In recent times, much attention is paid to the problems of social psychology. Practically every decision, which is made by an individual, can be explained by this science. We act in our everyday live not realizing the fact that our behavior is subdued to psychological laws and theories. The following situation, which has come upon my friends, may serve as a good illustration of the appliance of psychological laws to our everyday life.
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I have familiar spouses who are good friends of mine. They know each other since early childhood. They were born in the same district of the city, they attended the same school, their parents were good friends, and it is no wonder that John and Mary spent a lot of time together. They have married no so long ago, but for their friends they have been always associated with a couple. The mere fact of their marriage may be explained by propinquity effect. The sense of propinquity effect is illustrated by the interdependence between the time spent by people together and the feeling of affection between them. In other words, people interacting in one environment are more likely to become friends or even to marry as it has happened this particular case.
Mary works as a lawyer, and it must be admitted that she is an expert in the field of civil law. She is well-educated and skilled professional who is highly appreciated by the authorities of her organization. At the same time, her activity makes a great impact on her private life. While being a guest in their house, it is rather funny to observe the communication between Mary and John. For instance, during conversation with her husband Mary often kiddingly refers to one or another act of civil legislation, finding in such a way different violations of law on the part of John. She finds them in such ordinary things as cooking or washing. Of course, she acts so in order to play a joke on her husband, but this is a typical example of automatic thinking. Automatic thinking is the process that arises on itself without the intention of a person. The same goes for Mary’s jokes. She has an intentional desire to jest, but the numbers of articles as well as the whole citations of laws fall from her lips automatically without any effort to recall them in mind.
Several years ago, Mary and John were the typical example of the family where every decision was made by the husband. From the very beginning, Mary thought that it was the husband who was the head of the family. That was why all the financial matters were the Johns sphere of responsibility. In spite of her higher education, Mary was convinced that she knew nothing concerning the family budget and the existing prices. John was of the same opinion. As a result, Mary was completely separated from the financial problems and this situation caused her ignorance in financial issues. Moreover, Mary was afraid to go shopping without her husbands permission. This situation is the good illustration of such notion as self-fulfilling prophecy. Self-fulfilling prophecy is a right or wrong presumption, which becomes true because of a persons self-suggestion that it is true. Mary had made herself believe that she was ignorant in financial issues and her separation from the problems of the family budget led to the situation that she became ignorant indeed. The posterior events shown that Marys self-suggestion had been wrong.
John, who is a good friend of mine, has experienced a bad car incident. Johns company, where he worked as a project manager, sent him to the personal development training that took place in another city. The company even covered Johns expenditures connected with this business trip and bought him an air ticket. The trouble was that John was afraid to travel by plane. Someday he saw the TV program in which various flight incidents have been described in details. In spite of the fact that according to the statistics aviation is the safest way of transport, John is convinced that travelling by plane is the best way to commit suicide. This Johns prejudice is the typical example, which explains the notion of such term as availability heuristic. The availability heuristic is a liability of a person to estimate possible consequences of one or another event based on various examples that are easily recollected in the persons mind. In other words, the easier it is to recall the event the more opportunities for this event to happen come to persons mind. The same goes for John. This TV program had made such an impact on him that he refused to travel by plane.
Anyhow, John went by car and met with accident in which he was badly injured. The official investigation of the reasons of this accident found out that it was Johns fault. The trouble was he committed a serious traffic violation. In spite of all the facts proving his fault, John did not consider himself guilty. He thought that it was the unfortunate occurrence, such as a slick road and an intermittent visibility. It is a typical example of external attribution. External attribution is a persons attempt to explain the consequences of a situation by the interference of situational factors.
As distinct from John, Mary feels her blame for this accident. The trouble is that John is a very bad driver and everybody except him knows it. John considers that his driving skills are well enough, and it is very difficult to over persuade him. Mary thinks that she should have insisted on Johns travelling by train. The fact is, John is very stubborn person and having made a decision, he will not change it. Nevertheless, Mary felt that she was guilty for this incident. It is the example of internal attribution. Internal attribution is a person supposition that an event has taken place due to the personal factors.
After this incident, the life of this family cardinally changed. John was badly injured and he had to take a serious course of treatment. His wife Mary, who always depended upon the decisions of her husband, took up the reins. It has turned out that she can be independent and house-proud woman. In the course of John’s treatment, she was mastering the house and even found a side job. With the course of time, John has recovered, but such cardinal change in Mary was a cognitive dissonance for surrounding people and especially for her husband. Cognitive dissonance implies a situation of conflicting visions, attitudes and beliefs. Sometimes this contradiction caused by the difference in visions may arouse a feeling of discomfort. At first, John, who used to be the head of the family, was unhappily surprised by Marys independence in behavior and by her decision making ability. However, in the course of time he got used to it. This real life situation may serve as the approval of the fact that our deeds and actions are subdued to the laws of psychology.