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Social Psychology

Asks How and What do people THINK of one another.

How and How much do people INFLUENCE each other.

What effects the way we RELATE to one another.

the main areas of research today are

Hindsight Bias

is tendency to exaggerate, after learning an outcome, one's ability to have foreseen it - or the "I knew it all along" phenomenon. Events are more obvious in hindsight than before.

Sociocultural Perspective

Forces in larger social groups such as:
norms within cultural groups
social class differences
nationality/ethnicity fads

Evolutionary Perspective

Genetic predispositions inherited from our ancestors; that promoted their survival and reproduction.

Basic Principles of Social Behavior

is goal oriented and represents a continual interaction between the person and the situation

person interactions

mean the features or characteristics that individuals carry into social situations.

situational interactions

the environmental events or circumstances outside the person

scientific method

a process of generating ideas & testing them by making observations

operational definitions

specifies a specific phenomenon and the procedures used to produce or measure something in a numerical way.


set of concepts & propositions intended to describe or explain a phenomenon

They are used to:
1) Explain a phenomena
2) Predict new information (i.e., suggest possibilities you don't yet know for sure are true).
a. Psychologists generally want to make predictions about large numbers of people, but the same principles holds when you make predictions about your own life (e.g., how will your roommate react to a situation you haven't seen him/her in before).


educated guesses or predications specific enough for their validity to be tested with the scientific method.


this makes for a good theory and is simple & concise - making few assumptions

internally consistant

this makes for a good theory, the different propositions should be consistant - NOT contradictory


this makes for a good theory, capable of generating testable hypotheses that are precise & can be confirmed OR disconfirmed. Vague can't be adequately evaluated.

being supportive to the theory

this makes for a good theory, predictions should be supported by data


interviews, questionnaires, scales, tests, etc. Pro's: lot's of data quickly, inexpensive, easy to quickly have results - Con's: can't be used on infants, cultural / age differences in understanding question, socially desirable responding.

social desirability

This reflects the fact that people tend to portray themselves in a good light (socially desirable ways) when they can.

Observer-Report Data

• Information provided by someone else about another person
• Provide access to information not attainable through other sources
• Multiple observers can be used to assess a person

naturalistic observation

Observers witness and record events that occur in the normal course of lives of the participants. That is, observing people in their everyday (non-lab) setting.

has the advantage of being able to secure information in realistic context, but at the cost of not being able to control events witnessed

Artificial Observation

An experiment conducted in a lab or other artificial settings or situations.

has the advantage of controlling conditions and eliciting relevant behavior, but at the cost of sacrificing realism


Information provided by standardized tests or testing situations. The idea is to see if different people behave differently in identical situations. Typically the situation is designed to elicit behaviors that serve as indicators of personality & then the elicited behavior "scored" without reliance on inference.

Life-Outcome Data

Information that can be gleaned from events, activities, and outcomes in a person's life that is available for public scrutiny—e.g., marriage, speeding tickets
• Can serve as important source of "real life" information about personality


Degree to which measure represents "true" level of trait being measured. That is, consistency across repeated measures.


That is, are you measuring what you think you're measuring


The breadth of applicability of a conclusion, must be based on the observation of many people. The more people you look at, the more convinced you can be that what you see is true of people in general

Correlational Method

tells you there is a relationship b/w 2 variables. NEVER TELLS YOU CAUSALITY!!!! A correlation only means there is a relationship b/w A & B. It cannot tell you that A CAUSES B. It can tell you that as levels of one variable increase levels of another does as well. Conversely, it can tell you that as levels of one variable increase levels of another decreases.

positive correlation

indicates that as scores on one variable increase, scores on the second variable increase or as scores on one variable decrease so do scores on the second variable. In other words: high scores on one variable go with high scores on another variable and low scores on one variable go with low scores on another variable.

negative coorelation

indicates that as scores on one variable increase, scores on the second variable decrease; as scores on one variable decrease, scores on the second variable increase. So here: high scores on one variable go with low scores on the second variable and low scores on one variable go with high scores on the second variable.

illusory correlations

phenomenon of seeing the relationship one expects in a set of data even when no such relationship exists

Experimental Method

used to show cause-effect - typically involves the experimenter manipulating one variable to see it's effect on another. Allows the experimenter greater control by eliminating as many other variables other than the independent & dependent.

independent variable

variable(s) the experimenter manipulates

dependent variable

variable (or behavior) the experimenter measures


small subset of the population

convenience sample

(e.g. subject pool)

representative sample

type of sample that closely resembles the ENTIRE population in it's percentage of blacks, whites, Hispanics, males, females, old people, etc. OR whatever characteristics might affect the results

random sample

type of sample where every individual has an equal chance of being selected

cross-cultural sampling

type of sample that involves observations comparing the behavior of people from at least 2 cultures

experimental group

receives the treatment that the experiment is designed to test.

control group

treated the same as the experimental group BUT doesn't get the treatment that the experiment is designed to test.

Random assignment

every subject has the same probability as any other to being assigned to either group.

Experimenter bias

tendency of an experimenter to distort the results or procedure of an experiment based on the expected outcome of the study.

There are 3 ways to overcome this bias

1) blind observer: records data w/out knowing what the study is about

2) single-blind study: either the observer or the experimenter is unaware of which subject receives which treatment.

3) double-blind: both are unaware

Case Studies

In-depth examination of the life of one person

Advantages - can find out about personality in great detail & give insights into personality that can be used to formulate a more general theory that is tested on a larger sample. Also can provide in-depth knowledge about an outstanding figure, such as a political or religious figure.

Downside: largely anecdotal, can't be replicated & / or generalized

. Attention: Selecting Information

process of social cognition in which the process is consciously focusing on aspects of one's environment or oneself

Interpretation: Giving Information Meaning

process of social cognition where we Interpret information in numerous ways & the manner by which we interpret colors our impressions

Judgment: Using Information to Form Impressions & Make Decisions

process of social cognition where Social impressions & decisions are difficult because they involve uncertainty (don't have all the information we'd like before forming an impression) so we have to make our best guess

Memory: Storing Information for Future Use

process of social cognition that Contribute to new judgments & can indirectly influence impressions by affecting what we pay attention to & how we interpret it (remembered encounter increases likelihood of how you will interpret future interactions)

Cognitive miser

Generally, we are creatures unwilling to expend more than the minimum amount of cognitive effort required in a given situation.

• sometimes this is to reduce cognitive load and effort


simple decision-making rules we often use to make inferences or draw conclusions quickly. That is, a mental shortcut to make a judgment


refer to the errors and distortions that often appear in social thought; they are often are derived from the use of heuristics.

Representativeness bias

type of bias where Making a judgement on the basis of a relatively simple rule: The more similar an individual is to typical members of a given group, the more likely he or she is to belong to that group.

availability bias

type of bias where The easier and more salient a group or event comes to mind, the more we presume that this information is more frequent or important. That is, a mental shortcut through which one estimates the likelihood of an event by the ease with which instances of that event come to mind

False consensus effect bias

type of bias where The tendency to assume that others behave or think like we do, to a greater extent than is actually true.

) False Uniqueness Effect bias

type of bias where the tendency to underestimate the number of other people who share one's most prized characteristics and abilities"

priming bias

type of bias where Some effects of increased availability occurs when stimuli or events increase the availability of specific types of information in memory. AKA: cueing - planting or activating an idea in someone's mind

Anchoring & Adjustment Heuristic bias

type of bias where Framing and Anchoring: Both refer to the fact that the way information is presented (either in a positive or negative light) can strongly effect judgments about it.


type of bias where An organized collection of beliefs and feelings about some aspect of the world. Schemas act as scaffolds, providing structure for the interpretation and organization of new information that we encounter.

controlled thinking

deliberate & conscious

automatic thinking

effortless & without awareness.

Base-rate fallacy

people often ignore or down play general information but are quick to infer a general truth based on a single vivid event or story.

illusory correlation

3. misperceive correlation and control: When we expect significant relationships, we easily associate random events

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

when an initially inaccurate expectation leads to actions that cause the expectation to come true


The process through which we attempt to understand the cause of others behavior by inferring their traits, motives, and intentions.

Correspondent inference theory

. Jones & Davis (1965)- people determine whether a behavior corresponds to an actor's internal disposition by asking whether 1) the behavior was intended, 2) the behavior's consequences were foreseeable, 3) the behavior was freely chosen, & 4) the behavior occurred despite countervailing forces - that is, low in social desirability

Kelly's theory of causal attribution AKA the Covariation model.

That is, we often begin with a preliminary question: was the behavior primarily caused by...

- internal causes: an individuals own traits, motives, intentions
- external causes; some aspect of the world
or by both


the extent to which actions by one person are also shown by others or how others behave in the same situation (one of kellys 3)


the extent to which an individual responds to a given stimulus or situation on different occasions. Or, how actor behaves in the same situation (one of kellys 3)


the extent to which an individual responds in a similar manner to different stimulation or situations. Or, how actor behaves in other situations (one of kellys 3)


a tendency to discount one potential cause of behavior when others are also present; as the number of possible causes for an event increases, our confidence that any particular cause is the true one should decrease


we attach greater importance to potential cause if the behavior occurs despite the presence of an inhibiting causes; if an event occurs despite the presence of strong opposing forces, we should give more weight to those possible causes that lead toward the event

Fundamental attribution error

the tendency to overestimate dispositional influences and underestimate situational influences on others' behaviors (AKA correspondence bias).

Actor-Observer effect

tendency to attribute our own behavior to situational causes but others' mainly to internal - dispositional causes.

Self-serving bias

tendency to attribute success to internal causes (e.g., ability) and negative outcomes or failures to external - situational causes.


organized collection of beliefs & feelings about ones self. This includes specific personality dispositions.


represents the single most important aspect of one's personality. A special type of schema. Consists of all the knowledge we process about ourselves. It is developed out of our interaction with others.

The Looking-Glass Self

People learn about themselves from others. Cooley (1902) developed the term.
3 components
your image of how others see you
your image of how others will judge you
your emotional response to that potential judgment


process by which a person examines the contents of his or her mind and mental states

Social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954)

we have a fundamental drive to evaluate our abilities & opinions & often do so by comparing themselves with others

Downward social comparison

comparing ourselves with those who are less well-off
-Enhance self-image if we can view the other person as clearly less well off than we are

Upward social comparison

comparing ourselves with those who are better off than ourselves
-May motivate toward self-improvement but risky because you may realize you aren't as good as someone else
-Need to convince yourself that you're in the same general range as those better off than you & if you focus on this connection you can feel better about yourself

Overjustification Effect

tendency for intrinsic motivation to diminish for activities that have become associated with rewards. Someone who gets paid for doing what they love to do may decrease in their love for that activity.

Self-perception theory - Bem (1965)

theory that people observe their own behavior to infer what they are thinking and how they are feeling

intrinsic motivation

wanting to perform an activity for its own sake

Extrinsic motivation

performing an activity because of something that results from it


putting obstacles in the way of one's own performance, so that anticipated or possible failure can be blamed on the obstacle instead of on lack of ability

Social roles

different roles a person plays, as in a play or a movie

Self and Culture

The self comes from an interaction of inner biological processes and the sociocultural network.


attention directed at the self includes evaluation as well as simple awareness.


an individuals attitude about their self worth, involving self-evaluation along a positive (high) - negative (low) continuum.

Essentially, we are eager to assess our competence, verify our self-schema, and motivated to maintain & enhance that image.

low self esteem

Some associations related to unpleasant childhood experiences.

- hospitalization, re-marriage, or death of a parent
- worries about grades
- worries about parental punishment
- self-perception of unattractiveness
- self-perception of parental disapproval

Outcomes associated with low SE:
- more neg. emotions (e.g., anxiety, depression)
- poor grades - delinquency
- fearfulness - drug abuse

high self esteem

- positive self-image
- self-perceptions of strengths & weaknesses & the tendency to evaluate strengths as more important

Associated with:
-better grades
- better adjustment
- less afraid of failure & death
- express anger appropriately
- more likely to engage in self-serving bias
- rate their work & their group's work more positively
- function better in interpersonal situations

locus of control

When control is less obvious, some individuals believe their actions play a large role in maximizing good outcomes and minimizing bad ones

learned helplessness

hopelessness and resignation that there is no controlling neg. outcomes.


refers to wanting to present a desired image both internally and externally (public & private selves).

Self Monitoring

disposition that ranges from the tendency to regulate behavior based on situation (high self-monitors) to basing behavior on internal (dispositional) factors (low self-monitors).


general evaluations people make about themselves, others, issues, & objects.

They are enduring mental representations of various features of the social or physical world.

Classical Conditioning

learning based on association. Basically, when 1 stimulus regularly precedes another, the one that occurs first may soon become a signal for the one that occurs second.

Instrumental Conditioning

Learning to express the "right" view. Children receive positive reinforcement stating views that correspond to the parents.

Social Learning

process of acquiring new forms of behavior & beliefs (including attitudes) from social interactions. This can be direct experience, vicarious, or observational.


Learning by example. Even when parents are not specifically trying to influence their children's attitudes, kids are watching & trying to imitate that behavior.

Mere exposure effect

tendency for people to come to like things simply because they see or encounter them repeatedly. This does not apply to things you initially dislike; exposure makes you like it less.

when attitudes influence behavior

1) When external influences are minimal

2) When the attitude is specific to the behavior

3) When we are conscious of our att.


type of schema that refers to expectations associated with a particular social position

balance theory

(Heider, 1946, 1958): people prefer harmony & consistency in their views of the world. Associate good things w/ good people, bad things w/ bad people

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

(Festinger, 1957): unpleasant state of psychological arousal resulting from an inconsistency within one's important attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. we feel dissonance (tension) when faced with inconsistency between behavior & attitude; thus, we adjust our thinking to reduce this tension.

Self-perception theory

when our attitudes are unclear we look to our behavior to tell us what they are. Basically, we are observers not actors

Strong Attitudes Resist Persuasion

Strong attitudes are more stable than weaker ones & are better able to withstand persuasive attackers or appeals specifically directed at them

Commitment: more certain that it is correct, that they won't change it, & that their position is extreme

Embeddedness: connected to additional features of the person such as self-concept, values, & social identity


finding that people's attitudes become more extreme as they reflect on them

social influence

change in overt behavior caused by real or imagined pressure from others

Differs from persuasion in that persuasion refers to change in private attitudes & beliefs not necessarily leading to behavioral change


When individuals alter their behavior to adhere to existing social norms (Social norms being widely accepted ideas or rules that indicate how people should behave in certain situations).


Exerted directly by individuals rather than beliefs or norms. This involves a direct request from 1 person to another. It can also involve other techniques that enhance compliance.


Compliance that occurs in response to a directive from an authority figure. That is, 1 person simply orders 1 or more people to perform some action(s). Typically, the order has power but that is not necessary.

Normative social influence

the pressure to conform to the positive expectations or actions of other people or going along with the crowd in order to be liked and accepted

Informational social influence

the pressure to accept the actions or statements of others as evidence about reality or going along with the crowd because you think the crowd knows more than you do

Descriptive norms

what is typically done
a. Inform of what is likely to be effective action
b. Goal of accuracy: By following what most people do, can usually make an accurate choice

Injunctive norms

what is approved/disapproved of
a. Goal of social approval
b. Norm of reciprocity: requires that we repay others with the form of behavior they have given us

Asch's Research on Group Influence

interested in submission of individuals to group forces & capacity of people to act independent of conformity pressures
-Asked students in groups of 8 to match the lengths of different lines
-Control condition had no group pressure (95% got all 12 line matches right)
-Experimental condition had subjects faced with a social consensus that contradicted their own eyes
-5 before them unanimously agreed on an answer that was clearly wrong & only 25% ignored the group & gave a correct answer

In most of Asche's studies you tend to see that overall roughly 24% never conform & around 76% conform at least a little - with about 58% conforming 3 times or less.

Public compliance

doing or saying what others around you say or do

Private acceptance

actually coming to feel or think what they do

effects of conformity

1. Conformity increases with Cohesiveness (liking the group or individual that's exerting influence) & the number of people exerting that influence.

2. Conformity is reduced by the presence of social support (others that share like views or have also departed from the majority view in some manner).

3. Although early finding suggested a gender difference recent evidence suggests none exists.

4. BUT, this is not always a majority dictating to minority - sometimes minorities actually have significant influence over minorities.


Involves direct efforts by individuals to change the behavior of others. Typically, this involves a direct request from 1 person to another.


involves efforts by individuals to enhance their attractiveness to others to enhance compliance. People have a strong desire to be liked by others. We realize that if others like us their more willing to do things for us, help w/ tasks, evaluate us favorably, & say yes to our requests.


more willing to comply w/ requests from those who have provided such things in the first place. Or the obligation to return in kind what another has done for us. Reciprocity is found in all cultures.

The "Foot-in-the-Door" Technique

increases compliance with a large request by first getting compliance with a smaller, related request - sm request leads to big request.

Door in the face

influence technique based on reciprocity, in which one starts with an inflated request and then retreats to a smaller request that appears to be a concession. It increases compliance by asking a small request after getting turned down with a large, related request - lg request leads to sm request.
It does not work:

1. If the first request is outrageous.
2. If the first and second requests are made by different people, therefore there is no sense of reciprocation.

That's-not-all technique

is an influence technique based on reciprocity, in which on first makes an inflated request but, before the person can answer yes or no, sweetens the deal by offering a discount or bonus. When an unfamiliar person makes a request more available, a sense of reciprocity is expressed.

Low-ball Technique

is an influence technique based on commitment, in which one first gets a person to comply with a seemingly low-cost request and only later reveals hidden additional costs. A commitment is made. Despite a change in the original commitment, an individual seeks consistency and maintains the commitment.

Bait-and-Switch Technique

is an influence technique based on commitment, in which one draws people in with an attractive offer that is unavailable and then switches them to a less attractive offer that is available. People make a commitment and because of the need for consistency, they keep to their commitment despite a less attractive offer.

Labeling Technique

is an influence technique based on consistency, in which one assigns a label to an individual and then requests a favor that is consistent with the label.

Legitimization-of-paltry-favors technique

is an influence technique in which a requester makes a small amount of aid acceptable. Request such as "every penny will help" are easier to commit to because everyone has a penny or two.


more willing to follow the directions/recommendations of someone they view as an authority

Social validation

interpersonal way to locate & validate the correct choice. "Largest selling" "Fastest growing" etc. are used by advertisers. Tendency to follow the crowd often sends us in the right direction


The most direct form of social influence, It involves direct orders from 1 person to another - 1 person simply orders 1 or more people to perform some action(s).

when obidience occurs

1. When there is a gradual escalation
2. When there are visible signs of power

reduced effect

a) Showing individual they're responsible - not experimenters (e.g. Milgram)

b) Exposure to disobedient models

c) Inducing individual to question the motives or legitimacy of those in authority

Collectivism vs. Individualism

cross-culturally differences are seen. Trafimow & Finlay (1996): people who define themselves in individualistic ways make decisions on the basis of personal attitudes rather than group norms. Cultures that differ in the extent to which they are individualistic or collectivistic also produce this effect

Reactance theory

we react against threats to our freedoms by reasserting those freedoms, often by doing the opposite of what we are being pressured to do


change in private attitude or belief as a result of receiving a message. Occurs only when a message brings about inner change in your views on a topic

Cognitive v. Affective components

The cog. component of att. predicts certain types of behavior better than the affective component (i.e., instrumental actions).


how much the source knows. Experts are more persuasive than non-experts. Arguments carry more weight when the speaker is credible and knowledgeable. Must have expertise & trustworthiness (honesty & lack of bias).


whether a source will honestly tell you what he or she knows
People are perceived as credible when:

a. They do not have anything to gain from the persuasive message. (e.g. car salesmen are not credible because they are perceived as wanting one's money).
b. They talk fast.
c. They are powerful speakers.


Those similar to us are more persuasive

Physical attractiveness

people are viewed as having other likeable traits - e.g. intelligence, agreeableness. Popular & attractive communicators (having qualities that appeal to an audience) are more effective in changing attitudes than unpopular or unattractive people.

Convert communicators

are people who others perceive as credible sources because they are arguing against their own previously held attitudes and behaviors. Convert communicators are effective because they are similar to the audience and they are able to overcome undesirable behaviors.

Appeal to emotions

Persuasion can be enhanced by messages that arouse strong emotions (especially fear) in the audience. Particularly when the message provides specific recommendations about how a change in att. or behavior will prevent the neg. consequences described in the fear provoking message. There is a U-shape relationship between the effectiveness of low fear versus high fear. Eliciting no fear or high fear is not effective in persuasion. Eliciting some fear is.

Present Cold, hard facts

Intelligent and analytic thinkers appeal more to this method

sleeper effect

persuasive message actually generates MORE att. change sometime after it has been presented than immediately after - this is the


analytic people are more persuaded by two-sided arguments, and more receptive to persuasive messages because of a longer attention span.

Need for cognition

a tendency to engage in and enjoy effortful thinking, analysis, and mental problem solving. People high in cognition: Are more persuaded by strong arguments & are more resistant to attitude change

Cultural Differences

Individualistic cultures are more influences by ads which endorse separateness and individuality. Collectivist cultures are more influences by ads which endorse togetherness and groups.

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