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ch 4 psych 2070

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Western University
Psychology 2070A/B
James M Olson

Social Psychology Chapter 4: Social perception: Perceiving the Self and Others What We See in Others: Social Perception Attribution Theories: Explaining Social Behaviour  Attributions: casual judgments about why an event or behavior occurred  Intuitive scientist: untrained scientists who try to make casual judgments in a rational, scientific manner o Proposed by Harold Kelly o Co-variation model of attribution: an attribution theory proposing that we make casual judgments by determining whether a particular behaviour correlated with a person, a situation or some combination of persons and situations  The false consensus effect o When individuals have personal experience with a situation, they usually assume that most other people would respond similarly to themselves, and they draw conclusions about the cause of behavior based on this assumption o False consensus effect: the tendency to assume that people share our own attitudes and behaviours to a greater extent than is actually the case  Perceivers overestimate the “consensus” (agreement) that exists for their attitudes and actions  Why does it occur?  1. We tend to interact mainly with other people who agree with us  2. We want to believe that others agree with us  we are motivated to believe that our opinions are accurate and our actions are appropriate o People sometimes underestimate consensus when it makes them look good  Discounting and Augmentation o When we make attributions about a person based on one observation, we rely on our knowledge of “plausible causes” in the situation o We use our general knowledge to infer one or more causes that might explain the behavior and then simply look to see whether those plausible causes were present o In many everyday attribution situations there is a plausible internal (dispositional cause) which is non- observable and one or more plausible external (situational) causes which are observable o Discounting principle: a rule of attribution that states that the perceived role of a cause will be discounted (reduced) if other plausible causes are also present  Reducing the perceived importance of internal causes o Augmentation principle: a rule of attribution that states that the perceived role of a cause will be augmented (increased) if other factors are present that could work against the behavior The Correspondence Bias: A Fundamental Attribution Error  Fundamental attribution error  error that is very common in our perceptions of others  Correspondence bias: the tendency to assume that people’s actions and words reflect their personality, their attitudes, or some other internal factor, rather than external or situational factors  We tend to rely too much on personality to explain other peoples actions  Overreliance on personality traits to understand behavior is an example of the correspondence bias o “the tendency to see behavior as caused by a stable personal disposition of the actor when it can just as easily be explained as a natural response to situational pressures”  in other words correspondence bias is the tendency to assume that people’s actions and words reflect their personality, their attitudes, or some other internal factor, even when there are plausible external or situational factors  game show study o Pairs of participants were assigned to “questioner” or “contestant” or uninvolved observers o Assigned randomly = equal intelligence o Questioner thought of 10 questions (some easy some hard) o Contestant could answer an average of 4 questions o Most rated questioner as more intelligent than contestant o People saw the poor performance of the contestant as being caused by the internal characteristic of low intelligence when it could be explained by external factor of being assigned to the role of contestant  Causes of the correspondence bias o 1. We man simply overlook or be unaware of situational factors that influence other peoples behavior  Situational factors guiding behavior are often subtle/unobservable o 2. We underestimate the power of situational factors o 3. The process of taking situational factors into account requires cognitive resources which are not always available  The initial step of assuming that a behavior reflected an internal disposition is relatively automatic and spontaneous  The second step of using situational information to adjust the initial impression is not automatic  Much more susceptible to disruption  Culture and the correspondence bias o Another cause of correspondence bias is cultural influences o Emphasis in western cultures on individualism and personal accomplishment may be reason for correspondence bias o Cultures more focused on group harmony and social obligation might be less likely to explain behavior in terms of personal, internal characteristics  The appeal of social psychology o Correspondence bias contributes to the appeal of social psychology o People often overlook the situational forces that influence behaviour and instead interpret others behavior in terms of internal dispositional factors Beyond words: Understanding Non-verbal Behaviour  Nonverbal behavior: actions and cues that communicate meaning in ways other than by words  It’s not only what you say, it’s also how you say it o How words are expressed o Typically nonverbal cues do not directly conflict with verbal content, but instead provide additional information o Nonverbal information does enhance our understanding of interactions o Particularly useful in judging the emotion of speakers o Most obvious non-verbal cue = facial expressions  Developmental Changes in the Weighting of Verbal and Nonverbal cues o When verbal and non-verbal cues directly conflict, such as in sarcastic compliment or an unsuccessful attempt to mask one’s feelings perceivers rely on the non-verbal cues to interpret the speakers meaning or emotional state  Facial expression o Facial expression in humans are biologically based and universal o If this is true that people form different cultures should be able to recognize facial expressions from other cultures relatively accurately o A study concluded that cross-cultural recognition accuracy was substantially above change on every one of the seven basic emotions: anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise Gender and Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Behaviour  Gender differences in nonverbal behavior o A common stereotype is that women are more emotional and are allowed to express more emotion o Women are better judges than men of others people’s emotions  Reflect that women are more oriented towards interpersonal harmony than men o Women are better judges of emotions than are en, women’s own facial expressions of emotions are generally easier to judge than are men’s expressions  Cultural differences in nonverbal behavior o Display rules: norms in a culture for how and when emotions should be expressed o There are substantial differences in how close or far apart individuals stand in different cultures  Canada = large personal space  Middle eastern cultures = people stand very close during conversation What We See in Ourselves: Self-perception The Looking Glass Self  We rely on other people for much of our self-concept. In at least 2 ways o 1. Other people sometimes tell us about ourselves  Ex. Mom will say “you are such a thoughtful child”  Looking glass self: the tendency to internalize other people’s judgments about us into our self- concept o 2. We often compare ourselves to other people  Important point is that it was informative to compare yourself to other people in order to make a judgment about the self  Social comparison: the process of comparing ourselves to others in order to judge the self  Because social comparison often provide the only way for us to make important judgments about the self, we engage in the process of social comparison frequently and automatically  Social Comparison with Similar Others: Wanting to Assess Oneself Accurately o Festinger’s theory of social comparison was based on the assumption that people are motivated to make accurate judgments about their abilities and opinions o This desire to make accurate judgments abut the self is highly adaptive, because a mistaken view of the self might lead to a problem o The goal of assessing our abilities accurately is usually best achieved by comparing ourselves with other people are similar to us on dimensions that are relevant to performance  Upward social comparisons: wanting to improve o Having an accurate view of our strengths and weaknesses is probably beneficial in most cases. But performance is not static: we can become better at many things, even when our ability is low o Upward social comparison: social comparison with people who are better off or more skilled than we are  Downward social comparisons: wanting to feel better o Downward social comparison: social comparison with people who are worse off or less skilled than we are  Ex. I didn’t do great, but at least I did better than my friends in the class  Diverse consequences of upward social comparisons o When we compare ourselves to people who are better off or who preform better than we do, we may feel bad o Upward comparisons often provide useful information, we can also experience negative affect because our circumstances or our performances seem worse in contrast to those of someone more accomplished o On other hand, upward comparisons can sometimes make us angry and resentful  if we think we should be doing as well as other people who are better off o Relative deprivation: a feeling of anger or resentment about our outcomes based on comparisons with better-off others o Serge Guimond and Lise Dube-Simard  Believed francophones have historically been disadvantaged in Quebec compared to Anglophones  Feelings of relative deprivation (resentment) about the status of francophones  motivates support to separatist movement o Abraham Tesser and colleagues  If your friend is successful would you be happy for her or be jealous  Self-evaluation maintenance model  argued that is might depend on whether your friend was successful in a domain that you also were pursuing or in a domain very different from your own pursuits  “Basking in the reflected glory” of the other person  How we react to the success of someone close to us also depends on how close we are to them Cultural Differences in Social Comparison  Individualistic versus collectivist cultures o Individualistic cultures: cultures in which people are seen as independent beings who possess stable abilities, traits and attitudes  Healthy individuals considered to be those who have a strong sense of identity, who feel good about themselves and how have achieved individual success o Collectivist cultures: cultures in which people are seen as interdependent beings who should contribute to harmonious group functioning  Healthy individuals are considered to be those who understand their connections to others, who feel good about their social roles, and who contribute effectively to harmonious group functioning  Cultural differences in the frequency of s
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