Chapter 13: Social Psychology
Terms in this set (65)
What do social psychologists study? How do we tend to explain others' behavior and our own?
Social psychologists use scientific methods to study how people think about, influence and relate to one another. They study the social influences that explain why the same person will act differently in different situations. When explaining others' behavior, we may (especially if we come from an individualist Western culture) commit the fundamental attribution error, by underestimating the influence of the situation and overestimating the effects of stable, enduring traits. When explaining our own behavior, we more readily attribute it to the influence of the situation.
the scientific study of how we think about, influence and relate to one another
the theory that we explain someone's behavior by crediting either the situation or the person's disposition
Fundamental Attribution Error
the tendency for observers, when analyzing others' behavior, to underestimate the impact of the situation and to overestimate the impact of personal disposition
How do attitudes and actions interact?
Attitudes are feelings, often influenced by our beliefs, that predispose us to respond in certain ways. Peripheral route persuasion uses incidental cues (such a celebrity endorsement) to try to produce fast but relatively thoughtless changes in attitudes. Central route persuasion offers evidence and arguments to trigger thoughtful responses. When other influences are minimal, attitudes that are stable, specific and easily recalled can affect our actions.
Actions can modify attitudes, as in the foot-in-the-door phenomenon (complying with a large request after having agreed to a small request) and role playing (acting a social part by following guidelines for expected behavior). When our attitudes don't fit with our actions, cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we will reduce tension by changing our attitudes to match our actions.
feelings, often influenced by our beliefs, that predispose us to respond in a particular way to objects, people and events
Peripheral Route Persuasion
occurs when people are influenced by incidental cues, such as a speaker's attractiveness
Central Route Persuasion
occurs when interested people focus on the arguments and respond with favorable thoughts
the tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a larger request
a set of expectations (norms) about a social position, defining how those in the position ought to behave
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
they theory that we act to reduce the discomfort (dissonance) we feel when two of our thoughts (cognitions) are inconsistent. For example, when we become aware that our attitudes and our actions clash, we can reduce the resulting dissonance by changing our attitudes. Ex. (1) Breakups versus relationships that last.
(2) Going on a date with someone whom you're unsure about.
(3) Taking a job you don't like.
What is automatic mimicry, and how do conformity experiments reveal the power of social influence?
Automatic mimicry (the chameleon effect) - our tendency to unconsciously imitate others' expressions, postures, and voice tones - is a form of conformity.
Solomon Asch and others have found that we are most likely to adjust our behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard when (a) we feel incompetent or insecure, (b) our group has at least three people, (c) everyone else agrees, (d) we admire the group's status and attractiveness, (e) we have not already committed to another response, (f) we know we are being observed, and (g) our culture encourages respect for social standards. We may conform to gain approval (normative social influence) or because we are willing to accept others' opinions as new information (informational social influence).
adjusting our 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
What did Milgram's obedience experiments teach us about the power of social influence?
Stanley Milgram's experiments (in which people obeyed orders even when they thought they were harming another person - demonstrated that strong social influences can make ordinary people conform to falsehoods or give in to cruelty. Obedience was highest when (a) the person giving orders was nearby and was perceived as a legitimate authority figure, (b) the research was supported by a prestigious institution, (c) the victim was depersonalized or at a distance, and (d) there were no role models for defiance.
How is our behavior affected by the presence of others?
In social facilitation, the mere presence of others arouses us, improving our performance on easy or well-learned tasks but decreasing it on difficult ones. In social loafing, participating in a group project makes us feel less responsible, and we may free ride on others' efforts. When the presence of others both arouses us and makes us feel anonymous, we may experience deindividuation (loss of self-awareness and self-restraint).
improved performance on simple or well-learned tasks in the presence of others
Social context: individual being observed
Psychological effect of others' presence: increased arousal
Behavioral effect: amplified dominant behavior, such as doing better what one does well (or doing worse what is difficult)
the tendency for people in a group to exert less effort when pooling their efforts toward attaining a common goal than when individually accountable
Social context: group projects
Psychological effect of others' presence: diminished feelings of responsibility when not individually accountable
Behavioral effect: decreased effort
the loss of self-awareness and self-restraint occurring in group situations that foster arousal and anonymity
Social context: group setting that fosters arousal and anonymity
Psychological effect of others' presence: reduced self-awareness
Behavioral effect: lowered self-restraint
What are group polarization and groupthink, and how much power do we have as individuals?
In group polarization, group discussions with like-minded others strengthen members' prevailing beliefs and attitudes. Internet communication magnifies this effect, for better and for worse. Groupthink is driven by a desire for harmony within a decision-making group, overriding realistic appraisal of alternatives.
The power of the individual and the power of the situation interact. A small minority that consistently expresses its views may sway the majority.
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
What is prejudice? What are its social and emotional roots?
Prejudice is an unjustifiable, usually negative, attitudes toward a group and its members. PRejudice's three components are beliefs (often stereotypes), emotions and predispositions to action (discrimination). Overt prejudice in North America has decreased over time, but implicit prejudice (an automatic, unthinking attitude) continues.
The social roots of prejudice include social inequalities and divisions. Higher-status groups often justify their privileged position with the just-world phenomenon. We tend to favor our own group (in-group bias) as we divide ourselves into "us" (the ingroup) and "them" (the outgroup).
Prejudice can also be a tool for protecting our emotional well-being, as when we focus our anger by blaming events on a scapegoat.
an unjustifiable (and usually negative) attitude toward a group and its members; 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
the tendency for people to believe the world is just and that people therefore get what they deserve and deserve what they get
What are the cognitive roots of prejudice?
The cognitive roots of prejudice grow from our natural ways of processing information: forming categories, remembering vivid cases, and believing that the world is just and that our own and our culture's ways of doing things are the right ways.
"us" - people with whom we share a common identity
"them" - those perceived as different or apart from our ingroup
the tendency to favor our own group
the theory that prejudice offers an outlet for anger by providing someone to blame
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)
any act intended to harm someone physically or emotionally
How does psychology's definition of aggression differ from everyday usage? What biological factors make us more prone to hurt one another?
In psychology's more specific meaning, aggression is any act intended to harm someone physically or emotionally. Biology influences our threshold for aggressive behaviors at three levels: genetic (inherited traits), neural (activity in key brain areas), and biochemical (such as alcohol or excess testosterone in the bloodstream). Aggression is a complex behavior resulting from the interaction of biology and experience.
What psychological and social-cultural factors may trigger aggressive behavior?
Frustration (frustration-aggression principle), previous reinforcement for aggressive behavior, observing an aggressive role model, and poor self-control can all contribute to aggression. Media portrayals of violence provide social scripts that children learn to follow. Viewing sexual violence contributes to greater aggression towards women. Playing violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
the principle that frustration (the blocking of an attempt to achieve some goal) creates anger, which can generate aggression
culturally modeled guide for how to act in various situations
Why do we befriend or fall in love with some people but not others?
Proximity (geographical nearness) increases liking, in part because of the mere exposure effect (exposure to novel stimuli increases liking of those stimuli). Physical attractiveness increases social opportunities and improves the way we are perceived. Similarity of attitudes and interests greatly increases liking, especially as relationships develop. We also like those who like us.
Mere Exposure Effectue
the phenomenon that repeated exposure to novel stimuli increases liking of them
How does romantic love typically change as time passes?
Intimate love relationships start with passionate love - an intensely aroused state. Over time, the strong affection of companionate love may develop, especially if enhanced by an equitable relationship and by intimate self-disclosure.
an aroused state of intense positive absorption in another, usually present at the beginning of a love relationship
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 (give-and-take/reciprocation)
the act of revealing intimate aspects of oneself to others
How does the two-factor theory of emotion help explain passionate love?
Emotions consist of (1) physical arousal and (2) our interpretation of that arousal. Researchers have found that any source of arousal (running, fear, laughter) may be interpreted as passion in the presence of a desirable person.
Two vital components for maintaining companionate love are ___________ and ___________.
When are people most, and least, likely to help?
Altruism is unselfish regard for the well-being of others. We are most likely to help when we (a) notice an incident, (b) interpret it as an emergency, and (c) assume responsibility for helping. Other factors, including our mood and our similarity to the victim, also affect our willingness to help. We are least likely to help if other bystanders are present (the bystander effect).
unselfish regard for the welfare of others
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
an expectation that people will help, not hurt, those who have helped them
an expectation that people will help those needing their help
How do social exchange theory and social norms explain helping behavior?
Social exchange theory is the view that we help others because it is in our own self-interest; in this view, the goal of social behavior is maximizing personal benefits and minimizing costs. Others believe that helping results from socialization, in which we are taught guidelines for expected behaviors in social situations, such as the reciprocity norm and the social-responsibility norm.
How do social traps and mirror-image perceptions fuel social conflict?
A conflict is a perceived incompatibility of actions, goals or ideas. Social traps are situations in which people in conflict pursue their own individual self-interest, harming the collective well-being. Individuals and cultures in conflict also tend to form mirror-image perceptions: Each party views the opponent as untrustworthy and evil-intentioned, and itself as an ethical, peaceful victim. Perceptions can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
a perceived incompatibility of actions, goals or ideas
a situation in which the conflicting parties, by each pursuing their self-interest rather than the good of the group, become caught in mutually destructive behavior
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
a belief that leads to its own fulfillment
How can we transform feelings of prejudice, aggression and conflict into attitudes that promote peace?
Peace can result when individuals or groups work together to achieve superordinate (shared) goals. Research indicates that four processes - contact, cooperation, communication, and conciliation - help promote peace.
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)
Why do sports fans tend to feel a sense of satisfaction when their archival team loses? Why do such feelings, in other settings, make conflict resolution more challenging?
Sports fans may feel a part of an in-group that sets itself apart from an outgrip. In-group bias tends to develop, leading to prejudice and the view that the outgrip "deserves" misfortune. So, the archival team's loss may seem justified. In conflicts, this kind of thinking is problematic, especially when each side in the conflict develops mirror-image perceptions of the other (distorted, negative images that are ironically similar).
What are some ways to reconcile conflicts and promote peace?
Peacemakers should encourage equal-status contact, cooperation to achieve superordinate goals (shared goals that override differences), understanding through communication, and reciprocated conciliatory gestures (each side gives a little).