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Social Psychology
Last Day of Notes!
2 December 2014
“The line between good and evil is permeable
and almost anyone can be induced to cross it
when pressured by situational forces.”
- Philip Zimbardo
Social Psychology
• study of how people think about, influence, and
relate to others
Social Cognition
• how people think about themselves and others.
– Major influence on our socialization
– Examples:
• our memories
• biases towards others
• Let’s look at a couple examples of how our
social cognition influences us everyday
– Attribution of behavior
– Attitude formation
Attribution Theory
• We explain the behavior of others in one of two ways
– disposition attribution or
– situation attribution
Did this old woman wreck
her car because she is a bad
driver (disposition), or did her
brakes give out (situation)?
Attributional Errors
Fundamental Attribution Error
False-consensus Effect
Self-serving Bias
Just-world Bias
Fundamental Attribution Error
• When analyzing another’s behavior, people tend to
underestimate the impact of the situation and to
overestimate the impact of personal disposition
Just-world Bias (Phenomenon)
• people tend to believe that bad
things happen to bad people, and
good things happen to good people.
False-consensus Effect
• people tend to overestimate the number of people
who agree with them
Self-Serving Bias
• People tend to ignore the bad things that happen
to them and only focus on the positives
• Parallel to having an external locus of control
Attitude Formation and Change
• Attitude
– a set of beliefs and feelings
– Lots of research has been done on ways to affect people’s
Which bag of chips
would you buy?
Attitude Formation and Change
• Mere Exposure Effect
– The more we are exposed to something, the more we will
come to like it.
This must be heaven!!!
The Attitude - Behavior Relationship
• Cognitive Dissonance Theory
– People are motivated to have consistent attitudes and
– If a person’s attitude doesn’t match their behavior, they
are motivated to change their…
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
• Festinger & Carlsmith study (late 1950s)
Self-fulfilling Prophecy
• The expectations we have about others can influence
the way they behave
Lucy believes that Charlie Brown
doesn’t like to laugh. Lucy’s
perception of Charlie leads her to
unconsciously shape his unhappy
• The most famous research of self-fulfilling prophecy is...
Self-fulfilling Prophecy
• Rosenthal & Jacobson’s study (1968)
– The “Pygmalion in the Classroom” experiment
Prosocial Behavior
• Helping behavior
• Lots of research in this area has been
focused on bystander intervention
– the conditions under which people nearby
are more or less likely to help someone in
– Ex. Kitty Genovese murder case in New York
• 38 witnesses, none intervened
• Why not?
• Diffusion of responsibility
– AKA Bystander Effect
– Studies suggest that the larger the number of
people who witness an emergency situation, the
less likely anyone is to intervene. Why is this so?
Prosocial Behavior
• Recent example of bystander effect
– In May 2008, a Connecticut man gets hit by a car. The car
flees. There are many witnesses. No one does anything to
The Influence of Others on an Individual’s Behavior
• There are many ways an individual’s behavior can be
affected by another’s actions or even merely
another’s presence. Let’s see some examples...
Social Facilitation vs. Impairment
• Facilitation
– People perform well practiced
or easy tasks better in front of
an audience than they do when
they are alone.
• Impairment
– Difficult tasks that they are not
well-practiced in watched by
others hurt performance.
Compliance Strategies
• Strategies people use to get others to comply with
their wishes
• Research suggests the following strategies are often
used with success...
• Please DO try these at home!!!
Compliance Strategies
• Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon
– If you can get people to agree to a small
request, they will become more likely to agree
to a larger follow-up request
• Door-in-the-Face Phenomenon
– If someone is given a large request first and
reject it, they will look more favorably on a
follow-up request that seems smaller in