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social psychology

The scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another.

social neuroscience

an integration of biological and social perspectives that explores the neural and psychological bases of social and emotional behaviors.


The enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next.

social representations

Socially shared beliefs--widely held ideas and values, including our assumptions and cultural ideologies. Our social representations help us make sense of our world.

hindsight bias

The tendency to exaggerate, after learning an outcome, one's ability to have foreseen how something turned out. Also known as the I-knew-it-all-along phenomenon.


An integrated set of principles that explain and predict observed events.


A testable proposition that describes a relationship that may exist between events.

field research

Research done in natural, real-life settings outside the laboratory.

correlational research

The study of the naturally occurring relationships among variables.

experimental research

Studies that seek clues to cause-effect relationships by manipulating one or more factors (independent variables) while controlling others (holding them constant).

random sample

survey procedure in which every person in population being studies has an equal chance of inclusion.


The way a question or an issue is posed; framing can influence people's decisions and expressed opinions.

independent variable

The experimental factor that a researcher manipulates.

dependent variable

The variable being measured, so called because it may depend on manipulations of the independent variable.

random assignment

The process of assigning participants to the conditions of an experiment such that all persons have the same chance of being in a given condition. (Note the distinction between random assignment in experiments and random sampling in surveys. Random assignment helps us infer cause and effect. Random sampling helps us generalize to a population.)

mundane realism

Degree to which an experiment is superficially similar to everyday situations.

experimental realism

Degree to which an experiment absorbs and involves its participants.


In research, an effect by which participants are misinformed or misled about the study's methods and purposes.

demand characteristics

Cues in an experiment that tell the participant what behavior is expected.

informed consent

An ethical principles requiring that research participants be told enough to enable them to choose whether they wish to participate.


In social psychology, the postexperimental explanation of a study to its participants. Debriefing usually discloses any deception and often queries participants regarding their understandings and feelings.

spotlight effect

The belief that others are paying more attention to one's appearance and behavior than they really are.

illusion of transparency

The illusion that our concealed emotions leak out and can be easily read by others.


A person's answers to the question, "who am I?"


Beliefs about self that organize and guide the processing of self-relevant information.

possible selves

Images of what we dream of or dread becoming in the future.

social comparison

Evaluating one's abilities and opinions by comparing oneself with others.


The concept of giving priority to one's own goals over group goals and defining one's identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications.


Giving priority to the goals of one's groups (often one's extended family or work group) and defining one's identity accordingly.

interdependent self

Construing one's identity in relation to others.

planning fallacy

The tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task.

impact bias

Overestimating the enduring impact of emotion-causing events.

immune neglect

The human tendency to underestimate the speed and the strength of the "psychological immune system," which enables emotional recovery and resilience after bad things happen.

dual attitudes

Differing implicit (automatic) and explicit (consciously controlled) attitudes toward the same object. Verbalized explicit attitudes may change with education and persuasion; implicit attitudes change slowly, with practice that forms new habits.


A person's overall self-evaluation or sense of self-worth.


A sense that one is competent and effective, distinguished from self-esteem, which is one's sense of self-worth. A bombardier might feel high self-efficacy and low self-esteem.

locus of control

The extent to which people perceive outcomes as internally controllable by their own efforts or as externally controlled by chance or outside forces.

learned helplessness

The sense of hopelessness and resignation learned when a human or animal perceives no control over repeated bad events.

self-serving bias

The tendency to perceive oneself favorably.

self-serving attributions

A form of self-serving bias; the tendency to attribute positive outcomes to oneself and negative outcomes to other factors.

defensive pessimism

The adaptive value of anticipating problems and harnessing one's anxiety to motivate effective action.

false consensus effect

The tendency to overestimate the commonality of one's opinions and one's undesirable or unsuccessful behaviors.

false uniqueness effect

The tendency to underestimate the commonality of one's abilities and one's desirable or successful behaviors.

group-serving bias

Explaining away outgroup members' positive behaviors; also attributing negative behaviors to their dispositions (while excusing such behavior by one's own group).


protecting one's self-image with behaviors that create a handy excuse for later failure.


The act of expressing oneself and behaving in ways designed to create a favorable impression or an impression that corresponds to one's ideals.


Being attuned to the way one presents oneself in social situations and adjusting one's performance to create the desired impression.


Activating particular associations in memory.

belief perserverance

Persistence of one's initial conceptions, as when the basis for one's belief is discredited but an explanation of why the belief might be true survives.

misinformation effect

Incorporating "misinformation" into one's memory of the event, after witnessing an event and receiving misleading information about it.

controlled processing

"Explicit" thinking that is deliberate, reflective, and conscious.

automatic processing

"implicit" thinking that is effortless, habitual, and without awareness, roughly corresponds to "intuition."

overconfidence phenomenon

The tendency to be more confident than correct-to overestimate the accuracy of one's beliefs.

confirmation bias

A tendency to search for information that confirms one's preconceptions.


A thinkings strategy that enables quick, efficient judgments.

representativeness heuristic

The tendency to presume, sometimes despite contrary odds, that someone or something belongs to a particular group if resembling (representing) a typical member.

availability heuristic

A cognitive rule that judges the likelihood of things in terms of their availability in memory. If instances of something come readily to mind, we presume it to be commonplace.

counterfactual thinking

imagining alternative scenarios and outcomes that might have happened, but didn't.

illusory correlation

Perception of a relationship where none exists, or perception of a stronger relationship than actually exists.

regression toward the average

The statistical tendency for extreme scores or extreme behavior to return toward one's average.


Mistakenly attributing a behavior to the wrong source.

attribution theory

The theory of how people explain others' behavior--for example, by attributing it either to internal dispositions (enduring traits, motives, and attitudes) or to external situations.

dispositional attribution

Attributing behavior to the peron's disposition and traits.

situational attribution

Attributing behavior to the environment.

spontaneous trait inference

An effortless, automatic inference of a trait after exposure to someone's behavior.

fundamental attribution error

The tendency for observers to underestimate situational influences and overestimate dispositional influences upon others' behavior. (Also called correspondence bias, because we so often see behavior as corresponding to a disposition.)


A self-conscious state in which attention focuses on oneself. It makes people more sensitive to their own attitudes and dispositions.

self-fulfilling prophecy.

A belief that leads to its own fulfillment.

behavioral confirmation

A type of self-fulfilling prophecy whereby people's social expectations lead them to behave in ways that cause others to confirm their expectations.

spotlight effect

Thomas Gilovich, Victoria Medvec, and Kenneth Savitsky (2000) explored the _______ _____

medial prefrontal cortex

a neuron path located in the cleft between your brain hemispheres just behind your eyes, seemingly helps stitch together your sense of self.

Stanley Milgram

(1974)- Who set up a situation where people were ordered to administer increasing levels of electric shock to someone who was having difficulty learning a series of words.? 2/3 of participants complied.

natural selection

The evolutionary process by which heritable traits that best enable organisms to survive and reproduce in particular environments are passed to ensuing generations.

evolutionary psychology

The study of the evolution of cognition and behavior using principles of natural selection.


The enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next.


Standards for accepted and expected behavior. Norms prescribe "proper" behavior. (In a different sense of the word, norms also describe what most others do-- what is normal.)

personal space

The buffer zone we like to maintain around our bodies. Its size depends on our familiarity with whoever is near us.


In psychology, the characteristics, whether biological or socially influenced, by which people define male and female.


The vicarious experience of another's feelings; putting oneself in another's shoes.


Physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone. In laboratory experiments, this might mean delivering electric shocks or saying something likely to hurt another's feelings.


From andro (man) + gyn (woman)-- thus mixing both masculine and feminine characteristics.

gender roles

A set of behavior expectations (norms) for males and females.


A relationship in which the effect of one factor (such as biology) depends on another factor (such as environment.)

big social beliefs

cynicism, social complexity, reward for application, spirituality, fate control. These are the 5 ___ _____ ______

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