Social Psychology

Chapter 12

Social Psychology














Discuss how we influence one another



Group Behavior

Discuss how we think about one another

Fundamental Attribution Error


Discuss how we relate to one another















Conformity – adjusting behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard

Solomon Asch’s line experiment

Looking up

https ://


DISCUSSION: Why do we conform?

Need to belong, be accepted (normative influence)

avoid rejection; gain social approval

We want to be accurate, right (informational influence)










Stanley Milgram’s Shock Experiments / Obedience Studies


Obedience was highest when

the person giving the orders was close at hand and was perceived to be a legitimate authority figure

the authority figure was supported by a prestigious institution

the victim was depersonalized or at a distance, even another room

there were no role models for defiance









Lessons to learn

Using the foot-in-the-door approach, you can get someone to obey larger and larger demands

great evils sometimes grow out of people’s compliance with lesser evils

After the first acts of compliance or resistance, attitudes began to follow and justify behavior.

These are just ordinary people in an evil situation

Those who resist do so early.










When you are the minority, you are far more likely to sway the majority if you hold firmly to your position and don’t waver

This is especially influential if your self-confidence stimulates others to consider why you react as you do.









Social Loafing – tendency for people in a group to exert less effort when pooling their efforts toward attaining a common goal than when individually accountable

How to stop it:


group members should see their individual contributions as needed/useful

be more motivated

identify strongly with group (cohesion)

benefits based off contributions


Group Behavior







Deindividuation – loss of self-awareness and self-restraint occurring in group situations that foster arousal and anonymity

Good can come when we want to serve anonymously

But this is generally bad


Group Behavior








Social Thinking







Attribution theory – we explain someone’s behavior by crediting either the situation or the person’s disposition (traits)

Fundamental attribution error – underestimate the impact of the situation and overestimate the impact of personal disposition

“Our attributions—to a person’s disposition or to the situation—have real consequences.” Myers, p.443

Fundamental Attribution Error







Attitude – feelings, often influenced by our beliefs, that predispose us to respond in a particular way to objects, people, and events; expression of favor or disfavor; an evaluation.


Evaluative response (positive or negative)

Attitude object




Attitudes and Actions







Implicit – automatic; gut feeling

Explicit – conscious, acknowledges, though about



Attitudes Affect Actions

Meta-analysis showed relationship between attitude and behavior is r=.3

Petty and Briñol (2010): “The most common target of persuasion is a person’s attitudes” (p. 117).

Central route processing – thoughtful persuasion

Peripheral route processing – low-thought persuasion

Use heuristics to think about argument


Attitudes and Actions









Actions Affect Attitudes

facial feedback effect

foot-in-the-door phenomenon – tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply with a larger request

Role Playing

Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment


Attitudes and Actions









“The point to remember: Cruel acts shape the self. But so do acts of good will. Act as though you like someone, and you soon may. Changing our behavior can change how we think about others and how we feel about ourselves.” Myers p.447


Attitudes and Actions








Social Relations







Prejudice – prejudgment; an unjustifiable (and usually negative) attitude toward a group and its members.

stereotype – a generalized belief about a group of people

this can be accurate but is often overgeneralized

we stereotype because we cognitively simplify the world—we categorize

we recognize how we differ from other individuals in our group but we overestimate the homogeneity of other groups

“They” seem to look and act alike while “we” are more diverse









discrimination – unjustifiable negative behavior toward a group and its members

“Prejudice is a negative attitude…Discrimination is a negative behavior.” Myers p.462

Much of our prejudice is implicit and goes unrecognized by us









Us and Them: Ingroup and Outgroup

ingroup- “Us”; people with whom we share a common identity

outgroup – “Them”; those perceived as different or apart from our ingroup

ingroup bias – tendency to favor our own group

Beware of Us vs Them thinking both in social situations and in regard to mental disorders









3 Ingredients of our liking for one another


mere exposure effect – repeated exposure to novel stimuli increases liking of them











Altruism – unselfish regard for the welfare of others

bystander effect – tendency for any given bystander to be less likely to give aid if other bystanders are present

situational ambiguity – don’t know if we can interpret it as an emergency

diffusion of responsibility – the more people there are around, the less responsible we feel to help









Best odds of helping someone

person appears to need and deserve help

person is in some way similar to us

person is a woman

we have just observed someone else being helpful

we are not in a hurry

we are in a small town or rural area

we are feeling guilty

we are focused on others and not preoccupied

we are in a good mood



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