Unit 3: Social Psychology

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 dispositions.
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.
                    SOCIAL INFLUENCES
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 if:
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 100% if:
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 authority figure
***Milgram's studies had a huge impact on "ethics" in experimental research.
                     GROUP INFLUENCES
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 behavior).

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