Chapter 18 Social Psychology. Social Psychology. “We cannot live for ourselves alone.”. Herman Melville. Social psychology scientifically studies how we think about , influence , and relate to one another. Attributing Behavior to Persons or to Situations. Attribution Theory
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“We cannot live for ourselves alone.”
Social psychology scientifically
studies how we think about, influence, and relate to one another.
Heider suggested that we have a tendency to give causal explanations for someone’s behavior, often by crediting either the situation or the person’s disposition.
A teacher may wonder whether a child’s hostility reflects an aggressive personality (dispositional attribution) or is a reaction to a stressful or abusive environment (situational attribution).
Dispositions are enduring personality traits. So, if Joe is a quiet, shy, and introverted child, he is likely to be like that in a number of situations.
The tendency to overestimate the impact of personal disposition and underestimate the impact of the situations in analyzing the behaviors of others leads to the fundamental attribution error.
We tend to commit the fundamental attribution error when judging others. We tend to understand the power of the situation better when we see our behaviors.
How we explain someone’s behavior affects how we react to it.
A belief and feeling that predisposesa person to respond in a particular way to objects, other people, and events.
If we believe a person is mean, we may feel dislike for the person and act in an unfriendly manner.
In the Korean War, Chinese communists solicited cooperation from US army prisoners by asking them to carry out small errands. By complying to small errands they were likely to comply to larger ones.
Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon:The tendency for people who have first agreed to a small requestto comply later with a larger request.
Philip “Uncle Phil” Zimbardo
Why do actions affect attitudes?
Leon Festinger’s explanation is that when our attitudes and actions are opposed, we experience tension. This is called cognitive dissonance. Torelieve ourselves of this tension we bring our attitudes closer to our actions.
People want to have consistent attitudes and behaviors….when they are not consistent they experience dissonance
(an unpleasant tension).
Usually they will change their attitude
(to make themselves feel better).
The greatest contribution of social psychology is its study of attitudes, beliefs, decisions, and actions and the way they are molded by social influence.
Normative Social Influence:Influence resulting from a person’s desire to gain approval or avoid rejection. A person may follow social norms because there may be a severe price to pay if not followed.
Informative Social Influence:The group may provide valuable information or help you make tough decisions (after all we like to be right); however, stubborn people will never listen to others.
Behavior is contagious, modeled by one, followed by another. We follow behavior of others to conform. Other behaviors may be an expression of compliance (obedience) toward authority.
Conformity:Adjusting one’s behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard.
Standard Line behaviors….when they are not consistent they experience dissonance
Comparison LinesSolomon Asch’sConformity Experiment
Standard Line behaviors….when they are not consistent they experience dissonance
Comparison LinesAsch: Methodology & Results
People comply to social pressures. How would they respond to outright command?
Stanley Milgram designed a study that investigates the effects of authority on obedience.
A third of the individuals in Milgram’s study resisted social coercion.
An unarmed individual single-handedly
challenged a line of tanks at Tiananmen Square.
How do groups affect our behavior? Social psychologists study various groups:
One person affecting another
Refers to improved performance on tasks in the presence of others. Triplett noticed cyclists’ race times were faster when they competed against others than when they just raced against the clock. Opposite is social impairment.
You play the piano better at your recital than you do during weekly practices.
The tendency of an individual in a group toexert less effort toward attaining a common goal than when tested individually.
Why does it happen?
People tend to feel less accountable
in a group setting
2. People tend to rely on the efforts of their group mates more.
We pull harder by ourselves!
“Slackers” in a group project. They tend to put forth more effort if they know there is an individual/peer evaluation.
The loss of self-awareness and self-restraint in group situations that foster arousal and anonymity. We engage in uncharacteristic antisocial behavior. Prosocial behavior can result as well.
Looting v. Volunteering during Hurricane Katrina
Enhances a group’s prevailing attitudes through a discussion. If a group is like-minded, discussion strengthens its prevailing opinions and attitudes.
Irving Janus came up with this principle in which a mode of thinking that occurs when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides the realistic appraisal of alternatives.
Attack on Pearl Harbor
Bay of Pigs & Cuban Missile Crisis
Chernobyl Reactor Accident
Simply called “prejudgment,” a prejudice is an unjustifiable (usually negative) attitudetoward a group and its members. Based on a stereotype, prejudice is often directed towards different cultural, ethnic, or gender groups.
Components of Prejudice
Stereotype: behaviors….when they are not consistent they experience dissonance
Does perception change with race?
Prejudice works at the conscious and [more at] the unconscious level. Therefore, prejudice is more like a knee-jerk response than a conscious decision. In the last few decades, overt prejudice has decreased, yet subtle prejudices still exists.
Why does prejudice arise?
In group: Those with whom one shares a common identity.
Out group:Those perceived as different from one’s in group.
In group Bias: The tendency to favor one’s own group.
When our team wins we say “we won” & when they lose we say “they lost.”
Prejudice provides an outlet for anger [emotion] by providing someone to blame. After 9/11 many people lashed out against innocent Arab-Americans.
This is one example of Scapegoat Theory. People love to blame somebody else (usually based on prejudices)!
The tendency of people to believe the world is just, and people get what they deserveand deserve what they get. Is often the reason that we sometimes blame the victim (for instance, she was raped because she dresses provocatively).
After learning an outcome, the tendency to believe that we could have predicted it beforehand may contribute to blaming the victim and forming a prejudice against them.
“I knew that Asian kid would be valedictorian!”
Conflictis perceived as an incompatibility of actions, goals, or ideas.
ASocial Trapis a situation in which the conflicting parties, by each rationally
pursuing their self-interest, become
caught in mutually destructive behavior.
“The water that I am personally using is not that much anyway.” (If everybody thought that way we would run out more quickly!)
perceived to be happier than less attractive people.
Passionate Love:An aroused state of intense positive absorption in another, usually present at the beginning of a love relationship.
Companionate Love:A deep, affectionate attachment we feel for those with whom our lives are intertwined.
1. Equity – both partners share equally in the relationship
2. Self-disclosure – honest sharing of details about ourselves.
Altruism is an unselfish regard for the welfare of others.
• March 13, 1964 – Kitty Genovese was brutally attacked outside her apartment in Queens, NYC. She was stabbed and raped.
•In spite of her repeated screams for help, why didn’t Kitty Genovese’s neighbors call the police earlier or help her in some other way before it was too late?
In their experiment they hypothesized that people would be less likely to report smoke in a room if others were present
In order for bystanders to help:
People are less likely to helpif others are around.
This is called the Bystander Effect
(diffusion of responsibility)
Social Exchange Theory:Our social behavior is an exchange process. The aim is to maximize benefits and minimize costs. You’ll help if the rewards for doing so outweigh the costs of helping.
developed their own rules and leadership