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Chapter 7

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Western University
Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

101 CHAPTER 7 SOCIAL THINKING AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE LEARNING OBJECTIVES Forming Impressions of Others (APA Goals 1, 4) • Cite the five sources of information people use to form impressions of others. • Understand the key differences between snap judgments and systematic judgments. • Define attributions and explain when people are likely to make them. • Describe two expectancies that can distort observers’ perceptions. • Recognize four important cognitive distortions and how they operate. • Identify some ways in which perceptions of others are efficient, selective, and consistent. The Problem of Prejudice (APA Goals 4, 8) • Explain how “old-fashioned” and modern discrimination differ. • Understand how authoritarianism and cognitive distortions can contribute to prejudice. • Clarify how intergroup competition and threats to social identity can foster prejudice. • Describe the operation of several strategies for reducing prejudice. The Power of Persuasion (APA Goals 4, 7) • Cite the key elements in the persuasion process. • Describe several source factors that influence persuasion. • Discuss the evidence on one-sided versus two-sided messages and the value of arousing fear or positive feelings in persuasion. • Identify several receiver factors that influence persuasion. • Explain how the two cognitive routes to persuasion operate. The Power of Social Pressure (APA Goal 1) • Summarize what Asch discovered about conformity. • Discuss the difference between normative and informational influences on conformity. • Identify some conformity pressures in everyday life and how people can resist them. • Describe Milgram’s research on obedience to authority. • Cite an important factor in resisting inappropriate demands of authority figures. APPLICATION Seeing Through Compliance Tactics (APA Goals 3, 9) • Describe two compliance strategies based on the principles of consistency. • Describe some compliance strategies based on the principle of reciprocity. • Discuss how the principle of scarcity can increase a person’s desire for something. 102 CHAPTER 7 CHAPTER OUTLINE I. Forming Impressions A. Key sources of information 1. Appearance 2. Verbal behavior 3. Actions 4. Nonverbal messages 5. Situations B. Snap judgments versus systematic judgments 1. Snap judgments are those that are made quickly and based on only a few bits of information and preconceptions; they may not be accurate 2. Systematic judgments involve taking time to observe the person in a variety of situations and to compare the person’s behavior with that of others C. Attributions are inferences that people draw about the causes of their own behavior, others' behavior, and events 1. Three key dimensions of attributions a. Internal/external b. Stable/unstable c. Controllability/uncontrollability 2. Types of attributions people make about others can have major impact on social interactions 3. People are selective about making attributions; most likely to make them in specific cases a When others behave in unexpected or negative ways b. When events are personally relevant c. Motives underlying someone’s behavior are suspicious D. Perceiver expectations 1. Confirmation bias: tendency to seek information that supports one's beliefs while not pursuing disconfirming information a. For first impressions "believing is seeing" rather than "seeing is believing" b. Confirmation bias also occurs via selective recall to fit one's view of others 2. Self-fulfilling prophecy: process whereby expectations about a person cause the person to behave in ways that confirm the expectations a. Three steps involved in a self-fulfilling prophecy 1) Perceiver has initial impression of someone (target person) 2) Perceiver behaves toward target person in a way that is consistent with expectations 3) Target person adjusts behavior to perceiver's actions b. Perceiver mistakenly attributes target person's behavior to internal causes E. Cognitive distortions 1. Social Categorization a. People tend to perceive those similar to themselves as members of ingroup ("us") and those dissimilar as members of outgroup ("them") b. Categorizing has important consequences 1) Attitudes tend to be less favorable toward outgroup members 103 2) The outgroup homogeneity effect occurs when we see outgroup members as being much more alike and seeing members of one's ingroup as unique individuals 3) Heightens visibility of outgroup members when only a few of them are in a large group 4) People are even likely to see outgroup members as looking more like each other than they actually do 2. Stereotypes are widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their membership in a particular group a. Most prevalent kinds involve gender, age, and ethnicity b. Also based on physical appearance (e.g., what-is-beautiful-is-good stereotype) 1) Attractive people are perceived more favorably than justified 2) Although cross-culturally people associated attractiveness with positive qualities, cultural values determine which qualities are considered desirable c. Stereotypes can exist outside a person’s awareness and occur automatically d. Exerting self-control is one way to reduce prejudice e. The persistence of stereotypes 1) Function to reduce complexity to simplicity 2) Confirmation bias 3) Self-fulfilling prophecy 3. Fundamental attribution error (correspondence bias): the tendency to explain other people's behavior as the result of personal, rather than situational, factors a. Different from stereotyping because it's based on actual behavior b. Making attributions is a two-step process 1) Occurring spontaneously, observers make an internal attribution 2) Only with cognitive effort and attention, observers weigh the impact of the situation and adjust their inference c. Evidence suggests that the two steps may link to different types of brain activity c. Americans (reflecting individualistic culture) tend to use internal attributions more so than Hindus, Chinese, Japanese, or Koreans (reflecting collectivistic culture) 4. Defensive attribution: the tendency to blame victims for their misfortune, so that one feels less likely to be victimized in a similar way a. Helps people maintain their belief in a “just world” b. Allows people to unfairly attribute undesirable traits to victims (e.g., incompetence, foolishness) F. Key themes in person perception 1. Efficiency a. People prefer to exert minimal cognitive effort and time b. Result is error-prone judgments 2. Selectivity a. "People see what they expect to see" b. Lecturer labeled as "warm" or "cold" results in varied ratings 3. Consistency a. Primacy effect occurs when initial information carries more weight than subsequent information b. Initial negative impressions may be especially hard to change 104 CHAPTER 7 II. The Problem of Prejudice A. Prejudice versus discrimination 1. Prejudice: a negative attitude toward members of a group 2. Discrimination: behaving differently, usually unfairly, toward the members of a group 3. Tend to go together, but that is not always the case B. "Old-fashioned" versus modern discrimination 1. Over the past 40 years, prejudice and discrimination in the U.S. has diminished, racial segregation is no longer legal 2. "Old-fashioned" discrimination against minority groups has declined 3. More subtle forms of prejudice and discrimination have emerged a. With modern discrimination, people may privately harbor negative attitudes toward minorities but express them only when they feel justified or safe b. Aversive racism is an indirect, subtle, ambiguous form of racism that occurs when the conscious endorsement of egalitarian ideals is in conflict with non- conscious, negative reactions to minority group members C. Causes of prejudice 1. Authoritarianism a. Early research identified an authoritarian personality type, characterized by prejudice toward any group perceived to be different from one’s self b. Now termed right-wing authoritarianism (RWA), it is characterized by authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism c. RWA correlates with prejudice and discrimination d. Two key factors underlie RWA prejudice 1) Organizing social world into ingroups and outgroups 2) Tendency toward self-righteousness, fear of change e. Social dominance orientation (SDO) involves preference for inequality among groups, hierarchy, domination 2. Cognitive distortions and expectations a. Social categorization predisposes people to divide the social world into ingroups and outgroups b. Although racial stereotypes have declined in the last 50 years, they still occur c. People are particularly likely to make the fundamental attribution error when evaluating targets of prejudice d. Perceiving negative characteristics as being dispositionally based due to group membership is labeled as the ultimate attribution error e. Defensive attributions, when people unfairly blame victims of adversity to reassure themselves that the same thing won’t happen to them, can contribute to prejudice f. Expectations can also foster and maintain prejudice 3. Competition between groups a. Based on early research by Muzafer Sherif and colleagues (Robber’s Cave summer camp study) b. Effects of competition on prejudice often occurs in the real world c. Perception of threats to ingroup more problematic than actual threats 4. Threats to social identity a. Social identity theory states that self-esteem is partly determined by one’s social identity or collective self, which is tied to one’s group memberships 105 b. Threats to social identity provoke prejudice and discrimination c. Most common response is to show in-group favoritism d. Outgroup derogation may also occur, to criticize outgroups perceived as threatening e. "Ingroup love" not "outgroup hate" underlies most discrimination f. Ingroup favoritism is often subtle and can be triggered by arbitrary and inconsequential factors, such as shared musical tastes D. Reducing prejudice 1. Cognitive strategies a. Stereotypes may kick in automatically, unintentionally b. But can intentionally inhibit stereotyping, prejudice with shift from automatic processing to controlled processing, or from mindlessness to mindfulness 2. Intergroup contact a. Based on principle of superordinate goals (or cooperative interdependence): requiring two groups to work together to achieve a mutual goal b. Four necessary conditions for reducing intergroup hostility 1) Groups must work together for common goal 2) Must be successful outcomes to cooperative efforts 3) Group members must have opportunity to establish meaningful connections 4) Must ensure equal status contact c. To test the contact hypothesis in a field study, white college students were randomly assigned to share a dorm with a white or a black roommate 1) Students in the interracial rooms did report less satisfaction with their roommates than those with same-race assignments 2) But more positively, students living in the interracial rooms were found to be less prejudiced across time compared to those with same-race living arrangements III. The Power of Persuasion A. Persuasion defined 1. Persuasion: the communication of arguments and information intended to change another person's attitudes 2. Attitudes: beliefs and feelings about people, objects, and ideas a. Beliefs are thoughts and judgments b. The "feeling" component refers to positive/negative aspect of attitude, as well as strength of feeling B. The elements of the persuasion process 1. Source: person who sends a communication a. Credibility of source is important factor 1) Expertise can give a person credibility 2) Trustworthiness of source is even more important than expertise b. Likeability also increases effectiveness of source 1) Physical attractiveness can affect likeability 2) Similarity of source to target also an important factor 2. Message: the information transmitted by the source a. Two-sided arguments generally more effective than one-sided arguments 1) One-sided arguments work only when audience is uneducated about issue 2) One-sided arguments work if audience is favorably disposed to message 106 CHAPTER 7 b. Arousal of fear may increase effectiveness of message if people feel susceptible to the threat, within limits c. Generating positive feelings can be effective 3. Receiver: person to whom the message is sent a. Mood can matter: optimistic people process uplifting messages better than pessimists b. Some people have a need for cognition, the tendency to seek out and enjoy effortful thought, problem-solving activities, and in-depth analysis. Such people are more likely to be convinced by high-quality arguments rather than superficial analyses c. Forewarning may reduce effectiveness b. People display disconfirmation bias when evaluating arguments incompatible with their existing beliefs d. People from different cultures respond to different themes in persuasive messages C. The whys of persuasion 1. According to the elaboration likelihood model, an individual’s thoughts about a persuasive message (rather than the message itself) determine whether attitude change will occur 2. When people are distracted, tired, etc., they may be persuaded by cues along the peripheral route, the usual route of persuasion 3. With the central route, the receiver cognitively elaborates on the message 4. Two requirements for central route to override peripheral route a. Receivers must be motivated to process message b. Receivers must be able to understand message 5. Attitudes formed via central route are longer lasting, better predict actual behavior IV. The Power of Social Pressure A. Conformity and compliance pressures 1. Conformity occurs when people yield to real or imagined social pressure 2. We are apt to explain the behavior of other people as conforming but not think of our own actions this way 2. The dynamics of conformity are illustrated by classic experiment in which Solomon Asch examined effect of group pressure on conformity in unambiguous situations a. Participants varied considerably in tendency to conform, although 28% conformed on more than half the trials b. Two important factors were group size and unanimity 1) Conformity increased as group size increased from two to four, peaked at seven, then leveled off 2) Group size had little effect in presence of another dissenter, underscoring importance of unanimity 2. Conformity versus compliance a. Later studies indicated that Asch's participants were not really changing their beliefs b. Theorists concluded that Asch's experiments evoked a type of conformity, called compliance (when people yield to social pressure in their public behavior, even though their private beliefs have not changed) 3. The whys of conformity 107 a. Normative influence operates when people conform to social norms for fear of negative social consequences b. Informational influence operates when people look to others for how to behave in ambiguous situations 4. Resisting conformity pressures a. Conformity can range from harmless fun to tragic consequences b. The bystander effect is the tendency for individuals to be less likely to provide help when others are present than when they are alone c. Suggestions for resisting conformity pressures include 1) Pay more attention to social forces 2) Try to identify one other dissenter 3) Consider inviting along a friend with similar views B. Pressure from authority figures 1. The dynamics of obedience: Stanley Milgram demonstrated the power of obedience (a form of compliance that occurs when people follow direct commands, usually from someone in a position of authority) a. A "teacher" (participant) was instructed to administer electric shocks to a "learner" (confederate) b. Although apparatus was fake, participant thought he was administering increasingly stronger shocks c. Twenty-six of 40 participants (65%) administered all 30 levels of shock 2. The causes of obedience a. Demands on participants were escalated gradually b. Authority figure claimed responsibility c. Subjects experienced shift in perspective, evaluating their actions on how well they were living up to expectations of authority figure d. Many years of replication in diverse settings generally supports Milgram's results 3. To obey or not to obey a. With “crimes of obedience,” social pressures can cause morally repugnant behavior b. Aligning oneself with supportive others can decrease obedience to risky demands V. Application: Seeing through Compliance Tactics A. The consistency principle 1. The foot-in-the-door technique: getting people to agree to a small request to increase the chances that they will agree to a larger request later 2. The lowball technique involves getting someone to commit to an attractive proposition before its hidden costs are revealed B. The reciprocity principle 1. Reciprocity principle: the rule that one should pay back in kind what one receives from others 2. Norm is so powerful, it works even when a. Gift is uninvited b. Gift comes from someone you dislike c. Gift results in an uneven exchange 3. Reciprocity-based influence tactics include 108 CHAPTER 7 a. The door-in-the-face technique, which involves making a very large request that is likely to be turned down to increase the chances that people will agree to a smaller request later b. Other examples such as free samples, business dinners C. The scarcity principle 1. Telling people they can’t have something makes them want it more 2. Reactance occurs when people want what they can’t have 3. Examples include “limited supplies,” “time is running out” DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Our perceptions of other people are influenced by their physical appearance, including the clothes they wear. Can you think of some examples of how your perceptions are affected by the way people dress? How do you think your attire affects others' perceptions of you? 2. What are everyday examples of the self-fulfilling prophecy at work? For instance, if you expect rude service from a cashier versus expecting friendliness? If you expect a blind date to be boring versus fun? 3. In the textbook, the authors suggest that because people know that verbal behavior is more easily manipulated than nonverbal behavior, they often rely on nonverbal cues to determine the truth of what others say. Do you find yourself relying on nonverbal cues in social situations? What specific nonverbal cues do you think are “dead giveaways” for certain thoughts or attitudes? 4. Do you think there may be gender differences in the ability to identify and make use of information from nonverbal behavior? Can you cite an example or two to support your answer? 5. Evidence indicates that people tend to attribute their own behavior to situational (external) causes, and observers tend to attribute the same actions to the individual's dispositional (internal) qualities. Can you think of some explanations for these tendencies? 6. Do you tend to think of attractive people as more competent and better adjusted than those who are less attractive? Why do you think this is the case? 7. Given that perceptual inaccuracies promote racial prejudice, what do you think could be done to reduce problems that occur as a result of racial prejudice, particularly in schools? 8. Some researchers suggest that elections are determined mainly by the public's impressions of the candidates rather than the candidates' views on important issues. Do you think this is the case? If so, what are some possible explanations for this behavior on the part of voters? 9. Can you think of any specific advertisements that you think would be particularly effective in getting people to purchase products? Describe the qualities these ads have that make them so effective, referring to the list of persuasive techniques from the applications section of the textbook. 109 10. When you think of advertising and spokespersons, what people come to mind? What source factors seem to make these individuals particularly strong as spokespersons? 11. In what situations is obedience to authority desirable or even necessary? In what situations can it be problematic? 12. In your opinion, what are the main ethical problems with Stanley Milgram's study of obedience to authority? Do you think the scientific contributions of the study outweigh the ethical concerns? 13. How could the findings of the Robber’s Cave study be applied to problems with prejudice and discrimination among children in today’s schools? 14. The Application section discusses several compliance tactics. When and where have you seen any of these in use? Did they appear to be effective? 15. Blind obedience to authority can have disastrous consequences. So, why does obedience exist? Does it serve a purpose in society? How can one draw the line between appropriate and inappropriate types of obedience? DEM
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