Social Psych- Thinking

Social Psych- Thinking:


Social Psych- The scientific study of how we think about,influence, and relate to one another.

Attribution Theory- Theory that we tend to give a causal explanation for someone’s behavior by crediting either the situation of the person’s disposition.

Fundamental Attribution Error- Tendancy for observers, when analyzing someone’s behavior, to underestimate the impact of the situation and to overestimate the impact of personal disposition.

Attitude- A belief and feeling that predisposes one to respond in a particular way to objects, people, and events.

Foot-in-the-door phenomenon- The tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a larger request.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory- The theory that we act to reduce the discomfort we feel when two of our thoughts or actions are inconsistent. Proposed by Leon Festiger

Attributing Behavior to Persons or Situations:

A) 1979- Napolitan and Goethals studied the Fundamental Attribution Error by having college students talk to a woman who was told to act either aloof and critical or warm and friendly. Half of the students were told before that she was acting.

1. Being told she was acting didn’t matter, the students still said she was either a nice person or a mean person based on how she acted. They attributed her behavior to her personal disposition.

2. We vary with people we know in whether we interpret their behavior as situational or to their disposition.

Attitudes and Actions:

A) From studies done in the 70s and 80s, it was shown that our attitudes will guide our actions if:

1. Outside influences are minimal

2. The attitude is relevant to the behavior

3. We are aware of our attitudes. Attitudes that come to mind quickly are more likely to guide our behavior.

A) In the Korean War, Chinese Communists used the Foot-in-Door phenomenon to “brain wash” American prisoners. They gradually escalated their demands of the prisoners, starting with small, harmless requests, like having them list criticisms of capitalism and share them with each other.

1. Afterward, many prisoners adjusted their beliefs to fit their actions. Some prisoners chose to stay in Korea and agreed that Communism was good for Asia.

2. Act as if you like someone, and you soon will.

3. Role Playing Affects Attitude

4. What we do, we gradually become.

5. Showed in Zimbardo’s prison experiment. The participants became who they pretended to be.

Cognitive Dissonance:

1. Ex. You help a researcher write an essay that supports something you don’t believe in for $2. Those statements you don’t believe in create dissonance between your actions and beliefs. To reduce the discomfort caused by that dissonance, you start to believe your phony words.


Attitudes are beliefs and feelings that predispose one to respond in a particular way to objects, people and events.

1.  Do our attitudes guide our actions?

·  Outside influences on what we say and do are minimal.

·  The attitude is specifically relevant to the behavior.

·  We are keenly aware of our attitudes.

1.  Do our actions affect our attitudes?

o  Foot in the door phenomenon: the tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a larger request.

o  Role playing affects attitudes.

o  Why do our actions affect our attitudes?

o  Cognitive Dissonance Theory: the theory that we act to reduce the discomfort we feel when two of our thoughts are inconsistent.

o  How we explain someone’s behavior affects how we react to it.

o  When we see a negative behavior we can either:

i.  Use situational attribution

ii.  Use dispositional attribution

·  Situational attribution leads to a tolerant response, dispositional attribution leads to an unfavorable reaction.

Social Influences:

i.  Deindividuation- when a person loses their own identity in a crowd of people.

1.  A. People tend to exhibit types of behavior polar to their actual tendencies.

·  For example, a crowd gets rowdy at a Gopher vs. Badgers football game and charge the field. In this sense people are showing signs of deindividuation because they are acting as a “crowd” and not as themselves.

1.  Norman Trippett

1.  A. Conducted experiment and concluded that bicycle racers peddled faster when others were present, regardless if it was a competition or not.

3. Robert Zajonc

A. “Social Facilitation”

·  Presence of others increased arousal, thus encouraging better performance in better known behaviors.

B. “Social Impairment”

·  Performance on difficult tasks suffers in the presence of others.

4. “Social Loafing”

A. When a person puts forth less effort when in a group setting than when alone.

·  For example, group members may exert less contribution while completing a school. project because the individual is not individually evaluated.

5. Group Polarization

A. Discussion pf people in which the majority have the similar beliefs that tend to make the beliefs even more extreme and can cause “risky shift” by attaching to that one belief.

6. Groupthink

A. When a group fail to evaluate and consider alternative options.

7. Conformity

A. when unspoken group pressure changes a person's behavior or opinion to replicate others

B. Compliance is similar to conformity but is when someone adjusts their own behavior from an actual request

C. Solomon Asch's Conformity Study

·  A participant in a group of confederates was tested to see if he would conform to the others and choose agree with the confederates even though they were obviously wrong. Results show this is true 70% of the time

Social Psychology


A) The Asch’s Conformity Experiment: During this experiment six people participated, one of them not being an insider for the experiment. When the task, which was judging which line matched another from a group of them, was being done, the first two trials all the participants answered correctly because of how easy the task seemed. However when the third trial began and the five insiders began answering the questions wrong, the sixth subject started to change their answer. They would at first hesitate when they heard the answers of the other subjects involved surprised by their wrong answer, but easily accepted it in order to conform and not stand out.

1. The behavior behind this shows just how uncomfortable we get when we are not part of the pact. We conform and lie because we do not want to be the odd one out.

2. Things such as feeling incompetent or insecure, the group in unanimous, you admire the groups achievements or attractiveness, has made no prior commitment to a response, others in the group observe your behavior, and culture strongly encourages respect for social standards. All of these play into the way we act and our behavior as a whole.

B) Milgram Experiments: during this experiment people where taken and told to press a button in order to shock someone. The subject who was being shocked actually was acting, but when the button was pressed they would let sounds of discomfort escape their lips. This subject was also answering a series of questions, and each time one was answered wrong, the other subject was told to press a button. This was done to see just how far a person would go in order to obey another’s orders.

1. Obedience for this experiment was highest when: the person giving the orders was in close quarters, and was perceived to be a legitimate authority figure.

2. Also when the authority figure was perceived as be supported by a prestigious institution, the subject was more willing to continue shocking the other person.

3. I suppose you could say that this tells us that as long as there seems to be a reason and an authority figure we are willing to continue doing pretty much anything even though it may make us uncomfortable. We find it more important to please someone rather than to save someone.



-Flash mobs

Group Influence:

-This is also another factor that determines what we do, and how we do it. This is exactly why, things such as riots are started, and we go through something called de-individuation, which makes us lose our sense of self and just conform to the demands and actions of the people around us.

Social Facilitation:

when in the presence of another person we either to better or worse at something depending on our level of knowledge and skill at what it is we are acting out.

-For instance when a pro golfer is watched by fans, they are more likely to do better, rather than when they are practicing with no one around.

-It is the exact opposite in the case of someone who is just learning a new skill; they perform worse when they are being watched and better when they are not.

Social Loafing:

the tendency for people to exert less effort when they are in a group to attain a common goal, instead of when they are by themselves and choose to exert less unconsciously, and when they are personally accountable.

Gender Roles:

A) Gender identity appears to form very early in life and is most likely irreversible by age 4. Although the exact cause of gender identity remains unknown, biological, psychological, and social variables clearly influence the process. Parents have a role in socializing gender: Dress boys and girls differently, select toys based on gender, and often react negatively if they behave in ways they think are gender inappropriate.

B) Gender refers to an individual's anatomical sex, or sexual assignment, and the cultural and social aspects of being male or female. An individual's personal sense of maleness or femaleness is his or her gender identity. Outward expression of gender identity, according to cultural and social expectations, is a gender role. Either gender may live out a gender role (a man or a woman, for instance, can be a homemaker) but not a sex role, which is anatomically limited to one gender, female.

Gender Stereotypes:

A) Males: controlling and manipulating the environment; independent, assertive, dominant, competitive.

Females: relatively passive, loving, sensitive, and supportive in social relationships,

especially in their family roles as wife and mother. Warmth in personal relationships, the

display of anxiety under pressure, and the suppression of overt aggression and sexuality as more appropriate for women than men.

B)These stereotypes are true cross-culturally as well. This implies that the origins of these stereotypes do not lie in local cultures. But there are some variations. For example, African-American families encourage girls to be aggressive and assertive. On the other hand, the sex stereotypes that men are more aggressive than women and women more interpersonally sensitive than men are very robust, even among more educated people, both sexes, all social classes.

C)Age differences: Young children are especially rigid in gender stereotyping; children between ages 3-6 are more gender stereotypes than adults. This reflects a general tendency for young children to have rigid, absolutist sense of rules.

D)Education differences: In the US, females and college-educated women age 18-35 are more likely than older or less educated women to perceive female role as more assertive, independent, and achievement-striving.

E) Sex differences: Men are more likely to have traditional gender stereotypes than women, especially if they are the sole wage earner in the family. Fathers are more concerned that their children maintain behaviors appropriate to their gender; fathers play a more important role than mothers in children's gender stereotyping.

Credits Page:

Thomas Laverty: Thinking

Jenny Nelson: Social Influences

Julia Wallner: Attitudes

Erica Palmer: Behavior

Genna Temte: Gender Roles (formatting outline)