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Chapter 12

PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Fundamental Attribution Error, Cognitive Dissonance, Elaboration Likelihood Model

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Dan Dolderman

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Chapter Twelve: Social Psychology
How do attitudes guide behavior?
attitudes: the evaluation of objects, events, or ideas
+ feelings, opinions, and beliefs
+ shaped by social context and play an important role in how people evaluate and interact with
other people
+ core beliefs and values that define who people are as human beings
People form attitudes through experience and socialization:
direct experience of or exposure to things provides information that shapes attitudes
+ as people encounter new objects, they explore them and learn about them
+ general: people develop negative attitudes about new objects more quickly than they develop
positive attitudes
the more a person is exposed to something, the more they tend to like it
+ the greater the familiarity with the exposure caused people to have more positive attitudes about
it – mere exposure effect
attitudes can be conditioned
+ classical conditioning: ie: when people see an attractive celebrity paired with a product, people
develop more-positive attitudes about the product. After conditioning, a formerly neutral stimulus
triggers the same attitude response as the paired object (attractive celebrity effect)
+ operant conditioning: ie: if people are rewarded with good grades each time they study, they
will develop a more positive attitude toward studying.
Attitudes shaped by socialization
+ people in our lives, media, etc lead to what people should like, how they should feel about
people who behave in certain ways, and how they should treat the environment
Behaviors are consistent with strong attitudes:
to the extent the attitudes are adaptive, they should guide behavior
+ generally: the stronger and more personally relevant the attitude, the more likely it will predict
behavior, be consistent over time, and be resistant to change
+ the more specific the attitude, the more predictive it is;; attitudes formed through direct
experience tend to predict behaviors better
attitude accessibility: the ease with which a person can retrieve memories related to an attitude
+ predicts behavior consistent with the attitude
+ easily activated attitudes are more stable, predictive of behavior, and resistant to change
attitudes can be explicit or implicit
+ explicit attitudes: attitudes that people can report → “I like bowling! :)”
+ implicit attitudes attitudes that influence our feelings and behavior at an unconscious level.
People access implicit attitudes from memory quickly, with little conscious effort or control.
A method to assess implicit attitudes is the Implicit Association Test, a reaction time test that can
identify implicit attitudes
+ measures how quickly people associate concepts or 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 behavior
+ occurs when there is a contradiction between two attitudes or between an attitude and a
+ ie: smoke when people know it will kill them
dissonance theory: it causes anxiety and tension and therefore motivates people to reduce the dis-

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attitudes and behaviors; they sometimes also rationalize or trivialize the discrepancies
holding positive attitudes about two options but having to choose one of them causes dissonance
+ person has to narrow the choice to 2/3 alternatives and then have to choose
+ post-decisional dissonance motivates people to focus on one option according to their positive
aspects and the other option's negative aspects
+ occurs with minimal cognitive processing and without awareness
Attitudes can be changed through persuasion:
a number of forces other than dissonance can conspire to change attitudes
+ persuasion: the active and conscious effort to change attitudes through the transmission of a
+ most likely to occur when people pay attention, understand, find it convincing; addition,
message must be memorable so its impact lasts over time.
+ may lead to attitude change
elaboration likelihood model: a theory of how persuasive messages lead to attitude changes
+ persuasion works via two routes → central & peripheral
+ central route: 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
+ peripheral route: people minimally process and message → more compulsive action. Ie: 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 (the person who delivers the
message), the content (what the message says), and the receiver (who processes the message)
+ sources who are both attractive and credible are most persuasive → effective because of
peripheral processing
+ credibility and persuasiveness may also be heightened when the receiver perceives the source as
similar to himself/herself
arguments in the message are also important for persuasion → strong arguments that appeal to
people's emotions are the most persuasive
+ mere exposure effect: repeating the message over and over in the hope that multiple exposures
will lead to increased persuasiveness
When people are motivated to consider information carefully, the process it via the central route,
and their attitude changes reflect cognitive elaboration
+ when people are not motivated, the process information via the peripheral route, and their
attitude changes reflect the presence/absence of shallow peripheral cues
How do we form our impressions of others?
Non-verbal actions and expressions affect our impressions:
first impressions are important
+ people make a number of quick judgments
+ how people initially feel about a new person will be determined mostly by non-verbal behaviors
+ non-verbal behavior: the facial expressions, gestures, mannerisms, and movements by which
one communicates with others. Sometimes referred as body language.
Facial expressions & eye contact.
Gait: one important non-verbal cue of how people walk
+ provides information about affective state
+ ie: people who bounce in their step = happy
+ ie: short steps while stooped over, scurrying = hostile
thin slices of behavior: people can make accurate judgments based on only a few seconds of
observations about non-verbal behavior

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We make attributions about others?
attributions: people's casual explanations for why events or actions occur
+ people are motivated to draw inferences in part by a basic need for both order and predictability
just world hypothesis: people believe that things happen for a reason; an attribution
+ ie: victims in part of a rape had done something to justify what happened to them
personal attributions: explanations that refer to internal characteristics, such as abilities, traits,
moods, and effort
+ also known as internal/dispositional attributions
+ explanations that refer to things within people
situational attributions: explanations that refer to external events, such as the weather, luck,
accidents, or the actions of other people
+ also known as external attributions
fundamental attribution error: the tendency to overemphasize personal factors and underestimate
situational factors in explaining behavior
+ when explaining other people's behavior, people tend to overemphasize the importance of
personality traits and underestimate the importance of situation
correspondence bias: emphasizing that people expect other's behaviors to correspond to their own
beliefs and personalities
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 conjugation with the
fundamental attribution error
+ ie: people tend to attribute their own lateness to external factors (ie: traffic/competing
demands), but they tend to attribute other people's lateness to personal characteristics such as
laziness/lack of organization
+ self-serving bias: people tend to attribute positive events to their dispositions and negative
events to outside forces
Stereotypes are based on automatic categorization:
stereotypes: cognitive schemas that allow for easy, fast processing of information about people
based on their membership in certain groups
+ mental shortcuts that allow for easy, fast processing of social information
+ occurs automatically and outside of people's awareness
+ are neutral and simply reflect efficient cognitive process
+ true on average
people construct and use categories to streamline their impression formation and to deal with the
limitation inherent in mental processing because people have limited mental resources = cannot
scrutinize every person they encounter
+ instead of considering each person as unique and unpredictable, people categorize others as
belonging to particular groups about which they hold knowledge in long-term memory
+ once they have categorized people according to their hairstyle/clothing (for example), they will
have beliefs about them based on their stereotypes about the particular categories
once people form stereotypes, they maintain them by a number of processes
+ as schematic structures, stereotypes guide attention toward information that confirms the
stereotypes and away from disconfirming evidence.
+ people's memories are also biased to match stereotypes → illusory correlations in which people
believe relationships exist when they do not
+ ie: a professor notices a black student doing poorly but fails to notice another black student
doing well. -___-;
when people encounter someone who does not fit a stereotype, they put the person in a special
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