I really liked the chapter on social psychology because it had a lot of information on our day to day life and how we affect each other in group situations. One of the ideas I related to a lot was social comparison theory which says that we "evaluate our abilities and beliefs by comparing them with those of others." It goes on to explain that we compare ourselves in two ways: to those who seem superior to us in some ways and to those who seem inferior to us in some ways. When thinking about comparing myself to someone superior I immediately assumed it would be in a negative way to myself. The book explains that comparing myself to someone slightly more talented than I am might inspire me to try harder or to see that the goal I seek is within my reach because that person can do it. This type of comparison is called upward social comparison. In the opposite, downward social comparison, the book references reality TV shows and how they are probably popular because of this factor. It's an interesting thought when looking at shows such as 16 and Pregnant, Jersey Shore, Real World, etc.
Another thing I was interested in is called social facilitation. This refers to how people (and animals) perform when being viewed by others. The theory suggests that when performing a task that we feel comfortable with, the presence of others will cause us to perform better than we would in other circumstances. This can be a crowd of people watching, but it can also be other people performing the same task with us (a bike race was the example the book used). On the other hand, the presence of others can also cause us to perform worse, or choke, if we are uncomfortable either with the task or with the presence of people there. I'm an avid sports fan, so this hit home as it's easy to see on a daily basis in the sports world. Some athletes consistently perform on a higher level in the important games whereas others consistently are disappointing when in the same situation. Another interesting example of this in the animal world is an experiment that was performed with cockroaches. Half were given a maze to run by themselves and the others were given a maze while being watched from a "spectator box" by other cockroaches. The group that was being watched consistently performed better. I thought it was really interesting that the animal they decided to test was the cockroach and that the test came up with the expected result based on the theory. I'm curious to know if they tried the test with other groups of animals.