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Chapter 16

Chapter 16 social behaviour

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York University
PSYC 1010
Julie Dowsett

Chapter 16 Social Behaviour Pg 740-758 • By 2017 it is projected that 20% of the Canadian population will be members of visible minorities. • Social Psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the way individuals’thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influenced by others. • Social psychology focuses on seven broad topics o Person perception: How we formulate our ideas about what others are like. o Attribution processes: Whenever we observe the behaviour of others or reflect on our own behaviour we often make attributions about that behaviour. o Interpersonal attraction: What factors affect our attraction to other people? o Attitudes: How are attitudes formed? o Conformity and obedience: What factors influence conformity? o Behaviour in groups: Do people behave differently when they’re in groups as opposed to when theyre alone. o Social neuroscience: What structures and processes of the brain are associated with social phenomena such as prejudice and stereotyping. Person Perception: Forming Impressions of Others • In some of the classic research into impression formation, SolomonAsch demonstrated the importance that what he called central traits can have on the impression we form of others. • Person perception is the process of forming impressions of others. • People usually show considerable ingenuity when putting together clues about others’characteristics however impressions are usually inaccurate because of biases and fallacies. Effects of PhysicalAppearance • Studies have shown that judgments of others’personalities are often swayed by their appearance. • Attractive people tend to be seen as more sociable, poised, warm, and well adjusted. • We inaccurately assume that a connection exists between good looks and personality because attractive people are overrepresented in the media and our perceptions are swayed by our desire to bond with attractive people. • Astudy by Dion showed that linking the beautiful with the good starts as early as three-to-six-and-a-half-year-old children. • People have a surprisingly strong tendency to view good-looking individuals as more competent than less-attractive individuals. • Observers are also quick to draw inferences about people based on how they move, talk, and gesture, and there inferences tend to be fairly accurate. • Even static photographs can provide telling cues about personality. One study found that participants were able to make meaningful inferences about stimulus persons’extraversions, openness to experience, agreeableness, and self-esteem based on photographs. Cognitive Schemas • Social Schemas are organized clusters of ideas about categories of social events and people. • People have social schemas for events such as dates, picnics, committee meetings, and family reunions, as well as for certain categories of people like dumb jocks, social climbers, wimps, etc Stereotypes • Stereotypes are widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their membership in a particular groups. • The most common stereotypes in our society are those based on sex, age, and membership in ethnic or occupational groups. Subjectivity and Bias in Person Perception • Illusory correlation occurs when people estimate that they have encountered more confirmations of an association between social traits than they have actually seen. • Individuals often selectively recall facts that fit with their schemas and stereotypes. An Evolutionary Perspective on Bias in Person Perception • Dennis Krebs argues that some of the biases seen in social perception were adaptive in humans’ancestral environment. • Evolutionary psychologists argue that person perception is swayed by physical attractiveness because attractiveness was associated with reproductive potential in women and with health, vigour, and accumulation of material resources in men. • They assert that humans are programmed by evolution to immediately classify people as an ingroup –a group that one belongs to and identifies with or an outgroup- a group that one does not belong to or identify with. Review of Key Points • People’s perceptions of others can be distorted by a variety of factors including physical appearance. People tend to attribute desirable characteristics, such as intelligence, competence, warmth, and friendliness, to those who are good looking. • Baby-faced people are viewed as honest. Perceptions of people are also influenced by their style of nonverbal expressiveness. People use social schemas to categorize others into types. Stereotypes are widely held social schemas that lead people to expect that others will have certain characteristics because of their membership in a specific groups. • Gender, age, ethnic, and occupational stereotypes are common. In interacting with others, stereotypes may lead people to see what they expect and to overestimate how often they see it. • Evolutionary psychologists argue that some of the biases in person perception were adaptive in humans’ancestral past. The human tendency to automatically categorize others may reflect the primitive need to quickly separate friend from foe. Attribution Processes: Explaining Behaviour • Just as there is often bias in our perception of others, there may be bias in our search for explanations of behaviour. • Attributions are inferences that people draw about the causes of events, others’ behaviour, and their own behaviour. • For example, if you conclude that a friend turned down your invitation to go out because she’s overworked, then you have made an attribution about the cause of her behaviour. Internal Versus ExternalAttributions • Fritz Heider was the first to describe how people make attributions. He asserted that 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. • EternalAttributions ascribe the causes of behaviour to situational demands and environmental constraints. • For example, parents who find out that their teenage son has just banged up the car may blame it on his carelessness (a personal disposition) or on slippery road conditions (a situational factor). Attributions for Failure and Success • According to Bernard Weiner, people often focus on the stability of the causes underlying behaviour. According to him, the stable-unstable dimension in attribution cuts across the internal-external dimension, creating four types of attributions for success and failure. Bias in Attribution • Actor-Observer Bias o Your view of your own behaviour can be quite different than the view of another person observing you. o Acommon form of bias seen in observers is the fundamental attribution error, which refers to observers’bias in favour of internal attributions in explaining others’behaviour. o Observers have the curious tendency to overestimate the likelihood that an actor’s behaviour reflects personal qualities rather than situational factors. o For example, an individual visiting a bank that is enraged over a mistake in their account may attribute their rage to the situation, but observers may view the individual are likely to make internal attributions and infer that the individual is surly, temperamental, and quarrelsome. o In contrast, the circumstances that have influenced an actor’s behaviour tend to be more salient to the actor. Hence, actors are more likely than observers to locate the cause of their behaviour in the situation. • DefensiveAttribution o Defensive attribution is a tendency to blame victims for their misfortune, so that one feels less likely to be victimized in a similar way. o The belief-in-a-just-world theory was developed by Melvin Lerner who suggested that evidence telling us that the world is not a just place is threatening and that we feel compelled to restore the belief that the world is a just world. o Defensive attribution can lead to unwarranted derogation of victims of misfortune. Cultural andAttributional 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. • Generally, NorthAmerican cultures tend to be individualistic whileAsian, African, and Latin American cultures tend to be collectivistic. • People from collectivistic cultures tend to be less prone o the fundamental attribution error than those from individualistic societies. • The self-serving bias is the tendency to attribute one’s successes to personal factors and one’s failures to situational factors. Review of Key Points • Attributions are inferences about the cause of events and behaviour. Individuals make attributions to understand their social world.Attributions can be classified as internal or external. Internal attributions ascribe behaviour to personal dispositions and traits whereas external attributions locate the cause of behaviour in the environment. • Weiner’s model proposes that attributions for success and failure should be analyzed in terms of the stability of causes, as well as along the internal- external dimension. Observers favour internal attributions to explain another’s behaviour (the fundamental attribution error) while actors favour external attributions to explain their own behaviour. • In defensive attribution, people unfairly blame victims for their misfortune (with internal attributions) to reduce their own feelings of vulnerability. The self-serving bias is the tendency to attribute one’s good outcomes to personal factors and one’s bad outcomes to situational factors. • Cultures vary in their emphasis on individualism as opposed to collectivism, and these differences appear to influence attributional tendencies. The fundamental attribution error and the self-serving bias may be by-products of Western cultures’individualism. Close Relationships: Liking and Loving • Interpersonal attraction refers to positive feelings towards another. Key Factors in Attraction • PhysicalAttractiveness o The matching hypothesis proposes that males and females of approximately equal physical attractiveness are likely to select each other as partners. • Similarity Effects o Married and dating couples tend to be similar in age, race, religion, social class, personality, education, intelligence, physical attractiveness, and attitudes. Perspectives on the Mystery of Love • Passionate and Compassionate Love o Passionate love is a complete absorption in another that includes tender sexual feelings and the agony and ecstasy of intense emotion. o Compassionate love is warm, trusting, tolerant affection for another whose life is deeply intertwined with one’s own. o Research suggests that compassionate love is more strongly related to relationship satisfaction than passionate love. o Robert Sternberg further refined compassionate love by suggesting that it can be subdivided into intimacy and commitment. Intimacy refers warmth, closeness, and sharing in a relationship. Commitment is intent to maintain a relationship in spite of the difficulties and costs that may arise. o Brain-imaging research indicates that when people think about someone they are passionately in love with, these thoughts light up the dopamine circuits in the brain that are known to be activated by cocaine and other addictive drugs. • Love as Attachment o Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver have looked not at the components of love but at similarities between love and attachment relationships in infancy. o Most infants develop a secure attachment however, some are very anxious when separated from their caretaker, a syndrome called anxious ambivalent attachmen
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