Hogg: Contemporary Challenges in Social Psychology

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Pearson’s author webinar series “Memorable Teaching Moments”.

With academic experience extending across three continents, Professor Michael Hogg discussed the cultural and thematic challenges amongst the different publications of his best-seller, Social Psychology. Held at the Roma Tre University, this live event was organised by our team in Pearson, Italy.

Hogg: Contemporary Challenges in Social Psychology
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The background of writing Social Psychology 

Although his academic experience mainly extends to Australia and Los Angeles, Professor Michael Hogg considers himself a European social psychologist.

The latter is not only due to his British nationality but also because he grew professionally in the '70s and early '80s – during times of major developments when social psychology was still rebuilding and reinventing itself after the Second World War.

The drafting of the first edition of Social Psychology was an idea Michael came up with whilst teaching in Australia. It was during the time when most educators in Europe relied on anthologies – a collection of readings by different authors – instead of textbooks, to deliver their teaching. At first, the idea was to create an American textbook which did not sound foreign.

The book was alien, however, despite the common language – both culturally and in terms of the different education system in Northwest Europe at the time.

The research topics were also different because the textbook was essentially located within America and, as a result, included topics that were relevant there, but not in Europe or Australia. Conversely, many topics in Europe were not relevant to American culture and, therefore, underrepresented.

Intergroup relations, for example, and broader issues relevant to social identity, as well as topics surrounding social change and the power of minorities to initiate change, were major in the UK at the time but not the US.

It was not until 1991 when Hogg met Professor Graham Vaughn, and the European version of the book took shape, as the latter had connections with European social psychology and an interest in psychological theories widely discussed in Europe.

Gradually, with the globalisation of science, the Australian and British scientific focus became more similar, and in 2022 a common edition was published for both regions.

Translating Social Psychology into different European languages

Creating a version that is scientifically rigorous but also accessible and appreciative of the classics

With a tendency to lean towards European psychology research, it was important for the different European editions of the book to be impactful and intellectually engaging in terms of the research coverage but comprehensible without the heavy jargon and the traditional writing styles textbooks used to have in the past.

The structure of these editions would also be important in the learning process and are split carefully into different topics, with applications and research findings embedded within the chapter.

“The ultimate, important person in this whole book is the professor or the lecturer that uses the book to teach the students.”

- Professor Michael Hogg

Occasionally, Professor Hogg explained there might be a restructuring of the chapters or minor changes, but with sensitivity to the lecturers’ work, who use the book to build their teaching around it.

Michael also emphasised the importance of the historical context in psychological science and the influence of the classics in the field, as it provides the background and foundation necessary for understanding the theory and its progress over the years. 

A solid revision strategy and updating of the literature

For each new edition, there is a retirement of older references and a rigorous update of the literature to include the most recent updates in the field, as part of a good and effective educational practice. Working with experts who have already done part of that research is an important resource to ensure the use of the most relevant and up-to-date publications in the text. 

Research with momentum, that demonstrates endurance and impact for the following years (or at least until the following publication) is also a factor the team considers when making the judgement call of what cases to include.

“Teaching people, we don't want to teach them something misleading” said Hogg, as to his experience, there have been instances where research was included in the publication but never went anywhere.

Furthermore, the team is also mindful of wider world events, such as COVID-19 – lasting events that social psychology can relate to. In the case of COVID-19, for example, its impact on health and behaviours led to the decision to include as much information as possible even though the writing process for the latest edition had begun during its early days and the psychological research was still at the beginning.

Other issues include social and socio-political topics and events like Brexit, populism, global warming climate crisis, guns and aggression, the Internet and social media, as well as particular types of discrimination – typically gender, racial and age-related ones.

Social Psychology and the Italian edition: the challenges and main features

Professor Giuseppe Carrus (Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy) discussed the main features guidelines for the process of the Italian adaptation. 

One of the main goals of the Italian team was to make the book accessible not only for psychology, but non-psychology courses as well. The structure is also an element they are trying to keep consistent to facilitate the instructors’ work, whilst keeping track of the updates in the content to reflect new insights, following a similar fashion to the UK edition.  

Topics that the Italian team was particularly interested to develop was COVD-19 and the impact of Brexit referendum in the European culture, the rising of the populist movement and the increased interest in the environment and climate change emergency, as well as the gender studies.

Upon replicating some of the topics in the translation process, the Italian team tried to create more cultural references, real-life examples and images that would be more relevant to the Italian cultural context, focusing on ways to improve and adapt elements of the British version according to the Italian standards.

Personal and social identity: research on human perception and art 

Professor Stefano Mastandrea then took the floor and discussed his research with Professor Hogg about personal identity as social identity and the process in the perception of different abstract artworks.

Combining Michael's interest in social psychology and Stefano's in perception and art, they created an experiment with two different identity groups – an American and an Italian. For the experiment, the groups were asked to choose between two identical abstract paintings, presented to them as though they were created by an American or Italian artist. 

The result showed that the American group, due to their lack of knowledge on the subject and subsequent uncertainty, preferred the abstract artworks created by Americans. As a result, the identity theory behind this shows that people tend to find suitable heuristics when uncertain, and in this case, the preference for American artwork was concluded to have been based on group favouritism.

A similar social psychology experiment was about communication and persuasion in the art. During the experiment, two groups of people were presented with the same painting created by a famous artist. One group was informed about the identity of the artist and the other group was informed the artist was not well-known (although it was the same painting in both cases). As a result, people preferred the work in the case where the famous artists were named. 

The conclusion from the above, “double processing” was that it cannot be applied only in language but also in visual language. As a real-life example, Stefano mentioned that in 2018, the Royal Academy in London rejected the display of an artwork that came under a false name which as it turned out, was Banksy’s. When the academy contacted Banksy a month later requesting artwork, he resent them the previous piece, which was then accepted.

Pearson’s multimedia resources

In the UK edition, Social Psychology is available in Print, eBook and Revel® formats. 

Revel® is the interactive, and mobile learning environment that replaces the traditional printed text and drives student engagement and class participation.

Features include:

  • Powerful multimedia tools: Revel offers video, audio, image content, and figure animations to support student learning, improve student engagement and encouraging discussion in class.
  • Formative and summative assessments: The self-assessments and quizzes, including a powerful analytics tool, allow you to monitor your students’ progress, pinpoint the areas they need to improve.
  • A series of study features: Interactive exercises, mini-sims and flashcards organise your students' learning and improve results.
  • Friendly writing style and accessible approach: Revel helps you organise study material into manageable chunks, enabling students to cover a lot in a short space of time and improve their engagement with the topic.

Learn more about Revel®

Pearson’s Piero Pappalettere ended this webinar discussion with a demonstration of the multimedia resources that the Italian editions include. That is MyLab®, a Moodle-based platform where lecturers and students can find helpful resources for their teaching and studying material, including the Pearson eTextbook.

Below are Hogg’s available resources for the Italian edition:

  • Pearson E-text (to be released soon)
  • HTML reflowable ebook with read aloud feature

Instructor resources:

  • Slidedeck in pdf and ppt

Student resources:

  • Social psychology related videos
  • Open-ended questions with video track
  • Self-assessment quiz
  • Final randomized assessment quiz

Social Psychology, 9th edition is now available at our online store in Print, eTextbook and Revel® formats.

Social Psychology, 9th edition is now available at our online store in Print, eTextbook and Revel® formats.

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