Chapter 15 - Social Psychology

Social Psychology
Exploring connections between
people by scientifically studying how
we think about , influence, and
relate to one another
Attribution Theory
Fritz Heider (1958)
The explanation we make of our behavior and the
behavior of others fall into two categories:
Situational Attribution
Identifying the cause of an action as something
in the situation or environment (external).
Joe stole the money because his family is
Dispositional Attribution
Identifying the cause of an action as something
in the person (internal), such as a trait or a
Joe stole the money because he is born a thief.
The Effects of Attribution
Crediting the Situation
Happily married couples attribute their spouse’s
hurtful remark to a temporary situation:
“He must have had a bad day.”
Crediting the Person’s Disposition
Unhappily married couples attribute the same remark
to a mean disposition:
“Why did I marry such a hostile person?”
Fundamental Attribution Error
The tendency for observers, when analyzing
another’s behavior, to underestimate the impact
of the situation and to overestimate the impact
of personal disposition.
Fundamental Attribution Error
- It is especially prevalent in Western nations,
where middle class people tend to believe
that individuals are responsible for their own
- In Japan, China, and Hong Kong, where people
are more group oriented than the West,
people are more likely to be aware of
situational constraints on behavior.
Fundamental Attribution Error
- Westerners do not always prefer dispositional
attributions. When it comes to explaining their
own behavior, they often reveal a self-serving
bias: they tend to choose attributions that are
favorable to them, taking credit for their good
actions (a dispositional attribution), but letting
the situation account for their bad or
embarrassing actions (a situational attribution).
Fundamental Attribution Error
Most Westerners, when angry, will say, “I am
furious for a good reason.”
When they do something admirable, such as
donating to charity, they are more likely to
attribute their motives to a personal disposition,
“I am so generous.”
Beliefs and feelings that predispose one to respond in a
particular way to objects, people, and events.
Our Attitudes Guide Our Behavior If:
- outside influence on what we do and say is
- the attitude is specifically relevant to the
- we are keenly aware of our attitudes.
The Foot-inthe-Door
Roll Playing
The Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon
- The tendency for people who have first agreed
to a small request to comply later with a larger
- Act as if you like someone, and you soon will.
- Succumb to a temptation and you will find the
next temptation harder to resist.
The Korean War and captured American
Role Playing
Stanley Milgram (1963-1974)
“We are all fragile creatures entwined in a cobweb
of social constraints.”
The constraints are the social norms.
Like a cobweb, the constraints are often invisible as
they are strong.
- Conversational distance
- Role requirements of a “real man” or a “real
Role Playing
- When you become a college student, marry,
or begin a new job – you strive to follow the
social prescription.
- What we do, we become.
- Women who do administrative work develop,
over time, more confident and assertive
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
- When our behavior and beliefs or attitudes
clash, we experience discomfort (dissonance).
- To reduce the dissonance and achieve
cognitive consistency, we tend to either
- Change the belief (rationalize), or
- Change the action to fit our belief
Adjusting one’s behavior or thinking to coincide with a group
Mood Linkage
Behavior is contagious.
Unconsciously we mimic other’s expressions , postures,
and voice tones to feel what they are feeling.
Chameleon Effect
Tanya Chartrand & John Bargh (1999)
Chameleon Effect
- Students worked alongside a confederate who
rubbed his or her face or others who shook his or her
- Participants tended to rub their own face when with
the face-rubbing person and shake their own foot
with the foot-shaking person.
- Such automatic mimicry is part of empathy.
- The most empathetic people mimic and are liked the
Solomon Asch (1955)
- College students were supposed to answer
which of three comparison lines is identical to
a standard lines. The answer was obvious.
- Many confederates gave the wrong answer.
- More than one-third of the time many
intelligent and well-meaning students gave
the wrong answer to conform with the
confederates answers.
Conditions for Conformity
One is to feel incompetent or insecure
The group has at least three people
The group is unanimous
One admires the group’s status or attractiveness
One has made no prior commitment to any
- Others in the group observe one’s behavior
- The particular culture strongly encourages
respect for social standards.
Reasons for Conformity
Normative Social Influence
The influence resulting from a person’s desire to
gain approval or avoid disapproval.
Informational Social Influence
Influence resulting from one’s willingness to
accept other’s opinions about reality.
Think of a time when you conformed to the
norms of a group and the norms were against
your beliefs.
Give the reasons for this conformity
The Obedience Study
Stanley Milgram
You Tube Video
(10:47 minutes)
Milgram’s Experiment
(Derren Brown)
Obedience was highest when:
- The person giving the orders was close at
- When the person giving orders was perceived
to be a legitimate authority figure.
- The authority figure was supported by a
prestigious institution such as Yale University.
- The victim was depersonalized or at a
- There were no role models for defiance.
The Prison Study
Craig Haney & Philip Zimbardo
- College students were to stay in prison; some
as guards and some as prisoners.
- Within a short time
- The prisoners became distressed and panicky.
They developed emotional symptoms and physical
- The guards adjusted to their new power. Some
were tough but fair, some were nice, and some
were tyranical
The Prison Study
Craig Haney & Philip Zimbardo
You Tube Video
Philip Zimbardo
Stanford Prison Experiment
Examples of Blind Obedience
1. Close-at-Hand Authority
Carrying out the atrocities of the Holocaust
2. Modeling Defiance
Helping the Jews in the French village of Le
Discuss Milgrams Obedience study in terms of:
1- The effect of the foot-in-the-door
2- How role playing can affect attitudes
Group Influence
Social Facilitation
Social Loafing/Diffusion of Responsibility
Group Polarisation
1. Social Facilitation
Improved Performance of tasks in the presence
of others
Occurs with simple or well-learned tasks
Not with tasks that are difficult or not yet
2. Social Loafing
Diffusion of Responsibility
The tendency for people in a group to exert less
effort when pooling their efforts toward attaining a
common goal than when individually accountable.
Bystander Apathy: When others are near, people
fail to call the police when they see a woman
Ingham: When pulling a rope alone, students
exerted only 82% as much effort as when they new
they were pulling alone.
3. Deindividuation
The loss of self-awareness and self-restraint
occurring in group situations that foster arousal and
Anonymity and Responsibility
- The riot after the beating of Rodney King
- Women who wore Ku Klux Klan disguises vs.
women wearing regular clothes.
- The trial held in South Africa in 1980 for
murdering an 18 year old woman and burning
her body.
4. Group Polarization
- The enactment of a group prevailing attitudes
through discussion within the group.
- If a group is like-minded, discussion strengthens
the prevailing opinions.
- Talking over racial issues increased prejudice in a
high-prejudice group of high school students.
- Talking about racial issues decreased prejudice in
a low-prejudice group of high school students.
Group Polarization, Myers and Bishop (1970)
5. Groupthink
The tendency to think alike and suppress dissent.
It is fed by overconfidence, conformity, self-justification,
and group polarization.
- In 1961, President Kennedy, after meeting with his
advisors, approved a CIA plan to invade Cuba and
overthrow the government of Fidel Castro: the invasion
was a humiliating defeat.
- In 1986, when NASA officials made the fatal decision to
launch the space shuttle Challenger, which exploded
shortly after take off. Apparently, they insulated
themselves from the objection of dissenting engineers
who tried to warn them that the rocket was unsafe
The Power of Individuals
Self-Fulfilling Prophesy
When one person’s belief about others leads him to act in ways to
confirm the belief.
- Those who idealize their dating partners as having many virtues
and few faults tend to have a more longer-lasting relationships.
- According to Sandra Murray, love is not blind, rather it helps create
the reality it presumes.
Minority Influence
- Ghandi – India’s independence
- Rosa Parks – Civil Rights Movement
- New Inventions
Social and Emotional Roots of Prejudice
1. Social Inequalities
- When people have money and power and others
don’t, the “haves” usually develop unhealthy
- Discimination can produce either self-blame or
- Blame-the victim dynamic – if a friend loses his
job, if a woman is raped, or if a prisoner is
tortured, it is reassuring to attribute negative
dispositional attributions to them.
Social and Emotional Roots of
2. Us and Them: Ingroup and outgroup
Favoring one’s own group versus others
3. Scapegoating
Prejudice provides an outlet for anger by
providing someone to blame.
Cognitive Roots of Prejudice
1. Categorization leads to:
- Stereotyping
- We overestimate the similarity of people within a
groups other than our own.
2. Vivid Cases (Availability Heuristics)
- If it happened in the past it is more likely to
happen now.
3. The-Just World Phenomenon
- Those who succeed must be good, and those
who suffer must be bad.
The Biology of Aggression
1. Genetic Influences
2. Neural Influences
3. Biochemical influences
The Psychology of Aggression
1. Frustration-Aggression Principle
2. Learning:
- If aggression pays
- Observing aggressive behavior
- Culture
- The absence of fathers’ care
3. Television Violence
4. Pornography
5. Sexual Aggression
Social Traps – a situation in which the conflicting
parties, by rationally pursuing their selfinterests, become caught in mutually destructive
Mirror Image Perception – as we see “them” –
as untrustworthy and evil-intentioned – so
“they” see us.
Do birds of feather flock together?
Do opposites attract?
Does familiarity breathes contempt?
Does familiarity intensifies our affection?
Does absence make the heart grow fonder?
Is out of sight out of mind?
1. Proximity – Mere Exposure Effect
Within certain limits familiarity breeds fondness.
Moreland and Scott Beach (1992)
- Four equally attractive women silently attended a
200-student class for 0,5,10, or 15 class sessions.
- At the end of the course students were shown slides
of each woman and asked to rate each one’s
- The most attractive one was the one they’d seen
more often.
2. Familiarity
- For our ancestors, the mere exposure
phenomenon was adaptive. What was familiar
was generally safe and what was not familiar was
often dangerous.
- Evolution has hard-wired into us the tendency to
bond with those who are familiar and be wary of
those who are unfamiliar.
- Gut-level prejudice against those who are
culturally different may thus be a primitive,
automatic emotional response.
Familiarity Breeds Acceptance
When this rare white
penguin was born in
the Sydney, Australia zoo,
his tuxedoed peers
ostracized him. Zoo keepers
thought they would need
to dye him black to gain
acceptance. But after three
weeks of contact, the other
penguins came to accept him.
3. Physical Attractiveness
- We perceive physically attractive people to be
healthier, happier, more sensitive, more
successful, and more socially skilled, though
not more honest or compassionate (Eagly
- Beauty is in the eye of the culture.
- Beauty is unrelated to self-esteem and
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
When Neanderthals
Fall in love.
4. Similarity
- The more alike people are, the more their
liking endures (Byrne, 1971).
- Love is best sustained “When the lovers love
many thing together, and not merely each
other.” Journalist Walter Lippmann.
Rewarding Experience
Proximity costs less time and effort to develop the
friendship and enjoy the benefits.
Attractive people are aesthetically pleasing.
Those with similar views reward us by validating our own.
Familiarity makes us feel safe.
We are attracted to people who like us because they
enhance our self esteem
Romantic Love
Passionate Love
An aroused state of intense positive absorption in
another, usually present in the beginning of a love
The Two-Factor Theory of Emotion
1- emotions have two ingredients – Physical arousal
and cognitive appraisal.
2- Arousal from any source can enhance one
emotion or another, depending on how you
interpret and label the arousal.
Donald Dutton and Arthur Aron (1974, 1989)
Companionate Love
The deep affectionate attachment we feel for those
with whom our lives are intertwined.
- Equity – a condition in which people receive
from a relationship I proportion to what they give
to it.
- Self Disclosure – revealing intimate aspects
of oneself to others.
Unselfish regard for the welfare of others
Bystander Effect – the tendency for any given
bystander to be less likely to give aid if other
bystanders are present.
Social Exchange Theory (Cost–Benefit Analysis)
Our social behavior is an exchange process, the
aim of which is to minimize costs.
Peace Making
1. Contact
2. Superordinate Goals – Muzafer Sherif
(1966)shared goals that
differences among people and
their cooperation.
GRIT – Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives
in Tension-Reduction – a strategy designed to
decrease international tensions.

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