"A reality can hardly seem self-evident if a person is simultaneously aware of a counter reality."
--Joan Emerson


Having considered matters of self, motivation, and affect, as well as how they interact with with setting, let's explore their bearing on behavior.  For an example of what kind of theoretical model these processes  entail, see Broadbent's  "Personality, motivation, and performance."

The range of our social interactions produces a wide spectrum of connections with others, from the anonymous relations with total strangers to the communal ties with certain others whose identities become thoroughly intertwined with our own. Connecting with others is a central biographical theme for all of us. According to James Q. Wilson in The Moral Sense, "Just as Labradors are born to fetch, we are born to bond." To appreciate the potency of these connections, all that one needs to see is what happens when these ties are severed: a spouse dies, one is fired or retired from work, a close friend moves to another state, or one's parents divorce.

In Intimate Environment, Arlie Skolnick observes:

Paradoxically, individualism seems to foster not only a preoccupation with the self, but also an emphasis on close personal relationships. As Murray Davis (1973) observes, a preoccupation with friendship and love emerged during every period of urbanization in Western culture: in ancient Greece, in the Roman empire, during the Renaissance, and, most recently and extensively, since the eighteenth century. Without the traditional bonds of kinship and community, the urban individual must construct a more consciously chosen social life to replace the world that was lost (1992:239).

Journal of Mundane Behavior


The social sciences, particularly psychology's attachment theorists, have long postulated on the significance of the first bond. The child's attachment with its mother has long been suspected of being the bond upon which all eventual social bonds are based. Kennell and Klaus (1972) showed that as few as 16 hours of close contact between mother and infant immediately after birth produced better results on child development scales as late as five years after. Investigations into the drives of society's most deviant members invariably include stories of dysfunctional families and abuse at the hands of those they, as children, should have been able to count on most: the parents.

Social Network Analysis
Network Visualisation - case studies: !Hxaro Gift Exchange: Individual Patterns
Humboldt Journal of Social Relations
Yahoo: Relationships
ClassMates: Search for lost high school classmates
Make a Friend on the Web


Rannveig Traustadottir's "Gender Patterns in Friendships"




To be considered here is how individuals--these self-conscious creatures of symbols who, among other things, seek meaningfulness, connections with others, and esteem--interact, and how out of their interactions emerge both personal and social order. Like the act of driving, behaving in everyday life follows specified pathways (society is, after all, but networks of patterned social activity) replete with rules that are both written and unwritten. These rules, in part, require a definition of self vis-à-vis other types of selves: are one's self performances to directed toward a social superior or subordinate, a store clerk or a friend, an intimate or a total stranger? These rules assist interactants to anticipate others' behaviors and to know how to respond accordingly. Hence we get upset with drivers who suddenly and without warning switch into one's lane: they are in their own little world, oblivious to their social surroundings, and fail to signal their intents. Commonalities among "good drivers" (as measured by number of accidents) involve both their giving appropriate signals to others and their ability to correctly read (or assume) the intentions/motivations of other actors.

Social situations vary, of course. Our driver may find himself on the roads of a foreign country with traffic going in directions opposite to that in the United State, with unintelligible signs and customs. Such are the experiences of immigrants and foreign travelers in everyday life. Or one may be in competition on the Indianapolis 500 race track, where the goal is not going from point A to B but rather to reach a waving checkered flag first. In addition to requiring definitions of self, the rules which channel social behavior require interactants to have a shared definition of the situation.

As complicated as all of this sounds, most of the time we basically run on automatic, like mindlessless traversing the same roads at the same time day in and day out. In some social settings, however, individuals become conscious of these frameworks that define their interactions with other people: there might be defining props, such as stained glass windows conveying religious messages, or environmental constraints, such as the zig-zagging roped-in waiting lines at Disneyland. In other settings, individuals can become increasingly self-conscious of themselves, as when one has an audience evaluating one's performance such as when our driver is a 16-year-old taking a driving test with a state examiner sitting in the passenger seat.


" The greater the number of laws and enactments, the more thieves and robbers there will be. 
--Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (c.604-531 B.C.)

Crime in the U.S. increased nearly five-fold from 1960 to 1990, and was viewed by the public as one of the most urgent problems.  In this same 30 year period, the amount spent by the criminal justice system went from $4 to $74 billion, and is expected to surpass $100 billion by the year 2000.  Yet the crime rate in the U.S. remains one of the highest in the world.  The U.S. has the largest per capita prison population of any country.


According to at least one 1990s survey, more than 9 in 10 Americans say that they lie regularly.  While some social critics interpret this as a symptom of living in a culture of lives, all evidence points to the universality of the activity.

Some sociobiologists argue that the human brain evolved with the complexity that it did, in part, because this primate had to deceive and to detect deception in order to survive and pass on its genetic code in its elaborate social environment.   In other words, the absence of trust requires individuals to become skilled lie detectors.  However, research by Paul Ekman  indicates that we are quite inept.


Marc A. Smith and others at Microsoft are engaged in some fascinating analyses of our electronic interactions and the new social structures being formed. At the 2001 annual meeting of the ASA, he presented "Data Mining Social Cyberspaces" using information derived from his newsgroup tracker.  

John Suler's The Psychology of Cyberspace--with such topics as identity management in cyberspace, personality types in cyberspace, cyberspace romances, and managing deviant behavior in online communities.

From MIT, the Sociable Media Group, which "investigates issues concerning society and identity in the networked world" and such questions as "How do we perceive other people on-line? What does a virtual crowd look like? How do social conventions develop in the networked world?"

From one of the top observers of cyberbondings, check out danah boyd's Apophenia. Check out the greatest hits of her blogs, such as "Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace" and "Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace."



Each semester Trinity's Social Psychology class breaks into several groups to research a particular phenomenon and to produce collective projects. During the Fall of 2002 we focused on the supposed rise of the American culture of rudeness.

Within weeks of the national unity and shared civilities experienced immediately after 9-11, there appeared media claims of growing rudeness in American society. In April 2002, a poll by Public Agenda was released reporting how nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe that the lack of respect and courtesy is a serious problem, with 6 in 10 perceiving the problem is getting worse and 4 in 10 confessing that they themselves were sometimes part of the problem.


So what accounts for such phenomena: different type of personalities or different types of social settings?  For instance, do modern self-systems no longer come with the checks on personal incivility that earlier models had?  Do people find themselves thoughtlessly acting rudely even if they did not intend to? 

Might the rudeness impulse be historically constant and what we’re witnessing nowadays is the failure of traditional social checks (i.e., public embarrassments inflicted on those who act rude) on such behavior?  Or perhaps might the degree of rudeness be historically constant and people nowadays are simply more sensitive to snubs and disses? Or, because of the speed of technological change, the human primate (who shares 98+% of its genes with chimps) now finds himself in novel contexts for which he has not been genetically hardwired to cope with.  How well does a chimp cope with rush hour in LA?

Let's line up the (usual) suspects:

Unlike the good old days of the cold war when we feared the Reds, now we fear each other.  We lock ourselves into gated communities in homes filled with alarms and motion detectors (Joan Ryan, “Too panicked to live,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 9, 2000).  One can no longer even trust one’s priest!

But have things really changed?  How do we know?  In fact, there may not have been any real Golden Age of etiquette, according to Mark Caldwell’s A Short History of Rudeness and C. Dallett Hemphill’s Bowing to Necessities: A History of Manners in America, 1620-1860.  The complaint is not new.  In 1431, Christine de Pisan wrote The Book of the City of Ladies, in which she complains about the deterioration of manners.