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Lecture

Chapter notes


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYA02H3
Professor
Fornier

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Roshan Singh
03/30/08
Mr.Fournier
PSYA02H3
Chapter 15 Notes
Social PsychologyThe branch of psychology that studies our social nature – how the actual, imagined,
or implied presence of others influences or thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
The important people in our lives shape our emotions, thoughts and personalities. Our perceptions are
also affected by our interactions with others.
Sizing up social situation depends on many cognitive processes, including memory for people, places, and
events; concept formation skills; and, more fundamentally, sensory and perceptual abilities.
Social cognitionThe processes involved in perceiving, interpreting and acting on social information.
Impression formationThe way in which we integrate information about anothers traits into a coherent
sense of who the person is.
Asch pointed out more than 4 decades ago that our impressions of others are formed by more complex
rules than just a simple sum of characteristics that we use to describe people.
SchemaA mental framework or body of knowledge that organizes and synthesizes information about a
person, place or thing.
The schemata aid us in interpreting the world. Example: The basic characteristics of the professor in your
mind and the shocks you shall receive when one does not fit that description.
Research has demonstrated that understanding is greater when people know the title of the passage before
it is read.
Central traitsPersonality attributes that organize and influence the interpretation of other traits.
Central traits impart meaning to other known traits and suggest the presence of yet other traits that have
yet to be revealed. Negative information, such as that conveyed by a negative central trait description,
might be more discrepant and salient in the context of a generally positive impression than just another
piece of positive information about the person would be.
Primacy effectThe tendency to form impressions of people based on the first information we receive
about them.
Webster, Richter and Kruglanski (1996) found that the primacy effect was more pronounced for
participants who were mentally fatigued than for those who were relatively alert.
An intuitive way of developing lists of traits in our heads is that we observe what a person does and says
we purposefully think about what those behaviours reveal about his or her personal qualities. Brown and
Bassili (2002) suggested that people may generate trait-like labels from observed behaviour and that those
labels become rather automatically associated in memory with whatever stimulus happens to have been
around at the same time the information about the behaviour became available.
Self-conceptSelf-identity. Ones knowledge, feelings, and ideas about one-self.
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Roshan Singh
03/30/08
Mr.Fournier
PSYA02H3
Chapter 15 Notes
SelfA persons distinct individuality.
Self-identity: how you perceive yourself and interpret events that are relevant to defining who you are.
Self-schema A mental framework that represents and synthesizes information about oneself; a cognitive
structure that organizes the knowledge, feelings, and ideas that constitute the self-concept.
The self-concept is dynamic as it changes with experience. Thinking of ourselves in terms of who we are
at present does not accurately reflect how we will think of ourselves in the future or the kind of person we
might become.
Western cultures often emphasize the uniqueness of the individual and an appreciation of being different
from others. In contrast, Japanese and other Eastern cultures often emphasize paying attention to others
and the relatedness of the individual and others.
Markus and Kitayama (1991) suggested that the independent construal emphasizes the uniqueness of the
self, its autonomy from others, and self-reliance. Although other people have an influence on a persons
behaviour, a persons self-concept is largely defined independently of others. The interdependent construal
emphasizes the interconnectedness of people and the role that others play in developing an individuals
self-concept i.e. what others think of the individual or do to the individual matter (extremely sensitive to
others and strives to form strong social bonds with them)
Campbell and colleagues (1996) suggested that clarity of self-concept might also differ between Eastern
and Western cultures. Clarity refers to how confident people are that they possess particular attributes,
how sharply defined they believe those attributes are, and how internally and temporally consistent they
think their attributes are.
Well-being and satisfaction among Eastern students have been found to be strongly associated with
interpersonal behaviours and socially engaged emotions such as friendliness. In contrast, well-being and
satisfaction among Western students are more strongly associated with individual achievement and self-
reflective emotions such as pride.
AttributionThe process by which people infer the causes of other peoples behaviour.
The primary classification we make concerning a persons behaviour is the relative importance of
situational (external) and dispositional (internal) factors.
External factorsPeople, events, and other stimuli in an individuals environment that can affect his or
her thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviours.
Internal factors An individuals traits, needs, and intentions, which can affect his or her thoughts,
feelings, attitudes and behaviours.
Kelley (1967) suggested that we attribute the behaviour of other people to external (situational) or internal
(personal) causes based on 3 types of information:
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Roshan Singh
03/30/08
Mr.Fournier
PSYA02H3
Chapter 15 Notes
Consensual behaviourBehaviour that is shared by many people; behaviour that is similar from
one person to the next. To the extent that people engage in the same behaviour, their behaviour is
consensual.
DistinctivenessThe extent to which a person behaves differently toward different people,
events, or other stimuli.
ConsistencyThe extent to which a persons behaviour is consistent across time toward another
person, an event, or a stimulus.
Evidence suggests that people are more likely to engage in complex inferential processes like those
described by Kelley when they are asked questions directly about why someone behaved as he or she did,
when the events they are exposed to are unexpected or abnormal, and when they believe it is important for
the advancement of their personal interests to understand the cause of others behaviours.
There are 2 kinds of biases in the attribution process that affect our conclusions:
Fundamental attribution errorThe tendency to overestimate the significance of internal
factors and underestimate the significance of external factors in explaining other peoples
behaviour. Example: Toskala goal (LOL)
Belief in a just worldThe belief that people get what they deserve in life; a
fundamental attribution error. It may also help motivate people to persist in the
pursuit of their goals. Furnham (1992) discovered that the tendency to blame victims
was positively correlated with status and wealth.
Actor-observer effectThe tendency to attribute ones own behaviour to external
factors but others behaviour to internal factors. In other words, not committing the
fundamental attribution error to oneself but only others. 2 possible reasons are we put
ourselves in situations and do not observe our own behaviour whereas we observe
other’s behaviour rather than focusing on the type of situation they are in. We have
more information about our own behaviour and we are thus more likely to realize that
our own behaviour is often inconsistent. Therefore, we believe that the behaviour of
other people is consistent and thus is a product of their personalities, whereas ours is
affected by the situation in which we find ourselves.
Self-serving biasThe tendency to attribute our accomplishments and successes to
internal causes and our failures and mistakes to external causes.
False consensusThe tendency of a person to perceive his or her own response as representative
of a general consensus. 2 possible explanations for false consensus is that people do not like to
think of themselves as being too different from other people, so they prefer to think that most
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