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Chapter 16

PSY100Y5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 16: Fritz Heider, Casual Sex, Solomon Asch

Course Code
Ayesha Khan

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Chapter 16
10:38 PM
Social psychology - study of attitudes
1. Person perception
2. Attribution processes
3. Interpersonal attraction
4. Attitudes
5. Conformity and obedience
6. Behaviour in groups
Solomon Asch - demonstrated importance of central traits on the impressions we form of others
Person perception - the process of forming impressions of others
Effects of physical appearance
o People ascribe desirable personality characteristics to those who look good & they grab
attention/ hold on to attention much longer than people that are less attractive
o Attractive people were also expected with better/ successful lives
o There's a little correlation b/w attractiveness and personality traits
Entertainment media plays a role
o Bias (good-looking individuals are more competent ) pays off for them b/c they tend to
secure better jobs & ear higher salaries
o Those with baby-faced features are viewed to be more honest and trustworthy, relatively
warm, submissive, helpless, naïve
o Judgements of people's face are important in terms of looking at competence for being a
political candidate
o It only takes a blink of an eye (1/10 of a second) to make inferences based on facial features
Cognitive schemas
o Social schemas - organized clusters of ideas about categories of social events and people
..influence the process of person perception
o ...widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their membership
in a particular group - commonly based on:
occupational group
o ...a cognitive process that is automatic, saves time, but is inaccurate (it's when people think
in terms of slanted probabilities)
o Word, Zanna, Cooper - 1st study: white undergrad males had to interview black or white
applicant (confederates)
When applicant was black, interviewee adopted a nonimmediate style(distant and
made speech errors)
When applicant was white, interview adopted an immediate style (more eye contact,
sits closer)
o 2nd study: students who had been interviewed in nonimmediate style seemed more anxious
& didn't perform that good
o The study was designed to show the operation of self-fulfilling prophecy (if you believe
something about a group, you may behave to bring about those characteristics)

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Subjectivity and Bias in Person Perception
o People see what they expect to see & overestimate how often they see it (illusory
correlation) - this contributes to stereotyping
o ...can also be an underestimation of disconfirmation
o Memory processes contribute to confirmatory biases in person perception (memory selects
only what fits or is consistent with people's schemas/ stereotypes)
o Why is there bias in perception?
...adaptive in humans' ancestral environment (ex: attractiveness was associated with
reproductive potential/ health)
o Tendency for automatic categorization?
Programmed by evolution to classify people as members of an ingroup (one that
belongs to or identify with), or an outgroup (one that does NOT belong to or identify
Outgroup - viewed with negative stereotypes so that they are moved out of our
domain of empathy & we feel justified in discriminating against them
Attribution processes: explaining behaviour
Our search for explanation often ends with an explanation that puts our own action in the best
possible light
Attributions - inferences that people draw about the causes of events, others' behaviour & their
own behaviour
Internal vs. External Attributions
o Fritz Heider - people tend to locate the cause of behaviour either within a person or outside
a person
o Internal attributions (personal factors - disposition, traits, abilities, feelings)
o External attributions (environmental factors - situational demands, constraints)
Attributions for Success and Failure
o ...focuses on stability of the causes underlying behaviour - stable(permanent)/ unstable
Internal-stable (ability/ intelligence)
Internal-unstable (effort/ mood/ fatigue)
External-stable (task difficulty)
External-unstable (luck/ chance/ opportunity)
Bias in Attribution - represent guesswork about the causes of events and are bias
o Actor-observer bias
Fundamental attribution error - observers' bias in favour of internal attributions in
explaining behaviour
Reflect personal qualities (many people feel that few situations are so coercive
that they negate all freedom of choice)
...situational pressures(this may not be readily apparent to an observer &
requires more thought/ effort… actors are more likely to locate cause of
behaviour in the situation)
In general, actors favour external attributions for their behaviour, whereas observers
are more likely to explain the same behaviour with internal attributions
o Defensive attribution - tendency to blame victims for their misfortune, so that one feels less
likely to be victimized in a similar way
Contribution of hindsight bias
Belief in a just world theory - to restore the belief that the world a just place, people
see victims as deserving their consequences

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Consequences of the bias: victims are seen in negative light & undesirable traits are
unfairly attributed
o Self-serving bias - attempt to explain success and failure
...the tendency to attribute one's successes to personal factors and one's failure to
situational factors
In explaining failure = same as actor-observer bias
Culture and Attributional Tendencies
o Individualism (putting personal goals ahead of group goals & defining one's identity in terms
of personal attributes rather than group memberships) vs. collectivism (putting group goals
ahead of personal goals & defining one's identity in terms of groups one belongs to) - both
influence attributional tendencies & other aspects of social behaviour
North American and
European cultures
people are viewed as
autonomous individuals
Western societies: self-
serving bias is more
prevalent (emphasis on high
self-esteem & competition)
Asian, African, Latin American cultures
less prone to fundamental attribution error
obedience & interdependence reflects adherence
to group norms
Japanese, Chinese, Nepalese: self-effacing bias
(emphasis of their attribution to the success of
others/ when they fail, they tend to be more self-
critical/ more likely to accept responsibility for
Close Relationships: Liking and Loving
Key Factors in Attraction
o Physical Attractiveness - key determinant of romantic attraction
Attractive people enjoy greater mating success
More important for females
Matching hypothesis - males and females of approximately equal physical
attractiveness are likely to select each other as partners
o Similarity effects
"birds of a feather flock together" rather than "opposites attract"
Similarity is seen in married couples, friends, & romantic couples(similarity in
personality is modest)
Study by Donn Byrne - Attitude similarity does cause attraction & attraction can foster
similarity (attitude alignment)
o Reciprocity effects
Flattery will get you somewhere
Reciprocity - liking those who show that they like you
Reciprocating attraction results in self-enhancement effect (you help them feel good
about themselves) or self-verification (they seek feedback that matches and supports
their self-concepts)
o Romantic ideals
More closely to match ideals, more satisfied with relationship (in early stages of dating
& stable long-term relationships)
The size of discrepancy b/w ideals and perceptions predicts if a dating relationship will
continue or dissolve
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