Unit VII Reflection Paper SP


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Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VII Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

4. Discuss the application of social psychology to a variety of disciplines. 4.1 Apply social psychology concepts to a real-world work setting. 4.2 Distinguish between responses to social psychology concepts by paid versus unpaid positions

in the workplace. 4.3 Discuss how behavioral economics can create social dilemmas in the workplace.

Course/Unit Learning Outcomes

Learning Activity

4.1 Unit Lesson Mini-Chapter G Unit VII Reflection Paper


Unit Lesson Mini-Chapter G Mini-Chapter H Unit VII Reflection Paper


Unit Lesson Mini-Chapter E Mini-Chapter G Unit VII Reflection Paper

Reading Assignment Mini-Chapter E: Social Psychology and Behavioral Economics Mini-Chapter G: Social Psychology of Work: Industrial/Organizational Psychology Mini-Chapter H: Social Psychology of Volunteerism and Internships

Unit Lesson Social Psychology and Behavioral Economics As social psychology reflects the influence of and interaction with the social world around you, the field is easily applied to many different settings and disciplines. This unit will focus on how social psychology can be applied to economic decisions and the workplace, whether that is as an employer, an employee, a volunteer, or even an intern. Consider how many hours a week the average adult works. How integral is earning a paycheck to your daily living? How do economic decisions drive what you do and what you value? It is no wonder that psychologists show interest in studying these fields. Behavioral economics is the study of how economic decisions are influenced by psychological factors indicating what people value (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). In decision-making, one can be rational, going with the most optimal outcome, or irrational, following heuristics and biases. These two paths roughly correspond to the concepts of intuition and logic you learned about in Chapter 4, only applied to a specific type of decision.


Application of Social Psychology to the Workplace

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While larger businesses and companies may be able to follow a traditional economic approach and employ rational decision-making models, psychological forces often sway a given individual to a less rational approach. Indeed, a key idea that developed through the study of behavioral economics is loss aversion, which is the tendency to weight losses more psychologically heavy than gains of a similar magnitude (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Examples of losses and gains are often described in monetary terms. Can you think of other types of gains and losses that may be perceived similarly? Ultimately, humans function under bounded rationality, in that our cognitive capacities limit the ability to be truly, strictly rational in all decisions (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Reading about behavioral economics can be difficult at first, but the field can be applied in many tangible ways, including the workplace. The social interactions experienced in the workplace often require you to depend on others to finish a project or reach a conclusion and, in doing so, can create social dilemmas that pit cooperative values against competitive values. Two specific scenarios reflect this clash of values. One is the prisoner’s dilemma, in which you and a partner have to simultaneously decide whether to cooperate (in which both partners receive a relatively positive outcome) or compete (in which one partner receives a much larger positive outcome) with each other (Heinzen & Goodfriend,

2019). Watch the video below to learn more about this social dilemma. Scientific American. (2012, June 5). What is the prisoner’s dilemma? – Instant Egghead #9 [Video file].

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUTWcYXVR5w Click here for a transcript of the video. The other is the ultimatum game, in which one partner decides how to divide an amount of money, and the other partner decides whether to accept this division. If the offer is accepted, the money is awarded as stated, but if the offer is rejected, neither partner gets any money (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). While money is the typical unit of division for the ultimatum game, this paradigm could also be applied to division of workload on a group project. In both social dilemmas, there is a rational choice to be made. For the prisoner’s dilemma, one should always cooperate to achieve a more positive overall outcome, and for the ultimatum game, the proposer should choose to keep as much money as possible, while the decider should accept whatever is offered to ensure a gain. Most people do not follow these choices and are instead influenced by psychological variables. The lure of large potential gains and perceptions of fairness often guide how these social dilemmas conclude. What is more important to you, making the best possible decision, even at the expense of your coworkers, or making a decision that accounts for the potential benefits to your coworkers? How might this affect your reputation and future social interactions at work? Social Psychology of Work Industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology is the area of study that researches people in the workplace, applying psychological theory to meet the needs of organizations and employees (Heinzen & Goodfriend,

As an example of loss aversion, a grocery store gave customers the option of saving five cents for not asking for plastic bags or charging five cents for using the bags. Charging for the bags was a bigger deterrent. (Slegers, n.d.)

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2019). This application of theory to solve a practical problem in the real world is referred to as the scientist- practitioner model and separates I/O psychology from many other areas within the field. Notable figures in psychology have been promoting the application of various theories and principles to education, business, and law settings for many years, but I/O psychology came to the forefront of psychology during World Wars I and II (as did social psychology). One of the most notable figures during this time was Walter Dill Scott, a professor, and later president, at Northwestern University. Initially, Scott faced resistance to his ideas regarding mass psychological testing on military recruits in order to aid personnel placement. Through his persistence and approach to psychology not just as a theoretical science, but also as a problem- solving practice, Scott was able to establish a focus on individual capacities (e.g., personality, integrity, and physical abilities) as the norm for placement in a variety of industries and workplaces (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Have you ever taken a test that provided you with a list of careers in which you might be good or enjoy? Do you think there is value in these type of test results? Did these test results influence your chosen career path? To learn more about how psychological testing can be used as part of the hiring process, view the following video: Video Education America (Producer). (2013). Advantages and disadvantages of psychometric testing

(Segment 4 of 5) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?auth=CAS&url=http://fod.infobase.com/PortalPla ylists.aspx?wID=273866&xtid=53207&loid=210819

The transcript for this video can be found by clicking the “Transcript” tab to the right of the video in the Films on Demand database. Since I/O psychology blends both science and practice, there are four main work areas for I/O psychologists:

 academia,

 consulting firms,

 business/industry, and

 governmental agencies. Within those work areas, there are several subfields that can be differentiated by whether the subfield aims to enhance the employee’s or the employer’s experience. A famous example that focused on employee experience, in this case, productivity, was conducted at the Hawthorne Works Western Electric plant (Mayo, 1933, 1945). Productivity was found to increase when management observed the workers. Why do you think this result occurred? Some psychologists have suggested that the increased attention was interpreted as the company caring more about the employees, leading the employees to feel better and work harder. Increasing productivity is not the only avenue for focusing on employee experience. I/O psychologists strive to find the best fit between a job and an individual while placing the worker as a valued contributor to the process. What makes you feel happy and valued in a work setting? Often, employees’ satisfaction with a job itself lies with how they are evaluated, how they compensated, and how they balance work with the rest of their life, but workplace morale can be hard to measure accurately because outside factors influence how employees feel as well (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). To address this issue, I/O psychologists construct criteria for determining how well employees are performing and programs to help motivate workers. These programs can include compensation packages, bonuses, or employee assistance programs that aid in enhancing employees’ ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. On the other end of the spectrum, I/O psychologists also help guide organizations to be more efficient and effective in reaching their goals as a company. Have you ever been in a position of leadership? What goals did you have for your group? What tactics seemed to work? What tactics seemed to fail? Leadership, including effective styles and short- versus long-term effect, is one example of how I/O psychology focuses on the employer’s experience. Have you ever applied for a job that turned out to be different from what the ad stated? Another way that I/O psychology works to benefit the employer or organization is by assessing the personnel needs of the organization and developing more specific guidelines for those positions. In doing so, the organization can

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communicate more accurate needs and requirements in their job ads and avoid any bait-and-switch pitfalls with new hires. Additionally, I/O psychologists can aid an organization by focusing on future goals and recommending strategic plans to achieve them. Changes in a particular industry or marketplace will occur, so I/O psychologists evaluate the current situation and organizational structure, address inevitable (and predicted) changes, and develop ways to tackle potential issues in order to maximize future growth and success (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Social Psychology of Volunteerism and Internships The job one works may not come with a paycheck or last long-term but may be a volunteer or intern position. Specifically, volunteerism is when a person engages in prosocial behavior that is planned and for the long- term, while an internship is a supervised work experience that gives a person experience and also insight into the job (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). What leads people to pursue volunteer and internship experiences? Volunteering and internships can be beneficial long-term for both the individual and the organization, but in the short-term, hold many costs for the individual, including the lack of a paycheck. Have you ever held one of these positions? What motivated you to do so?

In exploring what draws people to these positions, many factors have been identified. Sometimes, people volunteer for very practical reasons, such as using it to increase marketability when job searching. This can be particularly important to even the playing field for job candidates with lower education levels or resumes that may not match all desired qualifications (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). However, more often, the factors that influence volunteering are less practical but instead indicate who a person is or what he or she values. Much like general prosocial tendencies, higher scores on the personality traits of agreeableness and extraversion, that promote prosocial values, predict more volunteering. Many studies have found that volunteering is also linked with better health outcomes, both in terms of physical health (e.g.,

lowered mortality rates) and psychological well-being (e.g., building friendships). In reflecting on this relationship, keep in mind that it is correlational, not causal. Can you think of any other ways to explain the relationship between volunteering and increased health? Increased psychological well-being can in turn, contribute to increased life satisfaction, which is the most commonly reported motivation for volunteering (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Older adult populations, in particular, who are not as focused on the networking aspects of volunteering but on fulfilling some intrinsic motivation, note this as a benefit. What do you think about these different motivations for volunteering? Do you think that the choice to volunteer can be based solely on altruistic motives or is there always some expected benefit? How might motives change over time? Internships come with their own set of benefits, most notably the aforementioned ability to try out a career path of interest. In doing so, an effective internship will allow a person to accomplish a variety of things—from building networks for future employment to self-reflection on how his or her chosen type of work fits in with his or her broader life goals. If you have completed an internship, how did the experience seem to fit in with, or change, your future career choices? Unlike volunteer positions, internships can be perceived quite negatively, even by those actively pursuing them. Not only is someone unlikely to receive a paycheck for their work, but internships vary widely and can come with stricter guidelines and expectations that need to be met by a supervisor’s approval. If you end up holding an internship with an employer who only sees you as free labor and has no intent of mentoring, it has the potential for abusive work scenarios. This may make the prospect of an internship less attractive, despite the benefits, so it is important to do your homework on a company and position beforehand. In addition,

Volunteering opportunities, such as picking up litter in your community, has many benefits (Dragonimages, 2016)

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multiple internship positions are sometimes necessary to get a full view of what a job entails, and some industries are extremely hard to enter unless an internship is completed. One distinct advantage that internships offer over volunteering is that internships, because of the purpose of career guidance within the position, are more likely to lead to further job opportunities within the participating organization. Having an internship on one’s resume may even be more important than your chosen major when on the job market (Heinzen & Goodfriend, 2019). Think about the skills you are learning in your college classes. How much do they differ across majors when compared to how skills learned during internships may differ? If you were tasked with hiring someone, on what would you place more emphasis? Though certainly an applied field, I/O psychology, and related topics of volunteerism, internships, and behavioral economics, deal with social interactions and decision-making at a variety of levels. Much of what you have learned in the previous units can be applied to the workplace, from first impressions to social cognition to social influence. What topics from the previous units do you think are most relevant in the workplace?


Dragonimages. (2016). Eco volunteering (ID 68035040) [Photograph]. Retrieved from www.dreamstime.com Heinzen, T., & Goodfriend, W. (2019). Social psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Mayo, E. (1933). The human problems of an industrial civilization. New York, NY: Macmillan. Mayo, E. (1945). The social problems of an industrial civilization. Boston, MA: Harvard Graduate School of

Business Administration. Sleger, H. (n.d.). Grocery-bag (ID 6571946) [Photograph]. Retrieved from www.dreamstime.com

Suggested Reading In order to access the following resources, click the links below: Behavioral economics has far-reaching effects. The article below explores how behavioral economics can influence public policy, which can have an effect on our everyday lives. Leigh, A. (2015). How behavioural economics does and can shape public policy. The Economic and Labour

Relations Review, 26(2), 339–346. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/FsAeN2kzcVQbeW3uJFZv/full

With the Internet and smartphones, we are all more connected than ever, making it easier than ever to work more than we used to. With this, comes the issue of work-life balance. The article below examines what helps to make a successful balance. Ross, J. P., Intindola, M. L., & Boje, D. M. (2017). It was the best of times; it was the worst of times: The

expiration of work-life balance. Journal of Management Inquiry, 26(2), 202–215. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/stoken/default+domain/iMK7HH7XzhDqJCnvyJF9/full

Learning Activities (Nongraded) Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information. Test yourself on concepts covered in Mini-Chapters E, G, and H. Mastering this material will help you complete the assignment in this unit. Click the links below to view the flashcards for each chapter.

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Click here for the Mini-Chapter E Flashcards. Click here for the Mini-Chapter G Flashcards. Click here for the Mini-Chapter H Flashcards. Click here to take a short quiz to check your knowledge on concepts learned in this unit.