Exam 1 Study Guide

Social Psychology

Chapter 1 Introducing Social Psychology

Social Psychology
• Social psychology is defined as:
• A science that studies the influences of our situations, with special attention to how we view and affect one another (our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in social situations.)

• It is an environmental science in that it reveals how the social environment influences behavior

Social Psychology
• Social psychology is the scientific study of:
1. Social Thinking 2. Social Influence 3. Social Relations

Social Thinking
• How people think about one another and make sense of their world. • How they decide what and who to believe, evaluate other people’s motives, personalities, and abilities, and reach conclusions about the causes of events.

Social Influence
• How people influence one another • Asch’s studies of group pressure:
• In “three-lines perceptual judgment” experiment, three quarters did conform and give the wrong answer at least once.
• Even though the right answer was clear to them, they gave the wrong answer because everyone else did.

Social Relations
• Bystander effect: The presence of other bystanders greatly decreases likelihood of intervention
• Woman murdered with 38 witnesses and not one called the cops • When dropping something in the elevator, people were helped 40% of the time when there was one passenger but less than 20% of the time when there were 6 passengers

Related Disciplines
• Disciplines Related to Social Psychology
• Personality Psychology • Cognitive Psychology • Sociology

Personality Psychology
• A close cousin to social psychology
• Social psych focuses on how individuals react in social situations (outward factors) • Personality psych focuses on the effects of individual traits & characteristics of their reactions (internal factors)

Cognitive Psychology
• Studies how people perceive, think about, and remember the aspects of the world
• Cognitive Social Psychologists focus on perceptions and beliefs about other human beings as opposed to memory for words or objects

• Studies people in groups and societies
• Social psychologists would look at why people fall in love and get married as whereas sociologists would look at how government policy influences marriage and divorce rates.

Fundamental Principles
• Fundamental Principles of Social Psychology:
1. We construct our social reality 2. Our social intuitions are often powerful but sometimes perilous 3. Social influences shape our behavior 4. Social behavior is biologically rooted 5. Personal attitudes and dispositions also shape behavior (Cultural) 6. Social psychology’s principles are applicable in everyday life

Is Social Psychology Common Sense?
• Some findings are “counter-intuitive” – Stanford Prison Experiment – Guards followed orders rather than doing what was right • Some are pro-intuition (ex. We tend to like people who like us) • “Common sense” is easy to have in hindsight – students rated dueling proverbs both as true (ex. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and “You’re never too old to learn”) • This is why social psychologists must test intuitions by using experiments to isolate the cause of behavior in social situations

Research Methods
• Theories
• Testable theories can come from anywhere • A theory is an integrated set of principles that explain and predict observed events
• Ex. The theory of gravity predicts that your keys will fall to the floor if you drop them

• Theories imply testable predictions called hypotheses and use these predictions to give direction to research • A good theory is practical

Correlational Research
• Determines whether relationship exists between two or more variables
• Ex. Taller grave markers were related to longer life
• Cannot determine causal relationship because:
• there may be a third factor • The direction of the effect cannot be determined (which variable is the cause and which is the effect?)

• Advantages:
• Gives ideas for experimental (causal) research • Can study factors that cannot be manipulated

Experimental Research
• Purpose is to establish causal relationships • Has a control group and an experimental group
• Control group gets no treatment • Experimental group gets treatment

• Participants are randomly assigned

Surveys and Questionnaires
• A random sample is one in which everyone in the population being studied has an equal chance of inclusion • Must have a representative sample
• If a random sample of the population is wanted, and participants are selected from university class rosters, that sample is not representative

Field Experiments
• Conducted in the real world • Participants do not know they are involved in an experiment
• Ex. Dropping a book in the elevator to see who helps you pick it up with one person in the elevator as opposed to with 6 people in the elevator

Ethics of Experimentation
• Sometimes deception is used because experimenters want their participants to engage in real psychological processes
• Ex. They force people to choose whether to give electric shock to someone else

• Debriefing is required
• Fully explain the experiment to the participant afterward

Chapter 2 The Self in a Social World

The Self in a Social World
• There are constant interplays between our sense of self and our social world
• Our ideas and feelings about ourselves affect how we respond to others • Others help shape our sense of self

• Example phenomena:
• Spotlight effect—we tend to think people pay attention to us more than they really do • Illusion of Transparency—we tend to believe our concealed emotions can be easily read by others

Self Concept: Who Am I?
• Elements of self concept:
• Self schemas
• Self Reference Effect

• Possible selves • Self-discrepancy theory

Self Schemas
• Schemas are mental templates by which we organize our worlds and generalized knowledge about the physical and social world; how to behave with different kinds of people • Self-schemas are the specific beliefs by which you define yourself
• They help us organize and guide the processing of self-relevant information • If being pretty is central to one of your selfschemas, you tend to notice other’s beauty and recall and welcome info regarding beauty

Self Reference Effect
• When info is relevant to our self-concept, we process it quickly and remember it well
• We tend to remember things better if we somehow relate them to ourselves

Possible Selves
• Motivational function of self knowledge • Self-schemas that refer to the kinds of people we hope or dread to be in the future
• Ex. Imagining yourself successful ten years from now might motivate you to work toward that success

Self Discrepancy Theory
• Actual self is who we truly believe ourselves to be • Ideal self refers to the selves we and others would like us to be • Ought self refers to the duties and external demands we feel obligated to honor
• Violations of cultural and moral standards of the ideal self and the ought self produce feelings of guilt and shame

Development of the Social Self
• Influences of self concept:
• The roles we play • Social identities we form • Social comparisons we make with others • Our successes and failures • How others judge us • The surrounding culture

Individualism vs. Collectivism
• Individualism gives priority to one’s own goals over group goals
• Defines one’s identity in terms of personal, fixed attributes which exist across situations and relationships. • Expects one to be self-reliant.

• Collectivism gives priority to the goals of one’s groups
• Defines one’s identity with group they belong • Places a value on interdependent self • Self definition consists of fluid, context-specific attributes that exist in relation to other people

Self Knowledge
• Research shows our confidence in self knowledge is not well founded • We dismiss some factors that matter and inflate some that don’t
• Impact bias—we tend to overestimate the enduring impact of emotion-causing events • Immune neglect—we tend to neglect the speed and strength of our “psychological immune system” which enables emotional resilience after negative events happen

• Refers to the overall evaluation you have of yourself; your sense of self worth • Tesser believes we tend to choose friends who we outperform in domains relative to our self concept but who are talented in domains that are not • Types of self esteem include:
• Trait self esteem—confidence because of abilities or characteristics • State self esteem—changeable momentary feelings about the self; rises and falls

Processes of Self Esteem
• Top-Down view
• General self esteem which affects specific self perceptions (having a high self esteem in general makes you feel good about your looks, abilities, etc.)

• Bottom-Up view
• Self esteem is domain-specific and there are diverse sources of self esteem • Contingencies of Self Worth
• Self esteem is contingent on successes and failures in domains in which a person has based his self worth

Self Esteem Maintenance
• We are motivated to engage in self evaluation so that we can maintain our self esteem and see ourselves in a favorable light • We do this through two processes:
• Reflection: we flatter ourselves by association with other’s accomplishments
• We bask in others victory especially when their success in not in a domain relevant to our self concept

• Social Comparison: We notice when we do better than someone else at something, especially when the domain is relevant to our self concept

The Dark Side of Self Esteem
• Many murderers, bullies, and rapists tend to have high self esteem • When self esteem is threatened, those who have high self esteem tend to be more aggressive

Self Serving Bias
• The tendency to perceive oneself favorably • 5 types:
• Self serving attributions in explaining positive and negative events • Unrealistically positive views about the self • Unrealistic optimism • False consensus and uniqueness • Exaggerated perceptions of control

Public Self
• The public self is concerned with self presentation and impression management
• Self presentation refers to presenting to others who we want them to think we are • Impression management refers to how we attempt to control the beliefs other people have of us

• We control these using:
• False modesty • Self handicapping • Self monitoring

Chapter 3 Social Beliefs and Judgments

Social Beliefs
• Our social beliefs emerge as we:
• Perceive events through the filters of our own assumptions • Judge events informed by implicit rules that guide our snap judgments • Explain events by sometimes attributing them to the situation or person

• Why study social judgment?
• By focusing on errors in judgment and decision making, we can come to understand the way people make judgments and learn to avoid mistakes

• Refers to activating particular associations in memory • Experiment:
• Wearing headphones, you hear the sentence “We stood by the bank” while either the word “money” or “river” was simultaneously sent to your other ear. The word primes your interpretation of the sentence; it determines whether you interpret the sentence to mean that they stood by the money bank or the river bank.

Belief Perseverance
• Once a person rationalizes a belief, it is hard to discredit it • Experiment:
• One group led to believe risk prone person was a successful firefighter and the other group cautious person. • They were then asked to write their explanations for why this was. • They were then given evidence that discredited their belief • They still continued to believe their own belief **More compelling evidence is required to alter a belief than to create it**

Constructing Memories
• Memories are not exact copies of experiences • We can easily revise our memories to suit our current knowledge • Misinformation Effect:
• People incorporate misinformation into their memories • Misinformation may even be able to produce false memories
• Ex. False memories of child sexual abuse

• People tend to underreport bad behavior and overreport good behavior

Judging Our Social World
• Intuitive judgments are both powerful and perilous
• Perilous side:
1. Overconfidence phenomenon: tendency to overestimate the accuracy of one’s belief
• Incompetence feeds overconfidence • Confirmation bias—our minds pay more attention to info which supports our beliefs and ignore disconfirming info

2. Heuristics: Mental shortcuts
• Intuitive mental operations that allow us to make a variety of judgments quickly and efficiently • Red/white marble experiment: most would choose pot with more red marbles even thought the odds are greater for the other pot

Perilous side of Intuitive Judgments (continued)
1. Illusory thinking
• Illusory correlation
• Refers to our tendency to perceive random events as correlated • If a friend calls while you were thinking about them, you remember that as a correlation as opposed to just a coincidence

• Illusion of control
• Feeds the ideas that chance events are subject to our influence • Regression toward the average: extraordinary event likely to be followed by a more ordinary event
• Shorter fathers tend to have somewhat taller

Characteristics of Heuristics
• Representativeness
• The process whereby judgments of likelihood are based on assessments of similarity between individuals and group prototypes

• Availability
• The process whereby judgments of frequency are based on the ease with which pertinent instances are brought to mind

• Counterfactual thinking: “if only”
• Thoughts of what could have or should have happened if something had been done differently • Emotional Amplification: A person’s emotional reaction to an event is amplified if it almost did not happen

Attributing Causality
• Assigning causes to people’s actions affects how we judge them • In prison experiment, were soldiers cruel or were they merely powerless victims of the situation? • Experiment: for spouse’s negative act
• Happy couples blamed the situation (she was late because of heavy traffic) (situational) • Unhappy couples blamed the person (she was late because she doesn’t care about me) (dispositional)

Fritz Heider (1958)
• Attribution Theory Pioneer • Attribution: linking a cause to an instance of behavior—one’s own or that of other people • When we observe someone acting intentionally
• we sometimes attribute his behavior to internal causes (dispositional attribution) • Sometimes to external causes (situational attribution)

• Also called Theory of Correspondent Inferences, which specifies the conditions

Attribution Theory
• Three factors influence whether we attribute other’s behaviors to internal or external causes:
• Distinctiveness: whether the behavior is unique to one situation or occurs in all situations
• Does your friend like one math class or all math classes? If one, it has High Distinctiveness.

• Consensus
• How many people would behave the same way
• If all students love the class, it has a High Consensus

• Consistency

Situational vs. Dispositional Attribution
• Situational attribution is called for when consensus, distinctiveness, and consistency are all high
• When her classmates like the class, she likes no other math class, and she has been raving about it all semester, there must be something special about that class

• Dispositional attribution is called for when consensus and distinctiveness are low and consistency is high
• When few other students like the class, she likes all math classes, and she has raved about the course all semester, then her fondness for the course must reflect something about her.

Fundamental Attribution Error (Ross, 1977)
• Tendency to mistakenly attribute a person’s behavior to his disposition rather than the situation • When explaining someone’s behavior:
• We often underestimate the impact of the situation & • Overestimate the extent to which it reflects the individual’s traits and attitudes

Correspondence Bias (Jones, 1979)
• The tendency to draw an inference about a person that “corresponds” to the behavior observed • We often see behavior as corresponding to a disposition
• Experiment: Though people were told that essay topics (pro- or anti-Castro), those who read the pro-Castro essays thought the author felt more favorable toward Cuba than those who read the anti-Castro essay

• Implication: we often fail to see the inherent advantages that some people enjoy and the

Why are these errors made?
• Dispositional inferences can be comforting
• Life’s twists and turns can be unsettling • Just world hypothesis: belief that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get
• View victims of rape and abuse as responsible

• We observe others from a different perspective than we observe ourselves (Jones & Nisbit, 1971)
• Actor-Observer Difference:
• To observers, another person seems to cause what happens, whereas • As actors, we attribute our behavior to the situation • Camera perspective bias:
• When people viewed confession while camera focused on suspect, they perceived it as genuine • When camera focused on detective, confession was viewed as

Self Awareness
• Self awareness helps reduce making these errors
• Ex. Having participants perform an experiment in front of a mirror, it helps them view themselves as observers; they typically attribute their behavior more to internal factors and less to the situation

Chapter 4 Behavior and Attitudes

Behavior and Attitudes
• There is little consistency between attitudes and behaviors
• Ex. Americans claim to think nutrition is important yet calorie and fat consumption has increased

• 2 possibilities:
• Attitudes determine our behavior • Behavior determines our attitudes

• Defined as favorable or unfavorable evaluative reactions toward something or someone, often rooted in beliefs, exhibited in feelings, and intended behavior • Three elements:
• Affect • Cognition • Behavior
• Ex. You may believe a particular ethnic group is aggressive (cognition), then may feel dislike for such people (affect), and therefore act toward them in a discriminatory manner

Measuring Attitude
• Self-report measure
• Likert scales (eg.1= never, 7=always) • Often fail to capture real attitude • Likely to get strong positive responses (i.e. Social desirability or demand characteristics)

• Accessibility of the attitude
• By assessing reaction time
• The faster the response, the stronger the feelings

• Physiological measures
• Facial muscle responses • Galvanic skin response & pupil dilation in studies of ethnic prejudice • Wiring participants to a fake lie detector and telling them it’s real

When Does Behavior Affect Attitude?
• Role playing
• Participants told how to behave
• Ex. Prison simulation experiment (Zimbardo, 1971)

• Saying becomes believing
• People tend to adjust their messages to their listeners and, having done so, to believe the altered message

• Foot in the door phenomenon
• More people likely to display large “drive safely” sign in their yards after displaying a small one on their cars • Lowball technique: after customer agrees to buy something because of bargain price, price

Why does our behavior affect our attitude?
• Self-justification: cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger)
• We feel discomfort when thoughts are conflicting so we change our attitude to match our behavior 2. Dissonance after decisions
• People tend to upgrade the chosen alternative and downgrade the unchosen one to reduce dissonance
• Ex. People tend to have more confidence in their candidates after they have voted than before

Cognitive Dissonance Theory (continued)
1. Insufficient (external) justification
• Induced compliance paradigm
• Experiment (Festinger & Carlsmith, 1959): participants were asked to lie for either $1 or $20. Those asked to lie for $1 tended to change their belief to the lie because $1 did not justify lying for them. The ones given $20 dollars did not change their attitudes because they believed their behavior was justified (“anyone would have lied for $20”) No child played with the toy right away Weeks later, those who had received a mild threat were less likely to play with the toys Possible that they had internalized the behavior and changed their beliefs to reduce dissonance whereas the severe threat was enough for the other group to justify not playing Implication: allow children a free choice for their behavior; use smallest incentives

Forbidden Toy paradigm experiment
• • •

Self perception
• People observe their own behavior that occurs in a particular context to draw inferences about their attitudes
• Neither dissonance nor attitude change is required • Ex. “If I chose this, I must have liked it”

• Over-justification effect
• Tendency to devalue those activities we perform to get something else (we conclude we don’t like an activity because we are getting something for it) • Experiment: condition one—children could only play with activity 2 after they perform activity 1. condition 2— children could play with both freely
• Children in the former group tended to like activity 2 better whereas children in the latter group enjoyed both activities equally

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