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Social Psychology. Part 1: *Attributing Behavior to Persons or to Situations *1. Attitudes and Actions *2. Conformity and Obedience *3. Group Influence *4. Cultural Influence *5. The Power of Individuals. True/False.

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social psychology

Social Psychology

Part 1:

*Attributing Behavior to Persons or to Situations

*1. Attitudes and Actions

*2. Conformity and Obedience

*3. Group Influence

*4. Cultural Influence

*5. The Power of Individuals

true false
  • 1. In order to change people’s racist behaviors, we first need to change their racist attitudes.
  • 2. Most people would refuse to obey and authority figure who told them to hurt an innocent person.
  • 3. Studies of college and professional athletic events indicate that home teams win about 6 in 10 games.
  • 4.Individuals pull harder in a team tug-of-war than when they pull in a one-on-one tug-of war.
  • 5. The higher the morale and harmony of a social group, the more likely are its members to make a good decision.
  • 6. Sex-selective neglect and abortions have resulted in China and India together having 76 million fewer females than they should have.
  • 7. Those who keep a gun in the house are more likely to be murdered.
  • 8. From research on liking and loving, it is clear that opposites do attract.
  • 9. We are less likely to offer help to a stranger if other bystanders are present.
  • 10. Simply putting individuals from two prejudiced groups of people into a close contact will defuse conflict.

1. False










focuses in social psychology


Focuses in Social Psychology

“We cannot live for ourselves alone.”

Herman Melville

Social psychology scientifically studies how we think about, influence, and relate to one another.

social thinking


Social Thinking

Social thinking involves thinking about others, especially when they engage in doing things that are unexpected.

preview questions


Preview Questions
  • 1: If a very good friend gets angry with you, how would you explain his/her behavior? If that same friend does something nice for you, how would you explain the behavior?
  • 2: Are your thoughts about your good friend’s behavior different than your thoughts about someone you're only acquainted with? Why or Why not?
attributing behavior to persons or to situations


Attributing Behavior to Persons or to Situations

Attribution Theory:Fritz Heider (1958) 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.

Fritz Heider

Was my friend a jerk because she had a bad day or is just a bad person?

attributing behavior to persons or to situations1


Attributing Behavior to Persons or to Situations

A teacher may wonder whether a child’s hostility reflects an aggressive personality (dispositional attribution) or is a reaction to stress or abuse (a 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.

fundamental attribution error


Fundamental Attribution Error

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.

Example: Someone trips you and you think they did it on purpose because they are mean.

fundamental attribution error1


Fundamental Attribution Error

1.  You are out to dinner and your server brings you the wrong food.  If you were committing the fundamental attribution error, you might assume that this happened because…

effects of attribution


Effects of Attribution

How we explain someone’s behavior affects how we react to it.

the effects of attribution


The Effects of Attribution
  • Social Effects: Happy Couples chalk up an argument to other person having a bad day. Divorced couple could attribute it to the other person just being mean.
  • Political Effects: how do we explain poverty? Ex. Conservatives tend to attribute social problems to the poor and unemployed. Liberals blame past and present situations.
  • Workplace Effects managers could attribute poor performance of personal factors.
preview question


Preview Question:
  • Does what we think predict what we do, or does what we do affect what we think?
attitudes actions


Attitudes & Actions

Attitude: A belief and feeling that predisposes a 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.

people can be persuaded in different ways
People can be persuaded in different ways:

Thecentral route to persuasion involves being persuaded by the arguments or the content of the message. 

For example, after hearing a political debate you may decide to vote for a candidate because you found the candidates views and arguments very convincing.

people can be persuaded in different ways1
People can be persuaded in different ways:

Political persuasion.

The peripheral route to persuasion involves being persuaded in a manner that is not based on the arguments or the message content. 

For example, after reading a political debate you may decide to vote for a candidate because you like the sound of the person's voice, or the person went to the same university as you did.    The peripheral route can involve using superficial cues such as the attractiveness of the speaker.

social pressures and attitudes
Social Pressures and Attitudes

Strong social pressure can weaken the attitude –behavior connection, such as when Democratic leaders supported Bush’s attack on Iraq under public pressure. However, they had their private reservations.

actions can affect attitudes
Actions Can Affect Attitudes…

Not only do people stand for what they believe in (attitude), they start believing in what they stand for.

Cooperative actions can lead to mutual liking (beliefs).

Discussion: The Low-Ball Effect

compliance strategies brainstorm how you have used these strategies
Compliance StrategiesBrainstorm how you have used these strategies.
  • Foot-in-the-door phenomenon tendency for people who agree to a small action to comply later with a larger one.

Door-in-the-face phenomenon large request is made knowing it will probably be refused so that the person will agree to a much smaller request

Norms of reciprocity

“hey if I scratch your back I expect you to scratch mine”

cognitive dissonance theory relief from tension
Cognitive Dissonance Theory:Relief from Tension
  • We do not like when we have either conflicting attitudes or when our attitudes do not match our actions.
  • When they clash, we will change our attitude to create balance.

Dark Knight - Cognitive Dissonance

social psychology social influence pt 2

Social PsychologySocial Influence pt. 2

What do experiments on conformity and compliance reveal about the power of social influence? ….Behavior is contagious. We are natural mimics..called the chameleon effect.

reasons for conforming

Reasons for Conforming:

Normative social influence. Avoid rejection or gain social approval.

conformity studies
Conformity Studies
  • Adjusting one’s behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard.
milgram experiment

Milgram Experiment

Social psychologist, Stanley Milgram: Situation powerfully influence people. Obedience highest when: person giving the orders were perceived to be a legitimate authority figure, when authority figure was supported by prestigious institution, when victim was at a distance, no role models for defiance

asch s results
Asch’s Results
  • About 1/3 of the participants conformed.
  • 70% conformed at least once.

To strengthen conformity:

  • The group is unanimous
  • The group is at least three people.
  • One admires the group’s status
  • One had made no prior commitment
group influence
Group Influence
  • How do groups affect our behavior?
social facilitation when you are good at something you do it even better when people are watching
Social Facilitation: when you are good at something you do it even better when people are watching.
social loafing
Social Loafing
  • Social Loafing: The tendency for people in a group to exert less effort when pooling efforts toward a common goal than if they were individually accountable.
  • Sounds like group work to me  Video also includes a little door in the face 
  • People get swept up in a group and lose sense of self.
  • Feel anonymous and aroused.
  • Explains rioting behaviors.
group polarization
Group Polarization
  • Groups tend to make more extreme decisions than the individual.

For example, after a group discussion, people already supportive of a war become more supportive, people with an initial tendency towards racism become more racist and a group with a slight preference for one job candidate will come out with a much stronger preference.

  • Group members suppress their reservations about the ideas supported by the group.
  • They are more concerned with group harmony.
  • Worse in highly cohesive groups.
zimbardo s prison study
Zimbardo’s Prison Study
  • Showed how we deindividuate AND become the roles we are given.
  • Philip Zimbardo has students at Stanford U play the roles of prisoner and prison guards in the basement of psychology building.
  • They were given uniforms and numbers for each prisoner.
  • What do you think happened?
  • People get swept up in a group and lose sense of self.
  • Feel anonymous and aroused.
  • Explains rioting behaviors.
cultural influence
Cultural Influence
  • The enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next.
stereotypes prejudice and discrimination
Stereotypes, Prejudice and Discrimination


  • Overgeneralized idea about a group of people.


  • Undeserved (usually negative) attitude towards a group of people.


  • An action based on a prejudice.
combating prejudice
Combating Prejudice

Contact Theory

  • Contact between hostile groups will reduce animosity if they are made to work towards a superordinate goal.
us and them
Us and Them

Ingroup: People with whom one shares a common identity. Outgroup:Those perceived as different from one’s ingroup. Ingroup Bias: The tendency to favor one’s own group.

Mike Hewitt/ Getty Images

Scotland’s famed “Tartan Army” fans.

emotional roots of prejudice
Emotional Roots of Prejudice

Prejudice provides an outlet for anger [emotion] by providing someone to blame. The Germans before WW2 would blame the Jews for their poor economy. According to the scapegoat theory of prejudice, finding someone to blame when things go wrong can provide a target for one’s anger.

To boost our own sense of status, it helps to have others to denigrate.

cognitive roots of prejudice
Cognitive Roots of Prejudice
  • Other-Race effect or own-race bias: emerges between 3 to 9 months and that is when there is a tendency to recall faces of one’s own race more accurately than another's. Remember Cotton?

In vivid casessuch as the 9/11 attacks, terrorists can feed stereotypes or prejudices (terrorism). Most terrorists are non-Muslims.

just world phenomenon
Just-World Phenomenon
  • Tendency to believe that the world is just and that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get.
bystander effect
Bystander Effect
  • Kitty Genovese case in Kew Gardens NY.

Bystander Effect:

  • Conditions in which people are more or less likely to help one another. In general…the more people around…the less chance of help….because of…
  • Diffusion of Responsibility

Pluralistic Ignorance

  • People decide what to do by looking to others.

Aggressioncan be any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt or destroy.

It may be done reactively out of hostility or proactively as a calculated means to an end.

Research shows that aggressive behavior emerges from the interaction of biology and experience.

  • Genetic Influences
  • Neural Influences
  • Biochemical Influences

Biochemical Influences: Animals with diminished amounts of testosterone (castration) become docile, and if injected with testosterone aggression increases. Prenatal exposure to testosterone also increases aggression in female hyenas.

the psychology of aggression
The Psychology of Aggression

Four psychological factors that influence aggressive behavior are:

  • dealing with aversive events;
  • learning aggression is rewarding;
  • observing models of aggression; and
  • acquiring social scripts.

Genetic Influences:Animals have been bred for aggressiveness for sport and at times for research.

Neural Influences: Some centers in the brain, especially the limbic system (amygdala) and the frontal lobe, are intimately involved with aggression.

aversive events
Aversive Events

Studies in which animals and humans experience unpleasant events reveal that those made miserable often make others miserable.

Ron Artest (Pacers) attack on Detroit Pistons fans.


Even environmental temperature can lead to aggressive acts. Murders and rapes increased with the temperature in Houston.

learning that aggression is rewarding
Learning that Aggression is Rewarding

When aggression leads to desired outcomes, one learns to be aggressive. This is shown in both animals and humans.

Cultures that favor violence breed violence. Scotch-Irish settlers in the South had more violent tendencies than their Puritan, Quaker, & Dutch counterparts in the Northeast of the US.

acquiring social scripts
Acquiring Social Scripts

The media portrays social scripts and generates mental tapes in the minds of the viewers. When confronted with new situations individuals may rely on such social scripts. If social scripts are violent in nature, people may act them out.

do video games teach or release violence
Do Video Games Teach or Release Violence?

The general consensus on violent video games is that, to some extent, they breed violence. Adolescents view the world as hostile when they get into arguments and receive bad grades after playing such games.

how to make people think you re more attractive than you are
How To Make People Think You're More Attractive Than You Are


5 Factors of Attraction

1 proximity
1. Proximity
  • Geographic nearness

Mere exposure effect:

  • Repeated exposure to something breeds liking.
2 reciprocal liking
2. Reciprocal Liking
  • You are more likely to like someone who likes you.
  • Except in elementary school!!!!
3 similarity
3. Similarity
  • Paula Abdul was wrong- opposites do NOT attract.
  • Birds of the same feather do flock together.
  • Similarity breeds content.
4 liking through association
4. Liking through Association
  • Classical Conditioning can play a part in attraction.
  • I love BBQ, If I see the same waitress every time I go there, I may begin to associate that waitress with the good feelings I get from Larry’s.
the hotty factor
The Hotty Factor
  • Physically attractiveness predicts dating frequency (they date more).
  • They are perceived as healthier, happier, more honest and successful than less attractive counterparts.
beauty and culture
Beauty and Culture

Obesity is so revered among Mauritania's white Moor Arab population that the young girls are sometimes force-fed to obtain a weight the government has described as "life-threatening".

dear abby
Dear Abby,
  • Your job is to use the following concepts from social psychology to make some recommendations that will help with this romantic dilemma.
  • Dear Abby, I have been dating a young woman for about 8 months. I fear she is losing interest in me. We attend different schools, so I can’t spend as much time with her as I would like. I am afraid she may have fallen for some other guy. Can you give me some advice about how to win her back?
  • Signed, Worried and Weary
5 paragraphs 5 sentences each
5 paragraphs. 5 sentences each
  • Proximity
  • Physical attractiveness
  • Reciprocal liking
  • Liking through Association
  • What role should self-disclosure play in securing the relationship
  • FYI Self-disclosureis both the conscious and subconscious act of revealing more about oneself to others