Social Processes 05/01/2014
Social psychologists are interested in understanding the ways perceivers use info to generate causal
explanations of events
We notice consistencies (statistical learning)
People attribute behavior to a causal factor if they notice the factor was present at the time of event and
absent when event did not occur
Ex. Your friend is an allstar lacrosse athlete. He maintains consistent routine prior to each
game. Your friend had a poor night of sleep that was followed by poor game the next day. He
attributes some aspect of sleeping poorly to outcome in his game performance.
Perceivers often have a choice when determining the cause of observed behavior; we can attribute the
behavior to dispositional factors (people involved), situational factors (environment) or both.
Fundamental attribution error
FAE reflects the tendency of observers to underestimate the influence of situational factors on a persons
behavior and to overestimate the influence of dispositional factors
Making the situation for the person
Social psychologists are also interested in understanding how people interact factors involved in their own
successes and failures
Self serving bias is an attributional bias that leads people to take credit for their successes and to reject or
deny responsibility for their failures.
Ex. I did well on Jeopardy because I am intellectually gifted.
Expectations of Future Events
Expectations can shape the way an individual interprets reality, but they can also shape the way reality
Predictions about future events that modify current outcome of behavior
Behaviors produced are consistent with predictions and facilitate them becoming reality.
False Hope Syndrome A cycle of repeated failure in selfimprovement due to unrealistic ideas about aspects of selfchange
Believe self change will occur over an unrealistically short period of time.
Assume failure when change does not occur fast enough
Unrealistic expectations about the difficulty of change
Some changes to self require more than the will to do it.
Unrealistic expectations about how much change is likely ( or even possible)
Accomplishment may come in smaller steps than what it take to motivate.
Unrealistic expectations for benefits of change
Ex. People dieting expect to lose weight but some also expect romance, job, an overall conversion of
Prejudice is a LEARNED attitude toward a person or group of individuals
Attitudes may include or be accompanied by:
Negative affect (dislike or fear)
Negative beliefs (stereotypes are generalizations in which characteristics are assume to be true about all
members of a target group)
Behavioral position to avoid, control, dominate, or eliminate the presence of a target or things affiliated with
Bigotry or hateful speech Responsibility
With freedom comes responsibility
Knowledge that one is bound to act in a particular situation
Context of the situation can influence whether people recognize their responsibility.
In situations with many bystanders, there may be a diffusion of responsibility.
Tendency of people to be less likely to help a stranger in need if there are other people present at the
Increased number of bystanders in an emergency situation, decrease responsibility any one of the
bystanders feels to help.
False Consensus Effect
Tendency for observers to overestimate the degree to which everybody else thinks or acts
Ex. It is okay to steal food f