Social Psychology: The scientific study of how we think
about, influence, and relate to other people.
Attribution Theory: (Fritz Heider) The theory that we tend
to explain other people's behavior in terms of the situation or
in terms of their dispositions (personality).
Fundamental Attribution Error: The tendency, when
analyzing another person's behavior, to underestimate the
importance of the situation and overestimate the importance of personal
HOW ACTIONS AFFECT ATTITUDES
Foot-in-the-door Phenomenon: The tendency for people who
agree to a small request to agree to a larger one later on.
Role Playing: The strong effects of "playing a role" were
demonstrated by Phillip Zimbardo's prison study in which college
students were assigned the roles of prisoners or guards. The study
was called off after only 6 days.
Cognitive Dissonance Theory: The theory that we act to
reduce the discomfort (dissonance) we feel when 2 of our thoughts
(cognitions) or a thought and an action are inconsistent. When our
actions and attitudes clash, we can reduce the resulting dissonance by
changing our attitudes.
Self-fulfilling Prophecy: Process by which our beliefs or
attitudes about another person causes that person to behave in a way
which only confirms our beliefs.
Conformity: Adjusting one's behavior or thinking to coincide
with a group standard.
In a set of famous studies conducted by Solomon Asch (where subjects
were asked to judge the length of lines), it was found that subjects
would conform when the rest of the group was wrong in their judgments
about 1/3 of the time. It was found that conformity would increase
a) The group has status or is admired
b) The group consists of at least 3 people
c) The group is unanimous
d) The group is observing and is aware of your behavior
e) You have made no prior commitments
f) You feel incompetent of insecure
g) Your culture encourages conformity
Normative Social Influence: Conforming
to obtain approval or avoid disapproval (conforming simply to "fit in").
Informational Social Influence:
Conforming because of a willingness to accept others' opinions about
reality (conforming because we believe others' "know more" than we do).
Obedience: Behavior in response to a command from another
person, usually an authority figure.
*In a set of famous studies by Stanley Milgram, it was found that 67% of
the subjects (called teachers) would "shock" "learners" (who were really
confederates) until apparent death simply by being told to do so by the
researcher. The level of obedience could be increased to almost
a) The person giving orders was in close proximity to the "teacher" &
was perceived as a legitimate authority figure.
b) The authority figure seemed to be from a prestigious institution
(such as Yale)
c) The "learner" (the confederate victim) was not in close proximity to
the teacher (e.g., in another room)
d) No other subjects were observed disobeying the orders of the
***Milgram's studies had a huge impact on "ethics" in experimental
Social Facilitation: Improved performance of tasks in the
presence of others; occurs with simple or well-learned tasks but not
with tasks that are difficult or not yet mastered.
Social Loafing: The tendency for people in a group to
exert less effort when pooling their efforts.
Deindividuation: Due to a sense of anonymity and high
arousal, a loss of self-restraint sometimes seen in a group (i.e., mob