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Levels of Analysis ( LoA ). Biological Cognitive Sociocultural. Biological LoA. Focuses on physiology and genetics Gender differences via genetic makeup XY and XX chromosomes Gender differences from the impact of hormones testosterone and estrogen. Cognitive LoA.

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levels of analysis loa

Levels of Analysis (LoA)




biological loa
Biological LoA
  • Focuses on physiology and genetics
  • Gender differences via genetic makeup
    • XY and XX chromosomes
  • Gender differences from the impact of hormones
    • testosterone and estrogen
cognitive loa
Cognitive LoA
  • Focuses on mental processes
    • Memory
    • Thinking
    • Perception
    • Attention
  • Gender differences via gender schema theory
  • Social cognition
  • Gender stereotypes
sociocultural loa
  • Focuses on how environment and culture impact behavior and thinking
  • Impact of cultural definitions and roles for our mental representations of each gender
  • Gender differences explained through social learning theory
    • Watching individuals of the same sex for behavior cues
biological level of analysis

Biological Level of Analysis

physiology and genetics

biological loa physiology behavior
Biological LoA: Physiology & Behavior
  • Biology can affect cognition and cognition can affect biology…relationship is bidirectional
  • Physiological factors that impact behavior:
    • Brain processes
    • Neurotransmitters
    • Hormones
    • Genes
  • Physiology does not work alone since environmental stimuli influence our behavior
    • Stressful experiences
    • Attractive person passing by
    • Brain damage caused by trauma
goal of ib psychology
Goal of IB Psychology

Taking a holistic approach to human behavior

Interactionist Approach: Both sides of nature (biology) vs. nurture (environment) argument.

principles of human behavior biological loa
Principles of Human Behavior (Biological LoA)
  • Behavior can be innate since it is genetically based

Evolution…key role in behavior

  • Animal research can provide insight to human behavior

Much research done with animals

  • Biology correlates with behavior

Links between specific biological factors and specific behaviors

reductionist approach
Reductionist Approach

Micro-level research; breaking down complex human behavior into simple parts.

Criticized for being over simplistic but allows us to gain detailed knowledge of human behavior

Important because it allows understanding of several factors that influence one behavior

the endocrine system
The Endocrine System

Glands that produce hormones in the body

Enter from glands to bloodstream (longer)

i.e. pituitary, adrenal, testes, ovaries, etc.

oxytocin the love hormone
Oxytocin, the “Love Hormone”

Produced by hypothalamus

Firing of neurons by amygdala

From stimulation by pituitary gland, hugs, and touches

Plays role in inducing labor, trust, generosity, and attachment to others

melatonin the sleep hormone
Melatonin, the “Sleep Hormone”

Made by pineal gland

An unbalance of melatonin gives symptoms of insomnia and/or jet lag

Increase during night/darkness, vice-versa

Release correlates with circadian rhythm

seasonal affective disorder sad
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Side effect of excess melatonin

Found by Rosenthal in 1987

Subcategory of depression

Sleepiness, lethargy, carbohydrates craving and apathy

Cure is sunlight AKA go outside more

impact of neurotransmitters on behavior
Impact of Neurotransmitters on Behavior
  • Influences mood, memory, sexual arousal, and mental illness
  • Acetylcholine
    • Muscle contraction, helps with development of memory in hippocampus
  • Dopamine
    • Voluntary movement, learning, feelings of pleasure
  • Norepinephrine (noradrenalin)
    • Arousal, alertness, stimulation of sympathetic nervous system
  • Serotonin
    • Sleep, arousal levels, emotion
affect of serotonin on behavior
Affect of Serotonin on Behavior

Tokyo University (Kasamatsu and Hirai, 1999)

Aim: How sensory deprivation affects the brain

Buddhist monks deprived of food, water, no communication, and exposure to cold weather

48 hours, hallucinations

Blood samples before and right after hallucinations (serotonin levels increased which activated the frontal cortex and hypothalamus)

Conclusion: Sensory deprivation released serotonin which altered monks experience.


Stimulate the production of neurotransmitters

Block receptor sites if too much is produced

Mouse Party Simulation:


technology and the brain behavior
Technology and the Brain & Behavior
  • Technology gives researchers the ability to monitor and discover the “map” of the brain’s activity
  • Previously, case studies were used; usually situations that would be unethical to reproduce in the lab.
    • Case studies of brain damaged patients carried out over a long period of time (longitudinally)
      • Phineas Gage, Paul Broca, Carl Wernicke
    • Allows for observation of short-term and long-term effects
localization of brain function
Localization of Brain Function

The idea that specific parts of the brain are responsible for specific functions

When a behavior is localized in the brain, it is possible to trace the origin of the behavior to a specific part of the brain.

Does not explain ALL human behavior but is a major step forward in brain research

research on the role of the nucleus accumbens pleasure center
Research on the role of the nucleus accumbens (pleasure center)

Robert Heath (1950s)

James Old (1950s)

Electrically stimulated parts o f the brain in depressed patients=experienced pleasure

One patient (B-19) electrically stimulated himself 1,500 times in 3 hours

Experienced euphoria and elation and was eventually disconnected against his will

Rats would receive electrical stimulation to the nucleus accumbens when a lever was pressed

Crossed over electrified grids and preferred pleasure lever over food and water

brain functions and ethical considerations
Brain Functions and Ethical Considerations
  • Electrical stimulation of the nucleus accumbens is based mainly on dopamine (desire) and serotonin (satiety and inhibition)
  • Via animal studies, all drugs increase the production of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens and reduce serotonin.
    • Cocaine and nicotine
  • Frequent use of drugs increase the amount of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens.
    • Why drug addicts have an obsessive drive to seek more drugs even though they know its not good for them
spiders on drugs
Spiders on Drugs


technology vs invasive techniques
Technology vs. Invasive Techniques


Invasive Techniques

  • Study the active brain
    • EEG, PET, fMRI
  • More ethical
  • May be misleading
  • Ablation (removing) & leisoning (scarring) techniques on animals
  • Harm cannot be reversed
    • Ethical?
    • Pain?

Researchers use a lot of technology to study the localization functions of the brain.

Option to study active brain

See where specific brain processes take place

invasive techniques
Invasive Techniques

The more invasive techniques that scientist use to study the brain are reserved for animals such as rats

They benefit us because we are to complete ablations which is where a piece of the brain is removed in order to examine the differences in behavior.

invasive technique
Invasive Technique

Hetherington and Ranson

- Lesion part of the brain called ventromedial hypothalamus in rats

~ Increased food intake dramatically & doubled weight

~ Hypothalamus acts as a brake on food intake


Raise serious ethical concerns

Modern Researchers use EEG (electroencephalogram)

Thought of as Brain Waves

Transports information through electrical change

EFG registers patterns of voltage change in the brain

position emissions topography pet scan
Position Emissions Topography (PET) Scan

Monitors glucose metabolism in the brain

Patient is injected with a harmless dose of radioactive glucose and the radioactive particles emitted by the glucose are detected by the PET scanner

Produces color maps of brain activity

Diagnoses abnormalities

functional magnetic resonance imaging fmri
Functional magnetic Resonance imaging (fMRI)

Provides 3D pictures of brain structures using magnetic fields and radio waves.

Shows actual brain activity and indicated which areas of the brain are active.

~Have higher resolution than PET scans

~ Most frequently used technologies in biopsychological research today.

then and now
Then and Now
  • Then (1960’s)

-Thought that brain was influenced only by genetics

    • Thought to be unchangeable
  • Hubel & Weisel (1965)
    • Showed that brain changes as response to environmental input
      • Were based on rats
  • Now
    • Generally accepted that environment enrichment can modify brain, especially in cerebral cortex (area of higher cognitive function)
    • Brain is constantly changing as result of experience throughout lifespan
brain plasticity
Brain Plasticity
  • Refers to brain’s ability to rearrange the connections between its neurons
    • Changes that occur in the structure of brain as result of learning/experience
    • Adapts to challenges of the environment
    • Can change functional qualities of various brain structures depending on regularity and type of new tasks that neurons are asked to perform
    • Neural connection density affected by high level stimulation and learning opportunity at appropriate times
brain plasticity cont
Brain Plasticity (cont.)
  • Dendritic Branching
    • The dendrites of the neurons grow in numbers and connect with other neurons
rosenzweig and bonnett 1972
Rosenzweig and Bonnett (1972)
  • Studied brain plasticity with rats
    • To measure the effect of either enrichment or deprivation on the development of neurons in the cerebral cortex
    • Used interesting tags to play with (stimulating) and no tags (deprived environment)
    • Last 30-60 days then were sacrificed
    • Stimulated environment rats had increased thickness in the cortex
      • Frontal lobe, associated with thinking, planning, and decision making, was heavier in rats that were in stimulated environment
rosenzweig and bonnet 1975 cont
Rosenzweig and Bonnet (1975) (cont.)
  • Similar studies show if the rats had more rats with them, the cortex would then be thicker
    • Company + toys=best conditions for cerebral thickness
  • These findings can be generalized to humans to some extent
    • Humans brains differ in genetic make-up and environment inputs
    • Makes it difficult to decide what is considered to be an enriched environment
    • Raises questions of the importance of education in growth of new synapses
    • If it works as though, environmental stimulation is important for human cortex
mozart effect rauscher et al 1993
Mozart Effect (Rauscher et al. 1993)

One of the most well-known claims of brain plasticity

Listening to Mozart temporarily increases spatial reasoning ability

Structurally complex musical compositions excites brain firing pattern as when physically completing spatial tasks

mozart effect rauscher et al 19931
Mozart Effect (Rauscher et al. 1993)
  • Research shows that it has nothing to do with Mozart but with arousal
  • May just be increase in sense of attention
    • Thompson et al. (2001) if mood elevates -> improved spatial skills but if mood doesn’t elevate -> no improvement (all in result of music)
  • This idea suffers from problems with ecological validity
    • Doesn’t show behavior in a real-life situation
videos about brain plasticity
Videos about Brain Plasticity


(Ben Carson)


(Cameron: Today Show)

richard davidson
Richard Davidson

In 2004 he held an experiment with eight Buddhist monks.

They were highly experienced with meditation, and the ten volunteers that were there were trained in meditation for one week.

The participants were told to meditate on love and compassion.

the experiment
The experiment

He used a PET scan to observe that two of the controls and all of the monks experienced an increase in brain waves during meditation.

As soon as they were done meditating, the gamma waves returned to normal.

The monks were more experienced so their gamma waves had no difference.

The spot where the gamma waves were found in the monks brains during meditation on love and compassion was found to be larger than the other volunteers brains.


Davidson argued that meditation could have long term effect on the brain and the way it processes emotions.

The brain adapts to stimulation (either from environment or our own thinking)

mirror neurons
Mirror Neurons

One of the ways that people learn is by observing others and then imitating their behavior.

Mirror Neurons – Neurons that fire when an animal (or person) performs an action or the animal/human is observing an action being performed

mirror neurons cont
Mirror Neurons (CONT.)
  • Mirror Neurons play a vital role in the ability to learn from – as well as empathize with – another person.
    • Example: At a football game or sporting event, when a player gets hit hard, the crowd cringes and reacts as if they were the one who had been hit.
gallese et al 1996
Gallese et. al. (1996)

Researchers at the University of Parma in Italy, accidentally discovered mirror neurons.

Because neural messages are electrical in nature, the researchers would hear a telltale crackling sound whenever the neurons were activated in the monkeys.

Every time a monkey would reach for a peanut, the crackling sound was heard, not from just the monkey performing the action, but from the other monkeys as well.

biological loa genetics behavior
Biological LoA: Genetics & Behavior
  • Behavioral genetics: Understanding how both genetics and the environment play a role to individual variations in human behavior.
  • Rhesus macaque monkeys & humans
    • 93% genes are shared, the 7% makes a large difference
  • Complexity of genetics:
  • Inheritance contributes to behavior and acts as a building block however, it is not probable that one specific gene is responsible for complex behaviors:
    • Intelligence, criminal behavior, attachment, altruism



Biological / genetic predisposition

The diathesis-stress model

The model looks at the genetic/biologic vulnerability to a disorder/disease and the stress or traumatic environmental stimuli that may trigger a disorder (such as depression)

The diathesis-stress model uses the analogy of a "walking time bomb" to help explain why, for example, not 100% of identical twins both get depression. It also helps to explain why a large percent of people in traumatic situations (post 9/11, rape, etc.) never develop PTSD.

The model further talks about a balance -- the greater the diathesis or predisposition, the less the stress required for the disorder to "appear" and visa versa. 

last year s notes on genetics and evolution i hope you didn t lose them
Last year’s notes on genetics and evolution… I hope you didn’t lose them!

If you did, in your hours of free time, check these out on the wiki 

  • Genes that are passed down from parents to their off-spring
  • Humans are composed of 24 pairs of chromosomes
    • 20,000-25,000 genes
  • James Watson: Human Genome Project
    • 1990-2003
    • Mapped human genes
    • Regardless of this amazing accomplishment, the role of specific genes are still unknown
genetic research
Genetic Research
  • Based off of correlation studies
  • Independent variable is not manipulated, so no cause and effect can be determined.
  • Three types:
    • Twin Studies
    • Family Studies
    • Adoption Studies
twin studies
Monozygotic (MZ)

Dizygotic (DZ)

Twin Studies

Used as basis for hypotheses since they show the different degrees of genetic relationship. In twin studies the correlation found is known as concordance.

  • Identical: one egg split in two
  • Share 100% of genes
    • Same sex
  • Fraternal: Formed from two separate eggs
  • Share 50% of genes just like any other siblings
    • Same or different sex
family studies
Family Studies

More representative of the general population

Different degree of relatedness is compared with behavior to determine the impact of genes.

adoption studies
Adoption Studies
  • Used to determine how great of an impact environment plays in behavior since the child does not share any genes with foster parents.
  • Often criticized because of selective placement
    • Agencies tend to find adoptive parents that are similar to their biological parents which cause a difficulty in determining separating genetic inheritance from environment influences. This process is known as selective placement.

Another principle of the biological LoA is that the environment presents obstacles & challenges for each individual.

In essence, those that adapt have a better chance of survival & having offspring which allows their genes to be passed down.

theory of natural selection
Theory of Natural Selection
  • Members of a species acquire adaptive behaviors to survive the ever-changing environment (those better suited for environment will breed and pass on characteristics)
  • http://youtu.be/Pt2gHpqfZNA
  • Adaption: Species develop characteristics that make it more competitive in its environment
  • Charles Darwin (Galapagos Island, finches, beaks)
    • On the Origin of Species (He didn’t yet know of the biological process through which traits are inherited)
    • Descent of Man
the descent of man findings
The Descent of Man findings
  • We humans share several behaviors with other animals
    • Mate selection
    • Love of mother for offspring
    • Self-preservation
    • Similar facial expressions as apes
    • Similar feelings as animals
monkeys vs humans
Monkeys vs. Humans

Tetsuro Matsuzawa (2007)

Looked at spatial memory in young chimps

Used 3 chimps that were taught to recognize the numbers 1-9 on a computer

Humans and chimps saw number flashed on a touch screen monitor and then the numbers were covered with blank squares and then were asked to touch the squares in sequential order.


  • Humans had more errors and less accuracy as numbers were flashed and replaced by squares quicker
    • As agriculture developed, spatial memory skills aren’t as important for finding food
    • Perhaps this skill was replaced by the ability to develop language
  • Chimps had astonishing memory; no difference in their recall in relation to the amount of time that the numbers were replaced with squares.
    • Adaption for survival skills such as remembering where food and danger is located in the rain forest
ethical considerations
Ethical Considerations
  • Because research in human genetics looks to identify certain genes involved in hereditary diseases there can be some negative outcomes:
    • May pose risks to participates due to the link between genetic heritage and people’s life
    • Information obtained may cause stress to participants family
    • If misused, information can be stigmatizing which could lead the inability to get a job or health insurance.
once again notes last year over confidentiality should be revisited
Once again, notes last year over confidentiality should be revisited 

Aboriginal people may object to genetic studies

Eugenics and other forms of discrimination is the cause.

Consent and speaking to community leaders are a must for many aboriginal and ethnic groups.


During the beginning of the 20th century, governments and schools became very interested in one’s intellectual potential and the role genetics play in IQ

Alfred Binet developed an intelligence test to help understand this concept better within the French educational system

Research has shown that poverty plays a major role in the development of a child’s intelligence

the bell curve
The Bell Curve

Book published in 1994 by Harvard professor Richard J. Herrnstein

The debate about the role of genes and environment have to do with ethnic difference in intelligence is not yet resolved

Media discussed the idea that there may be intergroup differences in intelligence, thus conferring the idea that the root of intelligence in debatable

the g factor
The “g” factor
  • Argued by Charles Spearman, there is a general intelligence factor that is the basis of all intelligence
  • Rather than looking a specific educational subjects (history, math, etc.) Spearman’s intelligence test measures the following:
    • Spatial ability
    • Reasoning
    • Divergent Thinking
    • Verbal Fluency
meta analysis in relation to iq tests
Meta-analysis in Relation to IQ Tests

Bouchard & McGue (1981) used 111 studies of IQ correlations between siblings from research around the world

Found that the closer the kinship the higher correlation of IQ

Meta-analysis: statistical synthesis of the data from a set of comparable studies of a problem that yields a quantitative summary of the pooled results

minnesota twin study
Minnesota Twin Study

(Bouchard et al.) Longitudinal study, been going on since 1979

Most cross-cultural study to date (participants from across the world)

Compares MZAs (identical twins raised apart) to MZTs (identical twins raised together)

Mean age of MZAs was 41 (start of study), until this study most research was done with adolescents

Twins completed 50 hours of testing and interviews


70% of intelligence can be attributed to genetics inheritance, the other 30% is due to other factors

Much research has supported the MTS

The size and nature of the sample has made it one of the most impressive study ever conducted

criticisms of the mts
Criticisms of the MTS
  • Relied on media cover for participants
  • Ethical concerns about how twins were reunited
  • No adequate control to establish the frequency of contact between the twins prior to the study
  • “Equal environment assumption”
    • Cannot assume twins raised together experience the exact same environment (different friends, teachers, exposure to stimuli, etc.)
adoption studies for intelligence
Adoption Studies for Intelligence

Scarr & Weinberg (1977) and Horn et al. (1979)

Researched parents that raised adopted and natural children

Any significant differences in IQ between the adoptive and biological children would be attributed to genes

No significant difference in IQ correlations were found

Parents were wealthy, white, middle class and high IQs & adopted children were poor, lower-class backgrounds, and lower IQs

environmental role on iq
Environmental Role on IQ
  • Wahlstein (1997) found that intelligence has a lot to do with environment and genetics
  • Found that transferring an infant from a low SES to a home where parents had a high SES improved childhood IQ scores 12-16 points (about one standard deviation)
  • Enriched environment may raise IQ in children
    • Strong interaction between genes and the environment to produce intelligence level
less effort hypothesis
Less Effort Hypothesis
  • Hainer et al. (1988) used PET scans to see how much energy was used in solving problems vs. data recall
    • Helped decipher what intelligence is (based on knowledge or ability to solve problems)
  • Those with higher IQs had lower metabolic rates when solving a reasoning problem in comparison to those with a low IQ
    • No difference in data recall
  • Those with a higher IQ use less energy to think than those with lower IQs
iqs change over time
IQs Change over Time
  • Plomin & Petrill (1997) found that correlations between parent and child IQs change over time
    • Ages 4-6, 40% correlation
    • Early adulthood, 60% correlation
    • Older adults, 80% correlation
  • Our genetic disposition pushes us towards environments that accentuate that disposition, thus leading to increased heritability throughout life
  • SES seems to the most important environmental factors in IQ development
flynn effect
Flynn Effect
  • James R. Flynn noticed a rise in average scores on intelligence tests in most parts of the world over the last century
  • UlricNeisser (1997) The America Scientist, average mean scores are going up about 3 points every decade (increase is even higher in abstract reasoning)
    • Better nutrition
    • Improved schooling
    • Different child-rearing practices
    • Increase in technology in modern life
    • Living a higher visual environment plays an important role in IQ scores
  • Does this prove a real increase in IQ or just better understanding of intelligence and tests?
cognitive psychology
Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognition (cognoscere) “to know”
  • UlricNeisser (1967)
    • “all the processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used.”
  • Includes the structure and function of the mind
  • How the human mind comes to know things about the world and how this knowledge is used
  • Cognitive neuroscience: Combines the knowledge about the brain and knowledge about cognitive processes.
cognitive processes
Cognitive Processes
  • Cognitive Processes:
    • Perception
    • Thinking
    • Problem-Solving
    • Memory
    • Language
    • Attention
  • Cognition is based on an individual’s mental representations of the world
    • Words
    • Images
    • Concepts
  • Different experiences influence our mental representations
principles of cognitive psychology
Principles of Cognitive Psychology
  • 1.) Mental processes guide behavior
    • Bottom-up Top-down Output (behavior)
  • 2.) The mind can be studied scientifically
    • Developing theories and using scientific research methods
  • 3.) Cognitive processes are influenced by social and cultural factors
    • Schemas
mental processes guide behavior principle 1
Mental processes guide behavior (Principle 1)

The mind is a complex “machine” using hardware (brain) and software (mental images or representations)

Information input via bottom-up processing (from the senses)

Information is processed in the mind via top-down processing (pre-stored information/memory)

Output (behavior)

cognitive theories and models in the real world
Cognitive Theories and Models in the Real World

Subtle relationships between how people think about themselves and how they behave

A person’s mindset is important to predicting his/her behavior

People have fixed ideas about other people (stereotyping) which can lead to discrimination

are memories infallible
Are memories infallible?
  • The reconstructive nature of memory
    • We do not store exact copies of experiences; we outline events which are filled out with information when it is recalled
  • The brain can fabricate illusions which seem so realistic we believe they are true
  • False Memory:
    • We cannot distinguish between what we have experienced and what we have heard about an event
  • Interpretation and organization of information from the senses to produce some meaningful experience of the world
  • Perception of an ambiguous object or event is influenced by:
    • Context
    • Frequency
    • How recent
  • What we think we objectively experience may in fact be a result of the brain’s interpretation of that object or event
the mind can be studied scientifically principle 2
The Mind Can Be Studied Scientifically (Principle 2)
  • New findings can adjust original theories/models or they can also be rejected if empirical evidence no longer supports it
  • Psychologists study cognition in laboratory settings as well as daily context
    • Previously, the experimental was assumed to be the most scientific method
    • In the 1960s, UlricNeisser suggested that cognition cannot be isolated from our everyday experiences
    • Experimental tasks did not always resemble what people did in their daily lives
studying the mind
Studying the Mind
  • Traditionally, controlled experiments were favored
    • Controlled variables
  • Experimental research might suffer from artificiality
  • Data is used to support/refute cognitive models
  • Today more methods are used:
  • Case studies
    • Incredible memory patients
    • Brain damaged patients (Localization functions)
  • Imaging technology
    • Which areas of the brain are active when making decisions, how cognitive processes can be disruptive by brain damage (amnesia or Alzheimer patients)
cognitive processes are influenced by social cultural factors principle 3
Cognitive Processes are Influenced by Social & Cultural Factors (Principle 3)

Frederic Bartlett coined the term schema (mental representation of knowledge)

Interested in cultural schemas and how they impact remembering

Discovered that people have difficulties remembering a story from another culture and they adjusted the story to fit in with their own cultural schemas

Memory in not a tape recorder and we remember in terms of meaning and what makes sense to us, thus memory is subject to distortions

mental representations memory
Mental Representations & Memory
  • How we store images and ideas in memory
  • We use mental representations to think, make plans, imagine, & daydream
  • Self-representation: How you perceive who you are and how you look
  • Mental representations are organized in categories which are stored in your memory
  • Manipulating mental representations allows us to think about situations & predict possible outcomes
    • Make plans, calculate risks, create
schemas and schema theory
Schemas and Schema Theory

Schemas describe how specific knowledge is organized and stored in memory so it can be accessed and used when needed

Schema theory: Cognitive theory about information processing

Suggests that what we already know will influence the outcome of information processing because we humans are active processors of information

We interpret and integrate information to make sense of experiences even if we are unaware of it

When information is missing we fill in the blanks based on existing schemas or inventing information leading to mistakes (distortions)

cognitive schemas
Cognitive Schemas
  • Networks of knowledge, beliefs, and expectations about particular aspects of the world
  • Pre-stored mental representations
  • Allows us to have expectations of what will happen
    • Imagination allows us to picture characters in book book > movie
  • What we already know affects the way we interpret events and store knowledge in our memory
points to remember about cognitive schemas
Points to Remember About Cognitive Schemas

Organize information about the world with fixed and variable slots; if slot is unspecified it is filled in by a “default value” (best guess)

Can be related to form systems

Active recognition devices (pattern recognition)

Help predict future events based on the past

Represent general knowledge rather than definitions

schema theory memory processes
Schema Theory & Memory Processes

Schema processing can affect memory at all stages

Encoding: Transforming sensory information into meaningful memory

Storage: Creating a biological trace of the encoded information in memory, which can be consolidated or lost

Retrieval: Using stored information

evaluation of schema theory support
Evaluation of Schema Theory (Support)

Research supports the idea that schemas affect cognitive processes such as memory

Useful in understanding how people categorize information, interpret stories, & make inferences

Contributed to understanding of memory distortions as well as social cognition

Social psychologists use social schemas to help explain stereotyping and prejudice

evaluation of schema theory limitations
Evaluation of Schema Theory (Limitations)

It is not entirely clear how schemas are acquired and how they actually influence cognitive processes

Cohen (1993) said that the concept of schemas is too vague to be useful yet researchers use it to explain cognitive processing

Daniel Gilbert argues that the brain is a “wonderful magician but a lousy scientist” by looking for meaningful patterns but does not check for accuracy

multi store model
Multi-Store Model
  • Atkinson & Shiffrin (1968) created the most influential information processing model thus far
  • Based off of two assumptions:
  • 1.) Memory consists of a number of separate stores/types
    • The memory stores are seen as components that operate in conjunction with permanent memory through processes
  • 2.) Memory processes are sequential; one must happen before another
memory storage processes
Memory Storage Processes
  • Attention:
    • Pay attention to sensory input in order to remember it
  • Coding:
    • Give material a form that enables you to remember it
  • Rehearsal:
    • Keeping material active in memory via repetition until it can be stored
steps of the multi store model
Steps of the Multi-store Model
  • 1. Sensory memory: information from the world
    • Stays here only for seconds and only a small portion will transfer to STM
    • Modality specific: related to different senses (hearing & vision)
  • 2. Short-term memory (STM) store:
    • 7 item limit for a duration of 6-12 seconds
    • Quickly lost if not given attention
  • 3. Rehearsal is necessary for long-term memory
long term memory ltm
Long-term Memory (LTM)

Storehouse of information

Since we do not know how much info can be stored, LTM is believed to have unlimited capacity and for an indefinite duration

Material is not exact (outline) and memory can be distorted due to schemas “filling in gaps”

working memory model
Working Memory Model
  • Baddeley & Hitch (1974) based their model off of the multi-store model
  • Challenged the idea that STM is a single store
  • STM includes several components
    • Central executive
      • Episodic buffer
      • Phonological loop
      • Visuospatial sketchpad
central executive
Central Executive

Controlling system which monitors and coordinates the operations of the other components (slave systems)

Most important part of the working memory model

Limited capacity and is modality free (can process any sensory information)

Attentional control is the most important job of the central executive

attentional control
Attentional Control
  • Happens in two ways:
  • 1.) Automatic level:
    • Based on habit and controlled automatically by stimuli in the environment
    • Includes routine procedures
  • 2.) Supervisory level:
    • Deals with emergencies or creates new strategies when old ones are no longer sufficient
    • Reactions
episodic buffer
Episodic Buffer

Consciously trying to remember details

Acts as a temporary and passive display store until the information is needed (similar to a TV screen)

Processing of the information takes place in other parts of the system

Here’s your picture 

phonological loop
Phonological Loop
  • Divided into 2 components
  • 1.) Articulatory control system:
    • Inner voice which holds information in verbal form
    • Remembering a telephone number and repeating it
    • Holds words until you are ready to speak
  • 2.) Phonological store:
    • Inner ear which holds speech-based material in phonological form
    • Memory only lasts 1.5-2 seconds if it is not refreshed by the articulatory system
    • Receives info. directly from sensory memory in the form of auditory material and from LTM in the form of verbal information and the articulatory control system
visuospatial sketchpad
Visuospatial Sketchpad

Inner eye

Deals with visual and spatial information from the sensory memory or LTM

evidence of working memory
Evidence of Working Memory
  • Most contemporary research accepts the idea of working memory
  • Experiments using dual-task techniques/interference tasks support the model
    • Participants were asked to carry out a cognitive task that used most of the capacity of their working memory
      • Telling a story to a person while also trying to learn a list of numbers
    • If the two tasks interfere with each other so that one or both are impaired, it is assumed that both tasks use the same component in the STM
working memory model vs multi store model
Working Memory Model vs. Multi-store Model

Working Memory Model

Multi-store Model

More satisfactory explanation of storage and processing than the STM component of the multi-store model

Include active storage and processing which helps understand all sorts of cognitive tasks (reading comprehension and mental math)

Explains the idea of multi-tasking (performing different cognitive tasks at the same time without disruption)

Assumes that mental processes are passive

working memory in children
Working Memory in Children

Pickering & Gathercole (2001) used the Working Memory Test Battery for Children

Found that there is an improvement in performance in working memory capacity from the age of 5 until about 15

Working memory during childhood varies widely across individuals of the same age

Provides evidence that problems with working memory is associated with problems in academic performance

Problems with the phonological loop have been linked to math and reading abilities

visual and spatial memory linked to math skills
Visual and Spatial Memory Linked to Math Skills

Holmes et al. (2008) studied the association between visuospatial sketchpad capacity and math attainment in relation to age

Samples: Ages 7-8 and 9-10

Studied age differences in relationship between visual and spatial memory and the range of math skills

Findings: Math performance could be predicted based off of the performance on the visual patterns test

principles of sociocultural loa
Principles of SocioculturalLoA
  • Since humans are social animals, we have the basic need to “belong”
  • Culture influences behavior
  • Since humans are social animals, we have a social self
    • Not only do we have an individual identity, but also a collective/social identity
  • People’s views of the world are resistant to change (ideological immunity)
research sociocultural loa
Research: SocioculturalLoA
  • Goal: To see how people interact with each other
  • Usually it doesn’t make much sense to use experiments
    • Majority is in qualitative methods
  • Want to study the behavior of “participants” in realistic ways
  • Naturalistic, “as it really is”; in environments in which the behavior is likely to occur
    • Participant observation
    • Interviews
    • Focus groups
thoughts worth mentioning about research
Thoughts Worth Mentioning About Research

In the past, laboratory experiments were used because they were considered the most scientific way of collecting data

Although modern techniques are more “real” they are descriptive data therefore they cannot explain cause-and-effect (causation) relationships

Participant observation is most common to “see the world through the eyes of the people being studied.”

participant observation
Participant Observation



  • Researcher does not inform participants that they are being observed
  • Deceit is used to gain “trust” of members of the group
  • Intentions are not disclosed and behaviors are recorded without obtaining informed consent
  • Can’t take notes which causes researcher to rely on memory leading to distortion of data
  • Interviews can’t be used for fear of being discovered
    • Example: Leon Festinger et al’s When Prophecy Fails (1956)
  • Participants know they are being observed
  • Gain trust of the group being observed
  • Can use interviews to gather more information
    • Example: O’Reilly (2000)
attribution theory
Attribution Theory

Fritz HeiderThe Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958)

Attribution: How people interpret and explain casual relationships in the social world

We have a desire to understand why things happen

By observing behaviors we try to make inferences about intentions and responsibility

Actor-observer effect: Making attributions about behavior depending on whether they are performing it themselves or observing someone else doing it

answering that why question


Answering that “WHY” Question

Discussing own behavior

Blaming the situation

Analyzing the person’s action with regards to the situation he/she is in

Ex: Late work/missing assignments= genuine issue such as a family/personal issue

Observing someone else’s behavior

Blaming the person

A person’s behavior is influenced by internal characteristics

Ex: Late work/missing assignments= Lazy & irresponsible and never finishes work on time

errors in attributions
Errors in Attributions

Fundamental Attribution Error

Self-serving Bias (SSB)

Overestimating the role of dispositional factors and underestimating the role of situational factors in an individual’s behavior

When people take credit for their success, attributing them to dispositional factors and dissociate themselves from their failures, attributing them to situational factors

a deeper look into fundamental attribution error
A Deeper look into Fundamental Attribution Error
  • Reasons why this error is common:
    • Reason #1:
      • People tend to view themselves as adaptable, flexible, and ever-changing
      • We don’t like to view ourselves as that “type” of person but when we look at others we don’t have enough information about them to make a rash decision about them so we attribute their behavior to disposition (that’s just who they are)
      • Looking at our own behavior we believe we would have acted differently under different circumstances
western culture influence
Western Culture Influence
  • Reason #2:
  • Placing blame is part of Western culture
  • So is people being held accountable for their action
    • Evil actions are more acceptable when blamed on evil than to refer to environmental factors as explanations
    • The judicial system is looking for a satisfactory motive in order to convict someone of murder
basics of lee et al 1977
Basics of Lee et al. (1977)
  • Aim: Will student participants make the fundamental attribution error even when they knew actors were playing a role
    • Roles: Host, contestant, audience
  • Findings: Role was not attributed to the person’s situation and attributed the person’s performance to dispositional factors (intelligence)
  • Concerns: Sample (student participants)
    • Professors seen as authorities
    • Not representative of greater population
  • Conclusion: People with social power usually initiate and control conversations; makes them seem knowledgeable and ideas are not challenged
reasons why we use the self serving bias
Reasons why we use the self-serving bias:
  • #1: Serves as protection (Greenberg et al., 1982):
    • Attribute success to dispositional factors  boosts our self-esteem
    • Attribute failures to situational factors  protect our self-esteem
  • #2: Cognitive factors play a role (Miller & Ross, 1975):
    • Expect to succeed and do skills and ability
    • Expect to succeed and fail  bad luck/external factors
    • Expect to fail and do well  external factors/good luck
    • Expect to fail and we do  dispositional factors
      • Exception to the above rules: Severely depressed individuals make more dispositional attributions thus blaming themselves for feeling miserable
cultural differences in ssb
Cultural Differences in SSB
  • Modesty Bias: Explaining failures in terms of lacking ability
  • Kashima and Triandis (1986):
    • Show slides of scenes from unfamiliar countries
      • Americans attributed success to ability
      • Japanese attributed failures to their lack of ability
  • Chandler et al. (1990)
    • Also observed modesty bias in Japanese students
  • Watkins & Regmi (1990)
    • Same held true for Nepalese students
  • Bond, Leung, & Wan (1982)
    • Chinese students that showed modesty bias rather than SSB were more popular with peers
    • Kashima & Triandis argue this is due to collective societies which derive self-esteem from group identity as opposed to individual accomplishments
social identity theory
Social Identity Theory
  • Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Tuner 1979): Assumes that individuals strive to improve their self-image by trying to enhance their self-esteem, based on either personal identity or various social identities
  • Promotes self-esteem through achievement & affiliation with successful groups
  • Indicates the importance of social belonging
  • Based off of social categorization theory (self-categorization) : Putting people into groups
    • In-group (us)
    • Out-group (them)
  • Causes prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, ethnocentrism, in-group favoritism, and conformity to in-group norms
putting some faces to names
Putting Some Faces to Names

Henri Tajfel

John Turner

studies for social identity theory
Studies for Social Identity Theory
  • Cianldini et al. (1976)
    • Football supporters supporting teams after victories
  • Tajfel (1970)
    • In-group discrimination
  • Tajfel (1978)
    • “establishment of positive distinctiveness”
  • Tajfel et al. (1971)
    • Kandusky vs. Klee
limitations of the social identity theory sit
Limitations of the Social Identity Theory (SIT)
  • #1: Describes but does not predict human behavior
  • #2: SIT can’t fully explain HOW in-group favoritism may result in violent behavior towards outgroups
  • #3: Cannot explain why social constraints such as poverty could play a bigger role in behavior than social identity
  • #4: Minimal group research has criticized for artificiality
    • Experimental set-up is not natural behavior thus could limit predictive value of the theory
  • #5 : Using it in isolation is reductionist which doesn’t allow for consideration of how the environment interacts with the “self”
    • Cultural expectations, rewards as motivators, and societal constraints (poverty) may play more of role in behavior that one’s own sense of in-group identity
strengths of sit
Strengths of SIT
  • #1: Assumes the ingroup conflict is not required for discrimination to occur (Tajfel, 1970)
  • #2: Can help explain some of the mechanisms involved in establishing “positive distinctiveness” to the ingroup by maximizing differences to the outgroup
    • Positive distinctiveness: Using verbal or non-verbal cues to make your social group more socially valued, creating an increasingly positive meaning for the group’s identity
  • #3: Helps understand behaviors such as prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping, ethnocentrism, in-group favoritism, and conformity to in-group norms
social representations
Social Representations

Social representations (Moscovici, 1973): The shared beliefs and explanations held by society in which we live or the group in which we belong

They are the foundation of social cognition which help us make sense of the world and master it; they also allow communication to take place among members of a community by providing social codes for social exchange and naming a classifying unambiguously the various aspects of their world and their individual and group history

social representations cultural schemas
Social Representations=Cultural Schemas
  • A group may have its own representation of success, beauty, or intelligence
  • Adler (1990) Meaning of “share”
    • Russian mother’s explanation of sharing  children playing together with a toy at the same time
    • American mother’s explanation of sharing  children taking turns to play with the same toy
howarth 2002
Howarth (2002)
  • Social representations of Brixton (South of London) and their impact they have on the identity of adolescents females
  • Those not living in Brixton had negative representation of Brixton
  • Those who lived there saw Brixton as “a diverse, creative, and vibrant” community
    • These ideas impacted the girls in their friend choice, sports teams, relations with police, and their employment opportunities
      • Illustrates the impact of social representations as the basis of stereotypes (negative and positive) and how they contribute to social identity
  • Stereotype: A social perception of an individual in terms of group membership or physical attributes
    • Generalization of a group and then attributed to everyone in that group
    • A form of social categorization that affects the behavior of those that hold the stereotype, and those labeled by the stereotype
    • A result of schema processing
    • Can be negative or positive
formation of stereotypes
Formation of Stereotypes
  • Social categorization (Tajfel, 1969)
  • Campbell (1967) argues there are 2 key sources:
    • 1.) Personal experiences
    • 2.) Gatekeepers (media, parents, other members of our culture)
  • Argues that stereotypes have a basis in some reality
  • Grain of truth hypothesis: an experience with an individual from a group will then be generalized to the group
    • Criticized due to errors in attribution
studies related to stereotyping
Studies Related to Stereotyping
  • Empirical Research (Princeton Trilogy)
    • #1: Katz & Braley (1933): Traditional stereotypes have cultural basis
    • #2: Gilbert (1951): Replication of above study; less uniformity of agreement
    • Karlins et al. (1969): Replicated study #2; objected task but more aggreement
  • Devine (1989) Distinguish between knowledge of stereotype and accepting it
  • Lipmann (1922): Mental images to help interpret the world
  • Posner & Snyder (1975): An automatic cognitive process
stereotype threat
Stereotype Threat
  • Occurs when one is in a situation where there is a threat of being judged or threatened stereotypically, or a fear of doing something that would inadvertently confirm that stereotype
  • Steele & Aronson (1995)
  • Method & Aim: Experiment to see the effect of stereotype threat on performance
  • Sample: African American and European American students
  • Procedure: 30 minute verbal test w/ difficult multiple-choice questions. Two groups were used, each with both types of pariticipants
    • “Genuine test of their verbal abilities” (AA scored lower than EA)
    • “A laboratory task that was used to study how certain problems are generally solved “(AA were higher than AA in first group and their scores matched the EA)
  • Additional studies: Women (math) and lower social class
  • Conclusions: Stereotype threat can impact members of any social of cultural group
  • Helps explain why some racial & social groups believe that they are more/less intelligent than others; harms performance of these groups
spotlight anxiety
Spotlight Anxiety

According to Steele (1997), stereotype threat leads to spotlight anxiety (emotional distress and pressure that undermines performance)

Leads to underperformance which naturally limits educational prospects

Spencer et al. (1997):

Gave students that are strong in math a difficult math test

Predicted women would do worse and they did (due to stereotype that women are not as skilled in math)

When same concept was demonstrated with literature skills both groups performed equally well

illusory correlation
Illusory Correlation
  • Hamilton & Gifford (1976):
  • People forming false associations between memberships of a social group and specific behaviors
    • women’s abilities in math
  • Cause people to overestimate a link between two variables
  • Come in many forms and culturally-based prejudice about social groups can to some extent be classified as illusory correlations
  • An example of cognitive bias: a person’s tendency to make errors in judgment based on cognitive factors
  • Attribution errors are examples of cognitive bias
confirmation bias
Confirmation Bias
  • People tend to seek out or remember information that supports relationships (caused by illusory correlation)
  • Overlook information that contradicts what they already believe
  • Makes stereotypical thinking resistant to change
  • Snyder & Swann (1978):
  • Sample: Female college students
  • Procedure: Meet introvert or extrovert. Asked to prepare questions to ask the person they were about to meet
  • Conclusion: Questions confirmed their perceptions/stereotypes of introverts/extroverts
    • Introverts: “What do you dislike about parties?” or “Are there times you wish you were more outgoing?”
    • Extroverts: “What do you do to liven up a party?”
social and cultural norms
Social and Cultural Norms
  • Norm: Set of rules based on socially or culturally shared beliefs of how an individual ought to behave
    • Regulate behavior within the group
    • Deviants are punished, marginalized, stigmatized
    • Can be seen as a positive if creative and affective change takes place in society
    • Leads to conformity since we are social animals that need to belong
social learning theory albert bandura
Social Learning Theory (Albert Bandura)

Assumes that humans learn behaviors through observational learning (learning by watching models and imitating their behavior)

Indirect (not intentionally trying to impact behavior) or direct models (teachers)

factors of learning
Factors of Learning
  • Attention
    • Paying attention to model
  • Retention
    • Observer remembers behavior that was observed
  • Motor reproduction
    • Observer is able to replicate the behavior
  • Motivation
    • Observer wants to demonstrate behavior/what they learned
factors o f motivation
Factors of Motivation
  • Consistency:
    • Imitation is more likely if model has consistent behaviors
  • Identification with the model:
    • If models are similar to observer (age or gender) than replication of behaviors are more likely
  • Rewards/punishment
    • Vicarious reinforcement (we can learn from observing and we don’t have to experience consequences ourselves) takes place by watching people around us---in reality and movies; observational learning
  • Liking the model:
    • Warm and friendly models are more likely to be imitated as opposed to cold, uncaring models
      • Yarrow et al. (1970)
bandura s bobo doll experiment 1961
Bandura’s Bobo Doll Experiment (1961)


    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCo33v3Fwc4
  • Video footage with Bandura’s explanation:
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YclZBhn40hU
  • BBC video:
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zerCK0lRjp8
social learning theory in real life
Social Learning Theory in Real Life

Does watching violence on television cause people to become violent?

Studies are consistent in proving that watching aggression shows children how to be aggressive in new ways and also draw conclusions about whether being aggressive to others will bring rewards or punishment

Huesmann & Eron (1986):

15 year longitudinal study found a positive correlation between the number of hours of violence watched on TV and the level of aggression demonstrated when being a teenager

8 year olds that watched TV violence were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts as adults

not all television is bad
Not all Television is Bad!
  • Evidence supports shows like Sesame Street teaches positive behaviors and academic & social skills such as sharing, empathy, and academic curiosity
  • Soap operas/radio dramas use the Sabido method/sociallearning theory in order to effect change in society
  • We can learn from role models, especially people we can identify with
    • Unwanted teen pregnancies, reduce the spread of HIV, promote literacy, and empower women in developing countries
    • Researchers found exposure to Tanzania’s TwendenaWakati(Let’s Go with the Times) showed an increase in safe sex, women’s status, and family planning (1993-1996)
evaluation of social learning theory
Evaluation of Social Learning Theory
  • Helps explain:
    • Why behaviors are passed down in a family or within cultures
    • Why children can acquire behaviors through trial-and-error learning
  • Criticism: Though a behavior is acquired it is not always demonstrated (behaviors may lie dormant)
    • Because of this, it is hard to say if the behavior is a 100% result of observing the model
  • The theory doesn’t explain why some people never develop the behavior even though they are exposed to it
social learning theory social cognitive theory self efficacy theory
Social Learning TheorySocial Cognitive Theory & Self-Efficacy Theory

Both are based on social learning theory but the focus is on beliefs and how they influence behavior

An important elaboration of social learning theory to explain why people are motivated not by the role models, but also by their own beliefs and previous experiences

social influence compliance
Social Influence: Compliance
  • Robert Cialdini(leading researcher in the psychology of persuasion)
  • The result of pressure from person persuading is not always felt directly
  • Compliance techniques: ways in which individuals are influence to comply with the demands or desires of others
  • Advertising and marketing
    • Sales tactics are always examined on the basis of what would most likely persuade consumers to buy specific products
factors that influence compliance
Factors that Influence Compliance

1.) Authority: Compliance with people of authority; famous people wearing basketball shoes

2.) Commitment: Agreement through behavior or by statements, they are more likely to comply with similar requests

3.) Liking: People comply with people they like

4.) Reciprocity: The need to “return a favor”

5.) Scarcity: Opportunities are more favorable when they are less readily available; “last chance” & “limited time” sales

6.) Social proof: View behaviors as correct if they see others performing it


One of the most widespread and basic norms in human culture

Creates confidence among people in what is given to another is not lost but a sign of a future obligation that enables development of various types of relationships and exchanges

We learn this in childhood

Feelings of guilt plays a key role

Companies offer free gifts, free travel, free hotel rooms, etc.

Lynn & McCall (1998): Mint with bill, tip increases

door in the face technique
Door-in-the-face Technique
  • 1st request (turned down) leads to smaller 2nd request
  • 2nd request is accepted because they believe the request was lowered to accommodate them
  • Cialdini et al. (1975):
  • 1st group: Chaperone juvenile delinquents on a day trip to the zoo: 83% refused to volunteer
  • 2nd group:
    • 1st request: work as counselors for 2 hours a week for 2 years: 0%
    • 2nd request: Chaperone juvenile delinquents on a day trip to the zoo: 50% agreed
how to avoid manipulation in daily life
How to Avoid Manipulation in Daily Life
  • Scenario: Salesperson lowers the price of a product because the costumer thinks it is too expensive:
  • Make a compromise
    • Don’t totally reject what is being offered by others but accept initial favors in good faith and in some cases be prepared to view them as tricks
    • If it is a trick, don’t feel the need to respond with a favor unless you really want to

Being consistent with previous behavior

People make a decision to take a stand, encountering personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with the commitment (even appears illogical to an outsider)

Kurt Lewin (1951): Claims this behavior is motivated by goal gradients

foot in the door technique
Foot-in-the-door Technique

Dickerson et al. (1992)

University students conserving water; Santa Cruz, CA

1.) Sign a poster: “Take shorter showers. If I can do it, so can you!”

2.) Took survey that made them think about the amount of water they used

Shower time decreased by 3.5 minutes

Consideration: They signed the poster because they were already committed to the cause

low balling
  • Ciadelni et al. (1974)
  • Sample: 1st year psychology students
  • 1st group: Volunteer to be part of study on cognition at 7 a.m. (24% participation)
  • 2nd group: Same favor, but not told time; 56% agreed. After that, told the time and also could back out; no one did
    • On the day of the meeting, 95% of the students (of the 56% that agreed) showed up
  • Common amongst sports teams& fraternities
    • Old School Video Clip
  • Many universities banned the practice due to deaths but it still exists
    • Extreme temperatures
    • Drinking themselves into comas
    • Digging their own graves
  • Similar to initiation rites seen in other cultures:
    • African societies have initiation rites (rites of passage) to indicate their entrance into adulthood
    • Boot camp: teach recruits how to do their job but also overcoming difficulty and humiliation
thought process of enduring hazing
Thought Process of Enduring Hazing
  • 1.) Person chooses to join the group, recognizing initiation is involved
  • 2.) Rationalization that it is “worth it”
  • 3.) Upon completion there is a sense of accomplishment
  • Young (1963):
    • 54 tribal cultures
    • Those with the most extreme ceremonies had the strongest group solidarity
is hazing necessary
Is Hazing Necessary?
  • Aronson & Mills (1959):
  • Aim: Enduring trouble or pain to join a group causing people to value the group more vs. those that do not
  • Sample: Female college students
  • Procedure: Join a sex discussion group
    • Embarrassing initiation and no initiation
    • Attend a meeting (made up of confederates; acting bored and uninterested)
  • Conclusions:
    • Initiation Found the meeting extremely valuable
    • No initiation “worthless and uninteresting”
  • Gerard & Mathewson (1966) follow-up study:
    • Women received electrical shocks during initiation found their group interesting, intelligent, and desirable
social influence conformity
Social Influence: Conformity

The tendency to adjust one’s thoughts, feelings, or behavior in ways that are in agreement with those of a particular individual or group or with accepted standards about how a person should behave in specific situations (social norms)

AKA: Peer pressure when dealing with youth/school

Conformity isn’t limited to just feeling the need to fit in

asch s conformity study 1951
Asch’s Conformity Study (1951)


asch paradigm
Asch Paradigm

Factors that influence the likelihood of conformity:

1.) Group Size (1955): with only one confederate, 3% of participants conformed; 2 confederates, 14%, 3 confederates, 32%. Large groups did not increase conformity, in some cases very large groups decreased the level of conformity

2.) Unanimity (1956): When all confederates agreedconformity. If a confederate disagreedparticipant was less likely to conform

3.) Confidence (Perrin & Spencer, 1988): Engineers and medical students conformity rates were almost non-existent; more competentless likely to conform

4.) Self-esteem (Stang, 1973): High self-esteemless likely to conform

criticisms of asch s experiment
Criticisms of Asch’s Experiment

1.) Artificiality and ecological validity:

Use of strangers made the situation atypical

Asch argued that experiments are social situations in which participants feel like an outsider if they dissent

Concern for demand characteristics

2.) Culture limited validity:

The group was not multiculturalstudy is limited in its application

Asch paradigm is no longer valid today?

3.) Ethical considerations:

Deception & anxiety

4.) Bias in interpretation of the findings (Friend et al., 1990):

In the face of unanimity, so many people did not conform

Which factors allow people to dissent, rather than which factors influence conformity?

the influence of minority opinions
The Influence of Minority Opinions
  • Moscovici and Lage (1976):
    • When a minority maintains a consistent view, it is able to influence the majority
      • 4 participants & 2 confederates, described a blue-green color as green, 32% of participants made at least one incorrect judgment about the color of slides shown; they also continued to give incorrect responses after the confederates left the experiment
  • Hogg and Vaughan (1995):
    • Some of the reasons for the influence of a minority groups include:

1.) Dissenting opinions produce uncertainty & doubt

2.) Such opinions show alternatives exist

3.) Consistency shows that there is commitment to the alternative view

20 th century examples of minority influences
20th Century Examples of Minority Influences
  • Consistency allows environmental movement to move majority opinions more towards conservation and protection of the environment
    • Women’s Rights Movements
    • Civil Rights Movements
  • Irving JanisGroupthink:
    • The group is blinded by optimism that their decisions will be successful
    • Members begin to doubt their own reservations and refrain from voicing dissenting opinions
why do people conform
Why Do People Conform?
  • Deutsch & Gerard (1955) believe conformity is a result of informational social influence (the way people cognitively process information about a situation) and normative social influence
  • Festinger (1954) argues that people evaluate their own opinions and ideas through social comparison (looking at what others do)
    • Cognitive dissonance
      • Anxiety when you think differently
      • Feeling of not “with it”
        • Conform to group’s opinion
        • Rationalize your opinion and develop confidence that your opinion is acceptable
normative social i nfluence
Normative Social Influence
  • Based off of animal instincts and our need to belong
  • Avoid rejection and gain social approval
    • Example: if being opposed to a certain trend causes you to never be invited to parties, you will begin to dress a certain way in order to gain friends/popularity
cultural aspects of conformity
Cultural Aspects of Conformity
  • People’s reaction to the word “conform”
    • Asians conform more and value it to a greater degree and American’s see as a negative trait
    • East vs. West dichotomy
      • Cashmore & Goodnow (1986)
        • Italians
      • Burgos & Dias-Perez (1986)
        • Puerto Ricans (obedience in children)
  • Individualistic vs. Collectivist cultures
    • Smith & Bond (1993)
  • Economic practices
    • Berry (1967)
      • Temne (single crop cooperation and coordination) vs. Inuit (continual hunting & gathering)
definitions of culture
Definitions of Culture
  • Matsumoto (2004)…128 different definitions of culture
  • “Surface culture” (visible): eating habits, clothing, rituals, communication, etc.
  • “Deep culture” (cultural manifestations): beliefs, attitudes, values, etc.
    • Kuschel (2004)
      • Ask questions on how specific factors in culture relate to behaviors such as initiation rites, honor killing, etc.
      • Argues that if culture is used as an explanation of behavior, it can lead to circular arguments and generalizations
  • Culture is vague and includes many variables, it should not be used as an explanation in itself
more definitions of culture
More “definitions” of Culture
  • Lonner (1995):
    • “common rules that regulate interactions and behavior in a group as well as a number of shared values and attitudes in the group.”
  • Hofstede (2002):
    • “mental software”… “cultural schemas that have been internalized so that they influence thinking, emotions, and behavior.”
      • Shared among groups
      • Learned through daily interactions and by feedback from members of the group
universal behaviors
Universal Behaviors

Etic Approach

Emic Approach

Rules that can be applied to all cultures around the world

Taken within cross-cultural psychology where behavior is compared across specific cultures that share common perceptual, cognitive, and emotional structures

Behaviors that are culturally specific

Caused psychologists the re-examine their ideas of “truth” with regards to culture

cultural variations
Cultural Variations
  • Mead (1935) looked at three cultures within New Guinea
  • Arapesh:
    • Women and men were sensitive and non-aggressive as well as “feminine” personalities
  • Mundugamor:
    • Men and women were ruthless, unpleasant, and “masculine”
  • Tchambuli:
    • Women were dominant, men were more emotional and concerned about personal appearance
  • Illustrates how society can powerfully influence gender-role development
matsumoto s definition of culture 2004
Matsumoto’s Definition of Culture (2004)
  • “a dynamic system of rules, explicit and implicit, established by groups in order to ensure their survival, involving attitudes, values, beliefs, norms, and behaviors.”
    • Dynamic: Changes over time in response to environmental and social changes & exists on many levels
    • Explicit: written rules
    • Implicit: understood rules
  • Anthropologists study objects (foods, buildings, grave sites), psychologists focus on subjective elements (attitudes, beliefs, values, and norms)
cultural norms
Cultural Norms
  • Behavior patterns that are typical of specific groups
  • Passed down from generations through observational learning by the group’s “gatekeepers” (parents, teachers, religious leaders, peers)
    • Marriage partners are chosen
    • Alcohol consumption
    • Acceptance/rejection of spanking children
cultural dimensions of behavior
Cultural Dimensions of Behavior
  • A culture’s perspective on values and norms.
  • Hoefstede (1973):
    • Multinational IBM employees answered a survey about morale in the workplace
    • Content analysis of responses, looking at key differences submitted by different ethnicities
    • The trends he noticed among the 40 most represented countries were called “dimensions”
  • Help facilitate communication between cultures
    • Handshake in America vs. Middle Eastern countries during negotiations mean different things
cultural dimensions
Cultural Dimensions
  • Individualism vs. Collectivism
  • Uncertainty vs. Avoidance
    • Hoefstede
      • Short-term orientation (Finland, France, Germany, & US)
        • Value personal steadiness and stability
        • Focus on the future over the past
        • Innovation is highly valued
    • Bond (1988) discovered some Asian cultures replace the uncertainty-avoidance dimension
    • Confucian work dynamism:
      • Focusing on virtue over truth
      • Long-term orientation
        • Value persistence, loyalty and trustworthiness
hoefstede s w arning a gainst ecological fallacy
Hoefstede’sWarning Against Ecological Fallacy

Ecological Fallacy is “When one looks at two different cultures, it can be assumed that two members from two different cultures must be different from one another, or that a single member of a culture will always demonstrate the dimensions which are the norm of that culture.”

Hoefstede says not to do this.

proxemic theory
Proxemic Theory

Hall (1966); Hidden Dimension

“Personal space” or “Personal bubble”

Friends are allowed to be closer

Conversations 4-7 inches (Americans) but change with time (today is much different)

Parts of Europe, half that

time consciousness
Time Consciousness

Monochronic Cultures

Polychronic Cultures

Focus on one thing at a time

High degree of scheduling

Punctuality and meeting deadlines are valued

Many things happening at once

Focus is on relationships and interactions

Interruptions are seen as “part of life”

Little frustration during late or postponed events/assignments