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Chapter 7

Psych 2035 Chapter 7.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Chapter 7: Social Thinking and Social Influence Everyone asks and answers “why” questions about the people around then. Forming Impressions of Others As people interact with others, they constantly engage in person perception, the process of forming impressions of others. Key Sources of Information: Because you can’t read other people’s minds, you are dependent on observations of others to determine what they are like. In forming impressions on others, people rely on 5 key sources: 1. Appearance. Physical features such as height, weight, skin color, race, and hair color are some of the cues used to “read” other people. - Where memory is concerneed, multiracial individuals are remembered less well than those whose race is the same as (ingroup) or distinctively different from (outgroup) that of perceivers. 2. Verbal behaviour. People form impressions based on what and how much others self- disclose, how often they give advice and ask questions, and how judgemental they are. 3. Actions. Because people don’t always tell the truth, you have to rely on their behaviour to provide insights about them. Actions speak louder than words. 4. Nonverbal messages. These nonverbal cues provide information about people’s emotional states and dispositions. 5. Situations. The setting in which behaviour occurs provides crucial information about how to interpret a person’s behaviour. One bad piece of information can outweigh or undo a collection of positive characteristics. The presence of a trait perceived to be negative can have more influence on forming impressions than several positive qualities. Snap Judgement Versus Systemic Judgement: In their interactions with others, people are bombarded with more information than they can possibly handle. Snap judgement about others are those made quickly and based on only a few bits of information and preconceived notions. Therefore may not be accurate. *Interactions with others are so fleeting or inconsequential that it makes little difference that such judgements are imprecise. *When it comes to selecting a friend, a mate, or an employee, it’s essential that impressions be as accurate as possible. Here people make systemic judgements – they take the time to observe the person in a variety of situations and to compare that person’s behaviour with that of others in similar situations. *To determine the cause of others’ behaviour, people engage in the process of casual attribution. Attributions: Attributions are interferences that people draw about the causes of their own behaviour, others’ behaviour, and events. 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. 1 People don’t make attributions about every person they meet. People are more likely to make attributions (1) when others behave in unexpected or negative ways, (2) when events are personally relevant, and (3) when they are suspicious about another person’s motives. Perceiver Expectations: Perceiver expectations can influence the perception of others. Two types of principles: Confirmation Bias Shortly after you begin interacting with someone, you start forming hypotheses about what the person is like. These hypotheses can influence your behaviour toward that person. Ex) If a person has a camera around their neck, you would assume they have an interest in photography. By you may also neglect to ask them more wide-range questions that would give you a more accurate picture of him/her. Conformation bias is the tendency to seek information that supports one’s beliefs while not pursuing disconfirming information. 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 may be more susceptible to displaying conformation bias. This also occurs because people selectively recall facts to fit their views of others - Ex) videotape of woman engaging in beer drinking, listening to classical music, and watching tv – she was either a waitress or librarian. (pg 212) Confirmation bias can be used to characterize perceptions of group behaviour and individual actions. - Boys will be boys and they can get away with promiscuity, but women cannot without sullying their reputations. Self-Fulfilling Prophecies A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when expectations about a person cause him or her to behave in ways that confirm the expectations. Three steps to the self-fulfilling prophecy: 1. The perceiver has an initial impression of someone 2. Then the perceiver behaves toward the target person in line with his or her expectations. 3. Third step occurs when the target person in line with his or her expectations, which confirms the perceivers hypothesis about the target person. Note: both participants don’t know that his process is happening. During this process, perceivers mistakenly attribute the target person’s behaviour to an internal cause, rather than an external one. Cognitive Disorders: Another source of error in person perception comes from distortions in the minds of perceiver. 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 One of the ways people efficiently process information is to classify objects and people according to their distinctive features. Thus, people quite often categorize others on the basis of nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and so forth. 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 (“then”). Such categorizing has three important results. 1. People usually have less favourable attitudes toward outgroup members than ingroup members – where reactions to those perceived in their ingroup are often exaggerated. 2. Individuals usually see outgroup members as being much more alike than they really are, whereas they see members of their ingroup as unique individuals. Outgroup homogeneity. 2 3. Categorizing heightens the visibility of outgroup members when there are only a few of them within a larger group. When people are perceived as unique or distinctive, they are also seen as having more influence in a group, and their good and bad qualities are given extra weights. 4. Finally, based on their proclivity to categorize, people are even likely to see outgroup members as looking more like each other than they actually do. Eyewitnesses are netter at identifying people of their own race than recognizing people who belong to different racial group – except when outgroup members are angry; they are much easier to identify – since they pose a threat. Stereotypes Stereotypes are widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their membership in a particular group. However, if you take the time to think about it, there is enormous diversity in behaviour within any group. When we meet someone who is an exception to our stereotype, instead of just adjusting or broadening our stereotype, we are likely to categorize such an exception as a misfit or a subtype. 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 ethnicity. Stereotypes may also be based on physical appearance (“what is beautiful is good” stereotype). Beautiful people are perceived as happier, more socially competent, more assertive, better adjusted, and more intellectually competent then those who are less attractive. Attractive people do have an advantage in the social arena. However, they are not any different from others in intelligence, happiness, mental health, or self-esteem. Attractiveness stereotype affects most of us because highly attractive people end up with one another. Most of us pair up with people who match our own level of attractiveness. Racially based stereotypes can cause regrettable – and potentially dangerous – split0second decisions in which people see a weapon that isn’t actually there. Why do stereotypes persist? First, because people are deluged with much more information than they can process, the tendency is to reduce complexity to simplicity. Second, they endure because of conformation bias. When individuals encounter members of groups that they view with prejudice, they are likely to see what they expect to see. The self-fulfilling prophecy is a third reason – beliefs about another person may actually elicit the anticipated behaviour and this confirms biased expectations. The Fundamental Attribution Error The fundamental attribution error refers to the tendency to explain other people’s behaviour as the result of personal, rather than situational, factors. This tendency is different than stereotypes in that inferences are based on actual behaviour. However, the inferences may still be inaccurate. It seems that making attributions is a two-step process. 1. Occurs automatically, observers make an internal attribution because they are focusing on the person rather than the situation. 2. Observers weight the impact of the situation on the target person’s behaviour and adjust their inferences. This step requires cognitive effort. Therefore it is easy to stop after step one, especially if you are in a hurry. Failure to take the effortful second step can result in the fundamental attribution error. Cultural values seem to promote different attributional errors. In individualistic cultures, where independence is valued, it is assumed that individuals are responsible for their actions. In collectivist societies, conformity and obedience to group norms are valued, so it is assumed that an individual’s behaviour reflects adherence to group expectations. 3 Researchers suggest that the Western mentality is analytical (attention is focused on an object, and causality is ascribed to it), whereas the East Asian mentality is holistic (attention is focused on the field surrounding an object, and causality is understood to reside in the relationship between the object and its field). Defensive Attribution Observers are especially likely to make internal attributions in trying to explain the calamities and tragedies that befall other people. Ex) when a woman is abused, people blame the victim for how stupid she is to stay with the man. Similarly, rape victims are often judged to have “asked for it”. Defensive attribution is a tendency to blame victims for their misfortune, so that one feels less likely to be victimized in a similar way. - Allow people to think they live in a “just world” and “people get what they deserve and deserve what they get”. - Admitting to an unjust world created the frightening possibility that anything can happen to anyone. Key Themes in Person Perception: Efficiency In forming impressions of others, people prefer to exert no more cognitive effort or time than is necessary. Thus, much social information is processed automatically and effortlessly. Efficiency has two important advantages: people can make judgments quickly, and it keeps things simple. The big disadvantage is they snap judgements are error prone. Selectivity “People see what they expect to see”. Consistency A primacy effect occurs when initial information carries more weight than subsequent information. Initial negative impressions may be espceically hard to change. Primacy effects are so potent becyuase people find comfort in cognitive consistency; cognitions that contradict each other tend to create tension and discomfort. The Problem of Prejudice Prejudice is a negative attitude toward members of a group; discrimination involves behaving differently, usually unfairly, toward the members of a group. Prejudice and discrimination tend to go together. - Ex of prejudice without discrimination is when a restaurant is prejudice against Chicanos but still treat them because he needed their business. - Ex of discrimination with prejudice is when an executive who has favourable attitudes towards blacks may not hire them because he thinks his boss would be upset. “Old-Fashioned” Versus Modern Discrimination: Over the past 40 years, prejudice and discrimination against minority groups have diminished in the US. Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, and religion is less common than it was in the 1950s. Even though discrimination has decline, a more subtle form of prejudice and discrimination has emerged. This new phenomenon has been termed modern discrimination. While modern racists do not which to return to the days of segregation, they also feel that minority groups should not push too fast for advancement or receive special treatment by the government. 4 Well intentioned whites can engage in aversive racism, an indirect, subtle, ambiguous form of racism that occurs when their conscious endorsement of egalitarian ideals is in conflict with unconscious, negative reaction to minority group members. An aversive racist might act in a racist manner when a nonracist excuse is available. Causes of Prejudice: Authoritarianism Authoritarian personality, a personality type characterized by prejudice toward any group perceived to be different from oneself. Over the past 50 years, both the definition and measurement of authoritarianism have evolved. The construct is now termed right-wing authoritarianism, and it is characterized by authoritarian submission (exaggerated deference to those in power), authoritarian aggression (hostility toward targets sanctioned by authorities), and conventionalism (strong adherence to values endorsed by authorities). Authoritarian behaviour has been linked with other types of personality – social dominance orientation. People high in SDO prefer inequality among social groups, believing in a hierarchy where some are destined to dominate others. Cognitive Distortions and Expectations Much of prejudice is rooted in automatic cognitive processes that operate without conscious intent. Social categorizing predisposes people to divide the social work into ingroups and outgroups. This distinction can trigger negativity toward outgroup members. Perhaps no factor plays a larger role in prejudice than stereotyping – racial profiling in law enforcement. People are more likely to make the fundamental attribution error when evaluating targets of prejudice. Perceiving negative characteristics as being dispositional and due to group membership is the ultimate attribution error. - Ethnic neighborhoods dominated by crime and poverty – they blame these problems on the residents and downplay or ignore situationally based explanations. Defensive attributions, in which people unfairly blame victims of adversity to reassure themselves that the same thing won’t happen to them, cal also contribute to prejudice. Competition between Groups Boys 3 week summer camp; secretly an experiment. Almost immediately after competitive games we introduced, hostile feelings erupted between the two groups and quickly escalated to highly aggressive behaviour. This research suggest that groups often respond more negatively to competition than individuals do. Competition does not always breed prejudice. In fact, the perception of threats to one
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