Social Psychology: Chapter 13
Social Psychology: seeks to understand, explain, and predict how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are
influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others
“It is not so much the kind of person a man is, as the kind of situation in which he finds himself that determines
how he will act.”
Social Cognition: Attitudes
Social cognition: how people perceive, interpret, and categorize their own and others’ social behavior
Attitudes: relatively stable and enduring evaluations of things and people
ABC model of attitudes
Affective component—how we feel toward the object; e.g., I’m scared of snakes
Behavioural component—how we behave toward the object; (I will avoid snakes and scream if I see 1)
The cognitive component—what we believe about the object; e.g., I believe snakes are dangerous
Do Attitudes Determine Behaviour?
Research suggests that people’s attitudes don’t always determine their behaviour
Study from 30’s: Asked hotel owners would they accept Chinese ppl as guests in their hotel? Over 90% said no.
When a young Chinese couple showed up at hotel, only 1 owner refused them a room
Examining attitudes specific to the behaviour: Specific, relevant attitudes do predict behaviour
Does Behaviour Determine Attitudes?
Subjects who were paid $1.00 for “talking up” the tasks reported the tasks to be more enjoyable than those who
were paid $20.00. Why?
A state of tension that occurs when a person simultaneously holds two cognitions that are psychologically
inconsistent, or when a person’s belief is incongruent with his or her behaviour
Behaviour: occasionally drink alcohol
Belief: drinking kills brain cells
The behaviour and the belief are inconsistent - this leads to feeling of psychological discomfort which we are
motivated to reduce
Haley goes through a painful, embarrassing initiation to join her sorority
Kari goes through an easy initiation to join her sorority
They join the sorority and their roommate is awful
How will they feel about their roommate?
Self-Perception Theory: A theory suggesting that when people are uncertain of their own attitudes, they infer what their
attitudes are by observing their own behaviour
Cognitive Dissonance Theory vs. Self-Perception Theory
Cognitive dissonance theory applies to situations that are strikingly out of character
Self-perception theory applies to situations that are only slightly out of character or where our attitudes are
unclear to begin with
Cognitive Dissonance Theory vs. Self-Perception Theory
Which one is an example of cognitive dissonance and which one is self-perception theory?
o You eat a lot of vegetarian dishes because that is what your roommate cooks for dinner. You decide that
your favourite type of food is vegetarian.
o You used to love psychology. You take a psychology class at 8:30am and cannot seem to make it to class
very much—probably because you have a tendency to party too much and cannot get up early enough.
Halfway through the semester, you decide that you are not making it to class because you really do NOT
like psychology that much.
Are People Honest About Their Attitudes?
Would you tell the truth if:
Your doctor asked you how much alcohol you consume each month?
Your significant other asked if you were ever attracted to another person?
Social Desirability: attitudes that mirror what we think others desire in a person
Bogus pipeline technique: Participants are hooked up to a machine that they believe is able to measure deception;
they answer more truthfully in this situation (people are more willing to tell you the truth)
Another problem that researcher run into when trying to measure attitudes is that people are not always aware of their
true attitudes Explicit attitudes: Conscious attitudes; measured through self-report measures (I ask someone and that person
tells me how he/she feels about it)
Implicit attitudes: Unconscious attitudes; measured through Implicit Association Task (IAT) (We cant necessarily
bring these to the surface, they might be hidden)
Social Cognition: Persuasion: 2 Routes to Persuasion:
Central route: Persuasion that occurs when interested people focus on the arguments and respond with favourable
thoughts (If you wanted to change someone’s mind about something this is the kind of route they take; in order to
change someone’s mind you need strong arguments)
Peripheral route: Persuasion that occurs when people are influenced by incidental cues, such as a speaker’s
attractiveness (These are smaller things such as food, not cars. For cars you would need more facts about it since
it would be so much more expensive)
Many times, advertisements will also have a combination of the two; this way the advertisements will reach
Source Factors (Who is delivering the message?)
Credibility: Believability; A credible communicator is perceived as both expert and trustworthy. When your
doctor is telling you to eat healthier, you are more likely to listen to them than people in the store
o If someone you didn’t like tried to convince you of something you are less likely to be convinced
People are more persuaded by attractive people and by people who are similar to them. Emotional persuasion
would make us be persuaded even faster. When a person seems more similar to us we will also be persuaded more
likely especially when talking about a subjective object
Foot-in-the-door phenomenon: The tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a
Foot-in-the-Door Study: Half of residents placed a small sign in window: “Be a Safe Driver”
Other half, no sign. 2 weeks later people asked to put up a huge, unattractive sign that read, “Drive Carefully”
Did anyone say yes? The people who had said yes to the small sign were also willing to put the big sign on their
lawns. The people who didn’t put up the sign in the first place didn’t want the big sign either.
Door-in-the-face technique: Start with an extreme request that is sure to be rejected, then, follow this up with a smaller
request, which is likely to be accepted because it appears to be a concession. (Do you want to buy this sweatshirt for $35?
Answer: No. Well then do you want this chocolate bar for $1.35? Answer: yes.
The Effect of Arousing Fear: Messages that evoke fear can also be persuasive
o The more frightened they are, the more persuaded they will be
Fear-arousing messages are even more effective if they are paired with a strategy people can use to reduce their
fear. (E.g.: the cigarette packages have scary ads and also gives information to help them)
Barriers to Persuasion
Forewarned is forearmed: audiences who are prepared to be persuaded will be less open to the message than those
who are not. (Being aware that someone is trying to change your mind about something will make you critical and
will backfire on the person trying to persuade you)
Social Cognition: Stereotypes and Prejudice
Stereotypes: generalized impressions and oversimplified beliefs about a person or a group of people based on assumptions
about the group. (Age, race, religion, etc.)
Prejudice: Negative and unjust feelings about individuals based on their inclusion in a particular group
Even though stereotypes may not be negative, having a stereotypical attitude is negative
Social identity theory: a theory that emphasizes social cognitive factors in the onset of prejudice: Prejudice emerges
through three processes: social categorization: in which a person affiliates with a particular group as a way of figuring
out how to act and react in the world. Social Identity: in which the person forms an identity with the group. Social
Comparison: in which the group member compares the group favorably with other groups and in turn derives a sense of
positive well being from looking at himself as superior in some way.
Mere categorization effec