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Final

PS102 Study Guide - Final Guide: Social Cognition, Cognitive Dissonance, Fire Hydrant


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PS102
Professor
Joanne Lee
Study Guide
Final

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Chapter 13 Social Psychology
Social Psychology: area of psychology that seeks to understand, explain & predict how people’s
thoughts, feelings & behaviours are influenced by the actual, imagined presence of others
Social Cognition: the way in which people perceive & interpret themselves & others
Social Cognition: Attitudes
Attitudes: fairly stable & enduring (within individuals) evaluations of things & people
According to ABC Models of Attitudes, attitudes have 3 components:
o The affective component - how we feel toward an object
o The behavioural component how we behave towards an object
o The cognitive component what we believe about an object
Ex. Before September 11th many
North Americans felt secure and
safe from terrorism (affective
component), went to work each
day confident that terrorism
would not touch their lives
(behavioural component), and
believed that they were safe
(cognitive component)
Attitudes
- There are many factors that play a role in shaping an individual’s beliefs
- Parents play a major role in shaping children’s beliefs & opinions about things & people
- Children are socialized when they acquire beliefs & behavior considered desirable or
appropriate by the family to which they belong
- As children mature, their peers, their teachers, and the media also begin to significantly
influence their attitudes
- Children observe their classmates and take note of the rewards and punishments those
students experience based on their behaviours
o Ex. If a child gets punished for making racist remarks then they will be less likely
inclined to do so themselves
How Do Attitudes Change?
Addition to outside resources, we ourselves are key to shaping beliefs & attitude changes
Self-generated thought can have an important impact on our attitudes
o Research shows that just thinking about something makes it more significant and
important to a person explains why attitudes become more extreme over time
even when there is no exposure to outside info mere thought effect
o The more people have more time to think about something, they generate more
attitude consistent thoughts and these thoughts serve to /polarize differentiate
(make more extreme) the attitude associated with them
o Clarkson argues that polarization of an existing is not just due to additional
thought people become more confident in their attitudes and thoughts as they
marshal more attitude consistent thought
Festinger and Carlsmith experiment:
They demonstrated that when we are subtly manipulated into doing something contrary to
our private attitudes, we often change our attitude to match the statement/action
o They had participants engage in a number of repetitive and boring tasks
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Chapter 13 Social Psychology
o After an hour the participants were told a new group would be coming in
o Were told to tell the new group that tasks they were performing were “fun”
o All the new individuals were confederates- collaborators
o Despite finding tasks boring, participants told confederates that the tasks were fun
o Prior to meeting the new students the confederates some participants were
paid $1 ($8 today) and $20 ($160 today)
o Many of participants paid $ 1 reported the tasks to be most enjoyable
o Those who had been paid $20 were less likely to report the tasks as enjoyable
Cognitive Dissonance Theory:
- Festinger proposed that when individuals are faced with contradictory beliefs or believes
that contradictory behaviour, they experience a state of emotional discomfort or cognitive
dissonance which we try to eliminate by modifying our beliefs
o The conflict between the participants initial attitudes about their tasks and their
later behavior resulted in cognitive dissonance motivated them to change their
attitudes about the tasks in positive directions
o Participants in the $20 condition experienced less dissonance because they had
sufficient justification for their behaviour experienced little to no discrepancies
between attitudes and behaviours
o In contrast the participants that received only $1 received insufficient justification
will try to reduce the uncomfortable feelings associated with dissonance by
modifying their beliefs about the tasks
o Cognitive dissonance predicts that we would ignore the information that
contradicts our beliefs
- Using fMRI examined decision-making phase concluded that making decisions lead to:
o Increased activity in areas of the frontal and parietal lobes,
o Increased activity in subcortical structures such as the striatum,
o Decreased activity in anterior insula (important for emotions & consciousness)
- Theory plays in role when we behave in ways that are strikingly out of character
The Self-Perception Alternative
- Developed by Daryl Bem
- Sometimes attitudes are formed and changed without internal discomfort
o E.g. You are alert but decide you are tired after yawning- not because of internal
conflict but because the yawn was informative
- Theory argues that we simply infer our attitudes from our behaviors
o Minimizes role of emotional discomfort and suggests that when we are uncertain
of our attitudes we infer what our attitudes are by inferring our behaviours
- Argued that the participants that were paid $1 would not have experienced tension but
would have instead looked at their behaviour & would not have lied for the $1 therefore
they must have enjoyed themselves
- This theory may be at play in situations where we behave only slightly out of
character/where we are not clear to begin with
Do Attitudes Influence Behavior?
The attitudes people express are not necessarily related to how they actually behave
o Ex. In 1930s, Richard LaPiere had a Chinese couple travel visit over 250 hotels
they received mostly above-average service even though 90% indicated that
they would not serve Chinese guests
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Chapter 13 Social Psychology
Various factors affect the extent to which attitudes will predict behaviors including:
o Attitude specificity: The more specific an attitude, the more likely it is to predict
behavior e.g. If someone loves Katy Perry they are more likely to download
the album on the first day of release
o Attitude strength: Stronger attitudes predict behavior more accurately than weak
or vague attitudes e.g. A person is more likely to join a gay rights demonstration
if they are passionate about the issue than those who feel it’s a general issue
Are People Honest About Their Attitudes?
- People tend to misrepresent their attitudes why?
The Social Desirability Factor:
- People state attitudes that are socially desirable rather than accurate
o Ex. People who are secretly racists would never express their opinions in fear of
being judged unfavorably by others
- To eliminate this, some psychologists employ the bogus pipeline technique:
o Experimenters connect participants to a polygraph to reduce chances of lying
Implicit Attitudes:
- People are not always aware of their true attitudes
o Ex. Employers may believe that all applicants regardless of ethnic background
deserve a fair interview process, however they may be prejudiced unconsciously
because they are not of the same background
- When attitudes such as these lie below the level of conscious awareness, they are
called implicit attitudes
- To get implicit attitudes, they can be measures using the implicit attitude test:
1. A person is exposed to 2 broad categories- ex. “cat” or dog” then shown
pictures of objects associated ex. Fire hydrant or litterbox the person would
then choose if it was more cat or dog related how fast the decisions are made
is measured by reaction time (pressing right or left buttons)
2. The person is asked to complete a different task in which they must categorize
words as either unpleasant to pleasant (these words are obvious like “poison” and
happiness”) how fast the decisions are made is measured by reaction time
(pressing right or left buttons)
3. The categories are combined in a third task combining, for example, dog and
pleasant and cat and unpleasant The person is asked to identify a series of
words as either more dog/pleasant or more cat/unpleasant
4. The categories are then reversed to be cat/pleasant and dog/unpleasant
right/left button pressed is used and reaction time is measured Assumption: if
a person likes a dog better than cats, the reaction time to identify pleasant words
during dog/pleasant combination should be shorter because the association with
pleasant things and dogs is stronger
- Caucasians Americans who characterize themselves as not prejudiced have quicker
reactions towards the Caucasian/pleasant association and African American/unpleasant
identifications than the Caucasian/unpleasant and African American/pleasant
- Researchers have used IAT to detect bias against elderly people and women
- Bertram Gawronski found ways to reduce implicit & explicit components of prejudiced
beliefs and concluded that:
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