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Chapter 13

Psychology 1000 Chapter 13: Chapter 13 - Social Psychology


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Professor
Leslie Janes
Chapter
13

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Chapter 13 - Social Psychology
Attribution: Perceiving the Causes of Behaviour
- Judgements about the causes of our own and other people’s behaviour and outcomes
Affect our behaviour and emotions
Personal versus Situational Attributes
- Personal (internal) attributions – infer that people’s behaviour is caused by their characteristics
Situational attributions – infer that aspects of the situation cause behaviour
Types of information determine the attribution we make:
- Consistency – is the response the same over time (will we get the same response from someone 2
weeks later)
- Distinctiveness – ex. Does someone hate all courses, or just this one in particular (high distinct =
particular course)
- Consensus – do other people agree with that person (if yes, high consensus)
- When these 3 are high, we are likely to make a situational attribution
- When one is high and others low, we are likely to make a personal attribution
Attributional Biases
- Fundamental attribution error – underestimating impact of situation and overestimate the role of
personal factors when explaining other people’s behaviour
Applies to how we perceive other people’s behaviour rather than our own
- Ex. The slow driver ahead of us is a moron and the fast driver trying to pass us is a maniac but
- we don’t think of ourselves like this, mainly because we have more info about the present situation
when making judgements about ourselves (ex. Driving slow to follow unfamiliar directions)
- Also because of figure-ground relation – when we watch other people behave they are the “figure” but
we can’t watch ourselves, we are the “background”... until we watch ourselves on videotape
When it comes to explaining our own behaviour, we tend to protect our self-esteem by displaying a
self-serving bias
Making relatively more personal attributions for successes and more situational attributions for failures
- Ex. Winning – we worked hard played good D, but losing – ump blew the game for us
Depressed people usually take too little credit for successes and too much credit for failures
Culture and Attribution
- The same underlying psychological principle – link between holistic thinking and beliefs about
causality – seems to account for info-seeking differences between cultures as well as among individuals
within each culture
Stereotypes and Schemas: Seeing What We Expect to See
- Schemas are mental representations of objects or categories of objects readiness to perceive the world
in a particular way, powerfully shapes how we interpret a stimulus
- Stereotype – generalized belief about a group or category of people
Self Fulfilling Prophecies: Creating What We Expect to See
- Self-fulfilling prophecies – occurs without conscious awareness, when people’s mistaken expectations
lead them to act towards others in a way that brings out the expected behaviours, thus confirming the
original impression
- Expectations affect behaviour toward others, causing expected behaviours that confirm expectations
- Ex. We might behave a little differently with someone without knowing it, which makes them
unwilling to talk to you, with confirms your false initial impression that they are shy
Attitudes
- Positive or negative evaluation reaction toward a stimulus (person, event, etc.)
-Do Our Attitudes Influence Our Behaviour

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- People’s attitudes can predict behaviour, affect and cognitions
- 3 factors explain why attitude-behaviour relationship is strong sometimes and weaker sometimes
- 1) Attitudes influence behaviour more strongly when counteracting situational factors are
weak
- Theory of planned behaviour – we are more likely to engage in a certain behaviour
when we have a positive attitude towards it, when subjective norms (our perception
of what other people think we should do) supports our attitudes, and when we believe
that the behaviour is under control
- 2) attitudes have a greater influence on behaviour when we are aware of them and when they
are strongly held
- Attitude-behaviour relationship increases when people think consciously about their
behaviours before acting
- Relationship is also stronger when they are formed through personal experiences
rather than second hand
- 3) general attitudes are better at predicting general classes of behaviour, and specific attitudes are better
at predicting specific behaviours
- Does Our Behaviour Influence Our Attitudes
- We can also develop attitudes that are consistent with the way we behave
Cognitive Dissonance
- Theory of cognitive dissonance – people strive for consistency in their cognitions
- When two or more cognitions contradict each other, the person experiences an uncomfortable state of
tensions called cognitive dissonance
- To relieve this tension, and restore state of cognitive consistency, people will change one of their
cognitions or add a new one
-Counterattitudinal behaviour
– behaviour that is inconsistent with attitude, produces dissonance only if
- we perceive that our actions were freely chosen rather than coerced
- Dissonance is maximized when behaviour threatens our sense of self worth or produces negative
consequences that were foreseeable
- Dissonance doesn’t always lead to attitude change
- You can reduce dissonance by rationalizing that their attitude or behaviour wasn’t important by
external justification
- Attitude NOT produced by cognitive dissonance
- Instead, we observe how we acted, and infer how we must have felt to have behaved in this fashion
- This theory along with cognitive dissonance predict that counterattitudinal behaviour WILL produce
attitude change
- Difference: dissonance theory assumes we experience arousal when we engage in counterattitudinal
behaviour (yes this happens sometimes)
-Effort Justification
–if we sacrifice for something, we want to believe that it is worth it
-Postdecisional dissonance
–After making a decision, we experience dissonance
Persuasion
- Involves communicator, who delivers a message through a channel to an audience within a surrounding
context
-The communicator
- Communicator credibility – how believable the communicator is – is often that key to
effective persuasion
- Credibility has 2 components:
- Expertise
- Trustworthiness
- Most effective persuader is one who is an expert and who presents truth in unbiased manner, also one
who advocates a point contrary to his or her own self interest
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