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Chapter 16: Social Behavior


Social Psychology: the study of how individuals thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by others Person perception Attribution processes Interpersonal ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Chapter 16: Social Behavior

Chapter 16 Social Behavior
Social Psychology the study of how individuals
thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced
by others
  • Person perception
  • Attribution processes
  • Interpersonal attraction
  • Attitudes
  • Conformity and obedience
  • Behavior in groups

Person Perception Forming Impressions of Others
  • Effects of physical appearance good-looking
    individuals are seen as more competent, secure
    better jobs, and earn higher salaries
  • physical variables in person perception indicate
    that facial features that are similar to infant
    features influence perceptions of honesty
    (baby-faced people being viewed as more honest).
  • Social schemas structures that guide information
    processing (working-class, snob, dumb jocks,
  • Stereotypes beliefs that people have certain
    characteristics because of their membership in
    certain groups (sex, age, ethnic/occupational

Figure 16.1 Examples of social schemas
Person Perception Forming Impressions of Others
  • Prejudice and discrimination Prejudice is a
    negative attitude toward a person because of
    group membership, while discrimination is an
  • create Memory biases that can lead to
    confirmation of previously held beliefs
  • Transmission of prejudice across generations
    occurs in part due to observational learning and
    may be strengthened through operant conditioning

Person Perception Forming Impressions of Others
  • Subjectivity in person perception people tend to
    see what they expect to see and overestimate how
    often they see it this is called the Illusory
  • Spotlight effect people tend to assume that the
    social spotlight shines more brightly on them
  • Illusion of asymmetric insight, or the tendency
    to think that ones knowledge of ones peers is
    greater than peer knowledge of oneself, also
    supports the subjectivity of person perception.

Person Perception Forming Impressions of Others
  • Evolutionary psychologists argue that many biases
    in person perception were adaptive in our
    ancestral past, for example, automatically
    categorizing others may reflect the primitive
    need to quickly separate friend from foe
  • (Ingroup vs Outgroup)
  • Evolutionary perspectives argue that person
    perception swayed by attractiveness b/c it has
    been associated with positive reproductive traits
    throughout history

Attribution Processes Explaining Behavior
  • Attributions inferences that people draw about
    the causes of events, others behavior, and their
    own behavior (b/c people have a strong need to
    understand their experiences)
  • Internal Att. ascribe the causes of behavior to
    personal dispositions, traits, abilities, and
  • External Att ascribe behavior to situational
    demands and environmental constraints
  • Why did Mr. X lose his job?
  • Wrecked car

Attribution Processes Explaining Behavior
  • Harold H. Kelley (1967, 1973) has devised a
    theory that identifies some to the important
    factors that people consider in making an
    internal or external attribution, the covariation
  • People tend to be biased in the way they make
    attributions, research indicates
  • Attributions ultimately represent guesswork about
    the causes of events, and these guesses tend to
    be slanted

Attribution Processes Explaining Behavior
  • Biases in attributions
  • Fundamental attribution error an observer favors
    internal attributions in explaining others
  • In general, we are likely to attribute our own
    behavior to situational causes and others
    behavior to dispositional causes (actor-observer
  • Defensive attribution blaming victims for their
    misfortune, so one feels less likely to be
    victimized in a similar way (hindsight bias)
  • Self-serving bias the tendency to attribute
    ones success to personal factors and ones
    failures to situational factors

Attribution Processes Explaining Behavior
  • Research indicates that there are cultural
    influences on attributional tendencies, with
    individualistic emphasis in Western cultures
    promoting the fundamental attribution error and
    the self-serving bias.
  • Weiners Model of Attributions for Success and
  • Assumes peoples explanations for success and
    failure focus on internal-external causes AND
    stable-unstable causes

Figure 16.23 Bias in the attributions used to
explain success and failure by men and women
Figure 16.4 An alternative view of the
fundamental attribution error
Attribution Processes Explaining Behavior
  • A political question?
  • Conservatives tend to attribute social blight
    (poverty, homelessness, and criminal behavior) to
    internal characteristics
  • Liberals are more likely to attribute the same
    social problems to institutional failures and
    unjust social practices

Attribution Processes Explaining Behavior
  • Cultural influences
  • Individualism putting personal goals ahead of
    group goals, defining success in terms of
    personal attributes instead of group affiliation
  • Collectivism putting group goals ahead of
    personal goals and defining identity in terms of
    groups one belongs to (clan, tribe, social class,
  • Chart page 641

Cultural and Attibutional tendencies
  • Child rearing parents in collectivist cultures
    emphasize obedience, reliability, and proper
  • Parents in individualistic cultures emphasize the
    development of independence, self-esteem, and
    self reliance
  • Instead, Japanese subjects exhibit a
    self-effacing bias as they tend to downplay their
    own ability and attribute success to external
    factors in fact they are more self-critical

Figure 16.22 Relationship between prejudice and
Close Relationships Liking and Loving
  • Key factors in attraction
  • Physical attractiveness the key determinant of
    romantic relationships, particularly in the
    initial stages of dating
  • Matching hypothesis proposes that males and
    females of approximately equal physical
    attractiveness are likely to select each other as
  • Similarity birds of a feather flock together
    Couples tend to be similar in age, race,
    religion, social class, personality, education,
    intelligence, physical attractiveness, and

Close Relationships Liking and Loving
  • Byrnes research suggests that similarity causes
    attraction, particularly attitude similarity
  • Davis and Rusbult (2001) have shown that
    attraction can also foster similarity, with
    dating partners experiencing attitude alignment

Close Relationships Liking and Loving
  • Key factors in attraction (cont.)
  • Reciprocity people tend to like those that like
    them, and we see others as liking us more the
    more we like them
  • When a partner helps one feel good about oneself,
    a phenomenon called self-enhancement occurs
  • Studies suggest that people seek feedback that
    matches and supports their self-concepts, as
    well, a process known as self-verification

Close Relationships Liking and Loving
  • Romantic Ideals the more people match the ideals
    we set for them, the more satisfied we tend to be
    with the relationship
  • People tend to focus on their partners virtues
    and minimize their partners faults

Close Relationships Liking and Loving
  • Perspectives on love
  • Hatfield Berscheid
  • Passionate love complete absorption in another
    that includes tender sexual feelings and the
    agony/ecstasy of intense emotion
  • vs. Companionate love warm, trusting, tolerant
    affection for another whose life is deeply
    intertwined with ones own
  • These may coexist, but not necessarily

Close Relationships Liking and Loving
  • Sternberg divides companionate love further
  • Intimacy refers to warmth, closeness, and
  • Commitment an intent to maintain a relationship
    in spite of the difficulties and costs

Close Relationships Liking and Loving
  • Hazen Shaver
  • Love as attachment looked at the link between
    love and attachment relationships in infancy
  • Subdivided it into 3 categories
  • Secure Attachment more committed, satisfying
    relationships (56)
  • Anxious-Ambivalent attachment (20)
  • Avoidant Attachment (24)

Figure 16.7 Infant attachment and romantic
Evolutionary Perspective on Attraction
  • Mating priorities
  • Physical attraction is seen as aspects of sound
    health, good genes, and high fertility
    (reproductive potential)
  • Facial Symmetry is seen as a key element to
    attraction in diverse cultures
  • Men are more interested in women in finding a
    youthful, attractive mate
  • Women place more emphasis on ambition, social
    status, and financial potential (What can my
    babys daddy do for my baby?)

Evolutionary Perspective on Attraction
  • Both sexes are willing to lie about personality,
    income, past relationships, and career skills to
    impress a prospective date who was attractive

Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • Attitudes positive or negative evaluations of
    objects of thought
  • 3 components
  • Cognitive beliefs people hold about the object
    of attitude (beliefs, ideas)
  • Affective emotional feelings stimulated by an
    object of thought (emotions, feelings)
  • Behavioral the predispositions to act in a
    certain way (actions)

Figure 16.9 The possible components of attitudes
Figure 16.21 The three potential components of
prejudice as an attitude
Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • Attitudes and behavior are not as consistent as
    one might assume, in part because attitude
    strength varies, and in part because attitudes
    only create predispositions to behave in certain
  • Persuasion is undermined when a receiver is
    forewarned, when the sender advocates a position
    that is incompatible with the receivers existing
    attitudes, or when strong attitudes are targeted.

Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • Factors in changing attitudes
  • Source sends a communication
  • Credibility persuasion successful message
  • expertise more influential when arguments are
  • Trustworthiness argument accepted with little
  • Likeability increases sources effectiveness

Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • Factors in changing attitudes (cont.)
  • Message information transmitted
  • One-sided no alternate info
  • Two-sided arguments more effective
  • Fear Arousal successful if fear is aroused, most
    fail to

Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • Factors in changing attitudes (cont.)
  • Receiver person to whom the message is sent
  • Forewarning expectations and prior knowledge are
    more influential than personality
  • disconfirmation bias arguments that go against
    previous schemas are more scrutinized and
  • resistance can promote resistance when you
    resist persuasive efforts, you become more
    certain of those attitudes

Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • Although there are some situational limitations,
    two-sided arguments and fear arousal are
    effective elements in persuasive messages.
  • Repetition is helpful, but adding weak arguments
    to ones case may hurt more than help.
  • Research has indicated that there are many
    factors at play in attitude change.
  • A source of persuasion who is credible, expert,
    trustworthy, likable, and physically attractive
    tends to be relatively effective in stimulating
    attitude change.

Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • Theories of attitude change
  • Learning theory Attitudes may be shaped through
    classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and
    observational learning
  • Dissonance theory inconsistent attitudes cause
    tension and that people alter their attitudes to
    reduce cognitive dissonance(Festinger)
  • Self-perception theory people infer their
    attitudes from their behavior. Behavior affects
    attitude (Bem)

Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • Theories of attitude change (cont.)
  • Elaboration likelihood model central routes to
    persuasion yield longer-lasting attitude change
    than peripheral routes. (Petty and Cacioppo)
  • central routes people carefully ponder the
    content and logic of persuasive messages (a
    politicians well thought out speech)
  • peripheral routes persuasion that depends on
    nonmessage factors such as attractiveness of the
    source (a politician who depends on flag waving
    and parades).

Figure 16.10 Overview of the persuasion process
Figure 16.12 Design of the Festinger and
Carlsmith (1959) study
Figure 16.13 Bems self-perception theory
Yielding to Others Conformity
  • Conformity when people yield to real or
    imagined social pressure
  • Solomon Asch (1950s) (Classic experiment) line
  • 37 of men conformed!
  • Group size more people, more likely to conform
  • Group unanimity one person dissents, less

Yielding to Others Obedience
  • Obedience Stanley Milgram (1960s)
  • Obedience is a form of compliance that occurs
    when people follow direct commands, usually from
    someone in a position of authority
  • Milgram, was troubled over the Nazi war criminal
    defense I was just following orders. He
    designed a landmark experiment to determine how
    often ordinary people will obey an authority
    figure, even if it means hurting another person

Yielding to Others Obedience
  • (Milgram)Controversial landmark experiments
  • 40 men from the local community recruited
  • teacher was seated before an apparatus that had
    30 switches ranging from 15 to 450 volts, with
    labels of slight shock, danger severe shock, and
    XXX etc.
  • Although the apparatus looked and sounded real,
    it was fake, 65 of the men administered all 30
    levels of the shock
  • presence of a dissenter only 10
  • extremely controversial, as his method involved
    considerable deception and emotional distress on
    the part of subjects.

Yielding to Others Obedience
  • The Power of Situation The Stanford Prison
  • http//

Behavior in Groups The Influence of Other People
  • The bystander effect - Darley and Latane (1968)
  • People are much less likely to provide help in a
    group then by themselves due to the Diffusion of
  • Reviews of studies on over 6,000 subjects
  • subjects who are alone help about 75 of the time
  • subjects in the presence of others help about 53
    of the time.
  • The only variable shown to significantly impact
    the bystander effect is ambiguity of the need for

  • Group productivity Studies also show that
    productivity decreases as group size increases.
  • This is believed to be due to 2 factors loss of
    efficiency resulting from a loss of coordination
    of effort and social loafing
  • social loafing Social loafing is a reduction in
    effort by individuals when they work in groups as
    compared to when they work alone.

Figure 16.18 The effect of loss of coordination
and social loafing on group productivity
Behavior in Groups The Influence of Other People
  • Decision making in groups groups often arrive at
    riskier decisions (risky shift) or a more
    cautious approach depending on which way they
    were leaning to begin with this is called
  • Polarization Group polarization occurs when
    group discussion strengthens a groups dominant
    point of view and produces a shift toward a more
    extreme decision in that direction.

Behavior in Groups The Influence of Other People
  • Groupthink Groupthink occurs when members of a
    cohesive group emphasize concurrence at the
    expense of critical thinking in arriving at a
  • This is a disease of group decision making b/c it
    stifles dissent and increases pressure to conform
  • Some people even shelter information that would
    contradict the groups views (us vs. them)
  • Bay of Pigs

Behavior in Groups The Influence of Other People
  • Janis Theory
  • members of a group suspend critical thought
  • Censor dissent
  • Pressure to conform increases
  • mind guards tend to shelter the group from info
    that contradicts the groups view

Behavior in Groups The Influence of Other People
  • Group Think (cont.)
  • Major causes of Group Think are
  • Group cohesiveness strength of the liking
    relationships linking group members
  • Isolation when group works in
  • Strength of the leader
  • High Stress
  • Look at chart page 666