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Chapter 15

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Chapter 15 -Social Psychology
Fundamental attribution error: the tendency to overemphasize personal factors and
underestimate situational factors in explaining behaviour
Social psychology: concerned with how people influence other people’s thoughts, feelings
and actions
-We tend to vastly underestimate the power of situations in shaping both our own and
other people’s behaviour
-Great deal of mental activity occurs automatically and without conscious awareness or
How do we know ourselves?
Self-concept: the full store of knowledge that people have about themselves (likely to
mention characteristics that are distinctive)
-The self includes mental representation of personal experience, thought processes,
physical body, and conscious experience. Is a UNITARY experience
Self-awareness: a state in which the sense of self is the object of attention, occurs when “I”
thinks about “me”
-Highly dependent on development of frontal lobes.
oPeople with damage to frontal lobes are minimally self-reflective. They don’t
find info about self significant. Have distortions in how they process info about
the self.
Objective self-awareness: that self awareness leads people to act in accordance with their
personal values and beliefs
Self-discrepancy theory: this awareness if differences between personal standards and
goals leads to strong emotions, such as disappointment, etc
Self-schema: the cognitive aspect of the self-concept, consisting of an integrated set of
memories, beliefs, and generalizations about the self
-Summarize past info so we can provide an answer automatically about self
-Cocktail party effect: hearing your name in a noisy room clearly. Happens because
information about self is processed deeply, and automatically
-Enhanced memory for info concerning self
-Activation of middle of frontal lobes when processing info about self. The greater the
activation of this area, the more likely you will remember item later during a surprise
memory test
Working self-concept: immediate concept of self
-Limited to the amount of personal information that can be processed cognitively at any
given time. Very limited amount. This means that situations can evoke different parts
of self - elicit different behaviors
-When considering who they are, people emphasize distinctions from others (more
likely to say you’re Canadian in Boston than in Toronto)
Interdependent self-constuals: self-concepts determined largely by social roles and
personal relationship
Independent self-construals: a view of the self as separate from others, emphasizing self-
reliance and the pursuit of personal success, depends on culture
Perceived Social Regard influences self-Esteem
Self-esteem: the evaluative aspect of the self-concept
-Depends on how others perceive them - reflected appraisal. esp important persons in
their lives
Sociometer: an internal monitor of social acceptance or rejection
Terror management theory: self-esteem protects people from the horror associated with
knowing that they will eventually die
-Reminding people of their mortality leads them to act in ways that enhance self-

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-Only weakly related to objective life outcomes, although people are happier
-Having high-self esteem can also be harmful
We use mental strategies to maintain our view of self
-Better than average effect: people almost always rate themselves as better than
average in all aspects
-Most people have positive illusions -overly favorable and unrealistic beliefs - in at least
3 domains
1) Overestimate own skills
2) Unrealistic perception of their personal control over events
3) Unrealistically optimistic about their personal futures
-How do we do this despite failure, disappointment?
Self-evaluative maintenance
-Self-esteem can be affected not only by how ppl perform but also by how relevant their
performances are to their self-concepts and how they compare to those significant to
-People feel threatened if someone close to them outperforms them on a task that is
personally relevant. If your twin brother excels at something you want to do then your
self-esteem will be damaged. If something you don’t want to do, boosts self-esteem
Social comparison
-Comparing actions, abilities and beliefs by contrasting with others
-People with high self esteem make downward comparisons while people with low self
esteem make upward comparisons. Also people see themselves as worse in the past
(use downward comparison)
Self-serving bias
-Taking personal credit for success but blaming failure on outside factors
-Discriminated groups might do this a lot and have high self-esteem.
How do attitudes guide behaviour?
Attitude: evaluation of objects, events or ideas (central to social psy)
-Can be explicit (are aware of it) or implicit (unaware)
Attitudes are shaped through socialization and experience
-People develop negative attitude about new objects more quickly than they do positive
-Mere exposure effect - liking something just because they were exposed to it many
times. E.g. people like reversed images rather than a normal photo because that’s
what they see in mirror
-Behaviors are consistent with strong attitudes, and the more specific and direct the
attitude, the more predictive of the behavior
-Attitudes formed through direct experience more predictive of behavior
-Attitude accessibility: how easily you relate memories to attitude - the higher, the
more predictive of behavior (E.g. the more quickly you recall that you like psych, the
more likely you attend lecture)
-Implicit attitudes shape behavior without our awareness - involve brain regions
involved with implicit learning
-Researchers asses implicit attitude through indirect means (behavior rather than self-
-Implicit attitudes test (IAT) measure how quickly we associate concepts with words that
are positive or negative. (reaction-time test)
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