Chapter 15 – Social Psychology
-fundamental Attribution Error: the tendency to overemphasize personal factors and underestimate situational
factors in explaining behavior
-social psychology: The branch of psychology concerned with how others influence the way a person thinks, feels,
How Do We Know Ourselves?
-the self involves the mental representation of personal experience and includes thought processes, a physical body,
and a conscious experience that one is separate and unique from others.
Our Self-Concept consists of Self-Knowledge
-self concept: - the full store of knowledge that people have about themselves.
-William James and George Mead differentiated between the self as the knower (I) and the self as the object that is
known (me) the objectified self.
-I is involved in executive functions such as choosing, planning, and exerting control.
-the objectified self is the knowledge that you hold about yourself, as when you think about your best and worst
-self awareness: a sate in which the sense of self is the object of attention
-Rober Wicklund: Objective self awareness; self awareness leads people to act in accordance with their personal
values and beliefs.
-Tory Higgins: Self-discrepancy theory; this awareness of differences between personal standards and goals leads to
-because of patients with brain injuries we know that self-awareness is highly dependent on the normal
development of the frontal lobes of the brain
-patients with brain injuries show a surprising lack of interest in or knowledge about their disorders.
-People with damage to the frontal lobes often have social and motivational impairments that interfere with job
-shows that frontal-lobe patients often have distortions in how they process information about the self.
-cocktail party effect occurs because information about the self is processed deeply, thoroughly, and automatically.
-Hazel Markus: the self-schema is the cognitive aspect of the self-concept, consisting of an integrated set of
memories, beliefs, and generalizations about the self.
-self-schema consists of those aspects of your behavior and personality that are important to you
-helps us perceieve, organize, interpret and use information about the self
-self-schemas may lead to enhanced memory for information that is processed in a self-referential manner.
-activation of the middle of the frontal lobes when people process information about themselves
-the great the activation of this area during self-referencing, the more likely you are to remember the item later
during a surprise memory task.
-The immediate experience of self, the working self-concept, is limited to the amount of personal information that
can be processed cognitively at any given time.
-thus your self-descriptions vary as a function of which memories you retrieve, which situation you are in, the
people you are with, and your role in that situation
Independent and Interdependent selves
-An important way in which people differ in their self-concepts is whether they view themselves as fundamentally
separate from or inherently connected to other people
-the collective self emphasizes connections to family, social groups, and ethnic groups and conformity to societal
norms and group cohesiveness
-Hazel Markus: people in collectivist cultures tend to have interdependent self-construals in which their self
concepts are determined to a large extent by their social roles and personal relationships
-people in individualist cultures tend to have independent self-construals.
-Their sense of self is based on their feelings of being distinct from others.
Perceived Social Regard Influences Self-Esteem
-self-esteem is the evaluative aspect of the self-concept, referring to whether people perceive themselves to be
worthy or unworthy, good or bad.
-self-esteem is related to the self concept it is possible for people to objectively believe positive things about
themselves without really liking themselves very much.
-many theories assume that people’s self-esteem is based on how they believe others perceive them, known as
-according to this view, people internalize the values and beliefs expressed by important people in their lives.
-do this by observing the attitudes and actions of others and adopting these attitudes and actions of others and
adopting these attitudes and behaviours as their own.
-This social view of self-esteem led some theorists to promote unconditional acceptance of children by their parents,
meaning that parents should love their children no matter what the children do.
-Leary: assumes that humans have a fundamental need to belong, a need to belong, a need that is adaptive.
-those who belonged to social groups were more likely to survive and reproduce than those who were excluded and
left to survive on their own.
-According to Leary, self-esteem monitors the likelihood of social exclusion.
-thus, self-esteem is a sociometer, an internal monitor of social acceptance or rejection.
-those with high self-esteem have sociometers that indicate a low probability of rejection.
-low self-esteem correlates highly with social anxiety
Self-Esteem and Death Anxiety
-According to terror management theory, self esteem protects people from the horror associated with knowing that
they will eventually die.
-Schimel: This theory argues that people counter mortaility fears by creating a sense of symbolic immortality
through contributing to their culture and upholding its values.
-Cultural perspective: self-esteem develops from the personal belief that one is living up to criteria that are valued
within the culture.
-exaggeration of personal importance reflect attempts to buffer anxiety about inevitable death.
-reminding people of their mortality leads them to act in ways that enhance their self-esteem.
Self-Esteem and Life Outcomes
-high self esteem doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be successful
-although people with high self esteem report being much happier with their lives, self esteem is only weakly
related to objective life outcomes
-to the extent that there is a small relationship between self-esteem and life outcomes, perhaps it is success that
causes high self esteem.
-many downsides to having really high selfesteem:
-become violent when tey feel that others are not treating them with an appropriate level of respect.
-school bullies also often have high self esteem
-although having high self esteem does seem to make people happier, it does not necessarily lead to successful
social relationships or life success.
We Use Mental Strategies to Maintain Our Views of Self
-is that most people think of themelves in favorable terms
-Most people describe themselves as above average in just about every possible way, which is referred to as the
better than average effect
-According to an influential paper by Shelley Taylor: most people have positive illusions – overly favorable and
unrealistic beliefs – in at least three domains
1) people tend to overestimate their own skills, abilities, and competencies, as is the case with the better than
2) most people have an unrealistic perception of their personal control over events
3) most people are unrealistically optimistic about their personal futures, believing that they will probably be
successful, marry happily, and live a long life.
Positive illusions can be adaptive when they help ople to be optimistic in meeting life’s challenges, they can lead to
trouble when people overestimate their skills and underestimate their vulnerabilites.
-Abraham Tesser: notes that self esteem can be affected not only by how people perform, butby how relevant their
performances are to their self-concepts and how their performances compare with those of significant people can
feel threatened when someone close to them outperforms them on a task that is personally relevant.
-self evaluation maintenance causes people to exaggerate or publicize their connections to winners and to minimize
or hide their relations to losers.
-Social Comparison occurs when people evaluate their own actions, abilities, and beliefs by contrasting them with
-social comparisons are an important way to understand our actions and emotions, such as whether it is reasonable
to be afraid in a situation.
Fundamental attribution error: the tendency to overemphasize personal factors and underestimate situational factors in explaining behavior. Social psychology: the branch of psychology concerned with how others influence the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. The self involves the mental representation of personal experience and includes thought processes, a physical body, and a conscious experience that one is separate and unique from others. Self concept: - the full store of knowledge that people have about themselves. William james and george mead differentiated between the self as the knower (i) and the self as the object that is known (me) the objectified self. I is involved in executive functions such as choosing, planning, and exerting control. The objectified self is the knowledge that you hold about yourself, as when you think about your best and worst qualities. Self awareness: a sate in which the sense of self is the object of attention.