Chapter 16- Social Behaviour
Segregated farm workers in Quebec 2001. 1/6 Canadians report being the victim of
Racism commonly targeted most against blacks, ethnic discriminations against Jews.
Visible minority numbers are rising because of immigration.
Social psychology: the branch of psychology concerned with the way individuals
thoughts, feelings, and behaviour is influenced by others.
Broad topics include person perception, attribution processes, interpersonal attraction,
attitudes, conformity and obedience, behaviour in groups.
Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Others
Person perception: the process of forming impressions of others.
Central traits are particularly important pieces of information we use to form an
impression as identified by Soloman Asch.
Effects of Physical Appearance
Starting at a young age we ascribe desirable characteristics to attractive people.
Attractive people grab and hold our attention quicker and longer. This is likely the
result of media representations, since real data does not support.
Attractive people are also judged as more competent.
Baby-faced people are seen as more honest, submissive, and warm.
Impressions made based on facial appearance correlated well with the real-life success
of politicians and CEOs
First impressions take about a tenth of a second when based on facial features alone.
Social schemas: organized clusters of ideas about categories of social events and people.
Have schemas which we use to categorize people into types.
Stereotypes are schemas based on culturally held beliefs about groups.
Stereotypes: wildly held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their
memberships to a particular group.
The most common are gender, age, ethnic, and occupational stereotypes.
Even if stereotypes mean only that people think in terms of slanted probabilities, their
expectations may lead them to misperceive individuals with whom they interact.
Perception is subjective and people often see what they want to see.
[Zannas study of self-fulfilling prophecy] first study showed that while interviewers
adopted immediate style (sitting closer, more eye contact) with white interviewees than
blacks. Second study showed interviewees exposed to a non immediate style performed
worse in the interview,
Subjectivity and Bias in Person Perception
People often interpret ambiguous behaviour in a way that fits their expectations.
Illusory correlation occurs when people estimate that they have encountered more
confirmations of an association between social traits that they have actually seen. Often
occurs with just one exposure.
Also underestimate number of disconfirming experiences.
People selectively remember information consistent with schemas.
Why do we do this? Evolutionary theorists say attractiveness was indicative of
reproductive potential. As for categorizing, they say it comes from needing to identify one as friend (in group) or foe (out group). We do not empathize with an out group
Attribution Processes: Explaining Behaviour
We often attribute explanations for behaviour which we put us in the most favourable
light and put blame on others.
Attributions: inferences that people draw about the causes of events, others behaviours,
and their own behaviour.
We do this to make sense of our own experiences.
Internal vs. External Attributions- Heiders Dimension
Internal attributions: ascribe the cause of behaviour to personal dispositions, traits,
abilities, and feelings.
External attributions: ascribe the cause of behaviour to situational demands and
The type of attribution we make influence our view of the person enacting the
Attribution for Success and Failure
Weiner identified another split in attributions called the stability dimension: stable
cause vs. unstable cause.
This works in conjunction with internal vs. external dimension.
Bias in Attribution
We constantly slant our attributions, even when they are self-directed.
Fundamental attribution error: observers bias in favour of internal attributions when
explaining others behaviours.
Occurs because situational factors are not obvious to observer and require more
analysis to understand; also underestimate influences.
On the other side, actors are more likely to make external attributions for their own
behaviour since effects are more salient.
The more severe the consequences of a behaviour, the more likely the observer will
make an internal attribution.
To make an external attribution would be to admit it could have been you.
Defensive attribution: tendency to blame victims for their misfortune, so that one feels
less likely to be victimized in a similar way. Done to maintain a belief in a just world.
Learners belief in a just world theory is largely supported
Self-serving bias: tendency to attribute ones success to personal factors and ones
failures to situational factors.
Increases as time passes after the event.
Cultural and Attributional Tendencies
Collectivist cultures are less susceptible to the fundamental attribution error because
they attribute behaviour to adherence to group norms.
Collectivist cultures are less prone to self-serving bias since competition and self-
esteem motives are lower.
Japanese experience a self-effacing bias when they attribute success to help from
others and ease of task while blaming themselves for failures (not necessarily negative
since it drives self-improvement).
Close Relationships: Liking and Loving Interpersonal attraction refers to positive feelings toward another.
Key Factors in Attraction
Many factors influence who is attracted to whom.
Key determinant for romantic attraction in both sexes.
Seems to be more important for female potentials than males.
Matching hypothesis: proposes that partners of approximately equal physical
attractiveness are likely to select each other as partners.
We also believe matched people are less likely to split up.
In couples, the tendency is for similar age, race, religion, social class, intelligence,
physical attractiveness and attitudes.
Friends tend to be similar in income, education, ethnicity, religion, job, etc.
Correlations between personalities in couples are modest but related to relationship
Couples of experience attitude alignment and also overestimate how similar they are.
Attitude similarity correlates with attraction but causation runs both ways.
Evidence suggests flattery will get you somewhere, some of the time.
Reciprocity: liking those who show that they like you.
Demonstrating liking of them involves self-enhancement effect making the other feel
good about themselves and self-verification confirming the others self-concept.