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Chapter 18: Social

Psychology

“We cannot live for ourselves


alone. Our lives are connected by
a thousand invisible threads.”
Social Psychology

 the scientific study of how we think about,


influence , and relate to one another.
First Impressions
First impressions

 We make quick assessments of others by


focusing on a subset of traits and
behaviours
 Often less than a minute
 Speed dating – some research shows that after
three minutes of observation, people have
accurately predicted their compatibility with a
potential partner
 We size up who people are and why they
behave the way they do
Social Thinking

 Attributing Behavior to Persons (dispositional) or


to Situations (situational)
 Attribution Theory- the theory that we
tend to give a causal explanation for
someone’s behavior, often by crediting
either the situation or the person’s
disposition.
Example
 A car swerves (negative behavior) in front of you
while driving, they are assumed to be either ill
(situational attribution) or a bad driver
(dispositional attribution); You then proceed with
caution (tolerant action) or speed past
(unfavorable reaction) with a dirty look.
Fundamental Attribution Error

 thetendency 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

 thetendency for observers, when analyzing


another’s behavior, to underestimate the impact of
the situation and to overestimate the impact of
personal disposition.
For example: On the first
day of school Mrs. Chung
comes into class late and
frustrated. We
underestimate the
situation by attributing her
behavior to her personal
disposition (who she is);
not realizing that traffic
that morning was rough
and that her dog had
chewed up the amazing
first day t-shirt she was
going to wear (it would
have put Mr. Morphett’s
shirts to shame!). Her
behavior is due to
situational attributions.
Real consequences…
Social Thinking

 Do our Attitudes Guide our Actions?


 Attitude- a belief and feeling that predisposes
one to respond in a particular way to objects,
people, and events.

 Attitude-action/action-attitude spiral
 One feeds the other-this phenomenon can be
dangerous if escalated quickly in a bad
situation.
Social Psychology

 Foot-in-the-door-phenomenon- the
tendency for those who have first
agreed to a smaller request to
comply later with larger request.
“Start small and build”.
 Foot-in-Door example:
sales person getting you to try a
sample
Social Psychology

 Foot-in-the-door-phenomenon- the tendency


for those who have first agreed to a smaller
request to comply later with larger request.
“Start small and build”.

 Note: evil acts shape the self.


But so do acts of good will.
Act as if you like someone and you soon will.
Commit to happy acts and you will be happier.
Social Thinking
 Do our Actions Affect our Attitudes?
 Cognitive Dissonance Theory- the theory that we act to
reduce the discomfort (dissonance) we feel when two
of our thoughts (cognitions) are inconsistent.

 For example: when our awareness of our attitudes and


of our actions clash, we can reduce the resulting
dissonance by changing our attitudes.

“Fake it until you make it” – AA saying


 Note: evil acts shape the self.
But so do acts of good will.
Act as if you like someone and you soon will.
Commit to happy acts and you will be happier.
Cognitive dissonance…if only I had
known!
Social Thinking

 Do our Attitudes Affect our Actions?


 How our attitudes can be changed:
 Peripheral Route Persuasion – our attitudes can
change based on a snap judgment or incidental cues.
e.g. we don’t like a certain type of cell phone but we
see a picture of a celebrity using that phone and we
want it.

 Central Route Persuasion – relies on evidence, logic


and reasoned arguments to change our minds e.g. we
start liking a cell phone because we read statistics
that indicate it offers better options and performance
Social Influence
 Conformity and Obedience
 Behavior is contagious
 Giggles,coughs, yawns, laughter, and sickness
are all contagious
 Conformity- adjusting one’s behavior or thinking
to coincide with a group standard.
 Conformity and Obedience
 Normative Social Influence-
influence resulting from a
person’s desire to gain
approval or avoid
disapproval.
 Informational Social
Influence- influence resulting
from one’s willingness to
accept others’ opinions about
reality.
Social Influence

 Conformity and Obedience


 Normative Social Influence- influence resulting from a
person’s desire to gain approval or avoid disapproval.
Informational Social Influence- influence resulting from
one’s willingness to accept others’ opinions about
reality.
 Conditions that strengthen obedience:
-one is made to feel insecure
-the group has at least three people
-one admires the group’s status and attractiveness
-one’s culture strongly encourages respect for social
standards
Social Influence
Conformity and Obedience
 Obedience- Professor Stanley Milgram
 Two people draw slips from one hat, one says ”teacher”,
the other “learner”. The learner is led to an adjoining room
and strapped into a chair that is wired through the wall to
an electric shock machine. You are the teacher and are
equipped with the machine; on it are switches that have
voltage ratings ranging from mild to strong, to very strong.
Your task is to teach and then test the learner on a list of
word pairs. You are to punish the learner for every wrong
answer by delivering a quick shock through the machine,
beginning with a switch labeled “15 volts-slight shock”. You
begin, after each level you hear the learner grunt at the
shocks, but at the 8th level the learner shouts that the
shocks are painful. The experimenter urges you forward,
each shock more powerful than the last. You reach 330
Volts, they shriek in agony when you shock them. The
Experimenter orders you to continue shouting at you when
you pause to punish the learner for making a mistake; the
only switch left is the unbearably torturous 450-volt
switch…
 Ask yourself: How far would YOU go in this experiment?
Social Influence
 Conformity and Obedience –
Milgram Expt.
 Results: Out of men aged 20-
50…
-63% complied fully
-Women responded similarly

Obedience was highest when


-the person giving the orders
was close at hand and was
perceived to be a legitimate
authority figure
-the authority figure was
supported by a prestigious
institution
Why is the Milgram experiment
important?

 Demonstrated the impact that the


situation can have on our behaviour
 Demonstrated the impact that social roles
can have on our behaviour
 Highlighted the ethical issues for
conducting psychological experiments
Social Influence

Deindividuation - the loss of self-awareness and


self-restraint occurring in group situations that
foster arousal and anonymity.
-For example: tribal warriors who depersonalize
themselves with face paints or masks are more
likely than those with exposed faces to kill, torture,
or mutilate captured enemies.
Social Influence

 Group Influence
 Social Facilitation- improved performance of
tasks in the presence of others; occurs with
simple or well learned tasks, but not yet with
tasks which are difficult or not yet mastered.

 Note: What you do well, you are likely to do


even better when in front of an audience,
especially a friendly audience; what you
normally find difficult may seem all but
impossible in front of an audience.
Why does Ms. Vaessen hate
group projects?
 Social loafing!
Social Influence
 Group Influence
 Social Loafing - the tendency for people in a group
to exert less effort when pooling their efforts
toward attaining a common goal than when
individually accountable.

 What can be done?


 Make smaller groups
 Reward those that contribute actively on project
 Have the group grade the input from each person in the group
 Follow up daily or at least weekly to see that Work/Life balance
is met
 Make cohesiveness/team cooperation high on the table of
requirements in all tasks.
Social Psychology
 Group Polarization – the enhancement of a
group’s prevailing attitudes through
discussion within the group.
 In other words, a commonly held belief is
strengthened by being discussed in the group
-Typically this ends up with a group making
more extreme decisions than the initial
inclination of the group members
Women’s March on versailles
Social Influence
 Group Influence
 Group think- the
mode of thinking
that occurs when
the desire for
harmony in a
decision-making
group overrides a
realistic appraisal
of alternatives.
Let’s head to Stanford!
Social Relations

 Prejudice- ”Prejudgment”
 Prejudice- an unjustifiable (and usually negative)
attitude toward a group and its members.
Prejudice generally involves stereotyped beliefs,
negative feelings, and a predisposition to
discriminatory action.
- For example: In socially intimate settings
(dancing, dating, marrying), many people admit
they would feel uncomfortable with someone of
another race
- Gender prejudice continues to persist (pay, sex
selective abortions, etc.)
12 Angry Men
Social Psychology
 Stereotype- a generalized (sometimes
somewhat accurate) belief about a
group of people.
- For example: A belief that all Asian
students are good at math and science
Social Roots of Prejudice
 Social Inequalities
 Just-World Phenomenon- when some people
have more power, money, etc. there is a tendency
of people to believe the world is just and that
people therefore deserve what they get and get
what they deserve.
 Stereotypes
Rationalize inequality
Social Roots of Prejudice
 Social Inequalities – need to belong gone wrong
-Ingroup “Us”-people with whom one shares a common
identity.

-Outgroup- “Them”-those perceived as different or


apart from one’s ingroup.

-Ingroup bias- the tendency to favor one’s own group


Robbers’ Cave Experiment
 Boys were randomly
separated into two groups
 “Rattlers” and “Eagles”
 Competitions fostered
hostility between the
groups
 Experimenters contrived
situations requiring
cooperation for success
 Cross-group friendships
increased
Emotional Roots of Prejudice
 -Scapegoat Theory-the theory that
prejudice offers an outlet for anger by
providing someone to blame – usually
those in the outgroup

 Negative emotions facilitate and nourish


prejudice
 People cling more tightly to their ingroup
when facing death, experiencing threats or
when frustrated
 We get loathing, aggression and violence directed
to ‘them’ the ones perceived to be threatening our
world
Cognitive Roots of Prejudice
 -Forming Categories- how we cognitively
simplify the world
 We recognize the heterogeneity of our group and
overestimate the homogeneity of other groups
 Believing the world is just – victim blaming
and hindsight bias are involved
 HIV/AIDS and deserving, rape victims and responsibility
 There is a tendency to justify our culture’s social
systems – what is in place is the way life ought to be
Aggression – biological and
sociocultural influences
 Genes and hormones
 Predisposition – twin studies
 Testosterone levels influence
aggression

 Aversive Events
 Heat, pain, foul odours, crowding…
 Frustration Aggression Principle-
In Canada and the United States
alone ,since 1978, some three
the principle that frustration-the
dozen deaths have been caused by
shaken machines falling down and blocking of an attempt to achieve
crushing frustrated people.
some goal- creates anger, which can
generate aggression.
Aggression
 Reinforcement and Modeling
 Sometimes experiences teach that aggression
pays
 Another reason why it’s so important for
parents to model discipline without violence
 Media Models
 Repeated viewing of violence teaches us
social scripts for how to act (yes gun violence
but also sexual violence)
 Promiscuity and hostile masculinity increases
the likelihood f coerciveness against women
Biopsychosocial view of
aggression
Social Psychology

 Proximity matters!
 People are more inclined to like and even
marry those who are from the same
neighbourhood, sit close to you in class and
work in the same place etc.

 Why? In part it’s the…


 Mere Exposure Effect- the phenomenon that
repeated exposure to novel stimuli increases
liking of them.
The Impact of Attractiveness

 This is definitely a part of how people choose


partners (though it’s not all looks, scent has a role
to play too)
 Attractive people are presumed to be healthier,
happier, more sensitive and more successful (but
we don’t see them as more compassionate)
 Note: it’s not all good for beautiful people
 Babies prefer attractive over unattractive faces
Social Psychology

 Romantic Love
 Passionate Love- An aroused state of intense
positive absorption in another, usually present
at the beginning of a love relationship. (You
hide that you vomited.)
We go from a cocktail of testosterone,
dopamine and adrenaline to oxytocin
 Companionate Love- The deep affectionate
attachment we feel for those with whom our
lives are intertwined. This is when your
partner cleans the vomit without
complaining.
Social Psychology: how do you keep
love going?
 Equity-
A condition in which partners both
receive from a relationship support in
proportion to what they give.

 Self-Disclosure-
Revealing intimate details
about oneself to others – likes/dislikes, dreams,
worries, proud moments, shameful moments
 Sharing is reciprocated and it goes on and on to
build intimacy
Other Key
terms/concepts
 Social Trap- a situation in
which the conflicting parties, by
each rationally pursuing their
self-interest, become caught in
mutually destructive behavior.
Example- Whalers whaling to
extinction.
 The stewardship lesson with
candy fish
Social Psychology
 Bystander Effect- The tendency for any given
bystander to be less likely to give aid if other
bystanders are present.

 Social Exchange Theory- The theory that our social


behavior is an exchange process, the aim of which
is to maximize benefits and minimize costs.
 Example: when thinking about donating blood, you
ponder the cost of doing so (time, discomfort, and
anxiety) against the benefits (satisfaction of helping,
social approval, good feelings, reduced guilt)

 Reciprocity norm – we should return help, not


harm, to those who have helped us
Dr Zimbardo again – man he’s
so awesome!
 How do we counteract evil? By
choosing to be heroes
 Phoebe was wrong, altruism
exists
 Altruism- Unselfish regard for
the welfare of others.
 Example: during the 9/11 attack
while people fled down,
firefighters surged upwards to
save lives.
Social Psychology

Peacemaking- Contact, cooperation,


communication and conciliation
 Contact helps – non-competitive and with parties
of equal status
 Superordinate Goals- shared goals that override
differences among people and require their
cooperation.
 Conciliation – stopping before you go too far/give a
little to get a little
 GRIT- Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in
Tension-Reduction-a strategy designed to
decrease international tensions.