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Chapter 16

PSYC 1010 Chapter Notes - Chapter 16: Fritz Heider, Bernard Weiner, Illusory Correlation

Course Code
PSYC 1010
Rebecca Jubis

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Readings- Chapter 16
Social Psychology
A branch of psychology concerned with the way individuals’ thoughts, feelings & behaviours
are influences by others
6 main topics in this section person perception, attribution processes, interpersonal
attraction, attitudes, conformity & obedience, behaviour in groups
Social psychologists study how people are affected by the presence of others
Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Others
Person perception: the process of forming impressions of others
Perceptions are often inaccurate due to biases
Effects of Physical Appearance
Judgements of personality are based on appearance; their physical attractiveness
Good-looking people grab our attention almost immediately & hold onto it longer than less
People ascribe desirable personality characteristics to good-looking people (more sociable,
friendly, poised, warm)
Scientifically, there is little correlation between attractiveness & personality traits
Attractive people are overrepresented in the entertainment media
People tend to view those with baby-faced features as more honest & trustworthy while being
warm, submissive, helpless & naive however there is no real association
Attractive people are seen to be more happy & successful in life
Cognitive Schemas
Social schemas: organized clusters of ideas about categories of social events & people
People have social schemas for events such as dates, picnics, committee meetings, family
reunions , & for people such as dumb jocks, social climbers, frat rats, wimps
People routinely place others in a category
Are widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their membership
in a particular group

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Most common stereotypes are based on sex, age & membership in occupational or ethnic
Gender stereotypes women are emotional, submissive, illogical & passive; men are
unemotional, dominant, logical & aggressive
Age stereotypes elderly are slow, feeble, rigid, forgetful & asexual
Ethnic stereotypes Jews are mercenary, Germans are methodical & Italians are passionate
Occupational stereotypes lawyers are manipulative, accountants are conforming, artists
are moody etc
Stereotyping is automatic & saves time/effort to get a handle on ones individuality
Peoples expectations may lead them to misperceive individuals
Perception is subjective; people see what they expect to see
Our perception of others relates to the self-fulfilling prophecy
In a study, when the job applicant was black, the interviewers sat further away, ended the
interview quicker & made more errors in speech
Immediate style sit closer, more eye contact; non-immediate style sit further away, more
errors in speech, looking away)
In another study people who are treated towards the non-immediate style seemed more
anxious & did not perform as well in the interview
If you hold strong beliefs about the characteristics of another group, you may behave in a way
that brings out this persons characteristics
Subjectivity & Bias in Person Perception
People tend to overestimate how often they see what they expect to see
Illusory correlation: occurs when people estimate that they have encountered more
confirmations of an association between social traits than they have actually seen
It only takes one incident of unusual or memorable behaviour to create an illusory correlation
between that behaviour & that group
People tend to only recall activities of a subject that fit their perceptions
Evolutionary psychologists argue that some of the biases seen in social perception were
adaptive in humans ancestral environment

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They also claim that humans are programmed to immediately classify people as members of
an ingroup (a group that one belongs to/indentifies with) or an outgroup (a group that one
doesnt belong to/indentify with)
Attribution Processes: Explaining Behaviour
Attributions: are inferences that people draw about the cause of events, others behaviour &
their own behaviour
People make attributions to understand their experiences; they want to make sense out of
their own behaviour, others actions & the events in their lives
Internal vs. External Attributions
Fritz Heider was the first to describe how people make attributions
People tend to locate the cause of behaviour either within a person (personal factors) or
outside a person (environmental factors)
Internal attributions: the causes of behaviour to personal dispositions, traits, abilities &
External attributions: the causes of behaviour to situational demands & environmental
Ie, if a friends business fails you might attribute it to their lack of business intelligence
(internal/personal factor) or to negative trends in the nations economic climate
(external/situational explanation)
Ie, crashing car is due to teenagers carelessness (internal) or roads slippery conditions
Attributions for Success & Failure
Bernard Weiner concluded that people often focus on the stability of the causes underlying
Ie, you wonder why you failed to get the job you wanted. Stable Internal Factors lack of
ability. Unstable Internal Factors inadequate effort to put together a good resume. Stable
External factors too much outstanding competition. Unstable External factors bad luck.
Bias in Attribution
People often arrive at inaccurate explanations even when they contemplate the causes of
their own behaviour
Guesses tend to be slanted in certain directions
3 types of biases
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