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Chapter 16

Chapter 16 _ Social Behaviourc.docx

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Carolyn Ensley

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Chapter 16 – Social Behaviour Social Psychology: the branch of psychology c9oncerned w/ the way individuals’ thoughts, feelings and behaviours are influenced by others -social psychologists study how people are affected by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Others Person Perception: the process of forming impressions of others Effects of Physical Appearance -studies have shown that good-looking people grab our attention almost immediately and hold on to our attention for longer than less attractive people -research shows there is little correlation between attractiveness and personality traits -but we assume otherwise -perceptions of personality based on facial features are associated w/ objective measures of successful performance in important areas of life -a study shows that it only takes a tenth of a second to draw inferences about individuals based on facial features -first impressions based on faces can occur almost instantly Cognitive Schemas -people tend to categorize one another -people use schemas to organize the world around them – including their social world Social Schemas: organized clusters of ideas about categories of social events and people -people routinely place one another in categories, and these categories influence the process of person perception Stereotypes Stereotypes: widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics b/c of their membership in a particular group -most common stereotypes are age, sex, ethnic group, or occupational group -they save energy by simplifying our world -but they are usually very broad generalizations that ignore diversity in social groups -our perception of others is also subject to self-fulfilling prophecies -if you hold strong beliefs about the characteristics of another group, you may behave in such a way as to bring about these characteristics Subjectivity and Bias in Person Perception -stereotypes and other schemas create biases in person perception that frequently lead to conformation of people’s expectations about others Illusory Correlation: occurs when people estimate that they have encountered more confirmations of an association between social traits than they have actually seen -people also tend to underestimate the number of disconfirmations that they see -they routinely make contributions to stereotypes of various groups -memory processes can contribute to confirmatory biases in person perception in many ways -individuals selectively recall facts that fit with their schemas and stereotypes -some say that some of the biases seen in social perception were adaptive in humans’ ancestral environment -person perception is swayed by attractiveness b/c it’s associated w/ health -also, humans are programmed by evolution to immediately classify people as members of an ingroup or outgroup I. First Impressions Various factors affect the first impressions we make.  For example, we tend to think physically attractive people are better people; we attribute positive qualities to them (halo effect). It’s not necessarily true that pretty people are better people, but this assumption starts early: Even babies prefer faces that adults have rated as attractive. Why might this be the case? Possibly the availability heuristic is an explanation: we see pretty people in the media all the time. One of the consequences of this first impression of pretty people is the self-fulfilling prophecy: attractive people get treated better (because of the halo effect) which gives them the idea that they deserve positive attention. Consequently, research shows that pretty people get better jobs and more money!  Stereotypes also affect how we see others the first time we meet them. Here too the self- fulfilling prophecy applies. For example, let’s say we hold a stereotype that accountants are boring. When we meet someone at a party and they tell us they’re an accountant we treat them like they’re boring (we dismiss him/her quickly, we disengage from the conversation, looking for someone more interesting in the room etc). If we treat someone like they’re boring, they become more quiet, shy, realizing that they’re not impressing you so they back away. As such, they confirm your belief that they’re boring; hence a self-fulfilling prophecy. We expected them to be boring, and they were.  Interestingly, there are differing views on why we use stereotypes. The evolutionary perspective suggests that we developed these stereotypes as short-cuts for processing information; we waste less time at the party if we use our stereotype of the accountant to guide us to a more interesting prospect. However, there is little information for this cognitive/evolutionary reason we use stereotypes. In contrast, there is a motivational perspective that argues we use stereotypes because we are motivated to keep ourselves in our powerful positions. Evidence shows that those in more powerful positions stereotype and discriminate more so than those in low-power positions: in a study by Goodwin & Fiske (1995), half the participants were given the power to make hiring decisions while the other half were not. They then read applications from ethnic minority applicants. Those given power attended to and used stereotypes, while those who had no power used individuating information. Thus, the use of stereotypes may be motivated, rather than a cognitive norm.  First impressions however, are not accurate. There are several biases that we use when processing information that affect the accuracy of our impressions. For example, illusory correlations lead people to overestimate the times things go together. For example, a baseball player wins a game wearing a pair of shorts and now calls them his/her ‘lucky shorts’; there is an overestimation of how much luck is associated with shorts. Consider the following questions: 1. Assuming you did well on the test, what is the most likely reason? a. I’m good at studying b. The test was unusually easy c. I got a really good night’s sleep d. I’m pretty smart 2. What if you did poorly on the test — what is the most likely reason? a. The test was unusually hard b. I’m not a good studier c. I didn’t get a good enough night’s sleep d. I’m not very smart Attribution Processes: Explaining Behaviour Attributions: inferences that people draw about the cause of events, others’ behaviour, and their own behaviour Internal vs. External Attributions -people tend to locate the cause of behaviour either within a person, attributing it to personal factors, or outside a person, attributing it to environmental factors Internal Attributions: ascribe the causes of behaviour to personal dispositions, traits, abilities, and feelings External Attributions: ascribe the causes of behaviour to situational demands, and environmental constraints Attributions for Success and Failure -people focus on the stability of the causes underlying behaviour -the stable-unstable dimension in attribution cuts across the internal-external dimension, creating four types of attributions for success and failure Bias in Attribution -attributions are only inferences -they may not be the correct explanations for events -these guesses tend to be slanted in certain directions Actor-Observer Bias -when an actor and an observer draw inferences about the causes of the actor’s behaviour, they often make different attributions Fundamental Attribution Error: observers’ bias in favour of internal attributions in explaining others’ behaviour -a common form of bias seen in observers -observers have a tendency to overestimate the likelihood that an actor’s behaviour reflects personal qualities rather than situational factors -could be b/c situational factors aren’t readily present to observer -in general, actors favour external attributions for their behaviour, whereas observers are more likely to explain the same behaviour with internal attributions Defensive Attribution Defensive Attribution: a tendency to blame victims for their misfortune, so that one feels less likely to be victimized in a similar way -hindsight bias probably contributes to this tendency -and blaming victims also helps people maintain their belief that they live in a just world Self-Serving Bias -comes into play when people try to explain success and failure -may either strengthen or weaken one’s normal attributional tendencies, depending on whether one is trying to explain positive or negative outcomes Self-Serving Bias: the tendency to attribute one’s successes to personal factors and one’s failures to situational factors -in explaining failure, the usual actor-observer biases are apparent -actors tend to make external attributions, and observers do the opposite Culture and Attributional Tendencies -preliminary evidence suggests that patterns of attribution observed in subjects from Western societies DO NOT transcend culture -cultural differences in individualism vs. collectivism influence attributional tendencies Individualism: involves putting personal goals ahead of group goals and defining one’s identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group memberships Collectivism: involves putting group goals ahead of personal goals and defining one’s identity in terms of the groups one belongs to -increases in a culture’s affluence, education, urbanization, and social mobility foster individualism -collectivist cultures may promote different biases than individualistic cultures -less prone to fundamental attribution errors -self-serving bias may be more prevalent in individualistic societies I. Attributions Attributions are the ways we explain our own behaviour as well as the behaviours of others.  Ways we explain behaviour include internal and external attributions. If we use an internal attribution, we are attributing behaviour to our/someone’s personality. If we use an external attribution, we are attributing behaviour to a situational factor. For example, an acquaintance passes you in the hallway but doesn’t say hello. If you were making an internal attribution, you’d reason, “wow, what a witch!” If you were making an external attribution, you’d reason, “she’s probably stressed because of exams”. We also think about whether the behaviour is stable (permanent) or unstable (temporary).  We also tend to make these attributions in biased ways. The Fundamental Attribution Error is named so because it is so consistent across 1000s of studies. We tend to ignore the influence of external factors in favour of internal ones. We do this when we’re observing others’ behaviours; thus, if you were making the error about your acquaintance, you’d likely attribute her ignoring you to her personality vs her circumstance. For ourselves however, we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt; instead, we use external attributions to explain our own behaviour. For example, research shows that when asked about the reasons why people can’t quit smoking, smokers say they themselves are too stressed, but other people are weak. Another bias is the Self-Serving bias where we internalize our own successes but externalize our failures. If you’re going to participate in this lesson’s discussion, do so now. Close Relationships: Liking and Loving Interpersonal Attractions: positive feelings toward another Key Factors in Attraction Physical Attractiveness -the key determinant of romantic attraction for both sexes in a study was the physical attractiveness of the other person -attractive people of both sexes have greater mating successes than their less attractive peers -being physically attractive appears to be more important for females than males Matching Hypothesis: proposes that males and females of approximately equal physical attractiveness are likely to select each other as partners Similarity Effects -couples tend to be similar in age, race, religion, social class, personality, education, intelligence, physical attractiveness, and attitudes -found that similarity causes attraction -but attraction can also foster similarity, b/c partners gradually modify their attitudes Reciprocity Effects Reciprocity: involves liking those who show that they like you Romantic Ideals -people want their partner to measure up to their ideals -the more closely your partner meets your ideals, the more satisfied you are with ur relationship -most people view their partners more favourable then they view themselves Perspectives on the Mystery of Love Passionate and Companionate Love Passionate Love: a complete absorption in another that includes tender sexual feelings and the agony and ecstasy of intense emotion Companionate Love: warm, trusting, tolerant affection for another whose life is deeply intertwined with one’s own -they may coexist, but don’t necessarily go hand in hand -Sternberg subdivides companionate love into intimacy and commitment Intimacy: warmth, closeness, and sharing in a relationship Commitment: an intent to maintain a relationship in spite of the difficulties and costs that may arise -passion peaks early in the relationship, and fades out over time -intimacy and commitment increase over time, at different rates -commitment appears to be the crucial facet of love that is predictive of relationship stability Love as Attachment -looked at similarities between love and attachment relationships in infancy -romantic love is an attachment process, and people’s intimate relationships in adulthood follow the same form as their attachment in infancy -secure, anxious-ambivalent, or avoidant -now think that adult attachment falls on two continuous dimensions: -Attachment Anxiety: reflects how much people worry that their partner will not be available when needed -Attachment Avoidance: reflects the degree to which people feel uncomfortable with closeness and intimacy -type of attachment correlates to many different parts of personality and life Culture and Close Relationships -cultures vary considerably in terms of how they understand and conceptualize love and relationships -some of this variability is attributable to differences in societal and psychological differences in individualism and collectivism -similarities in what people look for in prospective mates -cultures vary on their emphasis on love – especially passionate love – as a prerequisite for marriage -marriage for love represents individualism An Evolutionary Perspective on Attraction -evolutionists assert that physical attraction is an influential determinant of attraction b/c certain aspects of good looks can be indicators of good health and high fertility, which contribute to reproductive potential -facial symmetry seems to be a key element of attractiveness in highly diverse cultures -b/c a lot of poor genes are associated w/ physical abnormality and asymmetry -another facet of appearance that may transcend culture is women’s waist-to-hip ratio -meaningful for reproductive potential -men are more interested in seeking youthfulness and physical attractiveness in mates -b/c these traits should be associated w/ reproductive potential -women place more interest on a mate’s ambition, social status, and financial status -b/c these traits should be associated w the ability to invest material resources in children -women’s menstrual cycle also influence their mating preferences -when approaching ovulation (most fertile) they prefer more masculine features and dominance II. Close Relationships What attracts us to each other is a constant source of interest in the media:  One of the most obvious things that attracts us to each other is physical appearance. Those who are more attractive are more popular (desired). The matching hypothesis states that we like people of equal attractiveness (think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). In fact, it’s so common that we’re shocked when the opposite happens (think Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley, and the movie “She’s Out of my League”). We like people who are similar to us in attitudes, demographics and romantic ideals as well. So, while similarity leads to attraction, attraction also leads to similarity. For example, in one study, participants were pre-measured on attitudes and later read bogus descriptions of people. Participants rated the descriptions that were similar to their own pre- measured attitudes as more attractive than those descriptions than were not similar. However, partners also become increasingly similar on attitudes over time as well. Proximity is also a factor in attractions: the closer you are to people geographically, the more you like them. For example dorm studies show the person next door is more liked than the person two doors down and so on. Reciprocity also affects attraction; we like people who like us. So, it appears th
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