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social psychology

branch of psychology that studies the effect social variables on individual behavior, attitudes, perceptions, & motives; also studies group activities, dynamics, & interactions

social cognition

process by which people select, interpret, & remember social information

social perception

process by which people understand & categorize the behaviors of others

attribution theory

social-cognition approach to describing the ways the social perceiver uses information to generate casual explanations

covariation model

theory that suggests that people attribute a behavior to a causal factor if that factor was present whenever the behavior occurs, but was absent when it didn't occur

fundamental attribution error (FAE)

dual tendency of observers to underestimate the impact of situational factors & to overestimate the influence of dispositional factors (blame or credit people) on a person's behavior

self-serving bias

attributional bias which people tend to take credit for their successes & deny responsibility for their failures

self-fulling prophecy

prediction made about some human behavior or event that modifies interactions so as to produce what is expected

social role

socially pattern of behavior that is expected of a person who is functioning in a given setting or group


behavioral guideline for acting in a certain way in a certain situation

social norm

expectation a group has for its members regarding acceptable & appropriate attitudes & behaviors


tendency for people to adopt the behaviors, attitudes, & values of other members of a reference group

informational influence

group effects that arise from individuals' desire to be correct & right & to understand how best to act in a given situation

normative influence

group effects that arise from individuals' desire to be liked, accepted, & approved of by others

norm crystallization

convergence of the expectations of a group of individuals into a common perspective as they talk & carry out activities together

group polarization

tendency for groups to make decisions that more extreme than the decisions that would be made by the members acting alone


tendency of a decision-making group to filter out undesirable input so that consensus may be reached, especially if it is in line with the leader's viewpoint


learned, relatively stable tendency to respond to people, concepts, & events in an evaluative way


deliberate efforts to change attitudes

elaboration likelihood model

theory of persuasion that defines how likely it is that people will focus their cognition processes to elaborate upon a persuasive message

cognition dissonance

state of conflict someone experiences after making a decision, taking an action, or being exposed to information that is contrary to prior beliefs, feelings or values

self-perception theory

idea that people observe themselves to figure out the reasons they act as as they do; people infer what their internal states are by perceiving how they are acting in a given situation


change in behavior consistent with a direct request

reciprocity norm

expectations that favors will be returned: if someone doe something for another person, that person should do something in return


learned attitude toward a target object, involving dislike or fears, negative beliefs, & behavioral intention to avoid, control, dominate, or eliminate the target object

social categorization

process by which people organize the social environment by categorizing themselves & others into groups


generalization about a group of people in which the same characteristics are assigned to all members of a group

contact hypothesis

prediction that contact between groups will reduce prejudice only if the contact includes features such as cooperation toward shared goals


behaviors that cause psychological or physical harm to another individual

prosocial behavior

behavior that is carried out with the goal of helping other people


prosocial behavior a person carries out without considering his or her own safety or interests

bystander interventions

willingness to assist a person in need of help

diffusion of responsibility

in emergency situations, the larger the number of bystanders, the less responsibility any one of the bystanders feels to help

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