1. Social psychology is the scientific study of the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of individuals in
2. Social psychology emphasizes the influence of situations on behavior. People often find it
difficult to see the role that powerful situations play in producing their own and others'
behavior, and they are inclined to overemphasize the importance of personal dispositions in
producing behavior. The two tendencies together are called thefundamental attribution error.
3. Social psychology also focuses on the role of construal in understanding situations. People often
feel that their comprehension of situations is direct, without much mediating thought. In fact,
even the perception of the simplest objects rests on substantial inference and the existence of
complex cognitive structures for carrying it out.
4. The primary tool people use for understanding social situations, and physical stimuli for that
matter, is the schema. Schemas are the stored representations of numberless repetitions of
highly similar stimuli and situations. They tell us how to interpret situations and how to behave
in them. Stereotypes are schemas for people of various kinds—police officers, Hispanics,
yuppies. Stereotypes serve to guide interpretation and behavior, but they can often be
mistaken or misapplied, and they can lead to damaging interactions and unjust actions.
5. People's construals of situations are often lar