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Chapter 12

PSY100H1 Textbook Notes: Chapter 12- Social Psychology.docx

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Ashley Waggoner Denton

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Chapter 12: Social Psychology
- The Standford prison study demonstrated the speed at which apparently normal
university students could be transformed into the social roles they were playing
- Social psychology is concerned with how people influence other people’s thoughts,
feelings, and actions
How Do Attitudes Guide Behaviour?
- Attitude: the evaluation of objects, events or ideas
We Form Attitudes through experience and socialization
- Mere exposure effect: greater exposure to the item, and therefore greater familiarity with
it caused people to have more positive attitudes about the item
Behaviours Are Consistent with Strong Attitudes
- the ease with which a person can retrieve memories related to an attitude attitude
accessibility predicts behaviour consistent with the attitude
- explicit attitudes: attitudes that people can report
- implicit attitudes: attitudes that influence our feelings and behaviour at an unconscious
level; implicit association test (IAT) a reaction time test that can identify implicit
attitudes; measures how quickly we associate objects with positive or negative words
Discrepancies Lead to Dissonance
- cognitive dissonance: an uncomfortable mental state due to conflicts between attitudes
or between attitudes and behaviour; ex. Smoking when person knows smoking will kill
Postdecisional Dissonance
- holding positive attitudes about 2 options but having to choose one of them causes
- motivates person to focus on one school’s –the chosen school’s – positive aspects and the
other school’s negative aspects
Attitude Change
- one way to get people to change their attitudes is to change their behaviours first, using as
few incentives as possible
- giving children rewards for drawing creatively with coloured pens undermines how much
they subsequently use the pens

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Justifying Effort
- when people put themselves through pain, embarrassment, or discomfort to join a group,
they experience a great deal of dissonance. After all, they typically would not choose to
be in pain, embarrassed, or uncomfortable. Yet they made a choice. They resolve the
dissonance by inflating the importance of the group and their commitment to it. This
justification of effort helps explain why people are willing to subject themselves to
humiliating experiences such as hazing
Attitudes Can be Changed through Persuasion
- persuasion: the active and conscious effort to change attitudes through transmission of a
- elaboration likelihood model: a theory of how persuasive messages lead to attitude
o persuasion works via two routes: the central route in which people pay attention
to arguments, consider all the information, and use rational cognitive processes
leads to strong attitudes that last over time and are resistant to change
o the peripheral route in which minimally process the message leads to more-
impulsive action, as when a person decides to purchase a product because a
celebrity has endorsed it
- the cues that influence a message’s persuasiveness include the source (who delivers the
message), the content (what the message says), and the receiver (who processes the
- sources who are both attractive and credible are the most persuasive
- strong arguments that appeal to our emotions are the most persuasive
- one sided arguments work best when audience is on speaker’s side or is gullible
- with a more skeptical crowd, speakers who acknowledge both sides but argue that one is
superior tend to be more persuasive than those who completely ignore the opposing view
How Do We Form Our Impressions of Others?
- We automatically classify people into social categories, and doing so can have major
implications for how we treat them
Nonverbal Actions and Expressions Affect Our Impressions
- Nonverbal behaviour (aka body language): the facial expressions, gestures,
mannerisms, and movements by which one communicates with others
Facial Expressions
- Face communicates a great deal such as emotional state, interest, and distrust

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Body Language
- Thin slices of behaviour: people can make accurate judgments based on only a few
seconds of observation
- One important nonverbal cue is how people walk, known as gait
- Gait provides info about affective state;
- According to recent research, the extent to which body shape and body motion differed
from those of the typically male or female was the primary cue used by perceivers
We Make Attributions about Others
- Attributions: people’s causal explanations for why events or actions occur
- people prefer to think that things happen for reasons, and that therefore the can anticipate
future events
- just world hypothesis: victims must have done something to justify what happened to
Attributional Dimensions:
- personal attributions: explanations that refer to internal characteristics, such as abilities,
traits, moods, and effort
- situational attributions: explanations that refer to external events, such as the weather,
luck, accidents, or the actions of other people
Attributional Bias
- fundamental attribution error: the tendency to overemphasize personal factors and
underestimate situational factors in explaining behaviour
- actor/observer discrepancy: when people make attributions about themselves, they tend
to focus on situations rather than on their personal dispositions, an error that, in
conjunction with fundamental attribution error, leads to actor observer discrepancy; ex.
People tend to attribute their lateness to external factors, such as traffic or competing
demands, but they tend to contribute other people’s lateness to personal characteristics
such as laziness or lack of organization
- people from eastern cultures use much more info when making attributions than do
people in western cultures and they are more likely to believe that human behaviour is
the outcome of both personal and situational factors
Stereotypes are Based on Automatic Categorization
- stereotypes: cognitive schemas that allow for easy, fast processing of info about people
based on their membership in certain groups
- once they have categorized those people, they will have beliefs about them based on their
stereotypes about the particular categories
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