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Social Behavior
Group Behavior
• Social facilitation – people
perform better when they
are being watched rather
than when they are alone
• The presence of others
encourages us to increase
our performance
• Evaluation Apprehension –
the concern about other
people’s opinions
• Can motivate us to try
harder so others will think
more highly of us
Social Loafing
• People may slack off
and not try as hard
when they are part of a
group with a common
• This happens because
of diffusion of
responsibility – people
feel less responsible for
accomplishing the task
when the effort is
Risky Shift
• People tend to take
greater risks when
they are part of a
group because the
responsibility is shared
• People may feel more
Group Decision Making Schemes
• Majority wins – group agrees to a decision that was
supported by a majority of group members
• Truth wins – members come to realize one option is
better than the others as they learn more about the
available choices
• 2/3 majority – two-thirds of the group agree to a decision
• First-shift – used when a group is deadlocked, group
makes a decision based the first swing toward a decision
or opinion
• Shared attitudes
among members of a
group tend to grow
• Happens as people
discuss and act upon
their beliefs
• Can be positive or
negative (can either
reduce or increase
prejudice, for
Group Leadership
• Leaders help group
members identify the
group’s beliefs and goals,
and establish plans for
reaching them
• May be appointed by
outsiders, or chosen by a
vote of group members
• Informal groups may not
have a chosen leader, but
some people have more
influence than others
Types of Leaders
• Authoritarian – have total
control over all decisions
for the group
• Democratic – encourage
group members to discuss
ideas and make their own
• Laissez-faire leaders – take
a step back from the group
and let embers make all
decisions, even if the
choices are not good ones
Modifying behaviors,
attitudes and beliefs to
match those of other people
Importance of Groups
• People want to belong to groups because the
groups satisfy many needs
• Belonging, affection, attention, support
Social Norms
• Standards of behavior
people share, serve as
guidelines for what people
should and should not do in
a given situation
• Explicit norms – rules that
are spoken or written down
• Implicit norms – unspoken,
unwritten rules
• Norms can be both good and
bad, depending on the rule
Asch’s Conformity Study
• Participants were told to study a
diagram with three lines of
varying length and indicate
which one matched the
“standard line,” a model to the
side of the diagram
• Participants were tested in a
group of other people (all in on
the experiment) who purposely
gave the wrong answer on some
of the tests
• 75% of participants conformed
to the group and gave the wrong
answer – they later admitted
they purposely gave the wrong
answer so they wouldn’t appear
different from the others
Why do People Conform?
• Cultural influences – some cultures place more emphasis on
the group, not the individual
• Need for acceptance – people want to be liked and accepted by
others, and they depend on their approval
• People are more likely to conform when all other members are
unanimous in their beliefs and actions
• If even one person disagrees, the group is less likely to
Obeying orders
The Milgram Experiment
• Milgram got 40 volunteers
(from different social and
economic backgrounds) to
participate in “a study about
the effects of punishment on
• Participants were told they
would read pairs of words to
“learners” in another room –
after they read the entire list,
the learners would be quizzed
on the word pairs
• If the learner did not correctly
respond to a word pair, the
participant was supposed to
deliver an electric shock as
• The shock would get
progressively more powerful as
the learners missed more word
• The participants pressed buttons
to administer the shock – buttons
were labeled with the voltage and
a scale from “slight” to “severe”
• They were given a sample shock
to feel the power of the shocks
• While they were told they could
quit at any time, if the participants
hesitated to deliver a shock to the
learner, they were urged to
• When the shocks reached 300
volts, learners would scream in
pain and pound on the wall and
• Despite hearing the learner’s
painful shouts, 35 out of 40
participants continued with the
Milgram (cont.)
• The learners were actually
in on the experiment and
were not shocked at all
• When Milgram repeated his
experiment with different
groups of people and
different settings, he found
that at least half of all
participants continued with
the experiment
• Many showed signs of
discomfort and distress, but
did not stop
Why do People Obey?
• Socialization – we are
socialized from childhood to
obey authority figures
• Foot-in-door effect – people
are more willing to give in to
major demands if they have
already given into minor ones
• Confusion about attitudes –
when in a state of distress
people become less certain
about their beliefs
• Buffers – people are more
likely to follow orders when
they don’t have to see the
consequences of their actions
Words or actions meant to hurt people
Aggression and Biology
• Many animals have
instinctive responses to
aggressive behavior
– When the brain detects
aggressive behavior, it
stimulates the production of
certain hormones that
excite the nervous system
– More aggressive animals
are more likely to survive
and produce offspring
– Humans rely on aggression
and intelligence for
survival, setting us apart
from other animals
• Psychoanalysts believe
aggression is an unavoidable
reaction to the stresses of daily
• People tend to repress many of
their aggressive urges, but they
are expressed indirectly –
instead of hitting someone
you’re mad at, you destroy
their car
• Catharsis – venting aggressive
urges through less aggressive
activities, like watching
aggressive sports
Aggression and Cognitive
• Aggressive behavior
is caused by people’s
values, the way they
perceive events, and
the choices they
• People act
aggressively because
they think it’s justified
Learning and Aggression
• People learn to behave
through reinforcements
• When aggression is
reinforced, it is repeated
and learned
• People can also learn
aggressive behavior by
watching others
Sociocultural View of Aggression
• Some cultures
competitiveness and
individualism, and
thereby promote
• Cultures that
emphasize the group
over the individual
tend to be less
The unselfish concern for
the welfare of others
What Causes Altruism?
• Having a good state of
mind and being in a good
mood makes people
more likely to help others
• People who have
problems and are
sensitive to the problems
of others are also likely to
act unselfishly – walk in
another person’s shoes
• Feeling competent to help
others (trained
What Inhibits Altruism?
• People may not be aware
another person is in trouble
• People think there is nothing
they can do to help
• People don’t want to injure
themselves in the process
The Bystander Effect
• People are less likely to give aid when other
bystanders are present
• Kitty Genovese case
• Darley and Latane experiment