Welcome to Social Psychology! 09/03/2013
Personal Exploration Assignments
Assignment 2 (due 10/2): Do you have biases that you’re not even aware of?
Browse to https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/ and try any two different Implicit
Association Tests. Note the results you receive on each test. In a 2page paper, discuss your
experience with the test and your reaction to your results. Focus on the following questions:
What tests did you try?
What were your results on each test? Did you find the results surprising, or were they what you
Do you think the Implicit Association Test is a good measure of your nonconscious attitudes?
Why or why not?
Assignment 5: (due 11/8): How are men and women portrayed differently in advertising
Select two popular color fashion magazines of your choosing one that is specifically targeted at
men (such as GQ) and one that is specifically targeted at women (such as Elle). For the men's
fashion magazine, start at the inside front cover and locate every other large advertisement that
prominently features a male model until you have located 15 such advertisements. Do the same
thing with the women's fashion magazine, but looking for large advertisements that prominently
feature a female model. You now have 15 images of men and 15 images of women as depicted in
print media advertisements. (If you cannot find 15, take every single advertisement instead of
every other one.) In a 34page paper, discuss your impressions of the differences between the
portrayals of men and women in these advertisements. Focus on the following questions:
What are the commonalities in the depictions of men? What are the commonalities in the
depictions of women?
What are the differences between the depictions of men and the depictions of women?
In what ways are these depictions (men and/or women) simplistic, unrealistic, sexist, or
objectifying? Is anything overemphasized? Is anything missing?
What inappropriate messages might these depictions convey about gender roles, body image, or
sexuality? Please attach the covers and 4 sample pages (two male and two female) from the two
magazines. (Yes, you may attach photocopies if you prefer not to damage the magazine. We just
want to get a sense of what you based your observations on.) Chapter 1: An Invitation to Social Psychology 09/03/2013
Characterizing Social Psychology
Social Psychology – scientific study of how an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are
influenced by other people.
Actions and characteristics of others affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors by thinking how
would other people’s actions affect you in certain circumstances
Due to the 60 minutes episode in which American soldiers were shown humiliating and
degrading Arabs in their national prisons, such as the one in Iraq, a study was conducted by
Philip Zimbardo and showed that in any situation “good apples” can go bad in the “barrel” only
because of the fact that the balance of power is so unequal they turn towards these methods.
Understanding our Social World
There are cognitive processes involved by asking ourselves what are people like, why people
behave the way they do, how they feel about you, and how will others react to your own
Cultural context is involved through cultural norms, beliefs, and values that shape our social
Implicit (nonconscious) processes are involved like:
Environmental variables are involved
Beware of hindsight bias!!
Depressive realism – the act of being realistic in their own selfreceptions and this tends to lead
to their depression.
Reexposure event – feel negatively towards something at first and the more you become
exposed to it, the more you end up liking it.
Halo effect – attractive people are more likely to be seen as warm, intelligent, and welcoming.
Catharsis hypothesis – instinctual energy to vent their anger by punching things and yelling to
blow off steam but it actually tends to lead to more physiological arousal (more aggression).
False consensus effect – people tend to assume that others share their own fundamental beliefs
Comparing Social Psychology with Related Disciplines
Personality psychology – stresses individual differences in behavior rather than the social
Normally try to find a consistent pattern in the way an individual behaves across situations Chapter 1: An Invitation to Social Psychology 09/03/2013
Cognitive psychology – the study of how people perceive, think about, and remember aspects of
Normally find them study categorization processes or memory in social behavior/perceptions of
Sociology – the study of behavior of the people in the aggregate
Normally study institutions, bureaucracies, mass movements, and changes in the demographic
characteristics of populations.
The Power of the Situation
The philosopher Hannah Arendt suggested in her controversial book Eichmann in Jerusalem
that all humans are capable of acts of brutality and research has supported this so called “banality
Raises the question: How does the situation people find themselves in affect their behavior?
Kurt Lewin – the founder of modern social psychology and applied physics to understanding
psychological existences by saying that the behavior of people is a function of the field of forces
in which they find themselves.
The main influences on situational behavior are other people.
The Milgram Experiment
Stanley Milgram – set up a study in which participants believed they were testing a learner and
punishing him which shocks that ranged from 15 to 450 volts every time the learner made an
error. When participants became concerned about the shock level and asked the experimenter
what should be done all that was said was “Please continue”, even when the shock level reached
Results: 80% continued past the 150 volt level and 62% went all the way to the 450 volt
level. The average amount of shock given was 360 volts.
Seminarians as Samaritans
John Darley & Daniel Batson conducted an experiment that shows the importance of the
situation by telling students at the Princeton Theological Seminary to deliver a sermon based on
their religious orientation but on the way there they encountered a man in the doorway coughing
and groaning and only the people who were told to rush and not wait walked right by him which
stated that even religious preferences weren’t of any concern. When someone is in a rush, they’re
in a rush and will not wait for anyone else, even if they’re in apparent need of help.
The Fundamental Attribution Error
Dispositions – internal factors such as beliefs, values, personality traits, or abilities that guide a
person’s behavior. Chapter 1: An Invitation to Social Psychology 09/03/2013
Fundamental attribution error – the failure to recognize the importance of situational
influences on behavior, and the corresponding tendency to overemphasize the importance of
dispositions or traits on behavior.
Channel factors – introduced by Kurt Lewin, certain situational circumstances that appear
unimportant on the surface but that and have great consequences for behavior, either facilitating
or blocking it or guiding behavior in a particular direction.
The Role of Construal
Construal – people’s interpretation and inference about the stimuli or situations they confront.
Gestalt psychology – based on the German word gestalt – form or figure – this approach
stresses the fact that people perceive objects not by means of some automatic registering device
but by active, usually unconscious interpretation of what the object represents as a whole.
Our judgments and beliefs are constructed from perceptions and thoughts but they aren’t simple
readouts of reality
Prisoner’s dilemma – created by Liberman, Samuels & Ross this is a situation involving
payoffs to two people, who must decide whether to cooperated or defect. In the end trust and
cooperation lead to high joint payoffs than mistrust and defection. (Prosecutor’s gamble).
Schema – knowledge structure consisting of any organized body of stored information.
Capture the regularities of life and lead us to have certain expectations we can rely on.
A lot of work in social psychology has been dedicated to the study of stereotypes due the fact
that people apply different and most likely wrong types of schemas to nationalities, gender,
religion, occupation, neighborhood or sorority which in turn give too much weight in relation to
the actual information we have.
Automatic vs. Controlled Processing
The mind processes information in two ways when they encounter a social situation: one –
automatic/unconscious and often based on emotional factors while the other –
conscious/systematic and more controlled by careful thought.
Types of Unconscious Processing
William James describes one as being skill acquisition – by learning and overlearning certain
skills, we can exercise them without being aware we are doing so and can carry them without
being distracted from other things (conscious thoughts and processing).
Sigmund Freud describes another as when people generate beliefs and behaviors without
conscious awareness of cognitive processes. Chapter 1: An Invitation to Social Psychology 09/03/2013
Functions of Unconscious Processing
Much of mental processing is done mainly automatically because of efficiency; we normally
recognize people and situations faster by seeing every little aspect and putting it together quicker.
Also we do it for survival by recognizing stimuli and instantly deciding if they’re favorable or
have a negative connotation.
Evolution and Human Behavior: How we are the same
Natural selection – an evolutionary process that molds animals and plants so that traits that
enhance the probability of survival and reproduction are passed on to subsequent generations.
Consistent theme in evolutionary theory seems to be that many human behaviors and institutions
are nearly universal.
Examples: bipedalism, shared facial expressions with primates, dominance & submission,
greater aggressiveness in males, preference of own kin, and wariness around snakes.
Group Living, Language, and Theory of Mind
It is essential for humans to live in groups, especially in the past, mainly due to the fact that
groups provided protection from predators, greater success in foraging, mate access, and other
By living in these groups humans have been able to produce language and is used not only to
convey emotion but complex thoughts, attitudes, beliefs etc.
Infants are prewired for language acquisition and learn the stages for language that are identical
across culture to culture.
Being able to drop certain phonemes that aren’t used in a specific child’s specific language does
Theory of mind – the understanding that other people have beliefs and desires.
People with autism have deeply disordered abilities for interacting and communicating with
others so they seem unable to comprehend the beliefs and desires of others even when these are
Evolution and Gender Roles
Parental investment – the evolutionary principle that costs and benefits are associated with
reproduction and the nurturing of offspring. Because these costs and benefits are different from
males and females, one sex will normally value and invest more in each child than will the other
Avoiding the Naturalistic Fallacy
Naturalistic fallacy – the claim that the ways things are is the way they should be.
Social Neuroscience Chapter 1: An Invitation to Social Psychology 09/03/2013
In recent years social psychologists have begun to examine the brain since it is the biological
grounding for all behavior and have found areas of the brain relating to different emotions,
solving cognitive and social problems, thinking of winning instead of losing etc.
This is done by using an fMRI, which takes a picture of the brain to detect blood flow that
reaches different areas of the brain responsible for different emotions.
Neuroscientists have also provided a window into the development of social behavior through
the use of tracing the physical changes in the brain.
Culture and Human Behavior: How we are Different
The enormous flexibility of humans makes us one of the most successful mammals in terms of
our ability to live in any type of ecosystem. Chapter 2: The Methods of Social Psychology 09/03/2013
Why do Social Psychologists do Research (and why should you want to read about it)?
Normally our observations of the world around us are so on par that the behavior is which we
respond to situations is accurate enough that we then become confident in our abilities to
correctly predict new ones. However, there are pitfalls with this mainly because they contain
surprises that we are not well prepared for such as situations like these; interviews, initiations,
Hindsight bias – people’s tendency to be overconfident about whether they could have predicted
a given outcome.
How Do Social Psychologists Test Ideas?
Hypothesis – a prediction about what will happened under particular circumstances
Theory – a body of related propositions intended to describe some aspects of the world.
At the simplest level it is looking at a phenomenon with a view of understanding the situation but
finding the underlying factors of the situation.
Participant observation – observing some phenomenon at close range
Archival research – researchers look at evidence found in archives of various kinds and judging
based off of the information found.
Surveys – one of the most common types of study and simply involves asking people to answer
a set of questions without trying to sway them one way or another.
Population – the group of people you want to know about
Random sample – taken at random from the population
Convenience sample – taken from some available subgroup in the population
Correlational research – research that does not involve random assignments to different
situations, or conditions, and that psychologists conduct just to see whether there is a relationship
between the variables.
Experimental research – in social psychology, research that randomly assigns people to
different conditions, or situations, and that enables researchers to make strong inferences about
how these different conditions affect people’s behavior.
Correlation is Not Causation
Reverse causation – when variable 1 is assumed to cause variable 2, yet the opposite direction
of causation may be the case.
Third variable – when variable 1 doesn’t cause variable 2 and variable 2 doesn’t cause variable
1, but rather some other variable exerts a causal influence on both. Chapter 2: The Methods of Social Psychology 09/03/2013
*Remember that this type of research doesn’t cause selfselection – a problem that arises when
the participant, rather than the investigator, selects his or her own level on each variable,
bringing with this value, unknown other properties that make causal interpretation of a
The Value of Correlational Findings Chapter 2: The Methods of Social Psychology 09/03/2013
It is helpful by alerting researchers to the potential of various possibilities and they sometimes
are the best option when an experimental study is deemed difficult or unethical.
Longitudinal study – a study conducted over a long period of time with the same population,
which is periodically assessed regarding a particular behavior
Independent variable – in experimental research the variable that is manipulated; it is
hypothesized to be the cause of a particular outcome
Dependent variable – in experimental research the variable that is measured; it is hypothesized
to be affected by manipulation of the independent variable.
Random assignment – assigning participants in experimental research to different groups
randomly, such that they are as likely to be assigned to one condition as to another.
It also rules out the possibility of selfselection biases
Control condition – a condition comparable to the experimental condition in every way except
that it lacks the one ingredient hypothesized to produce the expected effect on the dependent
Remember that correlation does not mean causation!
Natural experiments – naturally occurring events or phenomena having somewhat different
conditions that can be compared with almost as much rigor as in experiments where the
investigator manipulates the conditions.
Some Other Useful Concepts for Understanding Research
Experimental Validity in Experiments
Experimental validity – an experimental setup that closely resembles reallife situations so that
results can safely be generalized to such situations
Stanley Milgram experiment
Field experiment – one of the best ways to ensure external validity of an experiment; an
experiment set up in the real world, usually with participants who are not aware that they are in a
study of any kind.
Internal validity in Experiments
Internal validity – in experimental research, confidence that only manipulated variable could
have produced the results.
It requires that the set up seem realistic and plausible to the participants
Debriefing – in preliminary versions of an experiment, asking participants straightforwardly if
they understood the instructions, found the set up to reasonable, and so forth. In later versions,
debriefing are used to educate participants about the questions being studied.
Reliability and Validity of Tests and Measures Chapter 2: The Methods of Social Psychology 09/03/2013
Reliability – the degree to which the particular way that researchers measure a given variable is
likely to yield consistent results.
The correlation that shows something to be reliable is between 0 and 1 and the correlation
showing something is linked lies above 0.5
Measurement validity – the correlation between some measure and some outcome that the
measure is supposed to predict.
Statistical significance – a measure of the probability that a given result could have occurred by
Basic and Applied Research
Basic science – science concerned with trying to understand some phenomenon in its own right,
with a view toward using that understanding to build valid theories about the nature of some
aspect of the world.
Intervention – an effort to change people’s behavior
Applied science – science concerned with solving some realworld problem of importance.
Ethical Concerns in Social Psychology
Institutional review board (IRB) – a university committee that examines research proposals
and makes judgments about the ethical appropriateness of the research.
They normally consist one scientist, a nonscientist, and someone not affiliated with the
Informed consent – mainly used in medical research and monitored by IRBs; participants’
willingness to participate in a procedure or research study after learning all relevant aspects
about the procedure or study
Deception research – research in which the participants are misled about the purpose of the research
or the meaning of something that is done to them and informed consent is NOT possible. Chapter 3: The Social Self 09/03/2013
Nature of the Social Self
William James – wrote the book The Principles of Psychology and began the social study of the
Social me – termed coined by James and refers to the parts of selfknowledge that are derived
from social relationships
Social psychologists today normally recognize three primary components of the self:
Individual self – beliefs about our unique personality traits, abilities, preferences, tastes, talents,
and so forth.
By focusing on the individual we set ourselves apart from others.
Relational self – beliefs about our identities in specific relationships
Collective self – beliefs about our identities as members of social groups to which we belong.
Ideal self – the self that embodies people's wishes and aspirations as held by themselves and by
other people for them
Actual self – the self people believe they are
Origins of SelfKnowledge
Family and Other Socialization Agents
Parents and other agents (grandparents, siblings, and teachers) teach children what they view as
socially appropriate and valued attributes/behaviors. This is normally done directly by telling
them what to do and indirectly by shaping behavior. By doing this we are contributing to that
persons’ sense of self.
Charles H. Cooley – sociologist who coined the phrase “lookingglass self” – the idea that other
peoples’ reactions to us serve as a mirror of sorts, reflect our image and allow us to see it and
created reflected selfappraisals.
Reflected selfappraisals – beliefs about what others think of our social lives.
Even though we have some selfappraisals, there are some biases since we are primed to think
that our own sense of self is what other people see even though that isn’t necessarily true.
Situationism and the Social Self
From the film Zelig we learn that the social self shifts dramatically from one situation to another.
Aspects of the Self that are Relevant in the Social Context
The greatest determinant of self is the current situation of which self is being determined.
Markus and Wurf – created the term working selfconcept – subset of selfknowledge that is
brought to mind in a particular context.
Aspects of the Self that are Distinct in the Social Context
William McGuire & Alice PadawerSinger – proposed another perspective on the effects of the
current situation on our sense of self; distinctiveness hypothesis – people highlight what makes
them special/unique in social situations. Chapter 3: The Social Self 09/03/2013
Both Malleable and Stable?
In order to reconcile the dueling of stability and malleability in the sense of self we have to
recognize the situation the person is in since the changes might be stable across differing social
Culture and the Social Self
In western cultures, people are more concerned about their individuality, freedom, and self
In eastern cultures this is completely opposite.
Independent selfconstrual – the self is an autonomous entity that is distinct and separate from
Imperative is to assert uniqueness and independence and the focus is mainly on the internal
causes of behavior.
Interdependent selfconstrual – the self is fundamentally connected to other people
Imperative for the person to find a place and fulfill appropriate roles within the community and
other collective and the focus is on the influence of the social context and the situation on current
Gender and the Social Self
The basic differences in selfconstruals is manifold; women are more likely than men to like
photos that include other people, more empathic and better judges of people’s
personalities/emotions, refer to social characteristics when being asked about people etc.
Social comparison theory – the hypothesis that people compare themselves to other people in
order to obtain an accurate assessment of their own opinions, abilities, and internal states.
Humans mostly participate in downward social comparison and rarely participate in upward
Comparison happens by using different motives and ability in tandem.
Narrative about the Social Self
Dan McAdams – created the narrative social self – people continually tell a particular story
about themselves as we live our lives.
The narrative self can be compared to a novel due to its settings.
Hazel Markus – hypothesized the idea of self schemas – schema of the self that allows people
to process information in the schema more quickly, retrieve evidence that is consistent with that
schema, readily make predictions about his or her likelihood of enhancing in schemarelated
business and interpret information that contradicts our own interpretation of this specific schema. Chapter 3: The Social Self 09/03/2013
Selfreference effect – the tendency for information that is related to the self to be more
thoroughly processed and integrated with existing selfknowledge, thereby making it more
Selfcomplexity – the tendency to define the self in terms of multiple domains that are relatively
distinct from one another in context.
The rate of selfcomplexity stems from how many domains people think relate to them and these
are known to be distinct from one another with no sense of overlapping.
Trait and State SelfEsteem
Selfesteem – the positive or negative overall evolution that each person has himself or herself.
It is normally measure using a selfreport measures and selfesteem normally represents how we
feel about our attributes and qualities, our successes and failures, and our own self worth.
Trait selfesteem – persons’ enduring level of selfregard across time and it’s fairly stable over
State selfesteem – the dynamic and changeable selfevaluations that are experienced as
momentary feelings about the self. This rises and falls according to transient moods and specific
construal processes that arise in different situations
Contingencies of SelfWorth
Contingencies of selfworth – an account of selfesteem that maintains that selfesteem is
contingent on successes and failures in domains on which a person has based for his or her self
The domains that are the most important in contingencies for selfworth are family support,
school competence, competition, virtue, social acceptance, physical appearance and religious
Selfesteem is heavily based on our contingencies of selfworth so if things are going well in
differing domains then our selfesteem rises and vice versa.
Self Acceptance and SelfEsteem
Sociometer hypothesis – a hypothesis that maintains that selfesteem is on an internal,
subjective index or marker of the extent to which a person is included or looked on favorably by
Since humans are the most social of animals we have a need to quickly assess how we are doing
Independent cultures foster selfesteem much higher than interdependent ones
Need to Know Terms Chapter 3: The Social Self 09/03/2013
Selfregulation – processes that people use to initiate, alter, and control their behavior in the
pursuit of goals, including the ability to resist shortterm awards that thwart the attainment of
Selfdiscrepancy theory – a theory that behavior is motivated by standards reflecting ideal and
ought selves. Falling short of these standards produces specific emotions—dejectionrelated
emotions for actualideal discrepancies, and agitationrelated emotions for actualought
Ego depletion – refers to the idea that selfcontrol or willpower draw upon a limited pool of
mental resources that can be used up Chapter 3 Class Notes: The Social Self 09/03/2013
The self is not just a personality construct
Influenced by experience and social context
William James (1890) – a person has “as many social selves as there are individuals who
recognize him and carry an image of him in their minds”
Charles Cooley (1902) – views of self reflect the standpoints of significant others in our lives
“looking glass self”
George Herbert Mead (1934) – we imagine the perspectives of others and incorporate these
into our self views ▯and this occurs continuously as we interact with others in an ongoing basis
The self is social in at least two ways
Formation – the way we develop our selfconceptions depends in part on our interactions with
Activation – the situation context which often includes other people can affect how we see
ourselves in any given moment
Self schema – as described by Hazel Markus it is well elaborated knowledge about the self that
guide the processing of selfrelevant information – a lens through which you see yourself
Schematics faster than aschematics to endorse as self descriptive words in schematic domain
Schematics resist evidence contradicting their view of themselves in the schematic domain.
The self is not monolithic
Multifaceted and contextsensitive
Core aspects remain stable across situations
Peripheral aspects may depend on situation, mood, recent thoughts, etc.
Spontaneous selfconcept – as stated by Bill McGuire – specific aspects of self that are
triggered by the features of the current situation
Working selfconcept – includes core selfconceptions along with less central selfconceptions
that may vary depending on the situational context. (How you’re feeling at any given moment)
Spotlight effect – as said by Tom Gilovich – overestimating one’s salience to others
(appearance and behavior)
Barry Manilow and Vanilla Ice shirt test (habituation)
Others are paying less attention to us and judging us less harshly than we tend to think
Also overestimating salience of variability (bad hair days) and internal states (emotion and
Selfawareness theory – as stated by Duval and Wicklund – most of the time, we’re not overly
focused on ourselves and when people focus heir attention on themselves they evaluate and
compare their behavior to their internal and standards and values
Associated with a drop in selfesteem Chapter 3 Class Notes: The Social Self 09/03/2013
Associated with behaving in line with socially desirable (and probably internalized standards) Chapter 3 Class Notes: The Social Self 09/03/2013
Beaman et al. (1979) – told participants (Halloween trick or treaters) greeted at the researchers
door and left alone to help themselves to candy, asked them to only take one piece
Independent variable – full length mirror behind bowl or no mirror
Dependent variable – how much candy the child took
Results 34% broke the rule with no mirror and 12% broke the rule with the mirror.
Cultural Context (Hazel Markus)
Independent (individualistic) culture:
Identity is personal, defined by individual traits and goals; distinctiveness is emphasized
What matters: me
Disapproves of conformity
Illustrative motto: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”
Interdependent (collectivist cultures)
Identity is social; defined by connections with others; fitting in is emphasized
What matters: we
Disapproves of egotism
Illustrative motto: “the nail that stands out gets pounded down”
Selfesteem – global positive or negative feelings about the self
Selfserving cognitions – as described by James Shepperd, it is a set of cognitions that serve
our own biases and when faced with failure they blame others instead of themselves.
Asked college students about their performance on the SAT and checked against the actual scores
Most students overestimated their actual score by 17 points and this was more pronounced
among students with lower scores.
Selfhandicapping – protecting selfimage by setting up a situation that makes it difficult to
succeed but creates a hand excuse for failure.
Berglas & Jones – created an experiment with a cover story (drugs and intellectual
performance); IV soluble or insoluble problems on “aptitude test”, DV – choice of drug before
the next round; one drug helps intellectual performance (drug A) and inhibits intellectual
performance (drug B).
Some of the test questions were very challenging with some guessing (with no answer to the
Results: soluble problem – 87% helped, 13% inhibits; insoluble problems 30% helps and 70%
Defensive pessimism – as stated by Norem and Cantor, it is a strategy in which a person
expects the worst, and works harder because of this expectation Chapter 3 Class Notes: The Social Self 09/03/2013
Among honor students, defensive pessimists performed better if they were allowed to have
Basking in reflected glory
Increasing selfesteem by associating with others who are successful
Cladini et al. – did an experiment on school sweatshirts and team victories.
IV – failure or success feedback on general knowledge test; DV – described outcome of recent
Results – those who failed were more likely to share team’s victory by saying things like “we
Downward social comparison – comparing ourselves to people who are worse off than we are
on a particular trait or ability
I got a C on my exam but my roommate got a D. I feel better now.
Shelly Taylor – research on breast cancer patients. Chapter 4: Social Cognition 09/03/2013
Social cognition – the study of how people think bout themselves and their social world
The selection, interpretation, recall, and application of social information to make judgments and
People are not things
Manage their impressions
Have underlying traits
People perceive us back
Automaticity – low effort thinking
Not all available information is used
“Cognitive misers” – created by Susan Fisk – one of the most important social cognitive
psychologist who wrote the book on cognitive misers – when we use only as much cognitive
information as we think we need.
If we don’t use all of the available information, what do we use?
Categorical information – fitting new information to what we already know, by matching it to
Key point: social cognition is greatly influenced by past experience
Seeing the social world through the lens of our preconceptions.
Schemas – mental representations of various objects or categories
Contain defining features of the object or category and other organized knowledge about it.
Help us organize information to remember it better.
Guide the selection, interpretation, and the recall of information. Look at the list below:
Comfort Chapter 4: Social Cognition 09/03/2013
Functions of Schemas
They help us fill in the details and make inferences
You see your friend walk out the door with a basket of laundry
The person you meet at a party tells you that she is a lawyer
The person sitting next to you is wearing a tshirt that says “Proud to support the NRA”
Schemas influence what information we attend to
Study: Grad student’s office (Brewer and Treyens)
Schemas tell us what to expect and what not to expect
Schema inconsistent events are surprising and require extra effort to understand and to respond
Schemas help us to interpret ambiguous information
Students with the last name beginning A through K should look away from the screen until told
to look back.
You’re walking down the street when a stranger rapidly approaches you. What does he want?
Schema’s can influence behavior
John Bargh’s priming research – primes people with words using politeness and rudeness.
Which determines which schema will be used in a given situation?
Personal chronic constructs – people walk around with constructs that are important to them
and judge others based off of that particular construct.
Cognitive biases Chapter 4: Social Cognition 09/03/2013
Schemas help us to make quick judgments, often with minimal information. But they can also
lead us into trouble.
Overgeneralizing, misinterpreting, inaccurate information
Perseverance effect (belief persistence) – holding on to false beliefs
Confirmation bias – seeing what you want to see by seeking information that we know will
confirm (rather than disconfirm) our preconceptions
This is mainly done by selectively attend to information that is consistent with our expectations
and we ignore or discount (explain away) information that is inconsistent.
Snyder and Swann interview study. Interview was told before they interviewed a person
whether or not they were introverted or extroverted. Pick the questions you want to ask. So the
interviewers asked introversion/extroversioneliciting questions.
Dependent variables: type of questions
Self fulfilling prophesy – expectations become reality
David Rosenthal – students are given intellectual tests and seeing if people are going to be
intellectual bloomers (told the teacher who the students are). Then class proceeds as normal and then
grade results are recorded at the end of the year. Pygmalion effect – taken from the Greek myth
about a sculptor named Pygmalion, it is the idea that one person can transform another Chapter 5: Social Attribution Explaining Behavior 09/03/2013
Attribution theory – an umbrella term used to describe the set of theoretical accounts of how
people assign causes to the events around them and the effects that people’s causal assessments
From Acts to Dispositions: Inferring the Causes of Behavior
Causal attribution – linking an event to a cause, such as inferring that a personality trait was
responsible for a behavior.
The Pervasiveness and Importance of Causal Attribution
Differing situations elicit a differing emotional response and may lead to a change in mental
health as well.
Explanatory Style and Attribution
Explanatory style – described by Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman it is a person’s
habitual way of explaining events, typically assessed along three dimensions: internal/external,
stable/unstable, and global/specific.
Attributions about Controllability
Bernard Weiner and Craig Anderson – conducted research that reinforces the idea that
people’s atttributional tendencies have a powerful effect on their longterm outcomes.
They emphasized whether an attribution implies that an outcome is controllable not whether its
consequences are global or specific. The conclusions show that people can be trained to adopt
more productive atttributional tendencies for academic outcomes and that doing so has beneficial
effects on subsequent academic performance.
Gender and Attribution Style
Carol Dweck et al. – stated that in school systems boy are more likely to attribute their failures
to lack of effort and that girls attribute it to lack of ability.
This difference is in part from the criticisms boys and girls get; girls are more likely to be
criticized on their lack of intellectual ability and boys are criticized on nonintellectual factors.
The Processes of Causal Attribution
Our perception of other peoples’ control over a situation plays a huge role in how we judge that
Another focus of atttributional analysis stems from whether or not an outcome is the product of
how something within the person or due to the situation or circumstances surrounding it.
Attribution and Covariation
Covariation principle – the idea that behavior should be attributed to potential causes that co
occur with the behavior.
Consensus – what most people would do in a given situation – that is, whether most people
would behave the same way or few or no other people would behave that way. (The higher the
consensus the more it says about the situation) Chapter 5: Social Attribution Explaining Behavior 09/03/2013
Distinctiveness – what an individual does in different situations – that is, whether the behavior is
unique to a particular situation or occurs in all situations. (The distinctiveness is high when
someone’s reaction is confined to a particular situation).
Consistency – what an individual does in a given situation on different occasions – that is,
whether next time under the same circumstances, the person would behave the same or
Attribution and Imagining Alternative Actors and Outcomes
The Discounting and the Augmentation principle
Discounting principle – the idea that people should assign reduced weight to a particular cause
of behavior if other plausible causes might have produced it.
Augmentation principle – the idea that people should assign greater weight to a particular cause
of behavior if other causes are present that normally would produce the opposite outcome.
It is difficult to conclude how someone behaves “in role” but easy to conclude about someone
acts “out of role”
Interview study (extroverted vs. introverted)
The Influence of What Almost Happened
Counterfactual thoughts – thoughts of what might have, or should happened “if only”
something had been done differently.
Emotional Effects of Counterfactual Thinking
Emotional amplification – a ratchetingup of an emotional reaction to an event that proportional
to how easy it is to imagine the event no happening.
The Olympic athletes study revealed the silver medalist seemed unhappier than the bronze
medalists because they are too consumed and focused on what they didn’t receive (the gold).
The Influence of Exceptions versus Routines
Another determinant of how easy an event not happening is whether it results from a routine
action or a departure from the norm (departure from the norm is REALLY BAD)
People have more of an emotional amplification
Errors and Biases in Attribution
The SelfServing Attributional Bias
Selfserving attributional bias – the tendency to attribute failure and other bad events to
external circumstances, but to attribute success and other good events to oneself.
The Fundamental Attribution Error
Fundamental attribution error – the tendency to attribute people’s behavior to elements of
their character or personality, even when powerful situations forces are acting produce the
Experimental Demonstration of the Fundamental Attributional Error Chapter 5: Social Attribution Explaining Behavior 09/03/2013
Jones and Harris – created a study in which Duke University students were asked to read an
essay about Fidel Castro (half proCastro) and then write a paper defending the position they
received. Even those who got a choice about the essays still were proCastro or antiCastro.
The Fundamental Attributional Error and Perceptions of the Advantaged and
People tend to assign too much responsibility to the individual for great accomplishments and
terrible mistakes/not enough responsibility to the particular situational/broader societal forces or
People also fail to see the advantages that life grants others and the disadvantages others must
Alex Trebek effect – Jeopardy game/experiment
Causes of the Fundamental Attributional Error
Motivational Influence and the Belief in a Just World
People tend to attribute behavior to dispositions because that type of inference can be comforting
and attribute people’s outcomes to something about them rather than to fate or chance in part
from motivation to do and to lessen the threat perceived against us.
Just world hypothesis – the belief that people get what they deserve in life and deserve what
People are often More Salient than Situations
Elements of the environment are more likely to be seen as potential causes of an observed effect
and situations are seen are the mere background to the person and his or her actions.
Attribution and Cognition
Perceptual salience – explains the situational influences that hold sway over certain
Dan Gilbert – people don’t make dispositional inferences when dealing with others; we already
reason in a manner that allows us to take initial behavior in and make a decision first about said
behavior and categorize the person. Only after when we reflect on the situation surrounding the
behavior do we go back and change our original inference.
When people are primarily involved in finding out about differing situations they:
1. Watch the behavior being exhibited for the situation
2. Categorize the situation automatically
3. Correct it later based on later knowledge of the individuals who performed the behavior.
The Consequences of the Fundamental Attribution Error
In order to learn more about the person instead of just their apparent traits in a specific type of
setting we must look at a wide range of situations. Chapter 5: Social Attribution Explaining Behavior 09/03/2013
People are also not good at assessing the validity of our judgments; we explain after the fact and
the situations/persons are often confounded.
The ActorObserver Difference in Causal Attribution
Actorobserver difference – a difference in the attribution based on who is making the causal
assessment: the actor (who is relatively disposed to make situational attributions) or the observer
(who is relatively disposed to make dispositional attributions)
An assumption about what needs to be explained plays a role in the difference.
Perceptual salience for the actor and the surrounding situations is different.
Actors and observers differ in the amount and kind of information they have about the differing
Cultural and Causal Attribution
Cultural Differences in Attending to Context
Most of the worlds’ people pay more attention to the salient situations and the people involved in
said situations than the US.
They also differ in terms of how much attention they give to context, even when perceiving
Causal Attribution for Independent and Interdependent Peoples
Asians’ and Westerners’ are vastly different in their attention details so we see Asians’ more
likely to talk about the other team (in sports) then themselves, and are more likely to see
situations and contexts. Westerners’ see dispositions and internal causes.
Culture and the Fundamental Attribution Error
The fundamental attribution error is reported to be more widespread and pronounced for people
of western cultures since we pay less attention to situational factors in circumstances where our
Asian counterparts are used to paying closer attention to it.
People in Hong Kong are in the middle of choosing either an interdependent or independent
society and are normally primed with that way of thinking by being shown a series of images.
Social Class and Attribution
Social class – the amount of wealth, education, and occupational prestige a person and his or her
Michael Kraus – did a series of studies that found lower class or working individuals resemble
interdependent cultures in their attributional tendencies. Also when asked to make
positive/negative attributions about life outcomes they are more likely situational causes than
Dispositions: Flexible or Fixed? Chapter 5: Social Attribution Explaining Behavior 09/03/2013
The processes of making attributions and forming impressions are in many ways the same and in
many ways different across cultures since they are using the dimensions of judgment. Asians
however err less when making the fundamental attribution error. Chapter 4 cont.: Social Perception 09/03/2013
Representativeness heuristic – categorizing objects by how well they seem to represent the
Base rate fallacy – people only consider the base rate of information instead of going beyond.
Intelligent and foolish, outgoing and shy
May construct multidimensional model –
Variable X is dependent on Variable Y.
The Ifthen model says that differing situations produces different behaviors and these behaviors
are constant across the board.
Causal attribution – an assumption about why a person acted the way he or she did
Two major kinds of attributions: dispositional and situational
Dispositional attribution –something about someone else’s behavior that you attribute to them
without really knowing why.
Situational attributions – something about the situation made the person act that way
People make attribution errors.
Fundamental attribution error (correspondence bias) – the tendency to underestimate the
contribution of situational factors and to overestimate the contribution of personal factors in
explaining another person’s behavior.
Ned Jones and Victor Harris
Ross, Amabile, and Steinmetz 1977 – “Alex Trebek affect”
We make situational attributions for ourselves much more readily than we do for others
Actorobserver difference – the tendency to attribute others’ behavior mainly to dispositional
factors but one’s own behavior mainly to situational factors.
Reasons for actorobserver difference
Perceptual salience (figure vs. background)
Availability of information
Reasons for fundamental attribution error
Perceptual salience Chapter 4 cont.: Social Perception 09/03/2013
Dean 1 and Dean 2
Non obvious or subtle situational influences
Automaticity – what we do is make an automatic dispositional inference and if we’re
sufficiently motivated, the cognitive resources, and the time, we will effortlessly revise that
automatic inference about someone.
Erving Goffman – “social interaction is like a theatrical performance” “all the world’s a stage”
Selfpresentation – the process of constructing and presenting the self in order to shape others’
impressions and achieve ulterior goals.
Something you’re almost always doing in the presence of others.
Self Presentational strategies
Ingratiation – presenting yourself as likeable
Selfpromotion – presenting yourself as competent ▯ sandbagging – strategically hiding your
Exemplification – presenting yourself as moral
Modesty ▯intimidation Ł supplication
Person perception – process by which we come to know about other people’s temporary states
and enduring dispositions.
Two parts: impression formation and attribution
Impression formation – rapid assessment of salient (obvious) characteristics into an overall
Traits: how do people integrate the various traits they infer about a given person to form a
Integrating traits into a coherent impression by using models
Summation model – valences (positive or negative traits) are added up
Averaging model – valences are averaged
Anderson (1968) – support for the average model
Information integration theory – your own perceptions of people and traits matter when judging
Personal dispositions of perceiver – what is perceiver’s preexisting toward target? Chapter 4 cont.: Social Perception 09/03/2013
Weighted average of target’s traits – through the use of valence & important
Trait negativity bias – dwell on negative feedback and overweigh negative information. Mostly
done with learning information about someone new.
Gestalt psychology – each trait is influence by its context
Solomon Asch – made the idea of central traits – traits that are more important to others.
Harold Kelley (1950) – used a guest lecturer experiment by using an independent variable for
trait descriptors and having the dependent variable is student favorability.
The result: “warm” produced more favorability.
Early information colors perceptions of later information
Jones et al. (1968) – through an experiment testing intellectual ability, the ratings were higher
when correct answers came mainly from first half (earlier information
Independent variable – order or right/wrong questions
Dependent variable – intelligence rating. Chapter 7: Attitudes, Behavior, and Rationalization
The Three Components of Attitudes
Attitude – an evaluation of an object in a positive or negative fashion that includes the three
elements of affect, cognition, and behavior.
Affect – how much people like/dislike an object
Cognitions – thoughts that typically reinforce a persons’ feelings
They are also associated with specific behaviors (i.e. a child crying)
Likert scale – designed by Rensis Likert, it is a numerical scale used to assess people’s
attitudes; it includes a set of possible answers with labeled anchors on each extreme. Sometimes
it fails to differentiate people with stronger or weaker attitudes.
Response latency – developed by Russell Fazio it is a way to measure the accessibility of the
attitude by measuring the time it takes an individual to respond to a stimulus.
Another way to assess it to determine the centrality of the attitude to the individuals’ belief
system. This is done by measuring a variety of attitudes and calculates within the domain of
Implicit attitude measures – indirect measures of attitudes that do not selfreport. This is used
when there is reason to believe that people may be unwilling or unable to report their true
Automatic attitudes – people’s immediate evaluative reactions that they may not be consciously
Predicting Behavior from Attitudes
Richard LaPiere (1934) – traveled through the U.S. with a Chinese couple (prejudice high at
this time), 183 out of 184 restaurants that they visited served them. Later asked those same
restaurants if they would provide service to Chinese people, 91% of 128 who replied said “No”.
Attitudes Sometimes Conflict with Other Powerful Determinants of Behavior
Attitudes compete with other determinants of behavior and don’t always win; hence they are
always connected tightly to behavior.
Attitudes are Sometimes Inconsistent
1. Attitudes conflict with one another
2. There can be a rift between the affective component and the cognitive component of attitudes.
Introspecting about the Reasons for Our Attitudes
Humans introspect our attitudes – meaning that we focus on the readily identifiable, justifiable,
and the easy to capture in words – this leads us to miss the real reasons for our attractions to
others. Chapter 7: Attitudes, Behavior, and Rationalization
Timothy Wilson – tested the above ideal by asking students about their partner; one group was
asked for an overall evaluation while the other was asked for reasons why they felt the way they
did and an overall evaluation of their relationship. Results: People in the first group were better
at more accurately predicting how the relationship would progress than their counterparts.
Introspection may lead us to focus on the easiesttoidentify reasons for liking/disliking
something rather than looking at the real reasons for them.
Attitudes are Sometimes based on Secondhand Information
Attitudes that are based on direct (firsthand) experience predict subsequent behavior much better
than those derived indirectly (secondhand).
Dennis Reagan and Russ Fazio – measured Cornell University’s student’s attitudes about a
housing shortage and tested to see whether or not there was a correlation between the directly
affected students attitudes and their overt behavior compared to others who received the
information secondhand. Results: there is in fact a correlation between directly affected and their
behaviors after the fact.
The Mismatch between General Attitudes and Specific Targets
Several studies show that attitudes and behaviors are normally in sync when they are at the same
level of specificity; they tend to do a better job of predicting specific behaviors.
General attitudes however do a better job of predicting how a person will behave in general
across a multitude of situations.
“Automatic” Behavior that Bypasses Conscious Attitudes
Our behavior is more reflexive than reflective and is the result of the surrounding contexts.
This can mean that our automatic behavior is in fact cause by or consistent with our attitudes.
Predicting Attitudes from Behavior Chapter 7 Class Notes 09/03/2013
Attitude Formation Chapter 7 Class Notes 09/03/2013
Attitude – a positive negative or mixed evaluation of people, objects, or ideas.
Classical conditioning – pairing the attitude object with positive or negative experiences (i.e.
advertisers and sports team)
Krosnick et al. – subliminal conditioning. Students were asked to look at pictures of people
doing routine chores and were subjected to unconscious video that provoked a strong reaction
and then they were asked to rate the picture. It happened below the level of conscious awareness
Operant condition – reinforcement or punishment for expressing a given attitude
Observational learning – exposure to models
Social comparison – clue to accuracy and validation
People we like or respect influence our attributes
Direct experience – liking something because it had a positive experience (or viceversa)
Selfperception theory – done by Darrell Bem (1967) it is the process of examining your own
behavior to infer your attitude.
Knowledge function – helps organize and structure knowledge about the world.
Attitudes aid in the interpretation of new stimuli
Enables rapid responding to attituderelevant information
Rapid evaluative judgments (good vs. bad, approach vs. avoid)
Instrumental function – maximizes rewards and minimizes punishments.
Identity expressive function – attitudes facilitate expression of central values or beliefs
Fleming and Petty (2000) – students high or low in gendergroup identification are presented
with a new snack product and in the results the people in the low gendergroup identification,
description made no difference. For people in high gendergroup identification, liking was higher
when products described as favored by own gendergroup. IV: described as “men’s favorite
snack food” or “women’s favorite snack food” DV: liking for the product
Selfesteem function – consistent with social comparison
Knowing “we are right” by holding attitudes that are validated by other people
Holding attitudes with a strong moral component
Affirms the self as a good person
Egodefensive function – protecting the self from unwelcome or upsetting information
Impression management function – creating a favorable impression by expressing the “right “
attitudes. Chapter 7 Class Notes 09/03/2013
Richard LaPiere (1934) – traveled through the U.S. with a Chinese couple (prejudice high at
this time), 183 out of 184 restaurants that they visited served them. Later asked those same
restaurants if they would provide service to Chinese people, 91% of 128 who replied said “No”.
Attitude doesn’t necessarily predict behavior Persuasion 09/03/2013
Effort justification – doing work that is causing us to suffer and make us appreciate them all the
Why do people selfpersuade?
Cognitive dissonance theory – to reduce tensions, self relevant and happens when discrepancies
Necessary preconditions: behavior has to have some kind of negative consequences, behavior
has to be freely chosen, physiological arousal must occur (the tension)
Alternative: selfperception theory – as told by Darrell Bem, it is just rational inference
Inferring attitude from behavior
Students getting $20 v. $1 for lying about a study.
Both processes operate.
Elaboration likelihood model – consists of two routes to persuasion as said by Dr. Richard
Petty (stated below)
Central – systematic processing of information and relies on analysis of the strength of the
arguments and people not always motivated to process carefully (or unable to do so).
People only listen to, as much as they want to and don’t think everything isn’t a bias and
Peripheral – heuristic processing or noncognitive factors. By using information other than
relative strength of arguments (superficial cues).
Source variables: familiarity, likeability, credibility, physical attractiveness ▯halo effect and
similarity. (The person or source trying to persuade you).
Channel variables: represent how the messages are given out.
Rapid speech – lots of arguments and confidence (credibility and short circuits counter
Vividness – enhances appeal of strong arguments
Positive aesthetic – put you in a happy mood with different colors, music etc.
Fear appeal – initially thought to backfire if too strong, now known to be effective, even with
strong fear, under certain conditions ▯target believes danger is serious, target believes danger is
probable, message includes prescriptive information (how to avoid danger), target believes
recommended precautions will be effective, and target believes she has behavioral control (recall
Humor Persuasion 09/03/2013
Repetition – mere exposure effect and the sheer number of arguments is itself a peripheral cue.
Target variables: depends on mood, issue involvement (relevant to the self – motivation and
outcome is important to them), response involvement (self presentational concerns), need for
cognition (dismissive of weak arguments), selfmonitoring, and discrepancies. Chapter 9: Social Influence 09/03/2013
What is Social Influence?
Social influence – the many ways that people affect one another, including changes in attitudes,
beliefs, feelings, and behavior that result from the comments, actions, or even the mere presence
This can range from a charity’s plea for money to a parent’s struggle to shape our values.
To deal effectively with others requires the knowledge of knowing when to yield to their
attempts to influence us and when/how to resist.
Conformity – changing one’s behavior or beliefs in response to explicit or implicit pressure
(whether real or imagined from others).
Compliance – a more explicit form of conformity, which is defined by responding favorably to
an explicit request by another person.
Obedience – in an unequal power relationship, submitting to the demands to the more powerful
In western society today the term conformity connotes something bad to most people since we
prize autonomy and uniqueness. And all people agree that some forms of social influence are
bad, like pulling a harmful prank on someone. We also agree that other types of conformity are
neither good nor bad. Conformity is normally beneficial to us as it gets us to pay taxes, form
lines for things, and suppress our anger in differing situations.
We are often subconscious copycats.
Study: Undergraduates at NYU took 2 10minute sessions in which each of them were asked to
describe various photographs from magazines like the Times and were placed with a confederate
who either rubbed his face during the study or tapped his foot and they were videotaped to see if
they would do the same. The study proved that we are subconscious copycats and that the
tendency to mimic others is strong among people who have an empathic orientation towards
others or have a need to affiliate with others (who are well liked most of the time).
Why do we mimic?
Ideomotor action – proposed by William James, it’s the phenomenon whereby thinking about a
behavior makes its actual performance more likely.
Based on the fact that the brain regions responsible for perception overlap with those responsible
The second option – we mimic in order to prepare for interaction with them, interaction that is
likely to go more smoothly if we establish some rapport. Chapter 9: Social Influence 09/03/2013
The tendency to automatically adopt the behavior of members of different social categories holds
true for those with a positive attitude toward the group in question. Those who might be
expected to want to interact with members of the category and have the interaction go well.
Studies have shown that people tend to like others who have mimicked them even though they
haven’t noticed it.
Cultural Differences in mimicry
Blount, SanchezBurks and Bartel – interviewed both AngloAmerican and Hispanic
American middle managers in a large corporation, which was dependent on having the interview,
seem like a job interview and giving participants a chance to win a large amount of money if
they performed really well. Some sessions had the interviewer copying the interviewee’s
behavior and they correctly predicted that Hispanic Americans would copy their behavior since
being attuned to the emotions and behaviors of others is more characteristic of Hispanic
Informational Social Influences and Sherif’s Conformity Experiment
Muzafer Sherif – dealt with the conformity that is less automatic and reflexive since he was
interested in how groups influence the behavior of individuals by shaping how reality is
perceived. Designed his experiment to examine how people are used as a social frame of
reference and used an autokinetic illusion (a stationary point of light is moving in a completely
darkened environment). First participants were brought in separately to form their own opinions
and then put together in the group and ending up changing their answers to conform to the group
norm and the group norm influenced all of their answers.
Informational social influence – the influence of other people that results from taking their
comments or actions as a source of information about what is correct, proper, or effective.
We conform in a foreign country rather than our own and when we don’t know how to behave or
what is factually correct in any given situation.
Normative Social Influence and Asch’s Conformity Experiment
Solomon Asch – predicted that when there is a clear conflict between a person’s own judgment
and the judgments advanced by the group, there will be far less conformity that what was
observed with Sherif. Eight people are gathered together to perform a simple perceptual task –
line length – and then each person was to give their judgment publicly one at a time. The
individual that gave a differing opinion in the group was the only true participant there and the
rate of going with the clearly wrong answer of the group was still surprisingly high.
Normative social influence – the influence of other people that comes from the individual’s
desire to avoid their disapproval, harsh judgments, and other social sanctions. They are more
reluctant to depart from social norms because they fear the social consequences.
Factors Affecting Conformity Pressure Chapter 9: Social Influence 09/03/2013
Conformity increases as the size of the group increase since they exert more normative and
social influence. However the effect levels off fairly quickly in particular group sizes (mainly the
In order to lower the pressure if the participant in the study were to have an ally – that is
someone who agrees with him or her – then that weakens both informational and normative
social influence. It tends to become a powerful tool for protecting independence of thought and
action. Remember that the other person doesn’t need to get the same answer but still
deviate from the group norm as well.
Experience and Status
The expertise and status of the group members powerfully influence the rate of conformity. Since
we grant people of higher statuses with higher expertise on different subjects than we ourselves
have the knowledge we assume they know more and go with their opinion. Expertise however
mainly only affects information social influence. Status is the opposite in its affect on normative
People in interdependent cultures are more likely to be susceptible to normative and
informational social influence because they consider the actions/opinions of others more
important and put others at a higher standard than they would in an independent culture.
Stanley Milgram – conducted experiments in Norway and France where he predicted that
Norwegians were more likely to emphasize group cohesiveness and conform while the French
were more likely to battle it out and not shrink away from their own opinions. And he was right!
Tight vs. Loose Cultures
Michelle Gelfand – pursued a distinction between cultures that overlaps with the
Tight cultures – have very strong norms regarding how people should behave and do not tolerate
departure from those norms
Loose cultures – their norms aren’t so strong and their members tolerate more deviance
In her study, 33 countries were studied with a multitude of variables that stated how people in
that country would behave in certain situations. The looser the nation the more likely people
would behave in the way they wanted to behave rather than obey the rigid social norms induced
in the tight countries
Gender Chapter 9: Social Influence 09/03/2013
All societies tend to sextype to some degree and women who are seen as the interdependent
ones in the countries are thought to have more control over human relationships but still be more
susceptible to social influence.
Women do conform in society but only a little bit more than men do. The difference is in the
specific content or issue that they are faced with; they tend to conform in more stereotypically
male dominated regions and it’s vice versa for men.
Difficulty or Ambiguity of the Task
When the judgment of a task is unambiguous and easy to make, informative social influence is
basically eliminated. Only normative influence is at work but resistance to the group is stronger
than it would have been before.
When someone has the ability to respond anonymously to a task, it eliminates normative
Internalization – private acceptance of a proposition, orientation, or ideology.
Normative influence has a greater impact on public compliance than on private acceptance; in
order to avoid disapproval we sometimes do or say one thing but continue to believe another.
The Interpretive Context or Disagreement
The people participating Asch’s experiment conformed due to the fact that everyone else saw
something differently then they did but they did so because they had no basis for knowing why
everyone else saw the different lines. If they had more of an explanation then both informational
and normative influence is lessened.
Important to remember: it is difficult to act independently when we don’t know what to make
of things; it is easier to stand our ground when we have a clear understanding of what might be
causing others to make different judgments from our own.
The Influence of Minority Opinion on the Majority
Minority opinions can influence the majority through consistent and clear messages that
persuade the majority to systematically examine and reevaluate its opinions.
Serge Moscovici – had participants in a setting call out whether the color shown was green or
blue, most participants except for the minority confederate group thought the color was blue.
Slowly over time the people changed their opinions to match the minority group and when tested
on a completely different color scale, it was still deemed to be green.
Minority group opinion is normally consistent leading to a direct effect on the participants’
responses in the public setting and a latent effect on their subsequent, private judgments.
Their effect mainly lies in informational social influence
Obedience to Authority
The Setup of the Milgram Experiments Chapter 9: Social Influence 09/03/2013
Milgram wanted to test the limits of conformity like Asch had done with Serif and wondered if
social pressure could lead to people doing more powerful things like hurting another human
being instead of just comparing lines.
People who responded to an add in a New Haven paper were put in a room with an electric shock
system that goes from a mild shock to XXX and participants were always chosen as “teacher” or
the one giving the questions and putting in the shock when the confederate or learner was wrong.
Each of the teachers were given a 45volt shock so that they could know what it felt like to give
someone else the shock and to start at 15volts and increase with every wrong answer an
increment of 15volts. If they refused the experimenter responded with variations of “Please
63% of participants in the study continued on to the maximum shock of 450volts even though
they could hear the (recorded) screams of the learner, hear him banging on the way, and saying
that he had a heart condition
One part was compelling them to complete the experiment and deliver the shocks and the other
part was the sense of fair play – they had already consented and received payment to do this and
now it is time to fulfill their part of the experiment.
Some felt like this was why they agreed in the first place – to advance science and understand
Normative social influence – desire to avoid the disapproval of the experimenter or anyone else
involved with the experiment
Human desire to “avoid making a scene” and upsetting others
Others however who felt the most compelled to terminate the experiment felt a moral imperative
to stop the suffering of the learner, what would happen if something went horribly wrong and the
thought of having to walk out with the learner after everything was over and the reaction that it
Tuning in the Learner
Milgram wanted to increase the awareness of the learners’ suffering to the teacher by making the
learner more prominent to them by doing these:
Remotefeedback version – the teacher could neither hear or see the learner
Voicefeedback version – the learner was still not in view but his vigorous protests were clearly