Answers to Before You Go On Questions
1. What are the three components of attitudes, according to the ABC model? The three
components of attitude, according to the ABC model, are (1) the affective component (how
we feel toward an object), (2) the behavioural component (how we behave toward an object),
and (3) the cognitive component (what we believe about an object).
2. Why do people sometimes misrepresent their attitudes? Often, people state attitudes that
are socially desirable rather than accurate. A person who privately does not trust people of a
particular ethnic background, for example, may not acknowledge having this attitude for fear
of being judged unfavourably by others.
3. How does social identity theory explain prejudice? Social identity theory emphasizes
social cognitive factors in the onset of prejudice. So it begins with social categorization, in
which a person affiliates with a particular group as a way of figuring out how to act and react
in the world. The next step is social identity, in which the person forms an identity within
that group. This leads to social comparison, in which the group member compares the group
favourably with other groups and in turn derives a sense of positive well-being from looking
at himself or herself as superior in some way.
4. What are the central and peripheral routes to persuasion? The central route to
persuasion emphasizes the content of the message, using factual information and logical
arguments to persuade. This method requires a fair amount of effort on the receiver’s part
and is more commonly used for matters of some significance (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The
peripheral route relies on more superficial information. When you respond to peripheral
appeals, you’re responding to such factors as how attractive the spokesperson is and how
amusing or engaging the message is (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Decisions based on central
routes to persuasion are more likely to last than decisions based on the peripheral route.
5. What are norms and what is their function in society? Norms are social rules about how
members of a society are expected to act. These conventions (or norms) provide order and
predictability. Some norms are explicit, or stated openly, while others are implicit—these
norms are not openly states, but we are still aware of them. You probably weren’t taught as a
child to face the front of an elevator, for instance, but when’s the last time you stepped into
an elevator where all the passengers had their backs to the doors?
6. What did Solomon Asch’s experiments on conformity reveal? Asch found that when the
responses of the confederates were incorrect, almost 75 percent of the real participants
conformed to the group norm and gave an incorrect response at least once.
7. What is the central difference between the concepts of conformity and obedience?
Obedience involves doing what someone else tells you to do or expects you to do even if you
are not sure it is the right or best thing to do. Conformity involves going along with the group in situations where there really is no single clear best answer or way to proceed—thus
forming a local social norm.
8. What is groupthink and under what conditions is it most likely to occur? Groupthink is a
form of faulty group decision making that occurs when group members strive for unanimity,
and this goal overrides their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.
There are a number of factors, or conditions, that set the stage for groupthink: (1) strong
similarity in group members’ backgrounds and ideologies, (2) high group cohesiveness, (3)
high perceived threat, (4) elevated stress, (5) insulation from outside influence, and (6) a
9. How does altruistic helping behaviour differ from egoistic helping behaviour? Altruistic
helping behaviour (altruism) is self-sacrificing behaviour carried out for the benefit of others
and not for one’s own advantage. There is a genuine concern for or acting to help others
without an expectation of compensation or reciprocation, or of another social motivation. To
be altruistic, behaviour must be motivated by concern for persons in need, without concern
for oneself. Thus, engaging in self-sacrificing behaviour to avoid a sense of guilt or donating
to charity for tax purposes would not be considered altruistic behaviour. Such acts, which are
motivated by a desire to reduce one’s own personal distress or to receive rewards, are
sometimes called egoistic helping behaviours. When we engage in helping behaviour, our
motives can be entirely altruistic, entirely egoistic, or some combination of the two.
10. How does the presence of