SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY Self Perception

Egocentric Bias An egocentric bias occurs when one thinks of the world from one's own point of view too much. Wishful thinking is a common example of an egocentric bias. Wishful thinking is essentially the belief that one is special. For positive traits, special means having more of the trait than others. In one study, it was found that 8 out of 10 people believed they had above average driving ability. If that's true, then 2 of of 10 people must be really, really, bad drivers. Judgments of traits are subject to wishful thinking or egocentric bias more if they are ambiguous than if they are unambiguous. For example, people believe themselves to be more fair (just) than others, and they think of themselves as more emotional than others. However, people don't necessarily think of themselves as more competent (having more ability, e.g., more intelligence). Consider that fairness and emotionality are hard to judge, esp. in other people versus oneself. However, ability can be more easily tested or demonstrated. Thus, people's wishful thinking tendency is lower for the trait that is less ambiguous, or more demonstrable. Why do people make egocentric biased judgments? Are people motivated to think of themselves as better than others? Not necessarily. One explanation that does not involve motivation goes as follows: (a) people make judgments based on the information available, and (b) people have access to more information about the judgment from their own point of view, so (c) they use more information from their own point of view than from any other point of view. Hence, people make egocentric judgments, because the amount of information available for the judgment is greater for oneself than others, not because one is motivated to think better about oneself than others. Some evidence supporting this explanation is (a) basketball team members suggested the outcome of a game was due to an action by one of the members of their team, regardless of whether the outcome was a win or a loss. Also, (b) graduate students who had done an undergraduate thesis rated their contribution to the thesis as greater and were more positive about the thesis if asked "how much did you contribute" than grad student who were asked "how much did your thesis advisor contribute" to the thesis. People also tend to use wishful thinking for events. For example, even though the divorce rate is 50%, people do not think that the likelihood of their marriage ending in divorce is 50%. People will even apply wishful thinking to events they
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cannot control. For example, people will think their team can come back from a halftime deficit, even though the likelihood of doing so is low. Wishful thinking works in the opposite direction for negative events. Compared to the average person, people believe they are less likely to be at risk for negative events, such as developing cancer, or getting divorced, or having an automobile accident. False Consensus & False Uniqueness People tend to believe that their opinions are common. For example, people asked whether they are for or against Proposition Z, believed that about 2/3 of the population as a whole held the same opinion as they did regardless of whether they were for or against the position. False consensus describes this phenomenon, as people believe that the consensus opinion (or majority opinion) agrees with their own, regardless of what their opinion is. There is also the idea of false uniqueness, which describes the misjudgment of one's similarity to others. For example, people are given a choice between two uncomfortable situations. Then they are asked how much discomfort they expected to experience in the situation they chose. Also, they are asked which experience they believed most people would choose, and how much discomfort most people would experience. Subjects responded that they believed others would choose the same alternative they did, but that other people would not experience as much discomfort as they would. Thus, people's responses suggest others would have the same opinion as they did (make the same choice), but others would not feel as much as they would (experience as much discomfort). Interestingly, people believe that the ability that they are best at is not shared by many people. However, the same people also believe that the opinion that is the most important to them is commonly held. Thus, people seem to be saying that they are unique and common simultaneously. Unique in ability, and common in belief. Self-Monitoring Self-monitoring is a personality characteristic that has been identified with people's sensitivity to the demands of social situations, and the extent to which people will change their behavior to fit those situations. High self-monitors easily blend into social situations, knowing what to do or say with each person. They appear more friendly and less anxious to observers, and are sensitive to social cues are likely to vary their behavior from situation to

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situation. High self-monitors read non-verbal behavior better, and will change their behavior to suit the situation as they perceive it. They are more concerned with acting appropriately than being true to themself. If an outcome depends on another person, high self-monitors will recall more information about the other person, and make more confident judgments and extreme inferences about the other person. High self-monitors (HSMs) describe themselves as flexible, adaptive, and shrewd. They tend to use situational factors to explain their behavior. Have many friends, but are not very close with most of them. They have different friends for different activities. Friendship loss is not a difficulty, as there are other friends to take the place of any that are lost. Tend to date around, and have different dates for different places. They are concerned about their date's appearance. Low self-monitors (LSMs), on the other hand, act themself regardless of the situation, so they rarely conform to the norms of the social setting. LSMs are less sensitive to social cues, and less likely to change their behavior from one situation to another. LSMs perfer to be seen as they really are, and they behave so as to express internal attitudes and dispositions. Their attitudes are more accessible, so LSMs have a greater consistency between their attitudes and their behavior. LSMs are more likely to show effects of fatigue and moods than HSMs. Low self-monitors describe themselves as consistent and principled, and they use dispositional explanations to explain their behavior. Have few friends, but these friends are quite close to them. They have the same friends for all of their activities. They select friends with similar attitudes. Friendship loss is difficult, because there are so few that each will be missed quite a bit, and the loss will affect, most if not all, activities. Tend to have steady, and more intimate relationships, and they care about their partner's personality. Neither high or low self monitoring is a better way of viewing the world. These are simply different approaches to the world. People tend to prefer friends and romantic partners who are similar to themselves in self-monitoring style. HSMs see LSMs as insensitive, while LSMs see HSMs as superficial. Back to Lecture Notes List Social Psychology Interpersonal Relations

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Norms & Obedience to Authority Social Norms are the expectations about how people should act. Usually social norms are created by having uniformities in certain behaviors of the social group members. Also, there are usually negative consequences when someone violates a social norm. Norms do serve a purpose, as they allow people to expect the events that will occur in a particular setting. This allows people to prepare themselves for being in that situation. Uncertainty is a big source of psychological stress. Norms allow us to reduce the uncertainty that we might otherwise feel in a situation, or leading up to a situation. However, norms can be self-perpetuating, as once they are established they will often continue, even when those who established them have long since left the situation. For example, medical physician training, and other rites of passage. The norm of obedience dictates that people in positions of legitimate authority should be obeyed, where Legitimate is group defined, and some positions (or people) are endowed with authority, and some are not. Authority derives from the status not any particular person. Obedience behavior change produced by the commands of authority. Positions of legitimate authority include: parents, teachers (professors), police officers, politicians, work supervisors, etc. People have been taught from birth to obey appropriate leadership. Appearances can augment the atmosphere of legitimate authority, or create it entirely. That is, people who look the part of the authority figure are likely to be treated as if they are the authority figure, even if they are not. Appearances may be created by the way the person is dressed (doctors in white lab coats with stethescopes, and thieves dressed like the meter reader), by their title (Dr. Soand-so, Reverend Blah-blah), by their office (the more impressive the office the more likely the person has some real weight), or some other effect. Signs are another way to create the atmosphere of authority. The TV show Candid Camera took advantage of people's obedience of signs more than once. In one case, they put up a sign at a lunch counter that would switch from EAT to DON'T EAT. When the sign showed DON'T EAT, people stopped eating. They didn't ask why; they simply obeyed. In another case, a shoe store had a sign reading "DO NOT WALK ON THE BLACK TILES." And customers only walked on the white tiles. Jonestown. Obedience to authority can have very serious consequences. Reverend Jim Jones created the People's Temple church and congregation, first in Indiana, and later California. He convinced members of his congregation to give him all of their

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money and property, he came to see himself as a god and demanded everyone else see him as one also. If people refused, they were publicly humiliated, and even beaten. The US government began to have serious questions about the conduct of the church, so Jones moved it to South America, where he created Jonestown. Jones seemed to develop paranoia, and convinced his congregation that they too were unsafe. He had them practice trial suicide rituals. In 1978, US congressman Ryan visited Jonestown to investigate whether US citizens were being held against their will. Ryan and the reporters traveling with him were killed before they could leave the airport to return to the US. Shortly after that Jones ordered his followers to perform another suicide ritual, but this was not a trial. Nine hundred people, including children, died by obeying Jones's orders to drink a combination of poison mixed with Kool-Aid. Blind obedience can also be seen in cases where people explain their actions that had horrific consequences as simply a matter of "following orders." This has been the explanation given for many war crimes, including people's behavior during the Nazi regime in Germany. Clearly, many people associated with the Nazis in Germany were simply evil and nasty, esp. Hitler himself. However, just as horrific were the actions committed by people who were just "following orders" or simply "doing what they were told." People who we would consider quite normal on any measure you would like to take can do very nasty things, when given the appropriate orders. Milgram's Obedience Study One of the most famous studies in psychology, if not the most famous, was conducted by Stanley Milgram in the early 1960s. Milgram was interested in obedience and conformity. Men were put in the position of being the teacher to another person (the learner). The teacher's task was to get the other person to learn a series of word associations. For each incorrect response, the teacher was to administer a shock to the learner with the flip of a switch. The learner was actually a confederate of the experimenter, and did not receive any of the shocks that the teacher believed were administered. The shocks began at 15 volts (indicated as "slight shock"), and got increasingly higher to an end of 450 volts (indicated as "XXX"). As the shock increased, the learner complained of pain, exclaimed his distress, asked to be released, pounded on the wall to get out, then stopped all activity. If the teacher suggested that the experiment end, the experimenter instructed the teacher to continue, and if necessary the experimenter said "the responsibility is mine, please continue." Given this situation, most people believed that only a few teachers would administer shocks all the way to the end, that is would administer 450 volt shock, esp. given the learner's protesting. Indeed, Milgram himself thought that few

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people would obey the experimenter in this situation. Milgram's original intention was for this situation to be a control condition for further experimentation. Thus, most people hearing a description of the situation underestimated the influence of the situation (in this case, the expermenter's commands) on an individual's behavior. There were 40 people in Milgram's study. How many do you think continued to administer shocks to the learner to the point that they did administer the 450 volt shock? A: 26 of the 40 people, or 68%, administered the 450 volt shock. Now, some subjects voiced their objections to the shocks, but they continued to obey the experimenter and administer the shocks (flip the switch). Generally, it doesn't matter to the person receiving punishment that the person giving punishment thinks the punishment isn't a good idea. All that matters is that the is not given. This is the "this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you...." idea to which one might respond "yeah, sure!" This study was done in an established laboratory by a person with a white lab coat, which definitely created an atmosphere of authority. Often when people told they are the representative of an authority they will act as if their actions have already been determined by the authority's instructions. The people simply see themselves as the agents of the authority. That is, they continue to perform nasty actions, because they are just following orders. Milgram did several variations on this study. He varied where the study was done, how much distance there was between the teacher and the learner, how much distance between the teacher and the experimenter, etc. Milgram found that obedience decreased when (a) the authority figure or authoritative institution is not present, (b) the connection between the action and the outcome is more salient, and when there is a cue for disobedience (either making the obedience norm less accessible, or the social responsibility norm more accessible). He found obedience increased when people feel less responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Milgram's study would not be allowed today, as it violates current ethical guidelines for experimentation with people. Attraction Liking. There are three factors that influence attraction, which are mentioned in the text. One is proximity. People tend to like people who are closer to them (more proximal, greater proximity) rather than people who are farther away from them. If people are closer geographically, then they are more likely to run into one

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another. It is difficult to make friends with people that you see infrequently or not at all. Proximity may be one reason why long-distance relationships are difficult. It's difficult to develop or sustain a relationship with someone who is a thousand miles away. Some of the increases in technology (long distance getting cheaper, and the internet) have made it easier in some ways to sustain a relationship over a long distance, but the initial development is still difficult. Another factor in attraction is physical attractiveness. People who are physically attractive enjoy several benefits, as they are better thought of (e.g., kinder, gentler, more able) than unattractive people. Thus, there is often a halo effect with physical attractiveness, such that people who are above average in attractiveness are thought to be above average in other aspects as well. Physical attractiveness can be a disadvantage too, however. For example, people who are physically attractive may think that others are doing things for them, praising them, etc. merely because they are attractive. That is, they may come to doubt anything positive anyone else says to them, because they attribute that to their attractiveness, rather than to their self. The third factor in attraction is similarity. People tend to like others who are similar to themselves. Recall that high self-monitors tend to like other high selfmonitors, while low self-monitors tend to like other low self-monitors. People are interested in having relationships with others who are similar to themselves. If the goal of attraction is partnership, and part of partnership is sharing your life with someone else, then clearly it is best to choose a partner that has similar interests. It's much easier to share your life with someone who is similar to you than with someone who is not similar to you, because the person who is similar to you will tend to have the same likes and dislikes as you do. They will want to do the same activities as you do. Conversely, if someone does not share the same attitudes as you do, you are probably not going to want to hang out with them. If the other person likes playing chess and scrabble, while you like going to the monster truck challenge, then I would suggest this is not someone who you are going to find attractive for very long. One way to get someone to like you is to like them. This action is supported by the reciprocity norm, which states that whatever is done to you should be done in return. The reciprocity norm is very powerful. When someone does something good for us, we often feel indebted to that person, so we will often reciprocate the action.

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Deepak Chopra, a 'new age' thinker and author, suggests that whatever you want, you should give away. That sounds counterintuitive, but in the context of the reciprocity norm it makes sense. The idea is that the way to get someone to like you is to like them first. Thus, you are giving good feelings to them, so they will give good feelings to you. In other words, you are giving away what you want to have (i.e., good feelings). Love Liking is often one stage on the way to loving someone. That is, life partners typically like each other before they love each other. The text describes research showing the more people perceive their partners to be a part of themself the more the people will be committed to the relationship. One distinction drawn is between passionate love and companionate love. Passionate love is the initial attraction between two people, which leads to feelings of lust when the attraction is mutual and to feelings of despair when the attraction is not. Companionate love follows passionate love, and it is less intense but more intimate, as the individuals feel comfortable sharing their personal thoughts, hopes, dreams, etc. Sternberg has a theory of love, which involves 3 dimensions: passion, intimacy, and commitment. He suggests that the combination of these dimensions can be used to classify different types of love or mutually good feelings. So, Sternberg is suggesting that not all loving relationships are created equal. I might suggest that true love - the love that creates a special, and precious relationship between two people - is one that would have all 3 of Sternberg's dimensions. How many people believe in love at first sight? How many believe in True Love? Describe what true love is. Gender differences in socializing behavior R. D. Clark & Hatfield (1989) had attractive undergraduates approach members of the opposite sex on a U.S. college campus and state "I have been noticing you around campus. I find you very attractive. Then the person would ask one of three questions: (a) Would you go out with me tonight? (b) Would you come over to my apartment tonight? (c) Would you go to bed with me tonight? There was a difference between men's and women's responses to these questions: Women's responses: (a) 50% yes, (b) 6% yes, (c) 0% yes Men's responses: (a) 50% yes, (b) 69% yes, (c) 75% yes

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