PSY202-031 March 9 2012
Chapter 13: Social Psychology How Others Affect Us
Identify aspects of social situations which influence the behaviour of individuals
Examine factors that influence conformity and obedience to authority
Explore prosocial behaviour and aggression
Discuss how attitudes are shaped by social pressure, and the nature of prejudice
Video: Martian Invasion!
Orson Welles Creates Mass Panic (1938)
- We dont live in isolation; we live amongst others. How does the action of others
- If a name is mentioned in lecture KNOW THIS NAME! dont need to know
- If someone tells me something do I believe them or not? Especially if its absurd.
Most people on average consider radio, or TV people to be credible.
Instinctively, if someone is going to tell us something; like the prof do we
- If you are listening to the radio and you hear something like Theres a Martian
Invasion! In a group setting we may think about answering differently.
- Orson Welles made a radio broadcast around the time of Halloween. This was
a prank phony news broadcast. He had a believable voice.
- He repeatedly said that this was an adaptation of a science story so it wasnt a
Identify the ways in which social situations influence the behaviour of individuals -
why did the hoax succeed and why are social situations so successful?
The study of how people influence others behaviour, beliefs and attitudes -
people on tv, people on the radio. Why is my general belief about things.
Attitude has a strong emotional component.
Helps us understand why many forms of social influence are so powerful they
influence groups of people.
Sociology is different, it studies how groups of people behave.
Personality psychology focuses on the individual.
Social psychology will merge the two together. Interaction between the person
and the group itself.
Why We Form Groups
Need to Belong Theory - biologically based need for interpersonal connections -
if a person is very isolated it can lead to mental health disturbances. Social
connections that are meaningful are really important they are good buffers for
our overall health.
o Even the threat of social isolation can promote unhealthy behaviour and
compromise IQ scores. undergraduates were given a personality test
and based on this test the experimenter can tell you what will happen in
your future. Half of the group who took the test were told you are going
to end up alone in life they believed it; because of social influence.
Another group was told you are prone to a lot of accidents in life.
The first group started to engage in unhealthy behaviours, like
unhealthy eating habits. They were also more likely to procrastinate on
A separate group from another study was given an IQ test; it
decreased their overall IQ score. We take for granted what good
relationships give us. When we are deprived of these relationships it hurts
o Social exclusion activates the same brain areas as physical pain. is their
biological evidence that social exclusion is painful in a physical sense.
How do we do this? Sometimes when someone isnt picked for
teams in gym class. This has a psychological effect on the person.
The ouch feeling when you hurt yourself can also be felt when
people kick you out of a team.
Corpus collusum cingulate cortex: sits ontop of the corpus
collusum; this is activated when you have that feeling about being
isolated. It tells us that social isolation can cause psychological
Gravitating to each other (to a point) Anthropologist Robin Dunbar (1993)
o 150 (approximate size of most social groups) includes relatives, cousins
and friends that you form. On average it can lead up to 150 people. This
is the maximum number we see in humans.
o Why? Because of the Size of our neocortex relative to our brain limits
how many people we can closely associated with.
Neocoretex: new outer portion of the brain. The reason why its
called this, is being we have a lot of this new tissue. We are one of
the newest creatures on the planet. The neocortex makes us think
we are powerful. In animals this portion is a lot smaller. This
helps in thinking abilities.
It allows us to handle complex relationships
Animals with a small neocortex they have a smaller number of
social interactions. Ex dolphins have friends, and close social
Evolutionary factors - social influence processes (conformity, obedience)
generally serve us well, unless accepted unquestioningly
Based on what our ancestors did right and what they did wrong,
certain traits were favored.
The ways we behave in situations are different. We have
You know what the general conformity in certain situations is.
If we dont question what we are being told it can lead us into
The Presence of Others
Social facilitation or disruption - enhancement of easy tasks, or disruption of difficult
ones, elicited by the presence of others
Example if you are running on a treadmill and the person next to
you is going really really fast you will try to copy that person.
In basketball we have things that can be used to disrupt players
from making the basket.
Attributions: Assigning Cause to Behaviour
Explain how and why our attributions about the causes of others' behaviour are
accurate in some cases but biased in others
We try to explain why people behave the way they do. The way people behave
around us influence us. We try to figure out why people do certain things.
Fundamental Attribution Error - tendency to overestimate the impact of
dispositional influences (personality, attitudes, intelligence) on other peoples
Attributing- trying to figure out why people do what they do. We
say people behave the way they do because of personalities this
means we are attributing to them.
Disposition - because shes like that it is specific to who the
person is. This is how we can explain their behaviour. There is
also situational shes not dumb, just look at the situation she is in.
you break down the situation in which the person is in.
Results in underestimation of situational influences
Attributions: Assigning Cause to Behaviour
Cultural disparity for the FAE: Asian cultures are more likely to consider situational
Differs in cultures; especially in cultures where people work in
A lot of these cultures are changing to adapt to individualistic
They tend to focus on situational factors he robbed the bank
because look at the situation he is in, his family needs money, and
etc. this is more likely to come from a person who is from a large
Evidence for the Fundamental Attribution
Error Jones & Harris (1967) Castro Study
Subjects inferred that debaters positions on Cuba reflected their actual attitudes despite
the random assignment of debaters to positions a striking example of the FAE.
Focusing on what is internal. Ex. Read an essay thats about pro-
communism or anticommunism. Either the essay you were
reading is - the person was forced to write the essay. You are to
assess their attitude.
The readers were estimating the essays attitude. The key thing to
take away from this the lines are overall in the same direction.
People will be lead to what they are reading. This is what
advertisers do- regardless of what info you already know, and
when you are exposed to certain messages over and over; you start
Having studied social psychology actually changes peoples
approach in situations.
Explain the power of our observations of others to influence our thoughts, beliefs,
Social Comparison Theory - we evaluate our beliefs, attitudes, and abilities by
comparing ourselves to others
Mass hysteria - outbreak of