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Social Psychology

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

Attribution Theory

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 another's behavior, to underestimate the impact of the situation and to overestimate the impact of personal disposition.


feelings, often influenced by our beliefs, that predispose us to respond in a particular way to objects, people, and events.

Central Route to Persuasion

occurs when interested people focus on the arguments and respond with favorable thoughts.

Peripheral Route to Persuasion

occurs when people are influenced by incidental cues, such as a speaker's attractiveness.

Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon

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

the theory that we act to reduce the discomfort (dissonance) we feel when two of our thoughts (cognitions) are inconsistent. For example, when our awareness of our attitudes and of our actions clash, we can reduce the resulting dissonance by changing our attitudes.


adjusting one's 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.

Social Facilitation

stronger responses on simple or well-learned tasks in the presence of others.

Social Loafing

the tendency for people in a group to exert less effort when pooling their efforts toward attaining a common goal than when individually accountable.


the loss of self-awareness and self-restraint occurring in group situations that foster arousal and anonymity.

Group Polarization

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.


an unjustifiable (and usually negative) attitude toward a group and its members. Prejudice 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.


"Us"—people with whom we share a common identity.


"Them"—those perceived as different or apart from our ingroup.

Ingroup Bias

the tendency to favor our own group.

Scapegoat Theory

the theory that prejudice offers an outlet for anger by providing someone to blame.

Other-Race Effect

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.

Just-World Phenomenon

the tendency for people to believe the world is just and that people therefore get what they deserve and deserve what they get.


physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone.

Frustration-Agression Principle

the principle that frustration—the blocking of an attempt to achieve some goal—creates anger, which can generate aggression.

Mere Exposure Effect

the phenomenon that repeated exposure to novel stimuli increases liking of them.

Passionate Love

an aroused state of intense positive absorption in another, usually present at the beginning of a love relationship.

Companionate Love

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.


revealing intimate aspects of oneself to others.


unselfish regard for the welfare of others.

Bystander Effect

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.

Reciprocity Norm

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

Social-Responsibility Norm

an expectation that people will help those dependent upon them.


a perceived incompatibility of actions, goals, or ideas.

Social Trap

a situation in which the conflicting parties, by each rationally pursuing their self-interest, become caught in mutually destructive behavior.

Mirror-Image Perceptions

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.

Superordinate Goals

shared goals that override differences among people and require their cooperation.

GRIT (Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-Reduction)

a strategy designed to decrease international tensions.


humans are noble, admirable, creatures that can make judgments with amazing efficiency.


humans are prone to err and have a tendency to overestimate judgments


individual traits persist as we age.


people change throughout their lives.


human traits are inherited or born.


human traits develop through experience

Person vs. Situation

to judge someone by their personality rather than the situation.


the extent pf people's respects with other people

Mind vs. Brain

the extent of what we experience and biological processes connect


brain structure and brain chemistry control behavior.


behavior is driven by survival needs and to get your genes to the next generation.

Behavior Genetics

studies how much behavior is caused by genetic predispositions vs learned from environment.


drives and urges within the unconscious influence thoughts and behavior.


learn to behave or modify behavior through rewards and punishment.


how we acquire, organize, process and retrieve information.


behavior and thinking vary among people in different cultures and situations.


humans have the freedom and potential for personal growth.


to do something because an adult authority says to.

Implicit Racial Associations

even people who deny having racial prejudice may carry negative associations.

Unconscious Patronization

to unknowingly feel superior.

Social Inequalities

people who have develop attitudes that justify things as they are.


rules of thumb and short cut methods to solve problems.

Vivid Cases

available heuristic or easy to remember because they stick out.

Illusory Correlation

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

Confirmation Bias

notice instances that confirm beliefs and ignore instances that disconfirm it.

Belief Perseverance

holding onto belief after its discredited.


when categorizing people into groups, we often stereotype them, biasing our perceptions of their diversity.

Genetic Influence

genes influence human aggression.

Neural Influences

animal and human brains have neural systems that, when stimulated, either inhibits or produce aggressive behavior.

Biochemical Influences

hormones, alcohol, and other substances in the blood influence the neural systems that ontrol agression.

Fight-or-Flight Reaction

organisms respond to the stress by running or fighting.

Social Scripts

mental tapes for how to act, provided by our culture.

Catharsis Hypothesis

the idea that we feel better if we "blow off steam" by venting our emotions.

Spill-Over Effect

blowing steam may temporarily calm us, but may also amplify the underlying hostility.


geographic nearness - is friendship's most powerful predictor.

Reward Theory of Attraction

we will like those whose behavior is rewarding to us and that we will continue relationships that offer move rewards than costs.

Darwin's Theory

we adapt to survive.


an early school of psychology that used introspection to explore the structural elements of the human mind.


a school of psychology that focused on how our mental and behavioral processes function—how they enable us to adapt, survive, and flourish.


the view that psychology (1) should be an objective science that (2) studies behavior without reference to mental processes. Most research psychologists today agree with (1) but not with (2).

Humanistic Psychology

historically significant perspective that emphasized the growth potential of healthy people and the individual's potential for personal growth.

Cognitive Neuroscience

the interdisciplinary study of the brain activity linked with cognition (including perception, thinking, memory, and language).


the science of behavior and mental processes.

Nature-Nurture Issue

the longstanding controversy over the relative contributions that genes and experience make to the development of psychological traits and behaviors. Today's science sees traits and behaviors arising from the interaction of nature and nurture.

Natural Selection

the principle that, among the range of inherited trait variations, those contributing to reproduction and survival will most likely be passed on to succeeding generations.

Levels of Analysis

the differing complementary views, from biological to psychological to social-cultural, for analyzing any given phenomenon.

Biopsychosocial Apprach

an integrated approach that incorporates biological, psychological, and social-cultural levels of analysis.

Basic Research

pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base.

Applied Research

scientific study that aims to solve practical problems.

Couseling Psychology

a branch of psychology that assists people with problems in living (often related to school, work, or marriage) and in achieving greater well-being.

Clinical Psychology

a branch of psychology that studies, assesses, and treats people with psychological disorders.


a branch of medicine dealing with psychological disorders; practiced by physicians who sometimes provide medical (for example, drug) treatments as well as psychological therapy.


a study method incorporating five steps: Survey, Question, Read, Rehearse, Review.

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