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Lecture 11

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Carolyn Ensley

 Biases in explaining our behaviour  Self-serving bias  Tendency, in explaining one's own behaviour, to take credit for good actions and rationalize mistakes  Group-serving bias  Tendency to explain favourably the behaviours of members of groups to which we belong (few people think they're part of "bad guys" in war)  Just-world hypothesis  Notion that people need to believe the world is fair and justice is served; bad people are punished and good people are rewarded  When assumption called into question, people may engage in attributions involving blaming the victim  Attitude Change  Attitudes may change w/ new experiences and info but also because of need for consistency  Cognitive dissonance: state of tension that occurs when person simultaneously holds two cognitions that are inconsistent; or when beliefs are incongruent w/ behaviour  Resolve by changing attitude/behaviour  Shifting Opinions  Attitudes and beliefs vulnerable to social influence  Familiarity effect: when people feel more positively toward a person, item, or product, the more familiar they are with it  Validity effect: when people believe a statement is true or valid simply because it has been repeated many times  Do Genes Influence Attitudes?  Attitudes are combination of learning, experience, and genetics  Religious affiliation (the religion chosen) isn't heritable; religiosity (the depth of religious feeling) has a genetic component  Political affiliation isn't heritable; political conservatism is highly heritable  What does that Mean?  The variability in openness to new experience and conscientiousness is related to variability in genes  This is linked to religion and politics  Less open tend to be more fundamentalist  More conscientious tend to be more politically conservative  What this does NOT mean  Religious affiliation isn't heritable  People choose a religious affiliation because of their parents or social class, etc.  Many people switch  This isn't heritable  BUT twins reared apart are similar in their religiosity  Do Genes Influence Attitudes?  Persuasion or "Brainwashing"  Brainwashing implies a person is unaware of why they change their minds  Is actually coercive persuasion  Designed to suppress an individual's ability to reason, think critically, and make choices in his/her own best interests  Coercive persuasion occurs when:  Person is subjected to entrapment  Criminal behaviour or money spent, etc.  Person's problems are reduced to one simple attribution, which is repeatedly emphasized  Person is offered a new identity and is promised salvation  Person's access to disconfirming (dissonant) information is severely controlled  Key is to dispel people's
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