Social Influence

The ways in which people think, feel and behave are investigated through social psychology (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). Social psychology is a process that examines the way in which social settings influence one’s actions. People react to others in many different ways. The way in which someone behaves or acts, changes based on their environment and beliefs (one on one versus group settings) and based on biases, stereotypes, attributions, attitudes, self impressions and first impressions. There are both external and internal attributes that causes inferences about the causes of one’s thoughts, behavior and feelings (Kowalski & Westen, 2005).

When placed in specific situations, there is a process in which people will attempt to make sense of others, themselves and relationships and social interactions; that process is called social cognition. It is said that the way in which someone delivers you a message can change your outlook on the situation completely. If someone proposed a new job opportunity for you and said it was the ideal match for you, you may immediately interpret it as a stress free job with great work life balance.

Where as if they delivered the message by saying they have a hectic job for you other thoughts may enter your mind like stressful positions and long hours (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). First impressions last a lifetime. A first impression is the initial representation people gather when meeting someone for the first time. It is said that so long as you act with confidence, people will typically find you as a confident person. Research has showed that those people who are attractive have a better chance at a good first impression versus someone who is unattractive.

Attractiveness usually runs with parallel thoughts of a person being kind, good hearted and nice. What first comes to mind when someone sees an attractive person is that they must be the whole package so they instantly assume that this person has all great qualities. It is seen through research that those who are attractive get better jobs and higher salary. Opposite of that, those who are not as attractive do not give off the same first impression. They may be seen as irresponsible, scattered or unreliable.

The best piece of advice is that if one is not an attractive person one should present themselves as attractive and give off that persona. Study does show that the way in which you present yourself will alter the way in which others view you (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). First impressions can be hindered by stereotypes. Stereotypes are traits gathered by people based on their relationship in specific groups. With stereotypes come prejudices. A prejudice is just that. It is the act of pre-judging an individual or a group of individuals based on stereotypes which are typically negative.

A common form of prejudice is racism. Racism can be a prejudice of other races, sexes or ethnicities. Prejudices are typically shown by in-groups and out-groups. This is a behavior in which you either belong to their group or not in their group and if you are not in their group, a prejudice is formed. This can happen even in the young years of one’s life. If you were not the cool kid in school who could not afford the cool clothes, then kids who were in more fortunate situations may form a prejudice against that child by thinking they are poor and are not as good as they are (Kowalski & Westen, 2005).

When making an inference about the cause of one’s thoughts, feelings and behavior is called attribution. There are two types of attribution; both external and internal. External attributions are attributions made to the situation and internal attributions are attributions made to the person. In order to make these attributions, one relies on three sources of information; consensus (how everyone reacts in that situation), consistency (how this person usually reacts in that type of situation) and distinctiveness (how this person typically reacts in other situations).

One may discount an attribution based on minimizing the existence of a variable that could account for a situation because they know there may be other variables contributing to the situation in question. Opposite of discounting an attribution would be augmentation. Augmentation involves increasing one’s internal attribution for behavior that has happened regardless of other situational pressures (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). An attitude is an association between an act or object and an evaluation (Kowalski & Westen, 2005).

An attitude is when one has a habit of evaluating a person, concept or a group either positively or negatively. Attitudes have three factors; cognitive, evaluative and behavioral. Intentional attempts to change one’s attitude are called persuasion. If you can persuade one to change their attitude, you are more than likely going to be able to change their behavior. When a discrepancy is shown between an attitude and a behavior or attitude with new information that does not seem to fit in with the information, that process is called cognitive dissonance. Influencing one to change one’s attitude can be made sed with cognitive dissonance (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). One’s own self impression can change the way in which others see this individual. The self is considered to be one’s own self concept of mind, body and personality. One’s self esteem will play a large role in the way in which people see themselves. People like to see consistency with one’s self. They like to feel validation from others feeling the same way in which they already see themselves. People try to control the way people form perceptions of them and that is otherwise known as self-presentation.

You present yourself in a way that you want others to feel or to see you (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). Consequences of these types of human interactions are vast. To make an assumption based on situational settings, first impressions, stereotypes, attributions and one’s self impression can cause one to jump to conclusions too soon; thus possibly deteriorating a possible new friendship, bond and relationship that could have been life changing. Unfortunately, it has been proven to be very difficult to change one’s attitude and behavior once it is formed.

Racism for instance is the biggest example of this. America has come a long way in battling issues of racism but we are still seeing the ill effects of this disease and unfortunately all types of racism still exists; maybe just not in the extremities it use to be of. But as you could see, there are many reasons why humans interact with others a certain ways and based on certain situations (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). References Kowalski, R. , & Westen, D. (2005). Chapter 17 Social Cognitiom . In R. Kowalski, & D. Westen, Psychology 4th edition (p. 103). Hobokon: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.