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Psychology 2035A/B Chapter Notes -Fundamental Attribution Error, Social Dominance Orientation, Gender Role

Course Code
Doug Hazlewood

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Social Thinking and Social Influence
Social cognition- how people think about people, as well as themselves
Forming Impressions of Others
Person perception is the process of forming impressions of others
In forming impressions of others, people rely on five key sources of observational
o Appearance
Multiracial individuals are remembered less well than those whose race is
the same as (ingroup) or distinctly different from (outgroup) that of the
o Verbal behaviour
o Actions
In impression formation, actions speak louder than words
o Nonverbal messages
These nonverbal cues provide information about people’s emotional
states and dispositions
o Situations
One bad piece of information can outweigh or undo a collection of
positive characteristics
A single bad deed can eliminate a good reputation, but one good deed
cannot redeem an otherwise bad standing in the eyes of others
In the realm of perception, bad impressions tend to be stronger than
good ones
Snap judgements about others are those made quickly and based on only a few bits of
information and preconceived notions
Often, interactions with others are so fleeting or inconsequential that it makes little
difference that such judgements are imprecise
In forming impressions of those who can affect their welfare and happiness, people
make systematic judgements rather than snap decisions
Why the person behaves in a certain way- this deeper level of understanding is vital if
one is to make accurate predictions about the person’s future behaviour
Attributions are inferences that people draw about the causes of their own behaviour,
others’ behaviour, and events

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When people ascribe the causes of someone’s behaviour to personal dispositions, traits,
abilities, or feelings, they are making internal attributions.
When they impute the causes of their behaviour to situational demands and
environmental constraints, they are making external attributions
Experiment: Even when the information was attributed to situational sources, the
women’s expressions were more likely to be characterized as being due to their
It seems that people are most likely to make attributions:
o When others behave in unexpected or negative ways
o When events are personally relevant
o When they are suspicious about another person’s motives
Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek information that supports one’s beliefs
while not pursuing disconfirming information
It occurs in casual social interactions as well as in job interviews and in courtrooms,
where the interviewer or attorney make ask leading questions
When it comes to forming first impressions of others, the principle is not so much that
“Seeing is believing” but rather that “believing is seeing”
Some people’s personalities may predispose them to focus on facts that fit their
theories instead of weighing all of the available information more critically
Experiment: people were more likely to recall information that “confirmed” the double
standard (pro-male, anti-female) than contradicted it. In other words, “boys will be
boys” and they can get away with promiscuity, but women cannot without sullying their
A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when expectations about a person cause him or her to
behave in ways that confirm the expectations
Three steps in the self-fulfilling prophecy:
o The perceiver has an initial impression of someone
o Then the perceiver behaves toward the target person in line with his or her
o The target person adjusts his or her behaviour to the perceiver’s actions, which
confirms the perceiver’s hypothesis about the target person
When both teens and parents anticipate tension and alienation, for example, they may
look for, instigate, or see other behaviours as fitting their respective perceptions
Another source of error in person perception comes from distortions in the minds of
perceivers (Cognitive Distortions)

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These errors in judgement are most likely to occur when a perceiver is in a hurry, is
distracted, or is not motivated to pay careful attention to another person
Social Categorization
People frequently take the easy path of categorizing others to avoid expending the
cognitive effort that would be necessary for a more accurate impression
People categorize those who are similar to them as members of their ingroup (“us”) and
those who are dissimilar to them as in the outgroup (“them”)
People usually have less favorable attitudes toward outgroup members than ingroup
Individuals usually see outgroup members as being much more alike than they really
are, whereas they see members of their ingroup as unique individuals
o Known as the outgroup homogeneity effect
Categorizing heightens the visibility of outgroup members when there are only a few of
them within a larger group
People are even likely to see outgroup members as looking more like eachother then
they actually do
o The exception ot this rule is when outgroup members are angry
o Angry outgroup members are much easier to identify than angry ingroup
members, a result suggesting that the human mind carefully tracks strangers
who may pose a threat
Stereotypes are widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of
their membership in a particular group
Instead of adjusting or broadening our stereotype, we are likely to categorize exceptions
as a misfit or subtype
o Subtypes are categories people rely on for understanding people who do not fit
their general stereotypes
The most prevalent stereotypes in America are those based on gender, age, and
o Gender stereotypes, although in transition, remain pervasive
Physically attractive people are believed to have desirable personality traits
o This widespread stereotype is termed the “what-is-beautiful-is-good” stereotype
o Attractive people do have an advantage in the social arena
o They are not any different from others in intelligence, happiness, mental health,
or self-esteem
Highly attractive people end up with one another
o We are likely to date those who match our own level of attractiveness
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