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Social Psychology

Social Psychology

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Social Psychology

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  1. Social Psychology Psychology 2012 – Fall 2003

  2. Introduction: What Is Social Psychology? • The scientific study of how people think, feel, and behave in social situations. • Social cognition – the study of the mental processes people use to make sense out of their social environment • Social influence – the study of the effect of situational factors and other people on an individual’s behavior

  3. Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Other People • On the basis of very limited information, we quickly draw conclusions about the nature of people who are complete strangers to us • Person perception – refers to the mental processes we use to form judgments and draw conclusions about the characteristics and motives of others • Personal perception is an active and subjective process that always occurs in some interpersonal context, which has three key components: • The characteristics of the individual you are attempting to size up • Your own characteristics as the perceiver • The specific situation in which the process occurs

  4. Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Other People • Person perception follows some basic principles • Your reactions to others are determined by your perceptions of them, not by who or what they really are • Your goals in a particular situation determine the amount and kind of information you collect about others • In every situation, you evaluate people partly in terms of how you expect them to act in the situation • Social norms are the rules or expectations, for appropriate behavior in a particular social situation • Your self-perception also influences how your perceive others and how your act on your perceptions

  5. Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Other People • Social categorization: using mental shortcuts in person perception • Social categorization – the mental process of classifying people into groups on the basis of common characteristics • It may be automatic and spontaneous, and it may be unconscious • Using social categories is cognitively efficient but may lead to inaccurate conclusions

  6. Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Other People • Implicit personality theories • Implicit personality theory – a network of assumptions or beliefs about the relationships among various types of people, traits, and behaviors • Implicit personality theories, like social categories, can be useful as mental shortcuts in perceiving other people, but they are not always accurate

  7. Attribution: Explaining the Causes of Behavior • Attribution – the mental process of inferring the causes of people’s behavior, including one’s own • Also used to refer to the explanation made for a particular behavior • The fundamental attribution error – we tend to spontaneously attribute the behavior of others to internal, personal characteristics • While downplaying or underestimating the effects of external, situational factors • Plays a role in a common explanatory pattern called blaming the victim – an innocent victim is blamed for somehow causing a misfortune • Just world hypothesis – a victim must have done something wrong because the world is fair

  8. Attribution: Explaining the Causes of Behavior • The actor-observer discrepancy • When it comes to explaining our own behavior, we are more likely to use an external, situational attribution than an internal, personal attribution • This is called the actor-observer discrepancy because there is a discrepancy between the attributions you make when you are the actor in a given situation • And those you make when you are the observer of other people’s behavior • The self-serving bias – the tendency to attribute successful outcomes of one’s own behavior to internal causes • And unsuccessful outcomes to external, situational causes • Common in many societies, the self-serving bias is far from universal

  9. The Social Psychology of Attitudes • Attitude – a learned tendency to evaluate some object, person, or issue in a particular way • Such evaluations may be positive, negative, or ambivalent • Attitudes can include three components: • A cognitive component • An emotional/affective component • A behavioral component

  10. The Social Psychology of Attitudes • The effect of attitudes on behavior • Research indicates that you’re most likely to behave in accordance with your attitudes when: • Attitudes are extreme or are frequently expressed • Attitudes have been formed through direct experience • You are very knowledgeable about the subject • You have a vested interest in the subject • You anticipate a favorable outcome or response from others

  11. The Social Psychology of Attitudes • The effect of behavior on attitudes • Cognitive dissonance – an unpleasant state of psychological tension (dissonance) that occurs when there’s an inconsistency between two thoughts or perceptions (cognitions) • It typically results from the awareness that attitudes and behavior are in conflict • Cognitive dissonance can change the strength of an attitude so that it is consistent with some behavior we’ve already performed

  12. Cognitive Dissonance • The unpleasant state that occurs when attitudes don't match behaviors • Responses: • Change Behavior • Explain Away Inconsistency • Minimize Inconsistency • Change Attitude

  13. Understanding Prejudice • Prejudice – a negative attitude toward people who belong to a specific social group • Ultimately based on the exaggerated notion that members of other social groups are very different from members of our own social group • Keep two well-established points in mind: • Racial and ethnic groups are far more alike than they are different • Any differences that may exist between members of different racial and ethnic groups are far smaller than differences among various members of the same group

  14. Understanding Prejudice • From stereotypes to prejudice: in-groups and out-groups • Stereotype – a cluster of characteristics that are attributed to members of a specific social group or category • Are based on the assumption that people have certain characteristics because of their membership in a certain group • Once formed, stereotypes are hard to change • They are not always completely false; sometimes they have a kernel of truth, making them easy to confirm • Especially when you see only what you expect to see • When stereotypes become expectations that are applied to all members of a given group, they can be both misleading and damaging

  15. Understanding Prejudice • Another strong tendency in person perception is to perceive others in terms of the basic social categories of “us” and “them” • The in-group (we) refers to the group to which we belong • The out-group (them) refers to the groups of which we are not a member • Two important patterns characterize our views on in-groups versus out-groups • When we describe the members of our in-group, we typically see them as being quite varied, • Despite having enough features in common to belong to the same group • The out-group homogeneity effect – we tend to see members of the out-group as much more similar to one another, even in areas that have little to do with the criteria for group membership

  16. Understanding Prejudice • In-group bias – our tendency to make favorable, positive attributions for behaviors by members of our in-group • And unfavorable, negative attributions for behaviors by members of out-groups • Ethnocentrism – one form of in-group bias that focuses on the belief that one’s own culture or ethnic group is superior to others

  17. Understanding Prejudice • In combination, stereotypes and in-group/out-group bias form the cognitive basis for prejudicial attitudes • Prejudice also has a strong emotional component, which is intensely negative • Involving hatred, contempt, fear, and loathing • Behaviorally, prejudice can be displayed in the form of discrimination • Behaviors ranging from privately sneering at another group to physically attacking member of the out-group

  18. Understanding Prejudice • Overcoming prejudice • Social psychologist Sherif helped clarify the conditions that produce intergroup conflict and harmony • Best known for his “Robbers Cave” experiment • The Robbers Cave Experiment • Boys were randomly assigned to two groups – a fierce rivalry quickly developed • To restore harmony, Sherif created a series of situations in which the two groups would need to cooperate to achieve a common goal • After a series of joint efforts, the rivalry diminished and the groups became friends • Sherif demonstrated how hostility between groups could be created and how that hostility could be overcome • However, some researchers questioned the applicability of these results to other intergroup situations, in which intrinsic differences might come into play

  19. Understanding Prejudice • The jigsaw classroom: Promoting cooperation • Social psychologist Aronson adapted Sherif’s results to a newly integrated elementary school • When mere contact between black and white children did not dissipate tension and prejudice, Aronson reasoned that the competitive schoolroom atmosphere might be partly at fault • Aronson developed a cooperative technique called the jigsaw classroom technique • Which brought students together in small, ethnically diverse groups to work on a mutual project • As a result, interdependence and cooperation replaced competition • In combination, the Robbers Cave study and the jigsaw classroom experiment illustrated how cooperative efforts can promote intergroup harmony

  20. Understanding Prejudice • Sometimes people who are not consciously prejudiced against particular groups nevertheless react in prejudiced ways • Psychologist Devine argues that prejudice reduction at the individual level is a three-step process • Individuals must decide that prejudiced responses are wrong and consciously reject prejudice and stereotyped thinking • They must internalize their nonprejudiced beliefs so that they become an integral part of their self-concept • Individuals must learn to inhibit automatic prejudicial reactions and deliberately replace them with nonprejudiced responses that are based on their personal standards

  21. Conformity: Following the Crowd • Social influence – the psychological study of how our behavior is influenced by the social environment and other people • Conformity – the tendency to adjust one’s behavior, attitudes, or beliefs to group norms in response to real or imagined group pressure • American social psychologist Asch was best known for his pioneering studies of conformity • Asch’s research, which involved a simple, objective task with an obvious answer (judging the similarity in the lengths of lines), demonstrated: • The degree to which people will conform to a majority view and • The conditions under which conformity is most likely

  22. Conformity • Tendency to follow others in attitudes or behaviors • Generally positive, allows us to live together

  23. Asch’s Study • Used 7-9 people, only one a real subject • Had people judging line lengths • At first confederates told the truth • Then they all began giving the same wrong answer

  24. Conformity by Group Size

  25. Proportion of Conformity

  26. Follow Up Studies Later, Asch measured the effect of having at least one confederate dissent & give the correct answer

  27. Conformity: Following the Crowd • Factors influencing conformity • We sometimes find ourselves conforming to the larger group for two basic reasons: • Normative social influence – refers to behavior that is motivated by the desire to gain social acceptance and approval • Informational social influence – refers to behavior that is motivated by the desire to be correct

  28. Conformity: Following the Crowd • Culture and conformity • Meta-analysis indicates that conformity is generally higher in collectivistic cultures than in individualistic ones • Individualistic cultures tend to emphasize independence, self-expression, and standing out from the crowd; • Thus the whole notion of conformity tends to carry a negative connotation • In collectivistic cultures, however, publicly conforming while privately disagreeing tends to be regarded as socially appropriate tact or sensitivity

  29. Conformity Increases When: • People are unsure of a situation • People are of low group status • People lack information • The behavior is public

  30. Obedience: Just Following Orders • Social psychologist Milgram is best known for his experimental investigations of obedience • Obedience – the performance of an action in response to the direct orders of an authority or person of higher status • Milgram’s original obedience experiment • Milgram embarked on one of the most systematic and controversial investigations in the history of psychology; • How and why people obey the destructive dictates of an authority figure

  31. Obedience: Just Following Orders • Following a “fixed” drawing to determine “teacher” (always a real subject) and “learner” (always an accomplice in the experiment), the “learner” was strapped into an “electric chair” • The teacher tested the learner on a simple word-pair memory task • The teacher was given a sample shock of 45 volts • No more actual shocks were delivered at any other time in the experiment • At predetermined levels, the learner vocalized his discomfort, then his pain, then agonized screams, and finally dead silence • If the teacher protested, the experimenter told him that he must continue

  32. Obedience: Just Following Orders • The results of Milgram’s original experiment • Milgram asked psychiatrists, college students, and middle-class adults to predict how subjects would behave • All three groups predicted that all of Milgram’s subjects would refuse to obey at some point • None of hose surveyed thought that any of Milgram’s subjects would go to the full 450 volts • They were wrong. • 2/3 of Milgram’s subjects went to the full 450 volt level • Of those who defied the experimenter, not one stopped before the 300 volt level

  33. Milgram’s Results

  34. Obedience: Just Following Orders • Making sense out of Milgram’s findings • Milgram and others identified several aspects of the experimental situation that had a strong impact on the subjects • A previously well-established framework to obey • The situation, or context, in which the obedience occurred • The gradual, repetitive escalation of the task • The experimenter’s behavior and reassurances • The physical and psychological separation from the learner

  35. Obedience: Just Following Orders • Conditions that undermine obedience • In a lengthy series of experiments involving over 1,000 subjects Milgram systematically varied the basic obedience paradigm • Milgram identified several conditions that decrease the likelihood of destructive obedience • Willingness to obey diminishes sharply when the buffers that separate the teacher from the learner are lessened or removed • When teachers were allowed to act as their own authority and freely choose the shock level • 95 percent did not venture beyond 150 volts – the first point at which the learner protested

  36. Obedience: Just Following Orders • Asch, Milgram, and the real world: Implications of the classical social influence studies • The scientific study of conformity and obedience had produced some important insights • Our behavior is influenced by situational factors • Each of us does have the capacity to resist group or authority pressure

  37. Helping Behavior: Coming to the Aid of Strangers • Helping behavior: coming to the aid of strangers • The chilling story of Kitty Genovese’s murder led researchers to investigate what factors influence our decision to help another person. • Social psychologists Latane and Darley wrote the landmark book, The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn’t He Help? • Factors that increase the likelihood of bystanders helping • The “feel good, do good” effect • Feeling guilty • Seeing others who are willing to help • Perceiving the other person as deserving help • Knowing how to help • A personalized relationship with the victim

  38. Helping Behavior: Coming to the Aid of Strangers • Factors that decrease the likelihood of bystanders helping • The presence of other people • The bystander effect is the phenomenon in which the greater the number of people present, the less likely each individual is to help someone in distress. This seems to occur for two reasons • Diffusion of responsibility – the phenomenon in which the presence of other people makes it less likely that any individual will help someone in distress • Because the obligation to intervene is shared (diffused) among all the onlookers • Our desire to behave in a socially acceptable way (normative social influence) and to appear correct (informational social influence) • Being in a big city or a very small town • Vague or ambiguous situations • When the personal costs for helping outweigh the benefits

  39. Bystander Effect (Data from Darley & Latane, 1968)

  40. Bystander Effect (Data from Darley & Latane, 1968)

  41. Compliance Techniques • Foot in the door • Door in the face

  42. Foot in the Door • Start with a small request • Follow up with a large one % complying with large request

  43. Door in the Face • Start with a large request. • Follow up with a small one. % complying with small request

  44. Group Influence • Social Facilitation • Social Loafing • Group Polarization • Groupthink

  45. Social Facilitation Positive effects on performance due to the presence of an audience or of co-actors

  46. Social Loafing The tendency to put forth less effort when working on a task with others than when working alone

  47. Group Polarization Group discussion causes members to shift to more extreme positions

  48. Groupthink • Strikes tightly-knit groups • Results in hesitation to dissent in order to preserve solidarity