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Social Psychology: Social Cognition

Social Psychology: Social Cognition

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Social Psychology: Social Cognition

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  1. Social Psychology: Social Cognition • Person perception: stereotyping • Attributions • Liking and attractiveness

  2. Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Others • We’ve already seen the effect of “first impressions” merely using adjectives! • What about physical appearance? • Cognitive schemas • Stereotypes • Evolutionary perspective • In-groups and out-groups

  3. WHAT IS A STEREOTYPE? • “Overgeneralized belief about a group of people” (Ashmore & DelBoca) • “Cognitive structures that contain our knowledge, beliefs, and expectations about social groups” (Hamilton & Sherman) • Attitudes: where do stereotypes fit?

  4. Attitudes a relatively stable evaluation of a person, object, situation or issue. Attitudes vary on a continuum from positive to negative. Attitudes have 3 components: Cognitive (beliefs, thoughts) Attitude Affective (like, dislike) Behavioral (tendency to act)

  5. The ABCs of Stereotypes • Affect (ex.: Prejudice) • Behavior (ex.: Discrimination) • Cognition (ex.: Stereotypes)

  6. Examples of Stereotypes at Work • Stereotype Activation • Black stereotype activation led to increased interpretations of behavior as hostile (Devine) and actual hostility (Bargh et al.) • Stereotypes and Multiple Identities • Activation and inhibition of stereotypes (Macrae et al.) can have real consequences for interviewees (Steele & Ambady) • Targets of Stereotypes • Stereotype salience can impact academic performance

  7. Perpetuation: “Self-fulfilling prophecy” Automatic activation of negative stereotype Treat target poorly Target behaves poorly in response Negative stereotype confirmed

  8. What happens, though, when contact with characteristics is contrary to the stereotype?Subtyping • When faced with a counter-stereotypical person (e.g., a boisterous Asian), we can maintain the group stereotype by categorizing the individual as atypical • Bigots can still say: “Some of my best friends are (insert stereotyped group here)” because these individuals are “fenced off” from the group

  9. Subtyping • Example • Consider the stereotype of women • Now consider Jane • independent • assertive • good at math • Instead of revising our stereotype of women, can easily dismiss Jane as a “tomboy” or a “feminist” and not really a typical woman

  10. Subtyping • We are less likely to change stereotypes in response to counter-stereotypic people when we can subtype them easily • Stereotype change more likely if • individual is otherwise typical of the group (e.g., independent, but is nurturing and wears makeup and feminine clothes) • deviation from the stereotype is moderate

  11. Subtyping • Subtyping more likely if • those who disconfirm a stereotype on a particular dimension (e.g., assertive) also disconfirm it on another dimension (e.g., good at math) • we have other information with which to dismiss the person as atypical (e.g., she had brothers) • the deviation from the stereotype is extreme (e.g., she is extremely aggressive)

  12. Subtyping • More inaccurate stereotypes may be harder to change • More inaccurate stereotype, more extreme typical group member seems (because stereotype is so far off from reality) • Luckily, moderate disconfirmations of stereotypes may be more frequent in daily life • A form of cognitive dissonance reduction

  13. Social Psychology The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Leon Festinger) Not only do our attitudes influence what we do, what we do can sometimesinfluence our attitudes. “Dissonant” means “not harmonious”, conflicting. Cognitive Dissonance is an unpleasant state that can occur when we hold two conflicting attitudes, or when our attitudesconflict with our behavior. Having psychologically inconsistent ideas in mind at the same time causes an aversive drive state

  14. Reducing Dissonance • The theory says that when we experience dissonance, we immediately (and unknowingly) take steps to reduce it. This often involves attitude change • People distort one or more of their inconsistent ideas to alleviate the drive state

  15. Cognitions Producing (or not) Dissonance (Examples) 1) I went through a severe initiation to hear a discussion in my sorority 2) The discussion was boring Outcome: 1 and 2 are psychologically inconsistent, so people distort 1 (and or) 2 1) I went through a mild initiation to hear a discussion 2) The discussion was boring Outcome: 1 and 2 are psychologically consistent, so people do not distort

  16. Classic Experiment on Cognitive Dissonance(Festinger & Carlsmith) Control Group: • Performs dull task • Asked to lie to waiting participant and say the task was interesting and fun; paid $1 to lie • Goes for interview about the task Experimental Group: • Performs same dull task • Asked to lie to waiting participant and say the task was interesting and fun; paid $20 to lie • Goes for interviewabout the task

  17. Question: According to the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, which group should form a positive attitude, and why? ? Prediction: The $1 group should form positive attitude. They said something they didn’t believe with a minimum amount of justification (high dissonance). Prediction: The $20 group should show little or no change in attitude. They said something they didn’t believe with a maximum amount of justification (low dissonance). Both predictions were supported.

  18. Attributions • Biases in attributions • Internal versus external attributions

  19. Attributions • Biases in attributions • Internal versus external attributions • Fundamental attribution error • The Tendency To Attribute Behavior to Personality (Internal Factors, Dispositions) When It Should Be Attributed To The Situation (External Factors). • Self-serving bias • Culture and attributions

  20. The language of actionand emotion(Brown & Fish, 1983) Consider the following... Ted helps Paul. How likely is this because: A. Ted is the kind of person that helps people. B. Paul is the kind of person that people help. C. Some other reason Ted likes Paul. How likely is this because: A. Ted is the kind of person that likes people. B. Paul is the kind of person that people like. C. Some other reason

  21. Attraction: Liking and Loving • What affects attraction? • Physical attractiveness • Matching hypothesis • Similarity • Reciprocity • The “mystery” of love • Perspectives on love • Hatfield & Berscheid: Passionate vs. Companionate love • Sternberg: Intimacy and commitment • Hazen & Shaver: love as attachment • Evolutionary perspective on attraction • Mating priorities