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Lecture 13

PSYC 1002 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Ingroups And Outgroups, Intentionality, Controllability

Course Code
PSYC 1002
Christopher Gibbs

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Chapter 13: Social Psychology
Social Psychology
The scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another.
(study of the person as they’re interacting with others)
Thinking self & other
Influence situations & roles
Groups Ingroup vs. Outgroup
Personality person vs. situation
Connecting all of these factors to behaviour.
Attribution Theory
Theory of motivation (what motivates them and predict future motivation)
Attribution theory can be used to understand other people’s behaviour (why they are
doing what they are doing), and can also be used to predict how they might behave in
the future
The attributions that they make for events will shape their future behaviour.
But we can also use Attribution theory to help us understand our own emotions/actions
toward other people.
The ways we attribute (explain) other people’s behaviour shapes the way to
feel/act toward them.
Attribution process: outcome...casual search ask why it happened….ascriptation answer
why….leads to either a psychological consequence or behaviour consequence (change
behaviour or repeat behaviour)
(got a bad grade ask why and then figure out why)
Every attribution can be classified along several dimensions (Weiner)
1. Locus of Causality: Internal vs. External
(originally, Rotter’s Locus of Controllability)
Where's the location of the cause (whos the actor of this situation)
2. Stability: Stable vs. Unstable (is this cause stable over time-will this A+ last
forever, will I be a genius tomorrow)
3. Controllability: Controllable vs. Uncontrollable (could I have controlled this)
3. Globality: Global vs. Specific (global across situations, or is just specific to this,
ex: smart in one class but failing all your other classes)
5. Intentionality: Intentional vs. Unintentional (did you mean to do it)
Our attributions have behavioural & psychological consequences (self-esteem, guilt,
shame, anger, sympathy)
Belief in a Just fair World
When we make an attribution for someone’s behaviour (explain their behaviour) our
attribution is grounded in our belief that the world is fair (the world is “just”).
Belief in a Just World (Learner & colleagues)
We have a need to believe that “I am a just person living in a just world, a world
where people get what they deserve”
As children, we are taught that good is rewarded and evil is punished
Thus, we feel that those who are successful (or fortunate) must be good people
(and vice-versa)

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You get what you deserve from life
Isabel Correia, Jorge Vala & Patricia Aguiar-In Portugal (2007). Victim’s innocence,
social categorization, and the threat to the belief in a just world
Study One
Participants watched a 5 minute video child who lost both arms in an accident
Two conditions: innocent vs. not innocent (warned)
DV = Stroop Task (response times)
10 justice-related words (right, fair) and 10 neutral words (telephone,
wood, glass)
Hypothesis: When BJW is threatened, response times for the justice-related
words will increase (slow down) because participants more distracted
Reading speed was slower for the justice-related words in the innocent condition
since the words are emotional so we slow down (compared to the other three
If not threatened, where the kid wasn't innocent, response time does not slow
Thus, our belief in a just world is threatened when bad things happen to innocent people
Study Two
Same as study one except that the social categorization of the child was
Ingroup (Portuguese) vs. Outgroup (Gypsy)
Hypothesis: a victim from “our group” is more threatening than a victim from an
outgroup (We don't apply to it the same to everyone)
A 2 (innocence) by 2 (group) design
Reading speed was slower for justice-related words in the Ingroup
condition than in the Outgroup condition, and the innocence of the victim
no longer had any significant impact
When the victim’s identity was explicitly mentioned as part of the ingroup, this
ingroup identification (of a victim) produced a threat to BJW regardless of the
victim’s innocence.
When the victim’s identity was explicitly mentioned as part of the outgroup, the
BJW was not really threatened (even if the child was innocent).
Our BJW is affected when bad events happen to innocent people.
But we seem to apply our BJW differently depending on the identity of the
If the victim is specifically part of our ingroup, then our BJW may be
threatened regardless of the victim’s innocence.
If the victim is specifically part of the outgroup, then our BJW may not
apply (regardless of the victim’s innocence)
Meaning that we may believe that an ingroup member is always innocent
and an outgroup member is always guilty

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Attribution Errors & Biases
Explaining other people’s behaviour
Explanations can be dispositional (they are just that type of person) or situational
(why are they doing that? The situation caused them to do that)
Fundamental Attribution Error
Observers overestimate the importance of traits and underestimate the
importance of situations when they seek explanations of an actor's behaviour.
Jones & Harris (1967)
Participants read a speech written by a student. The speech was either pro-
Castro or anti-Castro.
Participants were told that the student had either, (1) freely chosen to write from
this position, or (2) been assigned to write from this position
Participants were more likely to infer that the paper reflected the student’s
true attitude when the position had been freely chosen
Even when participants thought the student had no choice, they still used
the speech to infer attitude.
Thus, we fall prey to the fundamental attribution error even when we are fully
aware of the situation’s impact.
Self-serving bias the tendency to perceive oneself favourably (correlated with self-
esteem, over positive about ourselves).
False Consensus & False Uniqueness
We further enhance our self-image by over/under-estimating the extent to which
others think/act like us.
Opinions (false consensus-everyone should have the same opinion as me)
Undesirable behaviours (I occasionally do bad things, false consensus effect-but
so does everyone else)
Desirable behaviours (I do this thing so that makes me special and unique)
Social Perception
Comparing ourselves with others
Social comparison theory
Festinger (1954)
Without any objective ways of evaluating our performance, we compare
ourselves with others, but not just any others, those who are similar or
worse off
Miller & McFarland (1987)
Participants (in a group with other participants) read an incomprehensible
Were instructed to “seek help if they ran into any serious problems in
understanding the paper”
None of the subjects sought help. They assumed that other subjects
would not be similarly restrained by fear of embarrassment.
They wrongfully inferred that people who did not seek help did not need
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