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PSYA02H3 (932)
Chapter 15

Chapter 15

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Chapter 15 – Social Psychology - Social psychology: the branch of psychology that studies our social nature – how the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others influences our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors Social Cognition - Social cognition: processes involved in perceiving, interpreting, and acting on social information - Schemata and Social Cognition - Impression formation: the way in which we integrate information about another’s traits into a coherent sense of who the person is - Schema o Mental framework or body of knowledge that organizes and synthesizes information about a person, place, or thing o Aids us in interpreting the world - Central Traits o Personality attributes that organize and influence the interpretation of other traits o Impart meaning to other known traits and suggest the presence of yet other traits that have yet to be discovered - The Primacy Effect o The tendency to form impressions of people based on the first information we receive about them o Reflects greater attention to trait information presented early than to that presented late o More pronounced for participants who were mentally fatigued than for those who were relatively alert o People may generate trait like labels from observing a person’s behavior – Brown & Bassili - The Self - Self-concept: self-identity; one’s knowledge, feelings, and ideas about oneself o How you perceive yourself and interpret events that are relevant to defining who you are - Self: a person’s distinct individuality - Self-schema: a mental framework that represents and synthesizes information about yourself o Cognitive structure that organizes the knowledge, feelings, and ideas that constitute the self-concept - Self-concept is dynamic; it changes with experience - Culture and Social Psychology - Cross-cultural psychology: studies effects of culture on behavior - Culture – group of people who live together in a common environment, who share customs and religious beliefs and practices, and who often resemble each other genetically - Cultures differ with respect to 2 major classes of variables – biological and ecological - Biological variables – diet, genetics, and endemic diseases - Ecological variables – geography, climate, political systems, population density, religion, cultural myths, and education - Behavioral differences result from differences in biological and ecological variables - Construe – interpret something or to explain its meaning - Independent construal – emphasizes the uniqueness of the self, its autonomy from others, and self-reliance - Interdependent construal – emphasizes that interconnectedness of people and the role that others play in developing an individual’s self-concept - Clarity – how confident people re that they possess particular attributes, how sharply defined they believe those attributes are, and how internally and temporally consistent they think their attributes are - Attribution - The process by which people infer the causes of other people’s behavior - Disposition vs. Situation o The primary classification that we make concerning the causes of a person’s behavior is the relative importance of situational (external) and dispositional (internal) factors o External factors: people, events, and other stimuli in an individual’s environment that can affect his or her thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors o Internal factors: an individual’s traits, needs, and intentions, which can affect his or her thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors - Kelley’s Theory of Attribution o We attribute the behavior of other people to external (situational) or internal (personal) causes on the bases of 3 types of information: consensus, distinctiveness, and consistency o Consensual behavior: behavior that is shared by many people; behavior that is similar from one person to the next. To the extent that people engage in the same behavior, their behavior is consensual o Distinctiveness: the extent to which a person behaves differently toward different people, events, or other stimuli o Consistency: the extent to which a person’s behavior is consistent across time toward another person, an event, or stimulus - Attributional Biases - The Fundamental Attribution Error o When attributing an actor’s behavior to possible causes, an observer tends to overestimate the significance of dispositional factors and underestimate the significance of situational factors o People seem to prefer internal/ dispositional explanations to external/situational explanations o Belief in a just world: the belief that people get what they deserve in life; a fundamental attribution error  Victims are constantly blamed for their misfortunes so that society can maintain a sense of justice and avoid having to deal with the difficult underlying causes of the situations o Actor-observer effect: the tendency to attribute one’s own behavior to external factors but others’ behavior to internal factors  When trying to explain our own behavior, we are much more likely to attribute it to characteristics of the situation than to our own personal characteristics o Self-serving bias: then tendency to attribute our accomplishments and successes to internal causes and our failures and mistakes to external causes - False Consensus o The tendency of a person to perceive his or her own response as a representative of a general consensus - Attribution, Heuristics, and Social Cognition - The Representativeness Heuristic o A general rule for decision making by which people classify a person, place, or thing into the category to which it appears to be the most similar o Based on our ability to categorize information o Base-rate fallacy: the failure to consider the likelihood that a person, place, or thing is a member of a particular category on the basis of mathematical probabilities - The Availability Heuristic o A general rule for decision making by which a person judges the likelihood or importance of an event by the ease with which examples of that event come to mind  The things that we are able to think of most easily are more important and occur more frequently than things that are difficult to imagine  Priming – variables can affect the availability of an event or a concept and thus increase its effect on our decision making  Personal encounters tend to have an especially strong effect on our decision making - Social Cognition and Neuroscience - Seeks the neurophysiological substrates for social psychological concepts and theories, including attribution, stereotyping, prejudice, attitudes, cognitive dissonance, and interpersonal attraction - Mirror neurons constitute the substrate for the child’s acquisition of a theory of mind - Theory of mind – child learns to discriminate others’ intentions and their cognitive states more generally - Joint attention – social cognition begins to develop as the anterior and posterior attention systems become integrated so as to allow the child to monitor her or his own attention and that of others Attitudes and Their Formation - Attitude: an evaluation of persons, places and things - Formation of Attitudes - Attitudes are generally represented as having 3 components o Affect, cognition, and behavior - Affective component consists of the kinds of feelings that a particular topic arouses - Cognitive component consists of a set of beliefs about a topic - Behavioral component consists of a tendency to act in a particular way with respect to a particular topic - Affective Components of Attitudes o Can be very strong and persuasive o Direct classical conditioning – straightforward; after a few bad experiences with something or someone, you tend to dislike/fear it or them when hearing them or something about them, or seeing them o Vicarious classical conditioning – people are skilled at detecting even subtle signs of fear, hatred, and other negative emotional states in other people, especially when they know them well  Plays a big role in transmitting parent’s attitudes to their children o Mere exposure effect: the formation of a positive attitude toward a person, place, or thing based solely on repeated exposure to that person, place, or thing  Effect of mere exposure is limited to initially neutral stimuli - Cognitive Components of Attitude o Include conscious beliefs o We acquire most beliefs about a particular topic quite directly: we hear or read a fact or opinion, or other people reinforce our statements expressing a particular attitude - Behavioral Components of Attitudes o People do not always behave as their expressed attitudes and beliefs would lead us to expect o More recent research indicates that there is relation between attitudes and behavior but that the relation is influenced by several factors o Degree of Specificity  Behaviors, unlike attitudes, are specific events  As the attitude being measured becomes more specific, the person’s behavior becomes more predictable o Motivational Relevance  Expressing a particular attitude toward a topic takes less effort than demonstrating that commitment with a time-consuming behavior  ‘talk is cheap’ o Accessibility  Whether the attitude is activated in the context where behavioral consistency is an issue  If you have an negative attitude towards something but it is not activated, it is unlikely that your behavior will be consistent with your attitude o Constraints on Behavior  Existing circumstances also produce discrepancies between attitudes and behaviors  We cannot predict behavior without additional information - Attitude Change and Persuasion - Two aspects of the persuasion process have received special attention: the source of the message and the message itself - Messages tend to be more persuasive if the source is credible; source credibility is high when the source is perceived as knowledgeable and is trusted to communicate this knowledge accurately - Messages seem to have more of an impact when the source is attractive - Elaboration likelihood model: a model that explains the effectiveness of persuasion. The central route requires the person to think critically about an argument and the peripheral route entails the association of the argument with something positive - Cognitive Dissonance - The theory that changes in attitude can be motivated by an unpleasant state of tension caused by a disparity between a person’s beliefs or attitudes and his or her behavior - Important source of human motivation is dissonance reduction - Dissonance reduction – the aversive state of dissonance a person to reduce it. Achieved by: o Reducing the importance of one of the dissonant elements o Adding consonant elements o Changing one of the dissonant elements - Induced Compliance o Cognitive dissonance theoretically occurs when a person’s behavior is inconsistent with his or her beliefs or knowledge o Compliance: engaging in a particular behavior at another person’s request; can cause a change in attitudes - Arousal and Attitude Change o Dissonance reduction is motivated by an aversive drive - Attitudes and Expenditures o We have a tendency to value an item more if it costs us something in time, effort, or other r
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