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Social Psychology Chapter 9
Terms in this set (38)
The degree to which a collection of people feels like a cohesive group.
What features of groups makes them seem more or less cohesive?
One is the presence of a common bond, the degree to which group members interact with and depend on each other to meet their needs and attain their goals
Sometimes these interactions are based on communal sharing—the sense that "What's mine is yours"
Market pricing: "I will wash your back if you wash mine." This might be how you interact with classmates on an assignment, for example.
A second feature of groups that ups their entitativity is a common identity. Groups often form among individuals who share similar characteristics, and people also come to feel a certain "we-ness," or shared attachment, to groups that they belong to.
The perception of a common identity can also come from the presence of a shared threat or common challenge
Why belong to groups?
One answer to these questions is that belonging to groups has been crucial to the development and survival of humans as a species. Over the course of evolution, humans survived because they relied on social networks to acquire and share food, transmit information, rear children, and avoid predators and other threats.
People also form and join groups to accomplish goals that they would be unlikely to accomplish on their own.
The theory that people join and identify with groups in order to reduce negative feelings of uncertainty about themselves and others.
Groups reinforce people's faith in their cultural worldview and their valued place within it.
A second way groups reduce uncertainty is by prescribing norms and roles.
When people feel especially uncertain about who they are, uncertainty-identity theory predicts that they will become more strongly identified with tightly knit or entitative groups that can offer a sense of self-understanding.
Social identity theory
The theory that people define and value themselves largely in terms of the social groups with which they identify
A tendency to favor groups we belong to more than those that we don't.
Managing Mortality Concerns
Humans do so by clinging to two psychological resources: faith in a cultural worldview and a sense of self-esteem. Although a person is painfully aware that she inevitably will die one day, she can take solace from the fact that because she belongs to an ancestral line, a national or religious group, a political movement, a scientific or artistic field, or some other enduring group, some part of her will live on symbolically after her body has perished.
People are born into some groups and join others voluntarily. People strongly identify with both types of groups. Here is why:
Promoting survival and achieving goals
During human evolution, group cooperation benefitted survival and reproduction.
Hence, modern humans have an innate desire to belong to groups.
People dislike feeling uncertain about themselves and others.
Belonging to a group reduces negative feelings of uncertainty.
Groups are a source of self-esteem.
By viewing their group in a positive light, people feel better about themselves.
Managing mortality concerns
Groups connect people to something bigger and longer lasting than their own existence.
Hence, belonging to a group eases mortality concerns.
Types of decisions occur in situations in which what is good for the individual (and in the short term) might not be good for the group or within a larger social context.
"Oh, if I use just a little more water than I should, not much harm will be done," or for a corporation to say, "If we cut down just a bit more rain forest than we need, no one will notice." The problem is that when many people or groups think this way, the common resources start to dry up. Solving a commons dilemma requires cooperation of self-restraint to avoid depleting a limited resource.
Public goods dilemma
A valued resource can continue to exist only if everyone contributes something to it. Local blood banks, libraries, and public radio and television are all examples of public goods that endure only because enough people chip in to keep them going.
People who do not pay their fair share, and continue to overuse resources
Cooperation in Groups
Highly competitive people consistently defect regardless of the strategy their partners adopt, but highly cooperative people conform to their partner's strategy by cooperating when he cooperates, but defecting if he defects.
People from collectivist cultures do cooperate more than those from individualist cultures, but only when they are interacting with friends (Leung, 1988); when interacting with strangers, collectivists can actually be more competitive.
When other people place their trust in you, your levels of oxytocin rise and increase your willingness to act in a trustworthy way. If the social basis for trusting others is absent, as when an interaction partner appears unreliable, an induced oxytocin boost does not increase trust
To survive and thrive, individuals in a group must cooperate, balancing their personal interests with others' interests.
The Prisoner's Dilemma demonstrates how distrust escalates competition.
Resource dilemmas demonstrate how cooperation is essential to providing or maintaining valuable shared resources.
Distribution games assess whether people distribute resources fairly or unfairly and others' reactions to those decisions.
Cooperation: when and why
Social norms, personality traits, and culture all play roles in determining when people will cooperate.
Oxytocin signals trust.
We respond negatively to unfairness.
Evolution and culture
A desire for fairness and cooperation are evolved characteristics.
Norms of fairness are also promoted by cultures, although in varying ways.
Social facilitation theory
The theory that the presence of others increases a person's dominant response in a performance situation, the response that is most likely for that person for that particular task.
If the task is a complex one (finding the logical inconsistencies in a classic philosophic text) or that you are only just beginning to learn (playing a piano sonata for the first time), the dominant response will be to make mistakes; therefore, an audience will most likely impair your performance.
Modern research reveals that the type of arousal that humans feel in the presence of others also depends on their interpretation of the situation. If they feel threatened, their heart will beat faster but constrict arteries and veins which will create a stressful situation.
The Role of Evaluation
People's stress response is strongest, meaning that they show increases in the stress hormone cortisol, when they feel that they have little control over their performance and the panel is very critical (Dickerson & Kemeny, 2004; Dickerson et al., 2008).
On cognitive tasks such as performing mental arithmetic, the threat of social evaluation is likely to bring distracting thoughts to mind, such as self-defeating worries, which absorb the same central cognitive resource—working memory capacity—that you need for abstract and complex forms of thought.
When people feel the threat of social evaluation and doubts creep in, they slip out of the routine performance they have practiced and begin mentally micromanaging their movements—dooming themselves to failure
A tendency to exert less effort when performing as part of a collective or group than when performing as an individual.
The biggest reason that people slack off in groups is that they feel less accountable for their efforts. When you are solely responsible for a project, you put forth more effort than when you know your individual contribution to a group outcome will not be recognized.
In addition to feeling less accountable in a group, people also seem to hold back effort because they believe others will do the same.
A third reason for social loafing is that people in a group can feel that their own efforts are not that important to the group outcome (Kerr & Bruun, 1983). For example, many people don't vote in elections because they feel that their one individual vote will not have much impact.
In some kinds of tasks, called disjunctive tasks, the most skilled members of the group determine the outcome. Imagine a team quiz show or a debate team in which one genius can lead to group success. On conjunctive tasks, the group will do only as well as the worst performer. For example, in mountain climbing, the team can get up the mountain only as fast as its slowest member. The research shows that when group tasks are disjunctive, the most skilled members of the group make the greatest effort, whereas the least skilled members slack off. On conjunctive tasks, the least skilled members exert the greatest effort, and the most skilled members slack off.
When the value of the group and its goals are high.
A tendency to lose one's sense of individuality when in a group or crowd.
When deindividuated, people feel anonymous, and their actions are more easily influenced by salient cues in their current situation. In crowds, people are more likely to do what others around them are doing, even when those actions run counter to their internalized attitudes and standards
Deindividuation makes it more likely that people will conform to what others around them are doing, for better or worse.
Social context influences performance.
Social facilitation theory (individual performance with an audience)
It first was thought that an audience facilitates performance on a task, but further research clarified that having an audience facilitates one's dominant response to a task.
Arousal facilitates the dominant response across species.
In humans, feeling challenged can boost performance, but feeling threatened can impair performance.
The threat of social evaluation is distracting. On cognitive tasks, it absorbs working memory, leaving fewer resources for the task at hand.
On well-learned motor tasks, negative evaluation leads people to overthink their actions, impairing performance.
Social loafing (performing together)
The individual exerts less effort when performing as part of a group than as an individual. To avoid social loafing:
Monitor and evaluate performance.
Declare your own level of effort.
Distinguish disjunctive and conjunctive tasks.
Make the task more interesting or rewarding.
Maintain intragroup cohesion and intergroup competition.
When people feel anonymous, they are more likely to do what others around them are doing, for better or for worse.
Stoner (1961) conducted a study like the one just described, he found the opposite result: Participants made riskier decisions as a group than they did on their own.
A tendency for group discussion to shift group members toward an extreme position.
This discovery reveals that group discussion amplifies the original leanings of individuals in the group. If each individual member of the group leans toward a risky alternative prior to the group discussion, they shift toward an even riskier position after group discussion. And, conversely, if each individual initially prefers a more conservative alternative, group discussion shifts them toward extreme caution.
informational influence, which occurs when you conform to others' actions or attitudes because you believe they know something that you don't. The theory assumes that people begin with at least one good argument to support their initial opinion or attitude, but that they probably have not considered all the relevant arguments. During group discussion, group members learn new arguments from each other that reinforce the position they already preferred. As a result, the group as a whole adopts a more extreme position.
Social comparison theory
Normative social influence which occurs when you conform to others' actions or attitudes to be liked
A tendency toward flawed group decision making when group members are so intent on preserving group harmony that they fail to analyze a problem completely.
Group members start to focus their attention on information that supports their position and ignore information that contradicts it, they stop testing their assumptions against reality, and they stop generating new perspectives on the problem at hand. Eventually they become convinced of the absolute truth and morality of their preferred course of action, and they never stop to think what would happen if they made an error in reasoning.
Problems with Groupthink
One hallmark symptom is suppression of dissent: When group members express doubts about the majority's preferred position, they are harshly criticized and pressured to fall back in line with the majority view. To avoid being reprimanded or excluded, group members begin to censor themselves, meaning that they give the outward impression of agreement even though privately they think that the group is on the wrong track.
One is the isolation of the group from outside sources of information and dissenting voices. Another is the presence of a strong leader who makes his or her opinions and preferences known to the group at the beginning of the discussion. Knowing the leader's views, the other members want to reinforce those views to win the leader's approval.
Improving Group Decision making
The presence of a dissenting voice in a group discussion is a powerful antidote to group polarization.
If the group cannot find someone who genuinely disagrees with the majority view, they can designate a group member to play "devil's advocate," someone who is given free license to search actively for flaws in the reasoning and plans proposed by the other members of the group.
Usually people interpret cohesiveness as a norm to maintain the group's unity and harmony, and to make sure that all group members get along. But groups also can be cohesive in their commitment to help group members make the best possible decisions. That is, rather than thinking of cohesiveness as pushing the group toward consensus, think about it as a promise to reach the best possible outcome and prevent the group from doing something harmful.
In theory, groups have more resources than do individuals for making decisions, but two psychological processes, group polarization and groupthink, can subvert good group decision making.
Group members' initial leanings are intensified in a cycle of amplification and comparison with like-minded others.
Group members intent on preserving group harmony fail to analyze a problem completely.
Groups can avoid problems of group decision making by:
Encouraging group diversity and ensuring the presence of dissenting voices.
Focusing on achieving the best outcome rather than group harmony.
Encouraging members to take individual responsibility.
What Makes a Leader Effective?
They focus on their followers' desires and abilities.
They are willing to challenge their followers' assumptions and behaviors.
They offer an inspirational visionary style.
Charismatic leaders emphasize bold actions and inspire belief in the greatness of the group.
Task-oriented leaders focus primarily on the pragmatics of achieving the group's goals. Relationship-oriented leaders attend primarily to fostering equality, fairness, harmony, and participation among group members
Social dominance theory
The theory that large societies create hierarchies, and that people have a general tendency to endorse beliefs that legitimatize that hierarchy.
Variation in the extent to which members of a culture or organization (especially those with less power) accept an unequal distribution of power.
System justification theory
The theory that negative stereotypes get attached to groups partly because they help to explain and justify why some individuals are more advantaged than others.
Both positive and negative stereotypes that are ascribed to a group as a way of justifying the status quo.
Relative deprivation theory
A theory stating that disadvantaged groups are less aware of and bothered by their lower status because of a tendency to compare their outcomes only with others who are similarly deprived.
A strategy whereby individuals work within the system to achieve their own goals rather than those of the group.
Efforts by groups to resist and change the status quo in the service of group goals.
Most groups have leaders who wield power and are at the top of a hierarchy.
Some leaders are transformational, but in general, effective leaders match their approach to the demands of the situation.
Leaders can be charismatic, task oriented, or relationship oriented.
Effects of power
Power leads people to be more approach oriented and less inhibited.
People in power tend to have less empathy and can be less generous to those in need.
As societies grow, work shifts from basic divisions of labor to culturally defined roles.
Power-distance orientation varies among cultures.
People tend to regard existing hierarchies as legitimate, even when they are disadvantaged by them.
Social change occurs when successful members of disadvantaged groups encounter barriers and act collectively to change the status quo.
Occur when a subgroup of people break away from the larger parent group and form their own group or join a different parent group. These schisms happen because the subgroup feels that the parent group has forgotten or violated its own core values.
The same psychological motives that drive people to join and identify with groups—promoting survival, reducing uncertainty, bolstering self-esteem, and managing mortality concerns—also can drive them to leave when group membership itself threatens to undermine those needs.
When people sense that belonging to a group increases the risk of being harmed or killed, they tend to break away from the group.
Subgroups may break away from a parent group when they see it as violating a core value that provides certainty.
When a group member cannot view the group positively, membership may decrease self-esteem, prompting the person to leave.
Managing mortality concerns
When a group no longer buffers mortality concerns by providing meaning and value, group members may disidentify, especially if they regard the group as temporary.
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