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• Social Cognition
• Social Influence
• Social Relations
• Culture & Psychology


1. Definition of Social Psychology

Social Psychology is the study of how people think about, influence, and
relate to other people. It differs from social psychology in that social psychology
focuses more on the individual as a social being, whereas sociology places more
emphasis on society at large.

2. Components of Social Psychology

A. Social thought and cognition: how people think about the social world;
how people select, interpret, remember, and use social information

• Attribution Theory – Views people as motivated to discover

the underlying causes of behavior as part of their effort to make sense
of the behavior

• Factors affecting attribution

1. Consensus - behavior is shown by others as well

2. Consistency - behavior is shown regularly by the
3. Distinctiveness - behavior is shown in a certain

• Dimensions of Causality
1. Internal/External causes
• Internal attribution – personality traits; intelligence,
attitudes, interests, health, etc.
• External attribution – social influence or pressure,
environment, situation, luck, etc.

2. Stable/Unstable causes
• Stable – enduring; personality, culture, environment, etc.
• Unstable – temporary; mood, sickness, attitude, luck, etc.

3. Controllable/Uncontrollable causes
• Controllable – effort, personality, mood, skill, etc.
• Uncontrollable – luck, environment, time, other people’s
traits, etc.

• Errors and Biases in Attribution

1. Fundamental Attribution Error - tendency to
attribute behavior to internal causes to a greater extent than is
actually justified

2. Self-serving bias - attribute success to our traits and

attribute failure to external and uncontrollable forces.

• Social Perception – Developing impressions of other people,

gaining self-knowledge by comparing ourselves with others, and
present ourselves to others in such a way as to influence the way they
perceive us.

• Implicit Personality Theory – the term given to the public or

layperson’s conception of which personality traits go together in an

• Impression Management (Self-presentation) – involves

acting in a way to present an image of oneself as a certain type of
person, which might or might not be who one really is.
• Self-monitoring – Individuals’ attention to the impression they
make on others and the degree to which they fine-tune their
performances accordingly

• Attitude – positive or negative beliefs or opinions about

people, objects, events, and ideas.

• Persuasion - the process through which one or more persons

attempt to alter the attitudes of one or more people

Factors that affect persuasion

1. Experts are more effective than non-experts

2. Intentional messages are more effective than non-intentional

3. Popular figure are more effective non-popular

4. People with high self-esteem can persuade more

5. 2 sided (negative and positive side) is more convincing than1 sided

6. Speed of speaking – moderate speed is better

7. Unanimity of the group – majority wins

8. It’s harder to persuade people with prior commitment

9. People who are attractive are more likely to persuade

10. It’s hard to persuade a person against his cultural/personal values

B. Social Influence: how our behavior is influenced by other people and

• Conformity – involves a change in a person’s behavior to coincide
more with a group standard because the person wants to seek
approval or because we want to be right

• Compliance – involves a change in behavior in response to a

request from another person

• Obedience – behavior that follows the explicit demands of the

individual in authority; non-compliance may result to a consequence

• Group Influence – how a group influences our behavior

• Social facilitation – occurs when an individual’s performance

improves because of the presence of others

• Social loafing – each person’s tendency to exert less effort in a

group because of reduced monitoring

• Deindividuation – occurs when being a part of a group reduces

personal identity and the sense of responsibility.

• Risky shift – the tendency for a group decision to be riskier than

the average decision made by individual group members

• Group polarization effect – the solidification and further

strengthening of a position as a consequence of a group discussion

• Groupthink – involves impaired decision making and avoidance to

maintain group harmony.

• Leadership – ability of the individual to influence a group or to

make others follow

C. Social Relations: How our relationships with other people affect our

• Intergroup relations – how the relationships of two or more

groups affect the behavior of individual members

• Social identity – refers to the way we define ourselves in

terms of group memberships

• Ethnocentrism – the tendency to favor one’s own ethnic group

over other groups

• Prejudice – an unjustified negative attitude toward an

individual based on the individual’s membership in a group
• Stereotype – a generalization about a group’s
characteristics that does not consider any variations from one
individual to another

• Discrimination – an unjustified negative or harmful

action toward a member of a group simply because he or she is
a member of that group

• Social interaction – contact with other people

• Aggression – negative interaction; inflicting physical or

psychological harm to others

• Altruism – positive interaction; an unselfish interest in helping

someone else

• Relationships – interaction between two individuals

• Attraction – liking other individuals

• Causes
1. Proximity – nearness; always being together

2. Similarity or familiarity – liking the same things

3. Reciprocity – learning to like those who like you

4. Physical Beauty – liking physically attractive people

5. Other factors – age, SES, skills, etc

• Love - highest form of attraction

• Types

1. Romantic/Passionate – strong components of sexuality and

infatuation and often predominates in the early part of a
love relationship

2. Affectionate/Companionate – individuals desire to have the

other person near and have a deep, caring affection for
the person

3. Consummate – strongest and fullest type of love; consists

of passion, intimacy and commitment

D. Culture and Psychology: Culture influences an individuals behavior

• Culture – shared set of rules, regulations, beliefs,

values, mores, methods of interaction that are learned by the