Lecture 3 – Dr. Jennifer Stamp Tuesday, February 11 , 2 14
• The scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or
imagined presence of other people
The scientific study – particular way of asking questions
Imagined presence – if you believe that somebody is watching you, that can have the exact same
effect as someone actually watching you
• Emphasis on the situation
• Social thinking & social perception: how we think about and perceive our social world
• Social influence: how other people influence our behavior
o Having other people around can influence our behavior.
• Social relations: how we behave toward others
o Under what situations are we nice/nasty to people?
Types of Questions Asked
• Would you be cruel if ordered?
• What causes aggressive behavior?
o There are many biological factors that can influence aggressive behavior (for example, damage to
certain parts of the brain)
• Would you help another? Or rather help yourself?
• What causes prejudice?
o Caused by our tendency to categorize
• How can prejudice be reduced?
• What causes people to be attracted to each other?
• Why are some commercials more persuasive than others?
Is social psychology just common sense? Attribution Theory
• How we explain other people’s behaviors:
1. Internal dispositions – personality traits, attitudes, motives
o Something internal to the person themselves
2. External situations – the situation
“I aced the midterm because…”
“It was an easy exam.” (external attribution)
“I’m brilliant.” (internal attribution)
Internal or External?
1. Consistency – does person make same response all the time?
o Is this their habitual way of doing things? If yes, move to question two
2. Distinctiveness – is person’s response similar in other situations?
3. Consensus – how do other people behave?
o If consensus is high, everybody would do that
• High, low, low = personal/internal attribution
• High, high, high = situational/external attribution
*If it’s not consistent, we tend to view that as a special case.
Personal or situational? Fundamental Attribution Error
1. Underestimate situation
2. Overestimate disposition
• Also called correspondence bias
Behavior = disposition
But how do we know the causes of behavior? Castro Debate Experiment
Dependent variable – what they believed the speakers attitudes really were
Assigned: we have a tendency to make personal/internal attributions
Tendency to make FAE influenced by
• Selfserving bias – tendency to make FAE when it suits us (and explain our own behavior in a positive light)
We make the error when it suits us
I.e. athletes postgame statements
Collectivist cultures (places more emphasis on the collective) ▯ situational/external attributions
Individualistic cultures (place more emphasis on the self) ▯ personal/internal attributions Culture & Attribution
• If you explain a negative behavior ________________
• In collectivist societies, people tend to be more accepting of the situation (recheck)
Mental Sets & Schemas
• Mental representations of how things ought to be
• Allow us to organize and interpret information
Heuristics (“rules of thumb”)
• Can lead to mistakes
Blue collar/white collar stereotypes (Darley & Gross, 1983) – an example of how stereotypes can impact mental
sets/schemas. • Participants watched video of “Hannah”
Group 1: told she was upper middle class
Group 2: told she was from poor area
• Group 1 rated the same kid higher in ability
• How we frame information can have a profound effect on social judgment
• We tend to go into social events with certain expectations
Attitudes: favorable or unfavorable evaluative reaction (positive or negative reaction to something we evaluate)
Attitudes are not opinions
• Manifested as:
o A affect (feelings or moods)
o B behavior (signal as to somebody’s intention) o C cognition (thoughts)
Attitudes ▯ behavior? Not always the case.
Behavior ▯ attitudes?
The Complexity of Attitudes
• Attitudes aren’t generally “yes” or “no” answers – attitudes are very complex
• Tension as a result of two inconsistent cognitions (an inconsistency between an attitude and behavior – we like
to feel consistent)
• Attitudes change to avoid cognitive dissonance
o Selfjustification – changing what we can to make ourselves consistent
Experiment (Leon Festinger, 1959)
• Subjects preform dull task for 1 hour • Has to convince next subject, task is fun
• Fill out questionnaire, how fun was it?
o Group 1: no dissonance
o Group 2: $1
o Group 3: $20
• Lying tends to make us feel uncomfortable. Everybody who was asked to tell a lie did so (100% obedience).
Group 2 told a lie was given $1. Those in group 3 were given $20. The dependent variable was how much fun
the activity was.