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.