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Psychology 1000 Lecture Notes - Social Facilitation, Intentionality, Out-Group Homogeneity

Course Code
PSYCH 1000

of 12
Chapter 16: Behaviour in a Social Context
(p. 663)
- Zimbardo: “Stanford Prison Study” – behaviour not only determined by biological endowment and past learning experiences, but also by
power of immediate social situation
Attribution: Perceiving the Causes of Behaviour
- Attributions: judgements about the causes of our own and other people’s behaviour and outcomes
o Influence subsequent behaviour / emotions (if because of A then C, vs if it was because of B)
Personal vs Situational Attributions
- Fritz Heider (1958): attempts to understand why people behave typically involve ...
o Personal (internal) attributions: infer people’s behaviour caused by characteristics (Bob insulted Carl because he’s rude)
o Situational (external) attributions: infer aspects of situation cause behaviour (Bob provoked)
- Harold Kelly (1973): 3 types info determine attribution
o Consistency: consistent response over time? (always hates art)
o Distinctiveness: distinctive, only this or for all things? (hates art vs all courses)
o Consensus: how do others respond? (all students hate art vs just Kim)
- When all 3 high situational
- Consistency high, other 2 low personal
- Sometimes take all this to consideration when making attributions, other times mental shortcuts making snap judgements that bias
Attributional Biases
- Social psychology says: immediate social environment profoundly influences behaviour
- But we form negative opinions about participants because of fundamental attribution error: underestimate impact of situation and
overestimate role of personal factors when explaining others’ behaviour
o E.g. Fidel Castro speech
o How we perceive others’ behaviour rather than own – e.g. driving “moron” “maniac”
We have more info about our present
Perceptual principle of figure-ground relations
Others are “figure” on background standing out
We are “background” and situation stands out
o Not inevitable (Columbine shooting)
Time to reflect, highly motivated to be careful, error reduced
- Explaining self, protect self-esteem by self-serving bias: making relatively personal attributions for successes and more situational
attributions for failures (e.g. athletes post-game)
o Psychological state (e.g. depression opposite), cultural norms
Culture and Attribution
- Culture influences how we perceive physical AND social world
- Studies suggest tendency to attribute other people’s behaviour to personal factors reflects Westernized individualism
o E.g. India-US attributed causality studies
- Culture affects attributions for own behaviour too
o Chinese value modesty, take less credit for successful social interactions and more accepting of responsibility for failures than
- Also affects HOW make attributions
o E.g. East Asians have holistic view of universe (compared to Westerns) .: more complex views about causes of behaviour (as
everything interconnected)
o E.g. Koeran vs Euro Americans
- Relation between holistic thinking and use of information
o Same underlying psychological principle (link between holistic thinking and beliefs about causality) seems to account for
information-seeking diffs between cultures and individuals within each
Forming and Maintaining Impressions
- Impressions we form often others of us often
- Attributions important in impression formation:
o Person’s behaviour say something about them, or situation? Or other factors?
Primacy versus Recency: Are First Impressions More Important?
- Primacy effect: refers to tendency to attach more important to initial info we learn about person
o New info still can change mind, but needs to “work harder” because...
We tend to be most alert to info we receive first
Initial info may shape how we perceive subsequent info (e.g. student or athlete)
o General rule, esp for people dislike ambiguity / uncertainty
We can easily form snap judgements based on small amounts of initial info; evolutionarily evaluating stimuli quickly =
adaptive (e.g. friend or foe distinguishing)
- Primacy effects decrease (RECENCY) when asked to avoid snap judgements, reminded to consider evidence, made to feel accountable for
Mental Sets and Schemas: Seeing What We Expect to See
- Perception stimulus can be “seen” different ways (e.g. party, cold host vs shy)
- Creating mental sets..,
o Schemas: mental frameworks that help organize and interpret information; activates concepts/expectations .: “fit” behaviour
into particular already activated schema
- Stereotype: generalized belief about group or category of people = powerful schema
o E.g. Hannah’s academics, blue/white collar parents
Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Creating What We Expect to See
- Seeing what we expect only one way to confirm initial expectations/impressions
- Self-fulfilling prophecy: usually without conscious awareness, when erroneous expectations lead people to act certain way that BRINGS
ABOUT expected behaviour (confirming original impression)
o Their behaviour could be response to YOUR behaviour
Attitudes and Attitude Change
- “social psychology’s most indispensible concept” (Gordon Allport, 1935)
- Define identity, guide actions, influence judgements .: steer world events
- Attitude = positive or negative evaluative reaction toward a stimulus (e.g. person, action, object, or concept)
- Supported by extensive personal belief/value system
Do Our Attitudes Influence Behaviour?
- “common sense” that attitudes influence behaviour?
o E.g. Richard LaPiere (1934): followed Asians around US
o Discrepancy between stated prejudicial attitudes and non-discriminatory behaviour overwhelming
- Overall, attitudes predict behaviour to modest degree
o Attitudes influence behaviour more strongly when weak counteracting situational factors
Strong situational = can behave contrary to beliefs
Theory of planned behaviour, intention to engage in behaviour strongest when positive attitude towards behaviour,
subjective norms (what we think others think) support our attitudes, when we believe behaviour under our control
o Attitudes have a greater influence on behaviour when we are aware of them and when they are strongly held.
Acting without thinking; attitude-behaviour consistency increases when we consciously think before acting
Stronger when formed from DIRECT personal experience
o General attitudes are better at predicting general classes of behaviour, and specific attitudes are better at predicting specific
E.g. religious studies
Does Our Behaviour Influence Our Attitudes?
- 2-way street: we can develop attitudes that are consistent with behaviour (e.g. Stanford Prison Study)
- Self-justification.
o E.g. boring experience, $1, $20
Theory of cognitive dissonance: people strive for consistency in cognitions
When 2 or more cognitions contradict, cognitive dissonance tension
To restore cognitive consistency, change cognitions or add new ones
change attitude to bring more into line with how behaved
counterattitudinal behaviour = behaviour inconsistent with attitude, produces dissonance only if we perceive actions
freely chosen (not coerced)
dissonance worst when well-being threatened, negative consequences were foreseeable
dissonance not always leading to attitude change
Reduce by rationalizing attitude/behaviour not important, external justification, etc
o E.g. alcohol in Scandinavia
- Self-perception.
o We infer attitudes “must be” by watching behaviour
o Daryl Bem (1972): Self-perception theory = make inferences about our attitudes same way, observing how WE behave
- Self-perception / cognitive dissonance both predict counterattitudinal behaviour will produce attitude change
o Dissonance assumes experience physiological arousal
E.g. writing about nasty drink, choice = greater attitude change
If unpleasant arousal motivates attitude change, factors reducing arousal should reduce change
When arousal from dissonance-producing behaviours but let to believe side affect from pill (placebo), don’t
change attitudes in line with behaviour (gives external justification)
.: dissonance theory better explains why people change views after behaving in ways that openly contradict attitudes,
especially if behaviours threaten self-image
o Situations in which counterattidudinal behaviour NOT threatening self-worth / weak attitudes to begin with, not sig arousal, but
many alter attitudes to be consistent with behaviour
.: self-perception theory
o Depends on situations, but either way behaviours can influence attitudes
- Involves communicator who delivers message through channel to audience within context
- The communicator.
o Communicator credibility (how believable communicator is) often key to effective persuasion
Don’t like to think, easier to just agree
Expertise, trustworthiness: expert (esp important in complex issjues), unbiased, show both sides (or side against self-
o Attractive, likeable, similar to us = more effective
o Positive impact of communicator dissipates with time if remember message but not messenger
- The message.
o Only your side or both? Two-sided refutational approach = most effective
Esp if audience knows 2 sides exist / disagrees at firsts (shows less bias)
o Moderate degree of discrepancy more effective
o Fear arousal works best when moderate fear and provides feasible ways to reduce threat (else reduce anxiety, deny credibility)
- The audience. Sometimes lots of logic works, sometimes not. Richard Petty / Jon Cacioppo (1986)
o Central route to persuasion: people think carefully, influenced because find it compelling
Attitude change from this deeper, lasts longer, better predictor
We think more if personally relevant, but not always
Need for cognition: some like analyzing, others don’t. Like it, central, don’t like mental strain, peripheral
o Peripheral route to persuasion: don’t scrutinize message, influenced by other factors (speaker attractiveness, emotional
o People differ in approach to new info
Uncertainty orientated look for info, esp new/unpredictable situations (.: central route)
Certainty oriented avoid those situations, esp if info self-relevant (.: peripheral, esp if speaker relevant)
- The channel.
- The context.
**In Review, p. 674
The Mere Presence of Others
- Norman Triplett (1898): launched social psychology with - mere presence of others energizes performance