Psychology is NOT Just CommonSense Before my eyes diligently scanned aplethora of astonishing articles, I had commenced this course with ignorantmindset regarding social psychology: “Aren’t social psychological theories merelycommon sense understandings? Despite this approach, I couldn’t seem to comprehendwhy they were still perceived as a set of contrasting ideas, rather then an integrated concept that lied on the sameplatform. But, with further analysis, it wasevident that what merely appeared to be common sense was not necessarily thecase. If it was, then how could one explain the inhuman actions and war crimes producedby Nazi functionaries during World War II? While we do not need empiricalresearch to be informed that individuals generally have a natural inclinationto obey authority, the Stanford Prison experiment – arguably the bestpsychological experiment conducted – disclosed the surprising magnitude of paininducing and morally conflicting orders that many people were willing to obey.
1 The results of this study unearthedthat psychological disclosures typically contradicted what people definedcommon sense to be at that time. In his quest to study obedience, Yale socialpsychologist Stanley Milgram selected40 male volunteers and introduced them to a rather unrelenting lookingexperimenter who then explained that one male would be designated with the roleof a “teacher” while the other would be given the role of a “student.” 2 Theteachers were instructed to provide the students with a series memory tests andeach time the student evidently presented an inaccurate answer, the teacherswere ordered to press a button that delivered a shock to them. 3 Unbeknownto the subjects, each of them would always end of being the teacher, while thestudents were played by mere actors that were directed by Miligram to expressincreasing levels of pain as the teacher intensifies the shock voltage. 4 His experiment aimed to make one ponder “Would you deliver potentially fatal electricalshocks to a stranger just because an authority figure told you to?” (APA, Obeying and Resisting Malevolent Orders) 5 Indeed,what appeared to be simple question resulted into being one without a simpleresponse. Our common sense judgment might have you compassionately declaring no,but Milgram systematically proved in his study that an abundance of thevolunteers – over 60% – will disregard the increasingly painful pleas to stopand proceed to obey the experimenter’s instructions until the student receivesthe maximum shock of 450 volts.
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6 Milgram’s obedience experimentempirically proved that common sense – a set of principles stimulated bypersonal experiences and societal norms – can often by inaccurate. 1Justbecause something appears to be accurate through our analytical lens, doesn’tnecessarily mean it is. Researchers are able to investigate human behaviorscientifically and ascertain the validity of pre-notions and conjectures whilesimultaneously proving that our common sense theories and the fundamentals ofsocial psychology may intersect, but are classified as two different spectrums.Each empirical approach gave a better understanding of the complexity ofpeople’s behavior and the electrical inner-workings of the brain.
And, eachanalytical use of observations, experimentation, and scientific methodsdisclosed the objectivity of social psychology as a whole and the subjectivityfirmly held by common sense understandings that are acquired by individuals –like me – through no specialist education. In contrast to common sense, socialpsychology emphasizes critical thinking, in such that it encourages people to seekfor a deeper understanding of your internal self and the external forces theshape you rather then reducing every anomaly to a serious of bland common senseexplanations.