Journal 12

Last Saturday my friends and I went downtown to have a dinner together, because we had just finished our Japanese project. Hoping to look slim on May Day, I had gone on a diet for a week and only ate vegetable salad. However, when we sat down and began to order, all the other people ordered hamburgers and French fries. When it was my turn to order, I really didn’t want to give up my diet, but seeing all the other people were ordering hamburgers, I’m afraid if I just ate salad they would think me as a strange person. Therefore, I told the waiter I also wanted a hamburger.

My experience showed an example of groupthink, which members want to minimize conflicts and reach a dysfunctional decision. In this case, I gave up my choice of vegetable salad because I’m afraid if I did so, the friendship with those people would be hurt, because it seemed like I did something differently and against them.

I think groupthink is more likely to happen in collectivism countries than individualism countries. Since collectivism cultures focus on groups within the society and tend to see the society as a whole; people in collectivism countries are loyal to group interests. However individualism cultures focus on individual, self and immediate family, but few obligations to the larger community. Therefore, people in collectivism cultures, when working together or just when staying with the other members, consider group harmony to be the most important and easy to conform to others. As a result, when I went to the dinner with my Chinese friends, I didn’t want to be a disloyal member of my group, and the other group members might feel that I was selfish just because I made my own choice without concerning about their feelings.

Groupthink is also likely to happen if someone is low self-esteem. Since people who are low self-esteem always have negative attitude toward themselves and low confidence. Consequently, when group is making decisions, they were afraid of their thoughts were wrong and they felt like if they said something different, other group members will dislike them.

Groupthink always happens on me. As a person who grew up in collectivism countries, I had been taught that it was rude if you say something against the other in one group, therefore when doing group projects I often conformed to others even if I held different opinions. However, learning about groupthink makes me know that this so-called “sacrifice” not only discomforts yourself but also hurts decision-making of the whole group, since the one of the main goals of group collaboration is to absorb everyone’s opinions and reached a better outcome.

Journal 11

This semester, besides the Social Psychology class, I also took the Experimental Method and Statistics in Bryn Mawr, as it was one of the major requirement courses. Since it was a really big class, therefore we had about 15 people in each lab sessions. One of the assignments we had to finish as a whole group was that we needed to actually run an experiment and then report the whole process and results to the class together. We wre divided into 2 groups: one was the replication group that took charge in doing a same experiment as in the study we picked; the other one was the extension group, which proposed a new hypothesis related to the original one and designed a new experiment to test the hypothesis. I was one of the 8 people who were in the extension group. After the TA told us the process of doing the tasks, we simply created a Google doc in the end of our lab so that everyone could edit and work together on our project. However, things didn’t go on very smoothly. Everyone including me seemed to procrastinate on our work, and the Google doc even left blank several hours before our deadline. In our next lab, the TA told us that professor of this class would grade our presentation of the project based on our evaluation of each other. Once being told this piece of information, everyone seemed to become dedicated to the work, and we finished our second draft on the Google doc right after we came back from the lab.

To see this change from a psychology perspective, we can see how social loafing works here. Social loafing refers to tendency that individuals put less effort when putting into a group, and the more people in the group, the less effort everyone would like to contribute. In this example, since we had 8 people in one group and we worked together on one document instead of assigning part of the work to each one, everyone might think like “I didn’t need to put much effort in it, other group members would do more”. As a result, efficiency of the group was decreased. However, we have learned in class that one of the methods to combat social loafing was to create personal accountability. Just as shown in the example, when we were told that our grade would be based on evaluation of other group members, we knew that if we didn’t take responsibility to this project, we would be rated low and finally affected the final grade. Therefore, everyone in the group became high-efficiency and dedicated to this project.

Though we now finish our project successfully, we experienced a tough time of doing work overnight because of our inefficiency at first. If we could realize the occurrence of social loafing and the methods to deal with it, it wouldn’t be that tough in the end. For example, if we could assign part of the work to each other instead of working together, since each one took responsibility of their part, social loafing would decrease. Moreover, if we could divide our 8 people group into smaller group like group of 2, because of the small group size, social loafing could also be reduced.

Journal 9

In 2011, a traffic accident triggered towering wave in China. A 2-year kid called Yue was rolled over by two cars in 7 minutes. In the 7 minutes, 18 people walked by and saw what happened but they all turned a blind eye to it. The kid finally died, and introspection of indifference of Chinese was discussed for quite a long time on the Internet.  Most people blamed that those eyewitness were devoid of conscience and lost their moral bottom line. Some of the people even said that the witness should also be convicted of murder, like the car driver. I remember at that time, I was also shocked by this event, and in the same time I questioned myself, if I were one of the witness, would I called the police at once or just walked away?

This event was astonishingly similar to the murder of Kitty Genovese, which numerous neighbors witnessed the process of the murder but no one stood out and helped her.

Exclude the possibility that some of the witness didn’t see clearly what happened at that time therefore didn’t give any help, I think we can see this event as a conform behavior from social psychological perspective. Conformity involves acting like the majority of a group or changing behavior to fit in the specific group. Imagine you are the one of the witnesses who was at the scene. When you saw what happened and then observed around and found that no one even cared about it, you might also think that “maybe she didn’t hurt that much” or “oh, if I went to helped her or called the police, will I be seen as awkward?” Since no one else took any actions, you didn’t want to be such a weird person who did something differently. It is also known as the bystander effect, which means people are less likely to take actions if there are more witnesses around. In the study conducted by John Darley and Bibb Latane, they found that if leaving participant alone in one room, it was more likely for them to take action than if staying with two other participants.

As a result, we can assume that in the same situation, if only one person walked by and found the little girl was lying on the ground, that person might called the police at once or helped her directly. The question I now raise is how we should prevent such tragedy from happening again, since under most conditions, it is hard to just have only one person besides. However, I think next time when seeing the same thing happened, as people who know about bystander effect, we should not push our responsibility to others, therefore we’d better call the police or emergency at once and asked others to help immediately.

Journal 8

Last week, since both my friend and I ran out of our skin care products, we went to the Bluemercury in Ardmore to buy some new ones. Once we entered, the Beauty Advisor was very enthusiastic to us and asked us whether we need something. Actually I had already decided which brand to buy, but since she was so eager to help, I told her that I wanted to find face cream. This Beauty Advisor then brought all different brands of face cream to me and introduced all their differences and traits for me. She also gave me small samples to try their texture and smell. Finally, I chose from one of the products among those she gave me to try, though it was more expensive than the original one I intended to buy. My friend, however, reacted totally opposite of me: no matter what the Beauty Advisor said or recommended, she always insisted on the original brand she planned to buy. However, when I went back home, I regretted to buy it because I felt like it was no difference with the cheaper one I intended to buy at first.

After learning about Cialdini’s 6 principles of influence, I think my experience can be a great example of the rule of reciprocity. The rule of reciprocity is a tendency that people feel obligated to do something for some one because this person first do something for them. In this case, since the Beauty Advisor treated me warmly and kindly, and gave me many samples to try, I felt like she had done a lot for me, as a result, I felt obligated to buy products she recommended to me, even if they were more expensive. If I had been aware of the rule of reciprocity during the process, I might be more rational when the Beauty Advisor recommended products for me, but I still possibly bought what she recommended, since I really felt guilty if she spent much time treating me and I just ignored her and insisted my own idea!


However, my friend was behaving as inconsistent with rule of reciprocity. She was not influenced by what the others had said or done for her and insisted of her original idea all the time. The huge difference between her and me makes me attribute the explanation according to Elaboration Likelihood Model, which process of attitude change can be seen from “Who said what to whom, under what circumstances.” Here I want to focus on audience characteristics, which is the “whom” part in the sentence. Audience characteristics include self-esteem, ability, intelligence, motivation, etc. If one person has low self-esteem, he or she will be easier to be persuaded, because of the uncertainty about self. I’m a person with low self-esteem, therefore, when others treated me eagerly in order to change my attitude, I am more likely to go through peripheral processing, which focuses on irrelevant cues rather than systematically considering about the quality, since I was not confident about myself and the decision I made. My friend, comparing to me, is a person with high self-esteem who is not easily persuaded. She is more likely to go through central processing, which focuses more on the quality rather than other irrelevant cues. Therefore, no matter what others said to her, if she already had an idea in mind, she will not change it.

Journal 7


As the nature of women, both my mom and I love go shopping. We always go shopping in the shopping mall that is close to our home. The average price of women clothes is not that expensive, except one brand called “TW”, which is much more expensive than the other brands and the average price for a t-shirt can be equal to 100 dollars. We really love TW’s clothes but due to the high price we seldom buy it. However, one day we went downtown to have dinner with friends and then went shopping to a new shopping mall nearby. Since it was a downtown shopping mall, the things in it were all not that cheap and the women clothes were all more expensive than those in the shopping mall near our home, which average price for shirts was about 150 dollars. As we walked along the shops we suddenly found TW, the brand we love. This time when we shopped it, we felt like it was not that expensive than before and we actually buy some of the clothes.

Such experience gives evidence of perceptual contrasts, which people exaggerate differences between two objects, and tend to see the second one as more different from the first one than it actually is. In this case, when we shopped in the shopping mall near home, because clothes of other brands in that mall were not expensive, TW became outstanding and we considered it as more expensive than it actually did. However, when we went to a new shopping mall where clothes were all expensive, clothes of TW seemed not that expensive than before comparing to the other expensive ones, though the price of it did not change.

As discussed before, if the environment changed, the perceptual effect would not happened and we would not behave like that way: if the other brands in the mall were not expensive, we would not think TW was cheap and we would not buy it.

However, if I realize the perceptual contrast earlier or when I am shopping, I think I will become more rational on shopping. Though comparing to other brands, TW seems to be cheaper, but actually it is the perceptual contrast that make me feel like that way and actually the price doesn’t change, therefore I will still not buy it, because I know I will regret when one day I come back to the old mall and find that TW is still an expensive brand!

Considering the perceptual contrast from the seller’s perspective, if they could arrange the order of they brands according to perceptual contrast, they may profit more. For example, if the can arrange luxury brands close to the door and some expensive brands behinds those luxury brands, comparing to luxury brands which are extremely expensive, customers will consider those expensive brands to be less expensive than before and will be willing to buy some expensive products.


Journal 6

My dad was a person who is obsessed with desserts and all sweet food. Whenever he made any dishes, he always put a lot of sugar in it, which makes my mom suffer from too much sugar all the time. However, this year when he went for a medical examination, he was found hypertension and the doctor suggested the cause to be eating too much sweet food. Knowing about this fact, my mom told my dad that he could no longer eat as much sweet food as before, but he still went his own way secretly. One day when my mom found that he was still eating many desserts, she had a quarrel with him, stating that what he was doing could hurt his body, but my dad argued that his dad, who was my grandfather, who was also addicted to dessert and other sweet food, was very healthy as age of 80. He also said that there were many centenarians who love eating sweet food or even smoking and drinking all the time, but still had healthy bodies.

As a person who was also addicted to desserts, I really understood him. But looking at this experience from a psychology perspective, we can find that when cognitive dissonance happened and how dissonance theory applied to real life. Cognitive dissonance indicated a feeling of discomfort that results from holding 2 conflicting beliefs. My dad knew that eating sweet food was not good for his health, but he still loved them so much. 2 conflicting beliefs raised and therefore he felt inconsistent and uncomfortable. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, cognitive dissonance theory said that something much change in order to reduce dissonance. Consequently, my dad gained a new cognition that many other people who also loved eating sweet food or even had worse living habits could be healthy, creating dissonance among cognitions.

Such experience can also be explained with Theory of Planned Behavior. Here is a picture that fully illustrate what does this theory mean:

TPB graphic

Here my dad had a positive attitude toward sweet food; my mom, who referred to the subjective norm, told him eating sweet food was bad for his health, however, my dad then thought that he didn’t have the will power to quit this habit, therefore he still ate sweet food as before.

This two explanation both describe how attitudes form, change and then influence our behaviors. However, the question I now have after considering the experience in light of psychology viewpoint is whether everyone is affected on the same level. To be specific, if a person is low self-esteem, as we learned from the process of attitude change through Elaboration Likelihood Model, he or she is easier to persuade, comparing to high self-esteem person. As a result, in Planned Behavior Theory, high self-esteem people might be less affected by the subjective norms, because they are confident of themselves so that they are less likely to comply to normative beliefs.

Journal 5

The advertisement of Nissin Cup Noodle is one of my favorite advertisements. After learning about Yale Model of persuasive Communication, I wanted to apply this model to the advertisement to see the strengths and weakness of it.

General speaking, this advertisement is really creative. It has a topic of “survival” and it talked about Japanese office workers struggle competitively under globalization, because learning English becomes important for international communications nowadays, but their English is not that good. This advertisement is involved with self-deprecation, and I think it struck responsive chord with many Asians.

Now let’s analysis this advertisement form the Message Learning  Approach. There are 6 steps that make up the chain of persuasion: exposure, attention, comprehension, acceptance, retention and action. For exposure, we not only present the messages to the audience, but also hope audience can get familiar with the advertisement and raise awareness of it. The advertisement of Nissin Cup Noodle, is really fun and not that long generally, therefore it can stand out from other common and boring advertisements, and audience will not feel weary about this advertisement.

The next step is attention. One important target of advertisement is how to catch audience’ attention. Since most people had a negative effect of advertisement, for interrupting them from seeing a show, and most of the advertisements are boring. In order to catch audience’s attention, some advertisements use background music, louder sound, celebrities, etc. to make people take notice of their advertisement. In Nissin’s advertisement, first, the color of it is unusual, neither colorful nor black and white, but more like a vintage style, making people feel a sense of “survival” back to old time. Moreover, the setting of the advertisement is like 20th century, which stands out from other advertisement. Finally, it is not only a funny advertisement but also reflects realistic problems, so that it made people think about it even after ending.

The third step is comprehension, which means audience should understand what the advertisement is trying to say. I think this advertisement did not that good on this part. Though it talked about an easy-understanding story, but it is hard for audience to relate the story with the Nissin Cup Noodle.

The forth step is acceptance. This advertisement actually describes the concerns of almost all the businessman in Japan, therefore I think Japanese people or even all Asian people will accept their concept. One surprise of this advertisement is that when the Japanese “soldiers” were asked “How are you?” They replied “Fine, thank you. And youuuuuu.” all together. This is because both English textbooks in China and Japan had such dialogue and people all believe that it should be the right way to reply to “How are you” question. It was not  until I came here then realized that “Fine, thank you. And you” sounds like a weird answer.

Next step is retention, which means advertisement need to be reminder to the audience. This advertisement does a good job on this, because everyday when the businessmen go to work and use their English, they will come up with this advertisement, consciously or subconsciously. And as for me, this advertisement left a deep impression on me, so once I learned about the Yale Model of persuasive Communication, this advertisement came up to my mind.

The final step is action. Actually Nissin cup noodle is already a famous brand all over the world, so many people would like to buy it. However, this advertisement still help on Nissin’s selling, as my perspective of view. Because after watching their advertisement, as long as I want to buy cup noodles, the first brand comes up to mind is Nissin.

As a successful case of good advertisement, I think if other advertisement we watch everyday can be as good as this one, maybe one day the audience will be more interested in those advertisement instead of the TV show!




Journal 4


A screenshot of the show

About 9 years ago, an opera called “Don’t Talk to Strangers” became popular all across China. This show talked about a woman who suffered from domestic violence finally get rid of the conventional prejudice and safeguarded her own rights. The assailant was his husband, a famous doctor who had good reputation but actually was a sicko. The actor who played the role was called Yuanzheng Feng. After this opera became popular, Feng also became a household name. He said in one interview that after he acted this role, he was often “attacked” by people: someone punctured his type and even attacked him when he was having dinner.

Feng is from the same city of I am. When I was about 10 years old, one weekend my father drove us back home, when we stopped on the road, we found that Feng was in the car next to us. Suddenly we heard a woman shouted to Feng’s car “Don’t beat your wife again!”

I could not remember whether Feng responded to her or not, however, this event left a deep impression on me, because at that time I was thinking about why people gave vent to their anger of the role to the actor himself. For now, I think part of the reason can be discussed from view of classical conditioning. In this case, the role Feng played is the unconditioned stimulus (UCS), the anger of audience is the unconditioned response (UCR), and Feng himself is conditioned stimulus (CS). Since the role Feng played always abused and beat his wife, audience create negative impression even anger on the role. However, since it was Feng who played this character, audience thought that he was also a guy who abused his wife in real life. Such relation can be expressed as following:

Villain in the show (UCS) –> Negative impression (UCR)

Actor (CS) + Villain in the show (UCS) –> Negative impression (UCR)

Actor (CS) –> Negative impression (CR)

Instead of dislikes to the negative protagonists, we may also be attracted with positive protagonists in dramas. Since part of the reasons those fans like their idols was that the characters the stars presented on the screen were attractive, but not the actors or actresses themselves. For example, I love the character Sherlock Holmes played by the actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the British show Sherlock, because I think Sherlock was a cool and clever man, however, the actor himself may be not a person who was as cool and clever as the role he played. Such idolatry of stars can also be seen as Halo effect. Since most of the images stars present to public are attractive, and the roles they acted on the screen are always likeable, we tend to think them as smart and kind, just like the attractive roles they played on screen.

If we can see similar events from perspective of classic conditioning and (or) Halo Effect, there may be fewer people who are infatuated with those stars, and people will not feel astonished when finding that the stars they love are not that perfect in real life. Nowadays some teenagers are crazy of following those stars, they cut classes, leave their home and travel a long way to wait their stars in the hotels the stars live, and some of them even sacrifice their money for meals in order to get a flight tickets. It is not appropriate to judge whether their behavior is right or wrong, but it is indeed irrational. If these teenagers know about classical conditioning and Halo effect, and think about their behavior from these perspective, I think they will be much more rational fans of the stars.

Journal 3


This is the post made by Hong Kong newspaper stating that Hong Kong people screamed for not allowing main land people to buy milk powder in Hong Kong


This is the photo of demonstration of Hong Kong people protested against mainland pregnant women

Recently, the conflict between mainland China and Hong Kong become more and more fierce. In March, demonstration of “fighting against mainland” was reported on Chinese newspaper and some websites. Some Hong Kong people even compose a song called “song of locust” to satirize mainland Chinese are just like the locusts.

There are several events that I considered to be the fuse for the dissatisfaction of Kong Kong people. First, in 2008, some milk powder in mainland was found been added some chemical material “Melamine” that could cause infants to suffer urinary calculus. Such event sharply reduced people’s trust to almost all Chinese brand milk powder and more and more people chose to buy milk powder from Hong Kong. The huge demand of milk powder from mainland China caused the supply shortages of milk powder in Hong Kong, so even Hong Kong people could not buy their milk powder, which provoked a great deal of controversy.

Second, more and more mainland pregnant women go to Hong Kong to give birth, because they want their children to have Hong Kong permanent identity, which is freer than China identity and can be exempt from tax. Similarly, as more and more mainland pregnant women went to hospitals in Hong Kong, it gradually become harder and harder for Hong Kong women to find beds in hospitals, which also provoke discontent of Hong Kong people.

Such events make me think about the Robber’s Cave study that talked about group conflicts. In this study, 22 boys who were all unfamiliar with each other were assigned randomly to 2 groups. Researchers then created conflict between the 2 groups like arranging series of competitive activities. They found that the competition for limited resources led to conflict between two groups. However, in our cases, milk powder and the Hong Kong identity are the limited sources. As more and more mainland Chinese went to “strive” for these resources, the conflicts appeared, which deepened the contradiction between mainland and Hong Kong.  After thinking about these reasons in light of psychological theory, the question left is what can we do to improve the conflicts.  The one I come up with is that since the origin of the conflicts is the limited sources, if we can make the sources available to more people, the conflicts should be reduced. For example, if milk powder companies of mainland can improve quality of the milk powder, then I think there will be fewer mainland people to buy milk powder from Hong Kong. For the second limited source, although I know it is hard to achieve, if the government could expand the extent of rights of people, then maybe fewer people will be willing to go to a long way to Hong Kong to give birth.

Moreover, Sherif indicated that by bringing two groups into cooperation, group conflicts were reduced and two groups were connected again (Sherif, 1956).  Therefore, based on such finding, I wonder if we can create any chance for people from mainland and Hong Kong to cooperate with each other, then the conflicts will decrease.

Before learning about competition from psychological view, I was always taught that competition is good for the growth of group. For instance, teachers told us competition could help us have a sense of crisis if we knew that others did better than ourselves, and competition made students work harder. Also, in most of Chinese schools, teachers tend to be like good students more and pay more attention to them, and give less care to those who get bad grades. As a result, good students generated stereotype to “bad” students and “bad” students also dislike good ones, which conflicts in the class were produced. However, after learning about Robber’s Cave Study and the jigsaw group study by Aronson and Bridgeman (1979), I realize that the best way for the growth of a group is to create cooperation and connect the group members. If we can divide groups for good students and “bad” students work together or if we can ask good students help students with low grades, we can bring the class into harmony and every students are able to become better.