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Chapter 13

Psychology 1000 Chapter Notes - Chapter 13: Social Exchange Theory, Group Polarization, Realistic Conflict Theory

Course Code
PSYCH 1000
John Campbell

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Chapter 13 – Behaviour in a Social Context
Social Thinking and Perception
Attribution: Perceiving the Causes of Behaviour
Attributions – judgments about the causes of behaviour and outcomes
Fritz Heider maintained that attempts to understand behaviour involve different types of attribution
Personal attribution – people’s behaviour is caused by their characteristics
Situational attribution – aspects of the situation cause behaviour
Three types of information determine attribution we make
Consistency (is the decision made always consistent)
Distinctiveness (is the decision distinct to a situation, or often made)
Consensus (how do other people respond)
When these three are higher, the decision made is a situational attribution
Fundamental attribution error – tendency to underestimate the impact of the situation and overestimate the role of
personal factors when explaining other’s behaviour
Self-serving bias – making relatively more personal attributions for successes and more situational attributions for
Cultural influences affect attributions
Participants from India make more situational attributions, and Americans make more personal attributions
Forming and Maintaining Perceptions
Primacy effect – tendency to attach more importance to the initial information that we learn about a person
Stereotype – generalized beliefs about a group or category of people (type of schema)
Self-fulfilling prophecy – occurs when peoples erroneous expectations lead them to act toward others in a way that
brings about the expected behaviours, thereby confirming the original impression
Attitudes and Attitude Change
Attitude – a positive or negative evaluative reaction toward a stimulus
Come from conditioning, social learning, and direct experience
Three factors explain why attitude-behaviour relationship is sometimes strong and sometimes weak:
Attitudes influence behaviour more strongly when counteracting situational factors are weak
Theory of planned behaviour – intention to engage in a behaviour is strongest when we have a positive attitude
toward that behaviour, when perceptions of what others think support our attitudes, and when we believe the
behaviour is under our control
Attitudes have a greater influence on behaviour when we are aware of them and when they are strongly held
General attitudes are better at predicting general classes of behaviour, and specific attitudes are better at predicting
specific behaviours
No relation between general attitude toward religion and specific religious behaviours, but general index of religious
behaviours is correlated with general attitudes
Theory of cognitive dissonance – people strive for consistency in their cognitions
If a person had two contradicting cognitions, they experience an uncomfortable state of tension called cognitive
dissonance, and reduce it by changing or adding a cognition
It is possible to change someones attitude by inducing them to engage in counterattitudinal behaviours (behaviour
that contradicts one’s attitude)
Self-perception theory – the theory that we make inferences about our own attitudes by observing how we behave
Dissonance theory better explains the changing of attitudes after behaving in ways that contradict it
Persuasion involves a communicator who delivers a message through a channel to an audience within a surrounding
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The communicator
Communicator credibility (how believable communicator is) is key to effective persuasion
Credibility has two major components: expertise and trustworthiness
The message
More effective to present both sides of argument, and refute opposing side
More effective to present moderate argument as opposed to extreme
Fear arousal works best when message evokes moderate fear
The audience
Central route to persuasion – occurs when people think carefully about the message and are influenced because they
find arguments compelling
Peripheral route to persuasion – occurs when people do not scrutinize the message, but are influenced mostly by
other factors, such as communicator attractiveness or emotional appeal
People often follow a central route when the message is personally relevant
People with high need for cognition (enjoy analyzing issues) will follow central route
People with low self esteem, high need for social approval are more easily influenced
Social Influence
The Mere Presence of Others
Studies found that performance can be enhanced or diminished by the presence of others
Explained by the presence of others leading to heightened arousal, and then becoming more likely to perform
whatever behaviour is the dominant response to that situation
A difficult situation will lead to a dominant response of errors
A simple or well-learned situation will lead to a dominant response of enhanced performance
Social facilitation – an increased tendency to perform one’s dominant response in the mere presence of others
Social Norms
Social norms – shared expectations about how people should think, feel, and behave
Social role – a set of norms that characterizes how people in a given social position ought to behave
Role conflict occurs when the norms of different roles clash
Conformity and Obedience
Norms can only influence behaviour if people conform to them
Two types of conformity:
Informational social influence – following the opinions or behaviours of other people because we believe they have
accurate knowledge and what they are doing is “right”
Normative social influence – conformity motivated by gaining social acceptance and avoiding social rejection
Factors that affect conformity:
Group size – conformity increases to a point with increases in group size, but then levels off
Presence of a dissenter – when one of the group disagrees, conformity of another individual is greatly reduced
Minority influence is powerful if kept highly consistent over time
Factors that influence destructive obedience:
Remoteness of the victim – greater obedience when learner is out of sight
Closeness and legitimacy of the authority figure – greater obedience when the figure was close and perceived as
Cog in a wheel – obedience increases when someone else does the dirty work
Personal characteristics – personal characteristics of individuals rarely influence obedience
Various compliance techniques:
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