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Midterm Review #1

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Social Psychology
Paul Glavin

Social Psychology Midterm #2 Review CHAPTER 5 + 8 February 10 2014 Lecture – Attitudes Attitudes • An attitude is a predisposition to respond to a particular object in a favorable or unfavorable way • Exists in a person’s mind – it is a mental state • Components – o Cognitive  “an attitude includes an object label, rules for applying the label, and a set of cognitions or knowledge structures associated with that label” o Evaluative  This component has both a direction (positive or negative) and an intensity (ranging from very weak to very strong)  Distinguishes an attitude from other types of cognitive elements o Behavioural  An attitude involves a predisposition to respond or a behavioural tendency toward the object  People are inclined to behave in certain ways that are consistent with their attitudes • Formation o Reinforcement (instrumental conditioning)  Learning based on direct experience with the object  If you experience rewards related to some object, your attitude will be favourable o Classical conditioning  Associations of stimuli and response o Observational learning  E.g. media – by observing influence the attitudes of viewers and readers Functions of Attitudes 1. Heuristic or Instrumental function o Develop favourable attitudes toward objects that aid or reward us and unfavourable attitudes toward objects that thwart or punish us 2. Schematic or knowledge function o World is too complex for us to completely understand, we group people, objects and events into schemas and develop simplified attitudes that allow us to treat certain members of that category o Strong dislike for members of certain group = prejudice 3. Attitudes define the self and maintain self-worth o Some attitudes express the individuals basic values and reinforce his or her self- image Theory of Cognitive Dissonance • Leon Festinger (1959) - A psychological social psychology theory • Dissonance theory deals with consistency between two or more elements (behaviours and attitudes) o Cognitive dissonance = psychological tension between dissonant cognitions o Causing you to feel uncomfortable and distressed • Individuals motivated to find cognitive consistency o By resolving dissonant cognitions Sources of Dissonance 1. Post-decisional Dissonance •   Whenever we make a decision, there are some cognitions (attitudes, beliefs, knowledge) o that are in agreement with that decision o other cognitions that are dissonant with it 2. Counter-attitudinal Behaviour • When our behaviours contradict existing attitudes Prediction: we will change/adjust our attitudes to resolve dissonance Strategies for reducing Dissonance • Reducing dissonance between two cognitions • Disregard one of the beliefs • Change/Flip one of the beliefs • Distort one to match the other • Add a third belief that resolves conflict Strategies for reducing Dissonance • Example: you consider yourself an ‘A’ student, but fail your 1Z03 midterm • Disregard: ignore/forget test • Change your belief that you are an ‘A’ student • Distort: “the test wasn’t fair” • Add: I was unwell that day Festinger (1956) “When Prophecy Fails” • 1956: Participant observation of doomsday cult in Chicago o Leader (Keech) communicated with ‘the Guardians” o Guardians would save cult from global flood at 12am o 12am comes and goes o Cult members engage in dissonance reduction strategies o “Our belief in Guardians saved world from flood” o Why did they believe?  Lost relationships, lost money, lost lots of things in life because they believed in it, therefore has to be true. If they believe it isn’t true, lots of dissonance, lots of distress  The group of believers, headed by Keech, had taken strong behavioral steps to indicate their degree of commitment to the belief. They had left jobs, college, and spouses, and had given away money and possessions to prepare for their departure on a flying saucer which was to rescue the group of true believers. She claimed to have received a message from a fictional planet named Clarion. These messages revealed that the world would end in a great flood before dawn on December 21, 1954. Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) • Experimental design: Participants told to do boring task inserting pegs into board • Then asked to persuade another person that the task was interesting o Two conditions: $1 and $20 incentive o Finally asked to rate how interesting the task was (dependent variable) • Participants given $1 rated task more interesting (evidence of more dissonance) o Changed their existing view of the experiment to avoid dissonance (“maybe it wasn’t such a bad experiment) o Less dissonance for $20 group o Added extra cognition; “I’m getting paid! Who cares!” Balance Theory • Deals with cognitive consistency (like cognitive dissonance theory) • Three components or elements in a cognitive system o Person (P) o Object (O) o Impersonal Object (I) • Balance theory argues that you, the person, have a desire to balance across the elements in the system • E.g. suppose you favour the legalization of possession of marijuana and candidate Mary Smith wants mandatory prison sentences for its possession – your cognitions would be balanced if you disliked Mary Smith Relationship between Attitudes and Behaviour • There can be a great discrepancy between what people do and what they say. o Many studies find only a modest correlation between attitude and behaviour. • Corey (1937) Experimental Study of Cheating o Attitudes toward cheating and actual cheating behaviour o Participants took True-False exam o They were then asked to give themselves a grade o Correlation between cheating attitude and cheating clos e to zero. Four factors explain why the correlation is not stronger: 1.  the activation of the attitude. 2.  the characteristics of the attitude. 3.  the correspondence between attitude and behaviour. 4.  Situational constraints on behaviour. Beliefs about Free Will and Cheating • Vohl and Schooler (2009) experiment: “The Value of Believing in Free Will : Encouraging a Belief in Determinism Increases Cheating” • Treatment group read passage arguing against free will o Then played a computer game that gave them the opportunity to cheat • Treatment group cheated more often than control group • Primitive beliefs can shape the extent that other attitudes influence behaviour Summary • Reciprocal relationship between attitudes and behaviour • Attitudes shape behaviour, but not always consistently • Contingent on… o strength and memorability o situational constraints o specificity o desire to resolve dissonance February 13, 2014 Soc Psy Lecture Compliance (Craig Zobel, 2012) • Creates feeling of dissonance • People making normal people do degrading acts • Fake police officer calls restaurant, tells them to do degrading things, they actually do it Strip Search Prank Call Scam • 2003: Strip search at McDonald’s restaurant in Hinesville, Georgia • Prank caller convinced manager to strip search a 19 year old employee suspected of drug possession • They searched her, full cavity search Obedience to Authority (PAC) • Power: the ability to influence and control the behaviour of others even against their own will • Compliance: when target’s behaviour conforms to the source’s requests • Authority: the capacity of one member to issue orders to others by invoking rights that are vested in their role o People’s roles/positions within an organization give them certain rights/obligations o These give one person authority over another with respect to certain acts and performances Milgram Experiment – Stanley Milgram, Yale 1963 • Recruited participants from range of backgrounds (age 20-50) • Assigned to either ‘teacher’ or ‘learner’ conditions o All participants actually assigned teacher condition (no real learner) • Participants told they were participating in a memory test o Told to shock learner after wrong answer • Actual research question: how many participants will comply and shock learner at highest voltage (440 volts)? BBC Replication of Experiment • 9 of 12 (75%) participants went to the end (440v) • Scientists as legitimate authority o Science as a legitimate institution for greater good • Diffusion of responsibility by participants o Deferral to expert authority reduced perceived personal responsibility Factors that Influenced Rate of Obedience • Conditions varied by Milgram in subsequent experiments: o
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