Social psychology (compared to related disciplines)
● The scientific study of the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of individuals in social
● Certain situational circumstances that appear unimportant on the surface but that can
have great consequences for behavior, either facilitating or blocking it or guiding behavior
in a particular direction.
● People’s interpretation and inference about the stimuli or situations they confront.
● Based on the German word gestalt, meaning “form” or “figure” this approach stresses
the fact that people perceive objects not by means of some automatic registering device
but by active, usually unconscious interpretation of what the object represents as a
● A situation involving payoffs to two people, who must decide whether to “cooperate” or
“defect.” In the end, trust and cooperation lead to higher joint payoffs than mistrust and
● A knowledge structure consisting of any organized body of stored information
● Schemas that we have for people of various kinds.
● We judge individuals based on particular person schemas we havestereotypes about a
person’s nationality, gender, religion, occupation, neighborhood, or sorority.
Automatic vs. controlled processing
● People often react quickly to frightening situations so that they can take immediate
actions to save themselves from danger if necessary. The boy is handling the snake under the supervision of his teacher, but an automatic reaction is still visible. if the boy
were to come across a snake in the grass, he would probably have a stronger automatic
● The claim that the way things are is the way they should be
Independent vs. interdependent (individualistic vs. collectivistic cultures)
Independent (Individualist) cultures
● Cultures in which people tend to think of themselves as distinct social entities, tied to
each other by voluntary bonds of affection and organizational memberships but
essentially separate from other people and having attributes that exist in the absence of
any connection to others.
Interdependent (collectivistic) cultures
● Cultures in which people tend to define themselves as part of a collective, inextricably
tied to other in their group and placing less importance on individual freedom or personal
control over their lives.
● People’s tendency to be overconfident about whether they could have predicted a given
● A prediction about what will happen under particular circumstances
● The evolutionary psychologist and human behavioral ecologist Lawrence Sugiyama is
shown here, with bow and arrow, involved in a particular active form of participant
● One type of research can be conducted without ever leaving the library (or the laptop).
Using this method, researchers look at evidence found in archives of various
kindsrecord books, police reports, sports statistics, newspaper articles, and databases
containing ethnographic descriptions of people in different cultures. Surveys
● One of the most common types of study in social psychology involves simply asking
people questions. Surveys can be conducted using either interviews or written
● Taken at random from the population
● e.g., giving every student in the country and equal chance to be in the sample
● Taken from some available subgroup in the population
● e.g., students questioned as they come into the Student Union
● Research that does not involve random assignment to different situations, or conditions,
and that psychologists conduct just to see whether there is a relationship between the
● When variable 1 is assumed to cause variable 2, yet the opposite direction of causation
may be the case.
● When variable 1 does not cause variable 2 and variable 2 does not cause variable 1, but
rather some other variable exerts a causal influence on both.
● Enabling researchers to make strong inferences about how different situations or
conditions affect people’s behavior.
● A study conducted over a long period of time with the same population, which is
periodically assessed regarding a particular behavior.
● A problem that arises when the participant, rather than the investigator, selects his or her
level on each variable, bringing with this value unknown other properties that make causal
interpretation of a relationship difficult. Independent variable
● In experimental research, the variable that is manipulated; it is hypothesized to be the
cause of a particular outcome.
● In experimental research, the variable that is measured (as opposed to manipulated); it is
hypothesized to be affected by manipulation of the independent variable.
● Assigning participants in experimental research to different groups randomly, such that
they are as likely to be assigned to one condition as to another.
● A condition comparable to the experimental condition in every way except that it lacks the
one ingredient hypothesized to produce the expected effect on the dependent variable.
● Naturally occurring events or phenomena having somewhat different conditions that can
be compared with almost as much rigor as in experiments where the investigator
manipulates the conditions.
● An experiment set up in the real world, usually with participants who are not aware that
they are in a study of any kind.
● An experimental setup that closely resembles reallife situations so that results can
safely be generalized to such situations.
● In experimental research, confidence that only the manipulated variable could have
produced the results.
● In preliminary versions of an experiment, asking participants straightforwardly if they
understood the instructions, found the setup to be reasonable, and so forth. In later versions, debriefings are used to educate participants about the questions being studied.
● Science concerned with trying to understand some phenomenon in its own right, with a
view toward using that understanding to build valid theories about the nature of some
aspect of the world.
● Science concerned with solving some realworld problem of importance.
● Participants’ willingness to participate in a procedure or research study after learning all
relevant aspects about the procedure or study.
● Research in which the participants are misled about the purpose of the research or the
meaning of something that is done to them.
● Sometimes people gave very little information on which to base a judgment, but that
rarely stops them from making inferences about a person or situation. One of the most
interesting things about such impressions is how quickly we make them.
● Misperception of a group norm that results from observing people who are acting at
variance with their private beliefs out of a concern for the social consequencesactions
that reinforce the erroneous group norm.
Primacy and recency effects
● The disproportionate influence on judgment by information presented first in a body of
● The disproportionate influence on judgment by information presented last in a body of evidence.
● The influence on judgment resulting from the way information is presented, such as the
order of presentation or how it is worded.
Positive and negative framing
● How much would you pay to grow more trees?
● How much would you pay to restore what has been lost?
● Negative information tends to attract more attention and have greater psychological
impact than positive information, information framed in negative terms tends to elicit a
● People hate losing things much more than failing to have them in the first place.
Construal level theory
● Descrbie the relation between psychological distance and the extent to which people’s
thinking is abstract or concrete.
● The more distant an object is from the individual the more abstract it will be thought of,
while the opposite relation between closeness and concreteness is true as well.
● Tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses.
● People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when
they interpret in a biased way.
● “Datedriven” mental processing, in which an individual forms conclusions based on the
stimuli encountered through experience.
● “Theorydriven” mental processing, in which an individual filters and interprets new
information in light preexisting knowledge and expectations.
● Describes an organized pattern of thought or behavior ● It can also be described as a mental structure of preconceived idea, a framework
representing some aspect of the world, or a system of organizing and perceiving new
● Filing information away in memory based on what information is attended to and the initial
interpretation of the information.
● The extraction of information from memory.
● Term researchers typically use to refer to procedures that momentarily activate a
● To momentarily activates a concept and hence make it accessible. (A stimulus
presented to activate a concept)
● Below the threshold of conscious awareness
Selffulfilling prophecies (p. 134 Box 4.2)
● The tendency for people to act in ways that bring about the very thing they expect to
● Intuitive mental operations that allow us to make a variety of judgments quickly and
● The process whereby judgments of frequency or probability are based on how readily
pertinent instances come to mind.
● The process whereby judgments of likelihood are based on assessments of similarity
between individuals and group prototypes or between cause and effect.
Anchoring and adjustment (from section)
● Use when making estimates/inferences about vague, ambiguous, unfamiliar things ● Start with a reference point (Anchor) and adjust from there, often insufficiently.
● The feeling of ease associated with processing information.
● Tendency for people and organization to underestimate how long they will need to
complete a task, even when they have experience of similar tasks overrunning.
● The phenomenon of perceiving a relationship between variables (typically people, events,
or behaviors) even when no such relationship exists.
● An umbrella term used to describe the set of theoretical accounts of how people assign
causes to the events around them and the effects that people’s causal assessments
● The process by which individuals explain the causes of behavior and events
● Psychological attribute that indicates how people explain to themselves why they
experience a particular event, either positive or negative.
○ Personal: Internal vs External
○ Permanent: consistency
○ Pervasive: people may see the situation as affecting all aspects of life.
Covariation principle (Consensus, distinctiveness, consistency)
● Attribution theory in which people make causal inferences to explain why other people
and ourselves behave in a certain way.
● It is concerned with both social perception and selfperception
● Consensus: actor the same as others (high)
● Distinctiveness: actor has different response towards different situations (high) ● Consistency: actor has same response to the same situation (high)
● Describe the tendency people have to imagine alternative reality
Selfserving attributional bias
● Individual attributing their success to internal or personal factors but attributing their
failure to external or situational factors
Fundamental attribution error (FAE) and its causes
Just world hypothesis (belief in a just world)
● A person’s actions always bring morally fair and fitting consequences to theat person so
that all noble actions are eventually rewarded and all evil actions are eventually punished.
● Tendency to attribute consequences toor expect consequences as the result ofa
universal force that restores moral balance.
Introduction: What is social psychology?
● Scientific study of the way individuals think, feel, desire and behavior in social contexts.
● How we influence by and influence others
Central themes in social psychology
● Individual as the unit of analysis
● and their thoughts feelings desire/motives and behaviors
● using scientific methodology
● within social contexts ● cognition, social thinking
● perceive and judge
Social psychology vs. personality psychology
● Personality psychology focus on differences between individuals across situations.
People construct reality