenced by her first impression of Becky than she was by Becky?s later actions. Thus, Julie being more influenced by the first information that she received from Becky is an example of the primacy effect.

Julie was finally ready, and so we left her dorm and got in the car. As we were getting in the car, we were all trying to decide on which one of the local malls we should go to. I thought that we should go to the Beverly Center in Beverly Hills, and Julie thought that we should go to the Westside Pavilion. We could not decide, so we asked Heather to decide for us. Heather had never been to the Beverly Center, so she asked us what it was like. Julie said that it was not a very good mall because it was a farther drive and did not have a good selection of stores. I responded, however, by saying that I thought that it was a great mall, with a superb selection of trendy stores. Nonetheless, Heather decided to go to the Westside Pavilion instead of the Beverly Center. Her decision is an example of the inoculation effect because she heard Julie?s weaker argument before she heard my second, stronger argument. She rejected the first, weaker argument, and so this caused her to reject the second one also. Thus, we ended up going to the Westside Pavilion.

After a few minutes on the road, we arrived at the Westside Pavilion. We parked the car and then started going to various stores in the mall. After we had been there for about an hour, we saw a group of friends of ours from school. We do not know them very well, but we stopped and talked to them for a little while. I noticed a change in Heather?s behavior when we were around them. She acted a lot more outgoing than usual, and I concluded that it was her attempt to conform?to fit in?with the other people that we were talking to. Through observing Heather?s fluctuating behavior, it became clear to me that she was a high self-monitor?someone who acts in the manner in which he or she believes allows him or her to best conform in a situation. I continued to watch her altered behavior as we talked to them. After a little while, we parted with that group of people, and Heather?s behavior consequently changed back to how it was before we had come across them. I thought that it was interesting to observe Heather?s distinctiveness?her changing behavior around varying social partners.

After we had been shopping for a couple of hours, we decided that it was time that we leave because Heather and I had a big project that we had to work on for one of our classes. Heather drove us back to school and dropped Julie back at her dorm, and then we went to Heather?s apartment to work on our projects. As we began working on them, Heather became frustrated with her project and said that she did very well on the last project because she has a natural talent for art, which is the class we were doing the project for, but that she was probably not going to be able to receive as good of a grade on this project because it was a peculiar project that she thought was a ridiculous waste of time. Heather was demonstrating a self-serving bias because she was giving herself as much credit as she could for her success on her last project while she was attempting to reduce her responsibility for her possible failure on this project. In fact, it later turned out that she did not receive a very good grade on the project. I concluded that it was due to the fact that Heather did not think that she was going to do very well on the project, and so she did not work as hard as she could have. I suspected that she was utilizing a self-handicapping strategy by not working as hard on the project so that she had an excuse for not receiving a good grade on it.

Anyhow, we worked on our projects at Heather?s apartment for a few hours, and then Heather drove me back to my apartment. When I got back, one of my roommates asked me if I would mind doing a favor for her. She asked me to proofread the essay that she had written–to correct all of the errors on the printed copy of the essay and then to go on the computer and correct them on there. She continued by asking if I would then print out the edited essay for her and then if I would create a cover page for the essay. I had a great deal of my own work to do, so I told her that I was sorry but that I did not have time to do all of that for her. She then followed her demanding request with a much more reasonable second request; she begged me just to proofread her essay, and I, feeling guilty denying the second, smaller request, obliged. Once I had proofread it for her, she laughed and triumphantly exclaimed, ?I knew you would do it!? She had successfully found a way to manipulate me into getting what she wanted using the door-in-the-face technique.

After that episode, my roommates and I decided to go out to eat dinner. We went to one of the local restaurants, and we talked about a variety of topics as we ate. The topic of Julie?s ex-boyfriend?someone we all dislike?dominated our conversation. I did not know him very well at the time, but from what I did know of him, I disliked him. I found him much more objectionable, however, after we discussed our disliking of him in such great detail and at such great length. This is an example of group polarization because our discussion of our negative feelings toward her ex-boyfriend created even stronger negative feelings in each of us toward him. Thus, we all left the restaurant with a newfound hatred for her ex-boyfriend.

After dinner, we all went back to our apartment, and I did some work for a little while. When I was finally able to go to bed, I pondered the events of the day. Looking back on it now, I am able to see the many roles that social psychology plays in our lives, even in just a single day. I am amazed at the great extent to which social perception and cognition influence our daily actions, and I find it very interesting to analyze these actions of ours in a psychological manner. In doing so, I find it helpful to utilize my knowledge of social psychology in order to consider my actions and the ways in which I can change them for the better. Thus, I have learned a lot from my study of social psychology, and I am able to discern many ways in which I can use this knowledge on a daily basis.



December 1999


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