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Social Psychology

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  1. Social Psychology Social Psychology studies how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. Humans are the most social of the animals (i.e., we have the greatest complexity of interactions with each other) When we define ourselves, we usually do so with respect to the social roles we play. (I’m a man, a professor, a husband, a citizen, etc.)

  2. Person Perception Person perception refers to the evaluations and feelings we develop to other people in our world. But what are the bases for the formation of the impressions we develop? Obviously we base how we feel about another individual based upon their appearance and the actions they take. Four principles of person perception: 1. Reactions to another person are based on perceptions not reality 2. Our goals in the relationship determine what we notice about another person 3. Evaluations are based on expectation of how we believe the other person should behave 4. How you perceive yourself strongly influences how you perceive others

  3. Initial Impressions Physical Attractiveness is the most obvious and most primary factor in our initial reaction to others Social Categorization refers to a rapid process that speeds our evaluation of others. Your early perceptions of another person cause you to lump that person into a category or grouping of like people you have known. Based on very little information, we draw many conclusions about an individual.

  4. Social Categorization The attitudes that we develop toward a person depend on the categorization we make of another person. We show In-group bias, i.e., the more similar someone is to ourselves the more we like them. Other individuals are considered to be the Out-group (less desirable, disliked, or even despised). The result of social categorization is stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Stereotyping (Cognitive) – we assign common characteristics to all members of a social categorized group. Prejudice (Emotional) – we develop negative attitudes toward members of the outgroup Discrimination (Behavioral) – we treat members of the out-group in some negative or demeaning manner

  5. Attribution Attributions are inferences that people draw about causes of events and behaviors. Internal Attributions ascribe the causes of behavior to personal traits, abilities, and feelings. External Attributions ascribe the causes of behavior to situational demands and environmental factors. The Fundamental Attribution Error - The tendency to overestimate the role of traits and underestimate the role of the situation in determining other people’s behavior.

  6. Self Attribution • How do we explain the things that happen to us? Are experiences that we have brought on by ourselves or are they caused by situations beyond our control? • How you answer these questions will have important impact on your psychological health (Seligman’s research on optimism/pessimism) • Pessimists explain/see negative events as • Global • Nothing goes right in my life • I’m a loser • I can’t do anything right • Internal • it’s always my fault… • Stable • it’ll always be that way…

  7. Self Attribution The Self-Serving Bias is the tendency to explain one’s successes in terms of internal attributions (I’m smart, I’m skilled) and to explain one’s failures are the result of external causes (the market turned against me).

  8. Attitudes Attitudes are our opinions and beliefs about people, objects, and ideas. Attitudes have a cognitive component (i.e., we are aware of what our opinions are). Attitudes have an affective component (i.e., each opinion is slanted positively or negatively – we like or dislike). Attitudes may have a behavioral component creating predispositions within us to act in certain ways. Attitudes can be altered by a variety of processes including persuasion.

  9. Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Festinger) There is an attitudinal effect that results from the interaction of cognitive elements (beliefs, opinions, knowledge). I believe marital fidelity is good I smoke cigarettes I am faithful to my spouse I believe smoking causes lung cancer Dissonant Cognitive Dissonance is when attitudes we harbor are inconsistent with each other. Dissonance is an aversive state which the subject will do something to reduce or eliminate. • Stop smoking • Deny the belief that smoking causes cancer • Add new cognitions (Lung cancer curable)

  10. Persuasion (Attitude Change) The Communicator – trustworthiness, power, attractiveness, likeability, and sameness to self The Nature of the Message – messages that create emotion are the most effective The Medium – Television more effective than radio The Target Audience – younger audience more likely to be persuaded

  11. Group Influence Conformity – change in a person’s beahvior to coincide more closely with a group standard Obedience – adjustment of an individual’s behavior to correspond to the demands of an authority figure Helping – the act of an individual within a group to aid an individual in distress. The Bystander Effect – individual is less likely to help the larger the group (Diffusion of Responsibility)