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PSYC 2210 Lecture Notes - Parachuting, Critical Role, Leon Festinger

Course Code
PSYC 2210

of 3
-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
ŸThere is a discrepancy between general attitude, attitudes about broad topics in specific behaviours
which are almost always in reference to specific topics
ŸSo general attitudes will have poor relationship with specific behaviours, chances are much greater that
your attitudes toward a specific behaviour have a greater expectancy to produce behaviour (e.g.
attitude for the environment may not cause you to recycle, but attitudes towards recycling have a
greater relationship with recycling)
ŸWhen your measuring attitudes in your efforts to measure behaviour you need to measure the specific
ŸThe degree of personal reference is the second factor
ŸE.g. all undergraduates are opposed to tuition heights, but it is more expected of first years to petition
than fourth year students, because for fourth year students, its not as important because they will be
graduating next year, unlike the first years (they have the same set of attitudes, their behaviour is
different because it is not equally relevant)
ŸThird condition involves accessibility of the attitude, you need to be aware of your attitude on
something in order for it to influence your behaviour
Ÿe.g. the prof. encourages that students read and are on track with their notes on a weekly basis, but at
the end of the semester, near exam times he increases his office hours, almost encouraging students
that its okay to leave everything to the end, this shows his beliefs were strong enough because it did
not fully influence his behaviour
ŸHis attitudes towards day one of class, isn’t as immediately accessible during the week before exams,
which is why they don’t affect his behaviour
ŸThe fourth and final condition concerning attitude behaviour relations, is basic situational constraints,
sometimes situations don’t allow you to act on them, for e.g. the prof. believes strongly in leisure and
rest, but he has very little opportunity to do it because of his job requirements
ŸAttitudes must be specific to behaviour, personally relevant, accessible, and the person must be free to
act towards them based on the situation
ŸAttitudes can change, we can be persuaded
ŸCertain expected and certain unexpected factors that can change our attitude
ŸOne, where the message is coming form, if the source of the message is credible, it is more compelling
and convincing, credibility and prestige of the message
ŸIrrelevant features impact also, more physically attractive messengers, if the source of the messengers
are likeable are more persuasive
ŸAlso factors concerning the message itself, that effect whether or not were persuaded by it what
persuades us about the message , if you have little or no history with a topic, your likely to be
persuaded by a strongly worded one-sided topic
ŸPeople who have spent time, previous history of a topic, you need to give them a two-sided topic, that
you recognized there are two sides, and by acknowledging the two sides, your more likely to persuade
an informed audience
ŸYou can also be scared into adapting an attitude, work best when they are coupled with directions of
how to change your relevant behaviour, has sign fact implications to federal policies (health
compromising behaviour, like the ads on the cigarette box, but you need to provide mechanisms of
how to stop)
ŸPetty and his colleagues tried to integrate the models of attitude change=elaboration likelihood model
ŸCentral route taken by an elaborate argument, two sides, recognizes both side of an issue, and it’s the
nature and quality of this argument that can persuade you to this attitude, the individual is compelled to
change their view
ŸPeripheral route is when you put little or no effort into the argument, but associate your position to
positive stimuli, this the association between your position with the attitude (emotional appeal, a highly
persuasive person, attractive, etc.)
ŸFamous set of findings involves a series of attitudes by Leon Festinger, attitudes are in fact derived by
our behaviours, presumption are of course that behaviours are from our attitudes, but Festinger says it
seems that attitudes are from our behaviour
ŸHe conducted an experiment called induced compliance, in which he bored his participatns to the state
in which they would want to die, for an hour (e..g put spoons on a tray, then take them off, then put
them back on again, etc.), then he said he needs their help to encourage the next set of participants to
do the task, tell them how exciting the activity it is, how interesting and engaging it was, and if they
do, they’ll get paid
ŸThere were three conditions, one group of people would receive $20, another group would be paid $1,
and the last group were not required to do any of this
ŸThen they spoke to next group of participants who were really part of the experiment
ŸTheir attitudes of the boring activity were different, those that were paid $1 were significantly more
likely to rate it positively than those who have been paid $20
ŸWhy? Festinger theorized that this induced compliance, produces a state of dissonance, conflict or
discrepancy between attitudes and behaviour,
ŸParticipant paid $20, their saying this task sucks, but I just said it rocks, I don’t lie, but I expressed an
attitude that was different than my true feelings which explains why my attitude and behaviour are
ŸParticipant who got paid $1, feels the activity sucks, but I’m not a liar, but I just said it rocks for only
$1, this is insufficient justification to have said what they have said given the attitude they hold, so
there is a conflict
ŸInfinite justifications, they cant change what they said, they already said that the experiment was great,
but what can be changed is their attitude towards its, this motivation comes so the dissonance will
decrease, so the participants change their personality to comply with it, the attitude follows the
ŸThis led to Festingers cognitive dissonance theory, a discrepancy inside the person between the
attitudes and behaviour or between various sets of attitudes
ŸA discrepancy produces an undesirable state called dissonance, and the aversive quality to dissonance
is motivated to remedy the situation (dissonance reduction, a very fundamental human motivation)
ŸNumber of ways to dissonance reduction, for e.g. a person who believes they are intelligent but does
poorly on an exam, a discrepant behaviour, on thing to do is to reduce the importance of one or both
elements, you can say yes I’m smart, and yes I did bad, but grades aren’t that important, or try and
change the discrepancy, I studies, I did bad, I need to do better to match my intelligence, or you can
add new elements into the equation, the exam wasn’t fair, or you didn’t have enough time to study
ŸSelf perception theory states that most of us don’t hold attitudes about anything, but learn our attitudes
by looking at our behaviour, infer our attitudes through our behaviours,
ŸAn observer would probably say that Festingers task, the participants who got paid $1 probably liked
the task, and that’s what participants would say