Definition of Social Psych
– the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others
– is the scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and causes of individual behavior and thought in social situations
– scientific study of how people think about, influence and relate to one another
– our stable, enduring traits
Principles of Social Psych
social thinking, social influence and social relations
– the process through which one or more persons attempt to alter the attitudes of one or more others
– learned, global evaluations of a person, object, place, or issue that influence thought and action
– mental representations and evaluations of features of social / physical world
-an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event (the attitude object).
– the most distinctive + indispensable concept in social psych
Affect / Affective Attitudes
discrete emotions or overall arousal
Theory of Reasoned Action
– Martin Fishbien and Icek Ajzen – 1975

– used to predict how individuals will behave based on their pre-existing attitudes and behavioral intentions.

– An individual’s decision to engage in a particular behavior is based on the outcomes the individual expects will come as a result of performing the behavior.

– intention to perform a certain behavior precedes the actual behavior (+affecting factors)

– suggests that stronger intentions lead to increased effort to perform the behavior, which also increases the likelihood for the behavior to be performed

Factors Affecting Social Interaction
actions + characteristics, ecological variables, basic cognitive processes, cultural context, biological factors
Social Learning Theory
– the process through which we acquire new information, forms of behavior or attitudes from other persons

– Albert Bandura

– posits that learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and can occur purely through observation or direct instruction, even in the absence of motor reproduction or direct reinforcement.

Social Comparison Theory
– the process through which we compare ourselves to others in order to determine whether our view of social reality is / is not correct
– Leon Festinger in 1954
– centers on the belief that there is a drive within individuals to gain accurate self-evaluations
– explains how individuals evaluate their own opinions and abilities by comparing themselves to others in order to reduce uncertainty in these domains, and learn how to define the self
Subliminal Conditioning
classical conditioning of attitudes by exposure to stimuli that are below the threshold of conscious awareness
Formation of Attitudes
social learning, social comparison, genetic factors
– factors that influence the extent to which attitudes influence behavior

– aspects of the situation (situational constraints, time pressure)
– aspects of the attitudes (attitude origin, attitude strength
– aspects of the individual

– negative attitudes toward the members of various social groups
– “prejudgement”- an unjustified, typically negative, attitude toward an individual or group
Major Components of Attitude Importance
self-interest, social identification, value relevance
the extent to which the attitude affects the individual’s life or goals
Social Identification
the extent to which the attitude affects groups with which the person identifies
Value Relevance
the extent to which the attitude is related to personal values
Attitude Accessibility
the ease with which specific attitudes can be remembered and brought into consciousness
personality characteristic involving willingness to change one’s behavior to fit situations, awareness of one’s effects on others, and the ability to regulate one’s nonverbal cues and other factors to influence others’ impressions
Elaboration Likelihood Model
– Late 1980’s (1856)
– Richard Petty + John Cacioppo

– based on cognitive perspective on persuasion

– a theory suggesting that there are two distinct routes to persuasion involving different amounts of cognitive elaboration in response to a persuasive message / appeal

– dual process theory of how persuasion works
– central route and peripheral route

Central Route Persuasion
– attitude change resulting from systematic processing of information contained in persuasive messages

– involves calling on basic thinking and reasoning to convince people

– includes activities such as

1. evaluating the strength / rationality of the argument
2. deciding whether its content agrees / disagrees with current beliefs

Peripheral Route Persuasion
– attitude change resulting from peripheral persuasion cues– information concerning the expertise, prestige, likability, status or attractiveness, of the would-be persuaders

– influences people by way of incidental cues, like a speaker’s physical attractiveness or personal relatability

– attitude change occurs more likely when the audience is distracted and can’t engage in a careful analysis of the persuasive message

Forced Compliance
– situations where we practically feel compelled to say or do things inconsistent with our true attitudes – providing individuals w/ small rewards for expressing views that they don’t really hold leading to attitude change – “less leads to more” effect
Cognitive Dissonance
– the unpleasant state we experience in situations, discomfort stemming from an obvious gap between our attitudes and our actions / between two attitudes that we hold
– the state experienced by individuals when they discover inconsistency between two attitudes they hold or between their attitudes and their behavior
– the notion that we experience discomfort / dissonance, when our thoughts, beliefs or behaviors are inconsistent with each other
– “Fake it till you Make it”
Approaches to Understanding Persuasion
– traditional model
– cognitive perspective
Traditional Approach to Persuasion
– 3 basic components
– Who said What to Whom and with what Effect?
– explained the “who” and the “how” of persuasion
Cognitive Approach to Persuasion
– answers the “why” of persuasion

– 1. what do people think about when they are exposed to persuasive messages?
2. how these thoughts & cognitive processes determine whether and to what extent, attitude change occurs?

– an approach that seeks to understand persuasion by identifying the cognitive processes that play a role in it

– the gap between stated attitudes and our actual behaviors
Less-Leads-to-More Effect
(foot-in-the-door phenomenon)
– providing individuals with small rewards for expressing views they don’t really hold–forced compliance–sometimes leads to greater attitude change than providing them with relatively large rewards

– a paradoxical state of mind–the fact that the stronger the reasons for engaging in attitude-discrepant behavior, the weaker the pressures toward changing the underlying attitudes and vice versa

– the tendency for people to more readily comply with a certain big request after they have first agreed to smaller, more innocuous requests

Classical Conditioning
– learning of attitudes based on association

– basic form of learning in which one stimulus, initially neutral, acquires the capacity to evoke reactions through repeated pairing with another stimulus

– can occur below the level of conscious awareness

– muscle movements

Instrumental Conditioning (operant)
– learning to state the right views

– basic form of learning in which responses that lead to positive outcomes or that permit the avoidance of negative outcomes are strengthened

Modelling (Observational Learning)
– learning by example

– basic form of learning in which individuals acquire new forms of behavior through observing others

Genetic Factors
– identical ad non-identical twin studies

– influence more general dispositions such as the tendency to experience positive or negative affect

– affect other aspects of social behavior such as mate selection

Scope of Social Psychology
– has the potential to illuminate our life by making visible the subtle forces that guide our thinking + acting
– it offers many ideas about how to know ourselves better, how to win friends and influence people, how to turn enemies into friends
– have implications for human health and well-being, for judicial procedures and juror decisions in courtrooms + for the encouragement of behaviors that will enable an environmentally sustainable human future
Why is Social Psychology Important?
– principles are applicable to everyday life
– we construct our social reality
– our social intuitions are powerful, but can be perilous
– attitudes, social influences and dispositions shape our behavior
– feelings and actions towards people are sometimes negative and sometimes positive
ABC Model of Attitudes
– Affective component:
this involves a person’s feelings / emotions about the attitude object. For example: “I am scared of spiders”.

– Behavioral (or conative) component:
the way the attitude we have influences how we act or behave. For example: “I will avoid spiders and scream if I see one”

– Cognitive component:
this involves a person’s belief / knowledge about an attitude object. For example: “I believe spiders are dangerous”

Factors Affecting Behavioral Intention
– attitude (likes/dislikes) of the person
– external attitudes (subjective norms)
– perceived behavioral control
Behavioral Intention
– a result of a belief that performing the behavior will lead to a specific outcome
– an indication of an individual’s readiness to perform a given behavior
– immediate antecedent of behavior
– determined by 3 factors
Subjective Norm
describes the social pressure an individual feels to perform or not perform the behavior at hand
Theory of Planned Behavior
– suggests that individuals consider the implications of their actions before deciding to perform various behaviors
– a theory that links beliefs and behavior
Perceived Behavioral Control
the degree to which an individual believes an action is under their active management.

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