CHAPTER 13 – Behaviour In A Social Context
- Consistency, distinctiveness, and consensus information jointly influence
whether we make a personal or situational attribution for a particular act.
- The fundamental attribution error is the tendency to attribute other
people’s behaviour to personal factors while underestimating the role of
situational factors. The self-serving bias is the tendency to attribute
one’s successes to personal factors and one’s failures to situational
- Although our impressions of people may change over time, our first
impression generally carries extra weight. Stereotypes and schemas
create mental sets that powerfully shape our impressions.
- Through self-fulfilling prophecies, our initially false expectations shape
the way we act toward someone. In turn, this person responds to our
behaviour in a way that confirms our initially false belief.
- Attitudes are evaluative judgments. They predict behaviour best when
situational influences are weak, when the attitude is strong, and when we
consciously think about our attitude.
- Our behaviour also influences our attitudes. Counter-attitudinal
behaviour is most likely to create cognitive dissonance when the
behaviour is freely chosen and has negative implications for our sense of
self-worth or produces foreseeable negative consequences.
- To reduce dissonance, we may change our attitude to become more
consistent with how we have behaved. In situations where our attitudes
are weak and counter-attitudinal behaviour doesn’t threaten our self-
worth, we may change our attitudes through self-perception.
- Communicator, message, and audience characteristics influence the
effectiveness of persuasion. Communicator credibility is the highest when
the communicator is perceived as expert and trustworthy. Fear-arousing
communications may be effective if they arouse moderate to strong fear
and suggest how to avoid the feared result. The central route to
persuasion works best with listeners who have a high need for cognition;
for those with a low cognition need, the peripheral route works better.- A social norm is a shared rule or expectation about how group members
should think, feel, and behave. A social role is a set of norms that defines
a particular position in a social system.
- People conform to a group because of informational social influence and
normative social influence. The size of the majority and the presence or
absence of dissenters influences the degree of conformity. Minority
influence is strongest when the minority maintains a consistent position
over time but does not appear too deviant.
- Miligram’s obedience research raised strong ethical concerns and found
unexpectedly high percentage of people willing to obey destructive
orders. Such obedience is stronger when the victim is remote and when
the authority figure is closely by, legitimate, and assumed responsibility
for what happens.
- People often use special techniques to get us to comply with their
requests. These compliance techniques, include the norm of reciprocity,
the door-in-the-face technique, the foot-in-the-door technique, and
- Deindividuation is a temporary lowering of restraints that can occur when
a person is immersed in a group. Anonymity to outsiders appears to be
the key factor in producing de-individualization.
- Social loafing occurs when people exert less individual effort when
working as a group than when working alone. Social loafing decreases
when the goal or group membership is valued highly and when people’s
performance within the group can be individually monitored.
- When the members of a decision-making group initially share the same
conservative or liberal viewpoint, the group’s final decision often reflects
a polarization effect and becomes more extreme than the average
opinion of the individual members.
- Cohesive decision-making groups that have directive leaders, are under
high stress, and are insulated from outside input may display groupthink,
a suspension of critical thinking to maintain cohesion and loyalty to the
- Proximity, mere exposure, similarity of attitudes, and physical
attractiveness typically enhance our attraction to someone. Relationships
deepen as partners self-disclose and exchanges between them become more intimate and broader. Social exchange theory analyzes relationships
in terms of the rewards and costs experienced by each partner.
- The qualities that people find most attractive in a mate vary somewhat
across cultures. Evolutionary theorists propose that gender difference in
mate preferences inherited biological tendencies, whereas sociocultural
theorists believe that these differences result from socialization and
gender inequities in economic opportunities.
- Partners are more likely to remain happily married when they understand
each other and deal with conflicts by de-escalating their emotions and
providing mutual support.
- Overt prejudice has decreased in some ways, but people may hide their
prejudice or be unaware of subtle prejudices they harbour.
- Prejudice stems partly from our tendency to perceive in-groups and out-
groups. People typically display in-group favouritism and an out-group
homogeneity bias. Perceived threats to one’s in-group and a need to
enhance one’s self-esteem can motivate prejudice.
- Prejudice often is reduced when in-group and out-group members work
closely together, with equal status, on tasks involving common goals and
under conditions of broader institutional support.
- Some theorists propose that through kin selection and reciprocal
altruism, evolution has helped to shape a genetic predisposition toward
pro-social behaviour among humans. Social learning theorists emphasize
how social norms, modeling, and reinforcement shape pro-social
attitudes and behaviour.
- The presence of multiple bystanders may decrease bystander intervention
through social comparison processes and a diffusion of responsibility for
helping. We are most likely to help others when we perceive that they are
similar to us and not responsible for their plight.
- Pro-social behaviour can be increased by enhancing people’s feelings of
empathy for victims and providing pro-social models.
- Heredity influences the strength of an organism’s tendency to aggress.
The hypothalamus, amygdala, and frontal lobes play especially important
roles in certain types of aggression.
- Provocation, heat, crowing, and stimuli that cause frustration or pain
increase the risk of aggression. Learning experiences help to shape a tendency to behave more or less aggressively. People are more likely to
aggress when they find ways to justify and rationalize their behaviour,
perceive provocation as intentional, and have little empathy for others.
- Most research supports the social-cognitive theory prediction that
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