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attribution theory

the theory that we explain someone's behavior by crediting either the situation or the person's disposition. (Fritz Heider)

Fundamental Attribution Error

the tendency for observers, when analyzing another's behavior, to underestimate the impact of the situation and to overestimate the impact of personal disposition.


feelings, often influenced by our beliefs, that predispose us to respond in a particular way to objects, people, and events.

Central Route Persuasion

this occurs when interesting people focus on the arguments and respond with favorable thoughts. (more likely to influence behavior)

Peripheral Route Persuasion

this occurs when people are influenced by incidental cues, such as a speaker's attractiveness. (quick and easy)

Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon

the tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a larger request.


a set of explanations (norms) about a social position, defining how those in the position ought to behave.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

the theory that we act to reduce the discomfort (dissonance) we feel when two of our thoughts (cognitions) are inconsistent. For example, when our awareness of our attitudes and of our actions clash, we can reduce the resulting dissonance by changing our attitudes. (Leon Festinger)


adjusting one's behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard.

Normative Social Influence

influence resulting from a person's desire to gain approval or avoid disapproval.

Informational Social Influence

influence resulting from one's willingness to accept others' opinions about reality.

Social Facilitation

stronger responses on simple or well-learned tasks in the presence of others.

Social Loafing

the tendency for people in a group to exert less effort when pooling their efforts toward attaining a common goal than when individually accountable.


the loss of self-awareness and self-restraint occurring in group situations that foster arousal and anonymity.

group polarization

the enhancement of a group's prevailing inclinations through discussion within the group.


the mode of thinking that occurs when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives.


an unjustifiable (and usually negative) attitude toward a group and its members. Prejudice generally involves stereotyped beliefs, negative feelings, and a predisposition to discriminatory action.


a generalized (sometimes accurate but often overgeneralized) belief about a group of people.


unjustifiable negative behavior toward a group and its members.

Implicit Racial Associations

Greenwald; even people who deny harboring racial prejudice may carry negative associations.

Unconscious Patronization

Harber; White University Women grading essays were more likely to give Black writers lower grades.

Seeing Black

Example: Black faces appear to be more criminal to police officers; the more black, the more criminal.

Reflexive Bodily Responses

Studies have detected implicit prejudice in people's facial-muscle responses and in the activation of their amygdala (emotion processing).


"Us"-people with whom we share a common identity.


"Them"-those perceived as different or apart from our ingroup.

Ingroup Bias

the tendency to favor our own group.

Scapegoat Theory

the theory that prejudice offers an outlet for anger by providing someone to blame.

Other-Race Effect

the tendency to recall faces of one's own race more accurately than faces of other races. Also called the cross-race effect and the own-race bias.

Just-World Phenomenon

the tendency for people to believe the world is just and that people therefore get what they deserve and deserve what they get.


any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt or destroy.

Frustration-Aggression Principle

the principle that frustration-the blocking of an attempt to achieve some goal - creates anger, which can generate aggression.

Mere Exposure Effect

the phenomenon that repeated exposure to novel stimuli increases liking of them.

Passionate Love

an aroused state of intense positive absorption in another, usually present at the beginning of a love relationship.

Companionate Love

the deep affectionate attachment we feel for those with whom our lives are intertwined.


a condition in which people receive from a relationship in proportion to what they give to it.


revealing intimate aspects of oneself to others.


unselfish regard for the welfare of others

Bystander Effect

the tendency for any given bystander to be less likely to give aid if other bystanders are present.

Social Exchange Theory

the theory that our social behavior is an exchange process, the aim of which is to maximize benefits and minimize costs.

Reciprocity Norm

an expectation that people will help, not hurt, those who have helped them.

Social-Responsibility Norm

an expectation that people will help those dependent upon them.


a perceived incompatibility of actions, goals, or ideas.

Social Trap

a situation in which the conflicting parties, by each rationally pursuing their self-interest, become caught in mutually destructive behavior.

Mirror-Image Perceptions

mutual views often held by conflicting people, as when each side sees itself as ethical and peaceful and views the other side as evil and aggressive.

Superordinate Goals

shared goals that override differences among people and require their cooperation.


Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-Reduction; a strategy designed to decrease international tensions.

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