CHAPTER 15: SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
Social psychology the branch of psychology that studies our social nature
how the actual, imagined, or implied presence of other influences out thoughts,
feelings, and behaviours.
The most important people in our lives shape our emotions, thoughts, and
Social cognition the processes involved in perceiving, interpreting, and
acting on social information.
Schemata and Social Cognition
All of use form impressions of others, virtually everyone we meet as well as
many we have not met and only through casual observation or the reports of
A major task of social psychology is to understand how we form these
Impression formation the way in which we integrate information about
anothers traits into a coherent sense of who the person is.
As noted by Solomon Asch more than half a century ago, our impression of
others 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 organizes and
synthesizes information about a person, place, or things.
Schemata aid us in interpreting the world. Ex: the first time you visited a
professor in his or her office, the schema that you have of your professor guided
your interactions with him or her.
Asch proposed that certain traits, called central traits, organize and
influence our understanding of other traits a person possesses to a greater
extent than do other traits.
Central traits impart meaning to other known traits and suggest the presence
of yet others traits that have yet to be revealed.
Asch experiment: he provided all participants with a list of traits that were
said to describe someone. Some participants were told that the person was also
warm and others were told that the person was also cold. Overall, those who
heard the word warm, formed positive impressions about the character of the
imaginary person than those who heard the trait cold.
The negative influence of the cold trait is stronger than the positive
influence of the warm trait.
Gender differences have also been found.
The Primacy Effect:
Primacy effect the tendency to form impressions of people based on the
www.notesolution.com first information we receive about them.
To some extent, the primacy effect reflects greater attention to trait
information presented early than to that presented late.
Webster, Richter, and Kruglanski found that the primacy effect was more
pronounced for participants who were mentally fatigued than for those who were
We develop these lists ourselves, how?
A: as we observe what a person does and says, we purposefully think about
what those behaviours reveal about his or her personal qualities.
Brown and Bassili suggested that people may generate trait-like labels from
observing a persons behavior. These labels then become automatically
associated in memory with whatever stimulus happens to have been around at
the same time.
B and B showed that trait labels from behavioural descriptions may become
associated with almost any stimulus, including inanimate ones.
Self-concept self-identity, ones knowledge, feelings, and ideas about
The self is a persons distinct individuality.
Your self-concept, then, is your self-identity how you perceive yourself and
interpret events that are relevant to defining who you are.
At the core of the self-concept is the self-schema a mental framework that
represents and synthesizes information about oneself; a cognitive structure that
organizes the knowledge, feelings, and ideas that constitute the self-concept.
The self-concept is dynamic it changes with experience.
www.notesolution.com Ex: people who had not yet recovered from the traumatic event predicted that
they would be unhappy and lonely. While people in the recovered group predicted
just the opposite: happy, self-confident, and having many friends.
Thinking of ourselves only in terms of who we are at the present does not
accurately reflect how we will think of ourselves in the future or the kind of
person we might become.
Culture and Social Psychology:
Cross-cultural psychology a branch of psychology that studies the effects
of culture on behavior.
The term culture traditionally referred to a 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. Now, definitions of
culture vary widely.
Within a broadly defined culture, we can identify subcultures based on
ethnicity, age, political beliefs, and other characteristics by which people define
Cultures differ with respect to 2 major classes of variables: biological and
Biological variables include such factors as diet, genetics, and endemic
Ecological variables include such factors as geography, climate, political
systems, population density, religion, cultural myths, and education.
Behavioural differences among people of different cultures result from
differences in biological and ecological variables.
In cross-cultural research, culture is considered to be a treatment variable
something like an independent variable. But cultures, like people, differ in many
ways, and people are born into their cultures.