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PSY210H1 Lecture Notes - Self-Perception Theory, Cognitive Dissonance, Leon Festinger

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-1Lecture #22
Social Psychology (Part I)
ŸScientific study of how our behaviour is systematically affected by others and the behaviours of others,
situations allow us to behave in similar ways
ŸA complement to personality studies
ŸPersonality is how one individual differs in one situation to the next, social psychology is the situation
itself and how it affects peoples behaviours
ŸAs a social species we are always in the real or imaginary presence of others
ŸSocial psychologists of the 50s and 60s occupied a unique and critical role in popularizing scientific
psychology, of what makes people work and why people do what we do, one of the things they did was
conduct a series of systematic studies and found a number of results that were counterintuitive, because
its not all common sense, there are certain things that humans do that fly in the face of human
expectations (for e.g. why people think the way they do, what influences their behaviour, etc)
ŸAttitude is the corner stone of social psychology (like how traits are of relevance to personality)
ŸAn attitude is an evaluation of anything that can constitute a noun (person, places or things)
ŸOf all the things that we can evaluate, ourselves are not included with respect to attitude, evaluations
of ourselves is self-efficacy, self-esteem
ŸAttitudes involve appraisals of good and bad about things other than ourselves
ŸMany components to an attitude, key component is the effective or emotion, assignment or feeling to
some person or thing in the world, positive or negative appreciation for it, and without a positive or
negative feeling toward it, you don’t have an attitude towards it
ŸInfinite range of attitude, everything you can evaluate you have an attitude towards (sky diving is
ŸAttitudes are thought to have beliefs about things (cognitive component), reflect certain beliefs one
holds (second component)
ŸImplications on behaviour, presumed to be some expected tendency to act in a certain way given the
attitude you hold, for e.g. if you fee, that skydiving is dangerous but roller coasters are fun, you will be
expected to act in a certain way regarding these topics, your likely to go on roller coaster but not sky
ŸCertain tendencies given the attitudes they hold
ŸPresumption is if you hold a certain attitude, your likely to act in a certain way, but nearly not as
simple as that
ŸWhere do attitudes come from, how does one acquire it?
ŸYou start with a neutral outlook on something, then as time passes you develop an evaluation of it, you
like it or you don’t
ŸSocial psychologists have developed three pathways,
ŸThe first involves direct associative learning, some of the attitudes we acquire through common sense
mechanisms, you try something you like it, you have positive attitude towards it, or the opposite, the
direct approach is how you directly interact with something and through your experiences you develop
an evaluation towards it
ŸSometimes you develop attitudes indirectly, vicariously, attitudes are modelled for us by parents,
friends, peer groups, through how others have interacted with those things and modelled their
experiences (if you’ve never be skiing, and your parents hated it and say its dangerous, you may feel
the same way), you acquire by observing people around you, and acquire their attitudes
ŸThird pathway is by merely having something in your presence, keeping it around you for a while,
overtime you tend to have a positive evaluation of things that are near you,=near exposure effect, you
can have a positive evaluation of a thing by merely being exposed to something, but it has to start off
as evaluative neutral
ŸOnce an attitude is acquired, you react accordingly, however, the relationship between attitudes and
behaviours are poor, surprisingly little relationship between attitudes one has and their behaviours
ŸWhy are there so many attitudes about so many things if there are no behavioural consequences
ŸAttitudes do influence behaviour but only under certain conditions
ŸFirst, the attitude must be specific and relevant to the behaviour in question
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