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social psychology

the scientific study of how we think about, influence, and relate to one another


personal beliefs and feelings that may predispose a person to respond in particular ways to objects, people, and events

bystander effect

the tendency of a person to be less likely to offer help to someone if there are other people present


any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt or destroy

frustration-aggression principle

states that aggression is triggered when people become angry because their efforts to achieve a goal have been blocked

fundamental attribution error

our tendency to underestimate the impact of situations and to overestimate the impact of personal dispositions upon the behavior of others

foot-in-the-door phenomenon

the tendency for people who agree to a small request to comply later with a larger request

cognitive dissonance theory

refers to the theory that we act to reduce the psychological discomfort we experience when our behavior conflicts with what we think and feel, or more generally, when two of our thoughts conflict


the tendency to change one's thinking or behavior to coincide with a group standard


a perceived incompatibility of actions, goals, or ideas between individuals or groups

scapegoat theory

proposes that prejudice provides an outlet for anger by finding someone to blame

self-fulfilling prophecy

occurs when our expectations of how people will behave cause us to treat them in ways that elicit such behaviors

self-serving bias

the tendency to perceive oneself favorably

social facilitation

the improvement in performance of simple or well-learned tasks that occurs when other people are present

social loafing

the tendency for individual effort to be diminished when one is part of a group working toward common goals

social trap

a situation in which conflicting parties become caught up in mutually harmful behavior as they pursue their perceived best interests

super ordinate goals

mutual goals that require the cooperation of individuals or groups otherwise in conflict

group polarization

refers to the enhancement of a group's prevailing tendencies through discussion, which often has the effect of accentuating the group's differences from other groups

GRIT(Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-Reduction)

a strategy of conflict resolution based on the defusing effect that conciliatory gestures can have on parties in conflict


refers to the unrealistic thought processes and decision making that occur within groups when the desire for group harmony becomes paramount

just-world phenomenon

a manifestation of the commonly held belief that good is rewarded and evil is punished

informational social influence

results when one goes along with a group when one is unsure or lacks information


refers to the people and groups with whom we share a common identity

in-group bias

the tendency to favor one's own group

normative social influence

refers to the pressure on individuals to conform in order to avoid rejection or gain social approval

mere exposure effect

refers to the fact that repeated exposure to an unfamiliar stimulus increases our liking of it


refers to the people and groups that are excluded from our in-group


generalized (often over generalized) belief about a group of people

stereotype threat

the phenomenon in which a person's concern that he or she will be evaluated based on a negative stereotype is actually followed by lower performance

social exchange theory

states that our social behavior revolves around exchanges, in which we try to minimize our costs and maximize our benefits


refers to a person's sharing intimate feelings with another

companionate love

refers to a deep, enduring, affectionate attachment

passionate love

refers to an aroused state of intense positive absorption in another persons, especially at the beginning of a relationship


an unjustifiable and usually negative attitude toward a group and its members


refers to the condition in which there is mutual giving and receiving between the partners in a relationship


refers to the loss of self-awareness and self-restraint that sometimes occurs in group situations that foster arousal and anonymity


is unselfish regard for the welfare of others

social-responsibility norm

an expectation that people will help those dependent upon them.

reciprocity norm

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

Approach-approach conflict

A conflict between two desired gratifications, as when a youth has to choose between two attractive and practicable careers, may lead to some vacillation but rarely to great distress

Avoidance-avoidance conflict

A conflict between two dangers or threats

Approach-avoidance conflict

choices regarding something positive, such as going out to a party, that has a negative valence (avoidance), such as getting grounded for being at the party. These decisions and the emotional state of ambivalence cause stress

Zimbardo's Prison Experiment

A group of Stanford students were assigned to either play the role of prison guard or prisoner.
All were dressed in uniforms, and the prisoners were assigned numbers. The prisoners were locked up in teh basement of the psychology building, and teh guards were put in charge of their treatment.
The experiment ended early because of the cruel treatment the guards were inflicting on the prisoners.

Group Norms

Rules about how group members should act. For example, businesses may have rules governing appropriate work dress.

Obedience Studies

Studies that foucs on participants' willingness to do what another asks them to do. Milgram (1974) found that over 60% of the participants obey experimenters' orders to hurt someone.

Participants' compliance is decreased when they are in close contact with those peopel whom they are being ordered to harm.

When the experiementer left in the middle of the experment and was replaced by an assistant, obedience also decreased.

When other people were present in the room and they objected to the orders, the % of participants who quit in the middle of the experiment skyrocketed.

Social Impairment

Being watched by others hurts performace when the tak being observed is a difficult one rather than a simple, well practiced one.

Attraction Research

Social psychologists study what factors increase teh chane that people will like one another:
- Similarity - we are drawn to people who are similar to us.
- Proximity - the greater you exposure to another person, the more you will generally come to like that person.
- Reciprocal liking - the more someon like you, the more you will probably like that person.

Bystander Effect or Diffusion of Responsibility

the vicious murder of Kitty Genovese in Kew Gardens, NY committed with view of at least 38 witnesses, none of whom intervened, led John Darley and Bibb latane to research this.
the larger the number of people who witness an emergency situation, the less likely anyone will be to intervene. The larger the group who witness a problem, the less responsible any one individual feels to help.
People tend to assume someone else will take action.


the belief that one's culture (ethnic group, racial group, etc) is superior to others


the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category

False-Consensus Effect

tendency for people to overestimate the number of people who agree with them

Individualistic Cultures

importance and uniqueness of the individual is stressed

Collectivist Cultures

a person's link to various groups such as family or company is stressed; importance is stressed on the whole

Norms of Reciprocity compliance strategy

one compliance strategy used to get others to comply; people think they ought to do something nice to someone who has done something nice for them

Door-in-the-Face compliance strategy

one compliance strategy used to get others to comply; sugges that after people refuse a large request they will look more favorably upon a follow-up reques that seems much more reasonable

Compliance Strategies

strategies used to get others to comply; i.e. foot in the door phenomenon, door in the face strategy, norms of reciprocity

Festinger & Carlsmith

conducted experiment about cognitive dissonance in late 1950's; concluded that to reduce cognitive dissonance, participants changed their attitudes and said that they actually did enjoy the experiment

Peripheral Route to Persuasion

one way a persuasive message can be processed; involves other aspects of the message (i.e. characteristics of people imparting the message). Appealing to fears, desires and associations.

Central Route to Persuasion

one way a persuasive message can be processed; involves going directly through the rational mind, influencing attitudes with evidence and logic.


tendency of people to go along with the views or actions of others; Asch performed conformity experiment; more likely to occure when a group's opinion is unanimous

Attribution Theory

explains how people determine the cause of what they observe

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

based on the idea that people are motivated to have consistent attitudes and behaviors; when they do not, they experience unpleasent mental tension or dissonance

Reward Theory of Attraction

Theory that we will like those whose behavior is rewarding to us and that we will continue relationshps that offer more rewards than costs.

Situational Attribution

Factors outside the person doing the action, such as peer pressure

Dispositional Attribution

A person's stable, enduring traits, personality, ability and emotions.

Asch Conformity studies

about 1/3 of people will agree with obvious mistruths to go along with the group.


In pursuit of social harmony groups will make decisions without an open exchange of ideas. Example: Bay of Pigs invasion.

Group Polarization

When people of similar views form a group together, discussions within the group makes their views more extreme.

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