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Learning Objectives
• What are the distinctions between a norm and a role?
How does each shape social behavior?
• What are the 4 reasons why people obey an authority
• What is the difference between a situational
attribution and a dispositional attribution, and how
does the fundamental attribution error highlight this
• What is the difference between a situational
attribution and a dispositional attribution, and how
does the fundamental attribution error highlight this
Social and Cultural Psychology
The study of how basic social and cultural
forces affect good and bad behavior
• Social Psychology:
– How social roles, attitudes, relationships, and
groups influence behavior
• Cultural Psychology:
– How culture and ethnicity influence roles and
chapter 10
Social cognition
The study of how the social environment
influences thought, memory, perception, and
other cognitive processes.
Researchers are interested in how people’s
perceptions of themselves and others affect.
chapter 10
Rules that regulate human life, including social conventions, explicit laws,
and implicit cultural standards
A given social position that is governed by a set of norms for proper
A program of shared rules that govern the behavior of members of a
community or society, and a set of values, beliefs, and attitudes shared by
most members of that community
chapter 10
What would you do?
As part of an experiment on learning, you are told to administer
an electric shock to another participant every time that
participant misremembers a series of words. As the
experiment proceeds, the amount of electricity you are
administering rises. You started at 15 volts, but the
switchboard goes up to 300. How far would you go before you
refused to continue?
1. 50 volts
2. 100 volts
3. 200 volts
4. 300 volts
chapter 10
The Obedience Study:
Stanley Milgram, 1960s
Would people would follow orders from an authority figure,
even when the order violated their ethical standards.
Participants were assigned to the role of “teacher” and another
“volunteer” was assigned to the role of “learner”
• the learner was really part of the experiment and acting out a preset
The “teacher” was told to give the “learner” an electric shock
whenever the learner made an error in reciting a list of words he
was supposed to have memorized
increasing in 15 volt increments with each error
machine was labeled slight shock to danger to severe shock
chapter 10
The Obedience Study:
Stanley Milgram, 1960s
Most people were far more obedient than anyone
• Every single participant complied with at least some orders to
shock another person.
• Two-thirds shocked the learner to the full extent.
• “Teachers” obeyed the experimenter even when they were
clearly in a state of cognitive dissonance
chapter 10
The Obedience Study:
Stanley Milgram, 1960s
Factors leading to Disobedience:
When the experimenter left the room
When the “learner” was in the same room
When 2 experimenters issued conflicting orders
When the person ordering them to continue was an
ordinary man
When the subject worked with peers who refused to go
chapter 10
The Obedience Study:
Stanley Milgram, 1960s
Obedience is a function of the situation, rather
than personality
The participants were not administering shocks
because they had sadistic personalities or pent-up
anger they were taking out on the learner, but
because they are following orders from an authority
figure and playing the role they were assigned and
following the norms they felt the situation called for
chapter 10
The Obedience Study:
Stanley Milgram, 1960s
Question conclusions – personality traits can influence
willingness to obey an authority figure
chapter 10
The Stanford Prison Study:
Zimbardo & Haney, 1970s
What would happen to college students when assigned to the
role of prisoner or prison guard
Experimental Design:
Subjects were physically and mentally healthy young men (college
students) who volunteered to participate for money.
Subjects were randomly assigned to be prisoners or guards.
Basement of a Stanford building transformed into a prison, guards
and prisoners had uniforms, students agreed to live there for 2
chapter 10
The Stanford Prison Study:
Zimbardo & Haney, 1970s
Prisoners became distressed, helpless, and panicky.
Guards became:
1. nice
2. “tough but fair”
3. tyrannical
Study had to be ended after six days.
chapter 10
The Stanford Prison Study:
Zimbardo & Haney, 1970s
Demonstrated the power of roles
Obedience to authority
Example of how a social situation affects behavior,
causing people to do things that seem “out of
• How is obedience to authority bad?
• If it is blind obedience
• C.P. Snow “more crimes have been committed in the
name of obedience than in the name of rebellion
• How is obedience to authority good?
• Laws help a society to function
• Help people learn the appropriate social roles and norms
chapter 10
Factors in obedience:
Allocating responsibility to the authority
Routinizing the task
Wanting to be polite
Becoming entrapped
Entrapment: a gradual process in which individuals escalate their
commitment to a course of action to justify their investment of time,
money, or effort
chapter 10
Attribution theory
Theory that people are motivated to explain own and others’ behavior by
attributing causes of behavior to the situation or a disposition
• Situational Attribution: Cause of action or behavior is due to
something in the situation or environment
• Dispositional Attribution: Cause of action or behavior is due
to a personality trait or personal motive
Fundamental attribution error
Tendency to overestimate the influence personality factors and
underestimate situational influence
chapter 10
Self-serving bias
Tendency to take credit for one’s good actions but to rationalize one’s
• Good behaviors = Dispositional Attribution
• Bad/Embarrassing behavior = Situational Attribution
Just-world hypothesis
Many people need to believe that the world is fair and that justice is
Bad people are punished and good people rewarded.
Blaming the victim:
restores believe in a just world
wrongly attributes dispositional reasons for something unjust
“Suzy played really bad in the soccer game today and allowed 6 goals!”
“Maybe she didn’t get a good night sleep”
“She is so lazy”
“But the field was awfully muddy in the goalie box”
“She is so incompetent”
Fundamental Attribution Error
Ignore the situational influences and
emphasizing personality traits
“I donated $200 to the Breast Cancer Foundation this month”
It was Breast Cancer Awareness month
I am such a generous person
My best friend was doing the 3 day Breast Cancer
walk and made me feel guilty about not walking, so
I gave her a lot of money to make myself feel better
Self-Serving Bias
Ignore the situational influences
when we do something good
“I yelled at my husband today”
Its that time of the month
I am a grouchy person
I had a stressful day
I have a bad temper
Self-Serving Bias
Ignore the dispositional influences
when we do something bad
chapter 10
Your turn
Your roommate studies hard for the psychology
test, but does not do very well. After receiving the
results, she says “It really wasn’t a fair test.” What
sort of bias is reflected in this attribution?
1. Fundamental attribution error
2. Self-serving bias
3. Just world hypothesis
Last Class in Review
• Introduction to social and cultural psychology
– Norms: rules that regulate human life
– Role: a given social position governed by norms
– Culture: a set of shared rules that govern the behavior of its
• Obedience:
– Milgram Obedience Study
– Stanford Prison Study
– Factors in obedience
• Social cognition
– The study of how the social environment influences thought,
memory, perception, and other cognitive processes
• Attributions
– Attribution theory: people are motivated to explain own and others’
behavior by attributing causes of behavior to situation or disposition
• Situational and dispositional attribution
• Fundamental attribution error, self-serving bias, just-world hypothesis
Learning Objectives
What are attitudes and where do they come from?
What factors can change our attitudes?
How can groups influence our behaviors?
Under what circumstances is groupthink likely to occur?
How do diffusion of responsibility and deindividuation each predict
antisocial behavior by individuals in a group?
What is ethnic identity and how might it contribute to ethnocentrism?
How do stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination differ from one
What are four conditions that promote the reduction of prejudice and
inter-group conflict?
chapter 10
A relatively stable opinion containing beliefs
and emotional feelings about people, groups,
ideas or activities
Explicit: we are aware of them, they shape conscious decisions
Implicit: we are unaware of them, they influence our behavior in
ways we do not recognize
Where do our Attitudes come from?
• Learned from social-cultural interactions
• Experiences, economic standing, social circles
• Genetics
– Some traits are highly heritable
chapter 10
What factors can
change our Attitudes?
1. Change in social environment and
New information
New experiences
2. Need for consistency
Cognitive dissonance: a state of tension that develops when a
person simultaneously holds two contradictory cognitions or
when a person’s belief is incongruent with his/her behavior
chapter 10
Influencing attitudes:
Friendly Persuasion
Familiarity Effect:
The tendency to have positive feelings towards
something because you have seen it frequently
Validity Effect:
Tendency to believe something is true because it has
been repeated many times
chapter 10
Influencing attitudes:
Friendly Persuasion
(And familiarity effect)
Implicit Memory
Classical Conditioning
How can groups influence
our behaviors?
1. Conformity
2. Groupthink
3. The Anonymous Crowd
chapter 10
Taking action or adopting an
attitude as the result of group
Experimental objective:
To see what would happen when a
group would unanimously
contradict an obvious fact
Experimental Design
Subjects in group asked to match
line lengths.
Confederates picked wrong line.
chapter 10
Subjects went with wrong answer in
37% of trials.
Conformity has decreased since
1950, possibly due to changing
Individualistic vs. collectivist cultures
chapter 10
In close-knit groups, the tendency for all
members to think alike and suppress
disagreement for the sake of harmony.
Illusion of invincibility
Pressure on dissenters to conform
Illusion of unanimity
Counteracted by
Creating conditions that reward dissent
Basing decision on majority rule
chapter 10
The anonymous crowd
If you were to be the victim of a crime
in a public place, such as a
mugging, in what situation would
you be most likely to get help:
1. 1 person is passing by
2. Several people were in the area
3. Dozens of people were in the area
chapter 10
The anonymous crowd
Diffusion of responsibility
The tendency of group members to avoid taking responsibility for
actions or decisions because they assume others will do so.
• Bystander apathy
People fail to call for help when others are near because
they assume someone else will
• Social loafing
When people work less in the presence of others, forcing
others to work harder
• Deindividuation
Loss of awareness of your own individuality
chapter 10
In groups or crowds, the loss of awareness of one’s own
Size of city, group
Uniforms or masks
Can influence either unlawful or prosocial behaviors
Depends on norms of specific situation
Group Identity
Social Identity:
part of our self concept that depends on the political,
religious, national, and occupational groups we identify
Gives us a sense of place and position in the world
Ethnic Identity vs. Acculturation:
Ethnic Identity:
A person’s identification with a religious or ethnic
Identification with the dominant culture
Ethnic Identity vs. Acculturation:
4 ways to balance the conflict:
1. Bicultural: strong ties to both their ethnicity and the larger
2. Assimilation: weak feelings of ethnicity, but strong sense of
3. Ethnic Separatists: strong sense of ethnic identity, but
weak feelings of acculturation
4. Marginal: connected to neither their ethnicity or dominant
Is America become post-ethnic?
chapter 10
Ethnicity vs. Acculturation
chapter 10
The belief that one’s
own ethnic group,
nation, or religion is
superior to all others.
chapter 10
The belief that one’s own ethnic group,
nation, or religion is superior to all
Robber’s Cave
Boys randomly separated into two groups:
Rattlers and Eagles
To build in-group identity: each group worked on
projects together
Competition between groups = hostility
To make peace between the groups: Groups
required to work together to reach a goal
• Us-Them social identities are strengthened
when two groups compete with each other
• Interdependence in reaching mutual goals
reduces ethnocentrism
chapter 10
Cognitive schemas of a group, where the person
believes that all members of a group have
common trait(s).
Summarizes a person’s impression of a group
Traits may be positive, negative, or neutral
How are stereotypes good?
Allow us to process quickly new information and retrieve memories
Allow us to organize experiences and make sense of differences
How are stereotypes bad?
They can distort reality:
Exaggerate differences between groups
Produce selective perception
Underestimate differences within groups
chapter 10
A negative stereotype and a strong,
unreasonable dislike or hatred of a group
chapter 10
Measuring prejudice
• Not all people are prejudiced in the same way.
• People know they shouldn’t be prejudiced so
measures of prejudice have declined.
• Explicit vs. implicit prejudice
Explicit: conscious prejudice towards a group
Implicit: Unconscious prejudice or negative emotional feelings
that one tries to suppress
chapter 10
Measures of explicit
Measures of Implicit Prejudice
1. Experiments that pay attention to what
people do, not what they say
2. Use fMRI and PET scans to determine what
parts of the brain are involved in forming
stereotypes and prejudices
3. Implicit Association Test (IAT)
Measures of Implicit Prejudice
Aggression Experiment:
• Objective:
– To determine if an individual’s implicit prejudice will be
revealed (as aggression) when stressed or angered
• Experimental Design:
– White students asked to administer a shock to black or white
confederates of the experiment
– Experimental condition: participants overheard the
confederate making a nasty comment about them
– Control condition: participants heard no nasty comments
– Degree of aggression = level of shock
Measures of Implicit Prejudice
Aggression Experiment:
• Results:
– Control: white students showed less aggression towards
black confederates
– Experimental group: White subjects showed more
aggression towards blacks when they heard derogatory
• Conclusion:
• When people are stressed or angered they are not able
to hide negative feelings or prejudice they might have
toward others
• To measure Implicit prejudice:
Pay attention to what people do, not what they say
Measures of Implicit Prejudice
fMRI and PET scans:
• Objective:
– Uses fMRI and PET scans to determine which part of the
brain are involved in forming stereotypes and prejudices
• Results (2 studies):
– When African-American and whites saw pictures of each
other, activity in the amygdala was elevated
– Activity while looking at pictures of another ethnicity
depended on what the person was asked to do with the
• Amygdala was not activated when participants were asked to
register faces as individuals or part of a visual test
• Amygdala was activated when they were asked to identify
faces as members of a “black” category
chapter 10
Measures of Implicit Prejudice
Implicit Association Test (IAT)
Measures speed of people’s positive and negative associations with
a target group
If white students take longer
to respond to black faces
associated with positive
words than to black faces
associated with negative
words it means the white
students have implicit
Other interpretations:
• Measures how much the
word stands out
•Measuring unfamiliarity with
another ethnicity
chapter 10
How can we reduce prejudice?
Groups must have equal legal status, economic
opportunities, and power.
Authorities and institutions must endorse egalitarian
norms and provide moral support for all groups.
Groups must have opportunities to work and socialize
together, both formally and informally.
Contact hypothesis: prejudice decreases when people have the
opportunity to become familiar with those that the prejudice is
Groups must work together for common goal.
Cooperation reduces the US-THEM thinking