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Chapter 15

CHAPTER 15.doc

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

CHAPTER 15 Social PsychologySocial psychology is the field of psychology that studies our social natureSOCIAL COGNITIONUnderstanding social behaviour requires considerable attention to a persons environment both physical and social Sizing up a social situation depends on many cognitive processes concept formation skills and sensoryperceptual abilities Social psychologists are applying our knowledge of basic psychological process to understand social cognition how people attend to perceive interpret and respond to the social worldSchemata and Social CognitionPsychologists study impression formation the way in which we integrate information about anothers traits into a coherent sense of who the person isoSchemaThis is a central theme of cognitive psychology and is a mental framework or body of knowledge that organizes and synthesizes information about a person place or thing They aid us in interpreting the worldoCentral TraitsAsch 1946 proposed that certain traits central traits organize and influence our understanding of other traits a person possesses to a greater extent than the other traits They impart meaning to other known traits and suggest the presence of yet other traits that have yet to be revealed Read about experiment Recent work suggests that negative influences are stronger than positive influences Negative information might be more discrepant and salient in the context of generally positive impression than just another piece of positive information about the person would beoThe Primacy EffectTo determine whether first impressions might overpower later impressions Asch presented one of the following lists of words to each of two groups of peopleIntelligent industrious impulsive critical stubborn enviousEnvious stubborn critical impulsive industrious intelligentThese lists are the same but in reverse order however the people presented with the first list thought of a positive personality while the people with the second list thought of a negative personality This tendency to form an impression of a person based on the initial information we learn about him or her is called the primacy effect To some extent this effect seems to reflect greater attention to trait information presented early than to that presented late In real life we dont get lists like these instead we observe a persons actions and purposefully think about what those behaviours reveal about his or her personal qualitiesThe SelfThere are many ways one could potentially describe ones self all of which reflect selfconceptyour knowledge feelings and ideas about yourself The self is a persons distinct individualityhow you perceive yourself andinterpret events that are relevant to defining who you are At the core of theselfschema a mental framework that represents and synthesizes information about oneself It is a cognitive structure that organizes the knowledge feelings and ideas that constitute selfconcept Selfconcept is dynamic it changes with experienceCulture obviously must play a powerful role in individual and social development Identifying the complex interchange between biological familial social and cultural influences on self is a daunting challenge Markus and Kitayama have conceptualized two construals of the self that reflect such cultural differences the independent construal emphasizes the uniqueness of the self and interdependent construal emphasizes the interconnectedness of people and the role that others play in developing an individuals selfconcept Read for further understandingAttributionIf we had to pay careful attention to every act we would be immobilized in thought Instead we use schemata that often lead us to the correct conclusion The process by which people infer the causes of other peoples behaviour is called attributionoDisposition versus Situation the primary classification that we make concerning the causes of a persons behaviour is the relative importance of situational external and dispositional internal factors External factors are stimuli in the physical and social environments Internal factors are a persons traits needs and intentions One of the tasks of socialization is to learn what behaviours are expected in various kinds of situationsoKelleys Theory of Attribution Kelley suggested that we attribute the behaviour of other people to external or internal causes on the basis of three types of information consensus distinctiveness and consistencyConsensual behaviour is a behaviour enacted in common by a large number of people in a particular situation usually external eg Johnny Boy praises Sony and many people also praise Sony high consensusthen you may understand that Johnny Boys praise as caused by quality of the brandDistinctivenessthe extent to which a person performs a particular behaviour only during a particular type of event or toward a particular person or thing external cause eg Raul is always mean to all guys but all of a sudden hes nice to this one fellow maybe because he likes him I dont knowConsistency informationwhether a persons behaviour occurs reliably over time Consistency must be high in order to support both internal and external attributions The more consistent behaviour is the easier it is to determine a persons characterAttributional BiasesoThe Fundamental Attribution ErrorWhen attributing a behaviour to possible causes an observer tends to overestimate the significance of dispositional factors an underestimate the significance of situational factorsfundamental attribution error
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