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: the process involved in perceiving, interpreting, and acting on
Schemata and Social Cognition
Impression information: The way in which we integrate information about
anothers traits into a coherent sense of who the person.
o Our impressions of other people are formed by more complex rules than
just a simple sum of the characteristics that we use to describe people.
Schema: A mental framework or body of knowledge that organize and
synthesizes information about a person, place or a thing.
Central traits: personality attributes that organize and influence the
interpretation of other traits.
o Example: witty, smart, and warm- more positive than, witty, smart, and
cold- less positive
The Primary Effect
Primary Effect: the tendency to form impressions of people based on the first
information we receive about them.
o to some extent, the information we receive earlier than later has a bigger
impact on our impression.
o The primary effect was more pronounced for participants who were
mentally fatigued than those who were reactively alert.
o Trait labels from behavioral descriptions may become associated with
almost any stimulus, including inanimate ones. Ex. A firefighter eating a
banana while explaining his story. You associate a banana with bravery
Self concept: Self-identity. Ones knowledge, feelings, and ideas about oneself.
Self: A persons distinct individuality
o Dynamic changes with experience.
Self-schema: A metal framework that represents and synthesizes information
about oneself; a cognitive structure that organizes the knowledge, feelings, and
ideas that constitute the self-concept.
o A cognitive structure that organizes the knowledge, feelings, and ideas
that constitute the self-concept.
Culture and social psychology
Cross-cultural psychology: a branch of psychology that studies the effects of
culture on behavior.
o Allows for psychologists to test the generality of the results of a study
preformed with members of a particular culture. If similar studies
preformed with members of different cultures produce similar results, we can become more confident that we have discovered general principle
that applies broadly to members of our species.
Cultures differ with respect to two major classes of variables: biological and
o Biological variables include such factors as diet genetics, and endemic
o Ecological variables include such factors as geography, climate, political
systems, population density, religion, cultural myths, and education.
o Behavioral differences among people of different cultures result from
differences in biological and ecological variables.
The independent construal emphasizes the uniqueness of the self, its autonomy
from others, and self-reliance Although other people have an influence on a
persons behavior, a persons self-concept is largely define independently of
The interdependent construal emphasizes the interconnectedness of people and
the role that others play in developing an individuals self-concept. What others
think of the individual or do to the individual matters.
o Study found that students from India judge themselves more similar to
others, whereas, students from America found themselves to be
dissimilar to others.
Clarity refers to how confident people are 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 peoples
Disposition versus Situation
A primary classification that we make concerning the causes of a persons behavior
is the relative importance of situational (external) or dispositional (internal)
o External factors: people, events, and other stimuli in an individuals
environment that can affect his or her thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and
o Internal factors: An individuals traits, needs, and intentions, which can
affect his or her thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors.
One of the tasks of socialization is to learn what behaviors are
expected in various kinds of situations. Once we learn that in a
certain situation most people act in a specific way (example, greeting
people is done in a specific way), then we develop a schemata for
how we expect people to act in those situations.
If a person does not act in a certain way that we normally would act
(for example holding the door open) then we associate the person
with some negative personal characteristics (internal causes)
Kellys Theory of Attribution Suggested that we attribute the behavior of other people to external (situational)
or internal (personal) causes on the basis of thee types of information:
1) Consensual behavior : behavior that is shared by many people;
behaviors that is similar from one person to the next. To the extent
that people engage in the same behavior, their behavior is consensual.
Normally attributed to external causes.
2) Distinctiveness: the extent to which a person behaves differently
toward different people, events, or other stimuli.
Behaviors that are distinctively associated with a particular
situation are attributed to that external cause.
Example is if you have never heard Bill praise a club as much
as he has the new one. In this case, you would find that Bills
praise for the new club to reflect the quality of the club itself
3) Consistency: the extent to which a persons behavior is consistent
across time toward another person, an event, or a stimulus.
Consistency must be high in order to support both internal
and external attributions.
The Fundamental Attribution Error
Fundamental Attribution Error: The tendency to overestimate the significance
of internal factors and underestimate the significance of