Social psychology studies interaction between people and its effects on behavior.
Social psychology aims to understand behavior and other psychological phenomena in a social context.
In this chapter, we'll look at social behavior from three different perspectives: social behavior within individuals, group behavior, and behavior within diverse societies.
The topics discussed in this first section are diverse.
They involve the behavior of a single individual in response to the social world.
We'll just refer to them as social phenomena because they mostly concern how individuals think and feel about other people.
The way we respond to people, objects, or situations are influenced by our attitudes.
Learning and other environmental factors have the greatest influence on initial attitude formation.
One of the more flexible aspects of human psychology is attitudes, which are subject to change throughout life.
Two broad ways in which people are persuaded to change their beliefs are identified by psychologists.
The central route to persuasion is based on the message.
Suppose you want to buy a new phone because your old one broke again.
There is an ad for a new type of smart phone with a guaranteed unbreakable screen and an extended warranty that covers replacement for any other damages.
You've been persuaded through the central route if these reasons convince you to buy the phone.
The second approach is based on anything other than the message's content.
If you decide to buy the phone because you like the model in the ad or because your friend told you to, you've been persuaded through the peripheral route.
In addition to the two broad routes of persuasion, the AP Psychology exam sometimes tests a few specific persuasive techniques.
The mere-exposure effect is the tendency to develop a positive attitude towards something if you encounter it frequently.
Companies that are universally recognized will spend a lot of money on advertising in order to get more people to see their brands.
The foot-in-the-door technique uses an initial small request to encourage compliance prior to a second larger request.
It's named after the tactic used by door-to-door salesmen back in the day, when they would literally put their feet in potential customers' open doorways to continue the conversation and increase the chance of a sale.
Your friend asked to borrow five dollars yesterday and you readily agreed, but today she comes back and asks to borrow twenty more.
It's difficult to say no the second time, even though the request is more extreme, because you helped her the first time.
The door-in-the-face technique involves making an outrageous request at first, before making a smaller request that seems more reasonable.
If your friend first asked to borrow a hundred bucks and you laughed in her face, you might be more inclined to agree when she asks for only twenty-five.
The door-in-the-face and foot-in-the-door techniques could be used to get your friend the $25 she wanted in the first place.
Change in people's attitudes can be caused by cognitive dissonance, a phenomenon that is not exactly a type of persuasion.
When individuals see inconsistencies in themselves, they often have conflicts between their beliefs and behaviors.
Leon Festinger found that people who experience cognitive dissonance are more likely to change their attitudes than their actions.
Habitual smokers are more likely to question the dangers of cigarettes than they are to quit.
Attribution theory explains how people assign causes to actions taken by themselves or other people.
There are two axes: dispositional vs situational and stable vs unstable.
A personal or internal attribution assigns responsibility for a behavior or outcome to the person involved.
A situational attribution assigns responsibility to the circumstances surrounding the event.
An unstable attribution credits a single source while a stable one credits a cause.
If your friend earned an A on his most recent biology test, you would be making a dispositional-stable attribution if you credited his intelligence, but a situational-unstable attribution if you believed his teacher just made one easy test.
Consistency, distinctiveness, and consensus are three types of cues that people use to make attributions.
People act in the same way.
If your friend does well on biology assignments and his classmates do well on the test, you would be more inclined to give him an A grade.
You would be more likely to make a stable attribution if you knew he earned an A on every biology test he's taken this semester.
Most of us don't make attributions based on a rational assessment of circumstances, even though people respond to cues.
We fall prey to a number of biases and errors that make us make certain types of faulty attributions.
The fundamental attribution error, self-serving bias, and the just-world hypothesis are the most important of these.
The fundamental error is the tendency to attribute behavior to other people.
If you assumed that the quiet girl you met at the party last night was shy, rather than considering the possibility that she might simply have been exhausted after a long day, you would be committing the fundamental attribution error.
The phenomenon of actor-observer bias is that people view the same behavior differently depending on whether they are acting or observing.
There is a tendency to make favorable comments about yourself.
We tend to attribute good actions and good outcomes to each other, but not bad actions and bad outcomes.
You may be guilty of self-serving bias if you think you earned an A on your history test because you are a smart student, but you got a C on your math test because your teacher didn't make fair exams.
Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people according to the just-world hypothesis.
This hypothesis leads people to make dispositional attributions about others.
According to the just-world hypothesis, if someone is successful or has other positive outcomes, it is because of their good disposition.
When applied to people who suffer misfortunes, it can lead to an attitude of blaming victims for their own misfortunes.
There are ways in which people take interest in others.
When attraction describes the characteristics we find appealing in friends, it can be platonic.
Physical attractiveness, proximity, similarity, and reciprocal liking are some of the factors that influence romantic attraction.
Physical attractiveness is the most important determinant of romantic attraction.
Physical attractiveness is influenced by cultural standards, but research shows that some characteristics are universal.
Representing the most notable is facial symmetry.
People prefer more symmetrical faces over less symmetrical ones.
There are certain characteristics of attractiveness that seem to be consistent among genders and sexual orientations.
Almost all heterosexual men prefer an hourglass figure in women, consisting of a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7, even though they can vary in their preferences about body weight based on cultural and individual factors.
Evolutionary psychologists believe that the ratio is a reflection of reproductive fitness.
Rather than pursuing the most attractive partner possible, many people are drawn to individuals who are roughly equal in attractiveness to themselves.
This tendency is referred to as the matching hypothesis and is believed to be evolutionarily adaptive, allowing a broader range of people to find mates and reproduce.
You are more likely to be attracted to people who live near you if you see them on a regular basis.
The mere-exposure effect may be part of the explanation.
Characteristics that people have in common are referred to as similarity.
We tend to be more attracted to people with similar characteristics when they share them with us.
It is more likely that birds of a feather flock together than that opposites attract when looking for long-term partners, according to research.
Reciprocity liking is the tendency to like people who like us.
You are more likely to be attracted to a person if you believe that he or she is attracted to you.
Altruism is prosocial behavior that imposes a cost on the actor while giving a benefit to other people.
Altruistic behavior doesn't seem to make sense from an evolutionary perspective because it appears to decrease the fitness of an organisms with altruistic tendencies while increasing the fitness of potential competitors.
The frequency of this type of behavior in human beings suggests it must have some biological basis, even if prosocial behavior is mostly learned from experience.
Evolutionary psychologists propose several explanations for the existence of altruism.
Kin selection is an evolutionary explanation for altruism.
You tend to be more altruistic towards people who are related to you, and more willing to sacrifice for people who share more of your genes, according to this account.
If you sacrifice yourself to save your children, your genes will stay in the pool as long as they survive.
Kin selection can't account for the tendency to help unrelated people.
It helps to explain prosocial behavior by virtue of reciprocity.
You are more likely to help someone if you believe that he or she will help you back.
You almost always keep track of the give and take in your interactions with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances when you have established relationships.
Human beings are good at detecting people who take from others without giving back.
A wide variety of social mechanisms and institutions have been established to punish cheaters, making them less likely to benefit from the largess of their more benevolent peers.
Kin selection and altruistic acts don't explain why many people act kindly toward strangers.
The process of sexual selection is thought to be the reason for this.
In cross-cultural surveys, both men and women rate kindness as one of the most desirable characteristics in a mate, often ranking it more highly than physical attractiveness.
The sexual selection hypothesis states that people engage in altruistic behaviors because it makes them more appealing to potential mates and indicates their high levels of fitness.
Sexual selection doesn't explain the phenomena of anonymous donors and other acts of kindness.
Most prosocial actors don't act kindly in order to pass on their genes, but they do act out of genuine feelings of responsibility and kindness.
Aggression is any type of behavior that is intended to harm or destroy.
Twin studies have shown that aggressive tendencies have a significant genetic and neurological basis, with aggressive individuals more likely to have abnormality in the amygdala or frontal lobe and to possess higher testosterone levels.
Albert Bandura's Bobo doll experiment demonstrated that aggressive behavior is learned.
According to Bandura's results, observational learning plays a key role in the development of aggression.
There are two types of aggression.
"Cold" aggression refers to behaviors that harm in order to attain a specific goal.
A playground bully might intimidate other students in order to get their lunch money.
In contrast, hostile aggression, or "hot" aggression, refers to behaviors that are done to cause pain.
A student who has been subjected to constant taunting finally snaps and strikes one of his tormentors in a fit of rage.
Aggressive behavior results from unfulfilled desires according to the model.
When an individual's needs are unmet, he or she is more likely to lash out at others.
People in groups change their behavior.
A group is defined in social psychology as two or more people who interact.
It is possible that members of a group are in the same location, or that they share a common purpose.
Society as a whole counts as a group, but social psychologists are more interested in smaller groups.
Groups have a number of characteristics.
Group members are expected to behave.
Special privileges or responsibilities are some of the positions that are referred to as roles.
Norms and roles are often implicit, but more formally structured groups sometimes make them explicit.
Relations are specific patterns of interactions between members.
Most people are members of many different groups.
You are most likely a member of a family, one or more groups of friends, a school, an athletic team or other extracurricular organization.
In each of the groups you belong to, you follow different rules, share different roles, and have different relations with other members.
A crowd of people in the same location exerts influence on the behavior of its members.
The presence of one or more other individuals can have an impact on how people behave, whether they intervene in a crisis or perform well in a competition.
Other people can bring out the best and worst in you.
When other people encourage you to perform at a higher level, you can bring out your best.
The tendency for people to perform simple tasks in front of an audience is referred to as social facilitation.
Runners tend to go faster on a marathon course than on a treadmill.
This feeling of social pressure that drives people to do better is not just confined to athletics, but extends to a wide range of phenomena from cheering louder in a crowd to reeling in a fishing line faster when being watched.
Sometimes the presence of others can bring out the worst in you.
The case of Kitty Genovese is an example.
Ms. Genovese was murdered outside of her New York City apartment in 1964.
Despite Kitty's repeated screams as she was stabbed to death over the course of half an hour, none of the dozens of neighbors who witnessed the crime made any effort to help.
The bystander effect is when people don't intervene in a crowd.
According to psychologists, the tendency to assume less responsibility for taking action when more people are present is caused by the diffusion of responsibility.
It's easy to assume that someone else will do what needs to be done when there are so many other people around.
Social loafing is believed to be a result of the diffusion of responsibility.
Social loafing is the tendency for some members of a group with a common goal to avoid doing their fair share of work.
If a group contains too many social loafers, it will fail at its goal.
Social loafing is more likely to happen in larger groups.
Groups that are more structured are more likely to have more expectations that affect how people behave in the group.
Groupthink, conformity, and self-fulfilling prophecies are some of the most important phenomena relating to social expectations.
Groupthink is a term that refers to the tendency of certain groups to make poor decisions as a result of members' desire to maintain harmony.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was a classic example of groupthink that Janis relied upon.
Janis contrasted this with the JFK administration's more successful handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later, in which greater critical thinking and better decision making prevented a nuclear war.
Groupthink is more likely to occur when a group is highly cohesive, insulated from outside opinions, and lacking in clear rules for decision making.
Conformity is the tendency for people to mimic the behavior of a group's majority.
One of the most famous studies of this phenomenon is the Asch conformity experiment.
Solomon Asch enlisted a number of confederates, actors who pretended to be part of the experiment, to sometimes give obviously wrong information in a simple task involving matching the lengths of lines, using cards like the ones in the figure below.
Asch put these people in a room and asked them to say out loud what the lines were.
When confederates gave an obviously wrong answer, participants would generally go along with the group.
Even though C was correct, the participant would be more likely to say A if all the confederates claimed that line A matched the line on the first card.
When the group's opinion was unanimous, the participant was more likely to conform.
The person who disagreed with the majority was more likely to dissent as well.
The bigger the difference between the majority opinion and the correct answer, the less likely the participant would conform.
Contrary to his hypothesis, Asch discovered that group sizes larger than three confederates did not affect the conformity of the participant.
In the Asch experiment, no one told the participants to go along with the majority, but following the explicit directives of an authority figure is required.
The foot-in-the-door and door-in-the-face techniques discussed earlier in this chapter are examples of compliance.
The instructions come from an authority who is in a position of power.
Stanley Milgram conducted the most important research on obedience.
The participants thought they were involved in a learning experiment in which they would be given shocks in another room.
The learners were pretending to be shocked, with scripted responses like screams, requests to stop the experiment, and complaints of having a heart condition, and eventually silence, which was meant to suggest unconsciousness or death.
Whenever a participant was unwilling to give a shock, a researcher in a white lab coat would urge them to go on.
Even though it seemed likely that the learner was being harmed or killed, a surprising number of participants continued administering shocks up to the maximum voltage.
There are a number of factors that affect the likelihood of disobedience.
Participants were less likely to obey if they had more interaction with the learner.
The researcher who left the room was replaced by another in the middle of the experiment.
When participants shared the room with their peers, they lost their loyalty.
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a set of expectations about a social situation.
If a teacher believes that a student is destined to fail out of school, the way she treats that student could be a factor in his decision to drop out.
Had she believed otherwise, he would not have failed.
This effect is more powerful than you might think.
Robert Rosenthal found evidence for the Pygmalion effect, a tendency for higher expectations to lead to improved educational performance.
In the study, a group of students were selected at random because their teachers told them they had exceptional abilities.
It was clear that the expectation alone was enough to bring about the reality.
Extreme or destructive patterns of behavior are not typically seen in solitary individuals.
The three phenomena that are commonly tested on the AP Psychology exam are deindividuation, group polarization, and social traps.
Losing self-identity in a group can be accompanied by uncharacteristic behavior.
People in such a state can act in ways they wouldn't normally do.
A deindividuated person is more likely to act like a criminal, lashing out violently at a common target of the group.
It is more likely to happen in situations with high arousal and high anonymity.
The most well-known study on this phenomenon was conducted by Philip Zimbardo.
Students were assigned roles as prisoners or guards in a prison simulation.
The guards lost themselves in the role they were playing when it was claimed that none of the students showed evidence of prior sadistic tendencies.
The hypothesis that guards in American prisons sometimes act cruelly towards prisoners was supported by the results.
The initial design for selecting volunteers was found to have profound selection bias, that participants may not have been randomly assigned to groups, and that Zimbardo himself often interfered with the students.
Group polarization is the tendency for groups to make more extreme decisions than the group as a whole.
Members of political groups tend to find their opinions shifting in the direction of the group's tendencies as they gradually adopt more and more radical positions.
According to psychologists, discussions in which more extreme views become normalized can cause members' opinions to shift.
Group polarization may help to explain the behavior of terrorist organizations, as well as the tendency for social media to enhance political polarization.
A social trap is a situation in which individuals within a group act in their own self-interest to the disadvantage of the group.
This idea is related to a phenomenon in ecology called the "tragedy of the commons," which describes situations in which a group resource, called a commons, is overused and eventually depletes.
An individual fishing company is incentivized to catch as many fish as possible in order to compete against other fishing companies and maximize profits.
The result of many fishing companies doing the same thing is that they will have a harder time earning a profit in the future.
Maybe you've been involved in a group project that requires a lot of time and effort.
The quality of the project will suffer if no one in the group is willing to complete this part of the project.
Social traps and the tragedy of the commons could be avoided through individual restraint or concerted efforts at cooperation, but often some kind of external regulation is required to ensure that the long-term best interests of everyone are promoted.
Social and cultural categories such as gender, race, and ethnicity play important psychological roles.
The collection of ways you define yourself can be affected by these categories.
Depending on whether they see themselves as masculine, feminine, androgynous, gender-fluid, or undifferentiated, individuals typically adopt both a gender identity and a sexual orientation.
Ethnic identity, belonging to one or more ethnic groups in which members share a common ancestry, cultural heritage, and language can influence self-concept.
Members of one group may treat another group differently.
Stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination are some of the effects tested on the AP Psychology exam.
An out-group is one you don't belong to, while an in-group is one you belong to.
Each of these concepts is different.
Stereotypes are beliefs about the characteristics that define a group based on limited and superficial information.
It is an irrational attitude and a negative emotional response toward a particular group that forms the basis of prejudice.
Discrimination refers to the differential treatment of different groups.
If you were born in Pittsburgh and are a fan of the local football team, but have recently moved to Baltimore, where your team's archrival is based, you could be in a similar situation.
You would have a stereotype if you believed that all fans of the Baltimore team are obnoxious.
If you were annoyed with Baltimore fans, you would show prejudice.
If you refused to sit next to a Baltimore fan at a restaurant or bar, you would be involved in discrimination.
These phenomena are given distinctive names when applied to specific groups.
Stereotyping, prejudice, or discrimination directed against members of marginalized racial or ethnic groups, while sexism is based on sex or gender, is typically directed against women.
People presume to judge other cultures on the basis of the values of their own culture, similar to Ethnocentrism.
It is important to stress that all of these phenomena are irrational and harmful.
When compared to prejudice and discrimination, stereotypes have been shown to produce negative consequences.
Self-fulfilling prophecies can be shaped by stereotypes, discussed earlier in the section on group psychology.
There is a stereotype threat in which a member of a stereotyped group can perform worse if they are concerned about a negative stereotype.
Research shows that women tend to perform worse on math tests when they are reminded of the stereotype that men are better at math.
Discrimination is likely to cause the most harm when it is embedded in social institutions.
When one person discriminates against a group, institutional discrimination occurs.
Those who are familiar with American history will know that there are long stretches of institutional discrimination against African Americans and other marginalized groups, from slavery to Jim Crow.
Stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination are learned according to many researchers.
It is possible to prevent future generations of people from falling into these unfortunate tendencies by unlearning them.
Superordinate goals, shared objectives that require cooperation between groups to accomplish, are one technique for counteracting them.
The Robbers Cave experiment showed how prejudice can be learned and how superordinate goals can counteract it.
Sherif and his colleagues helped to create a group identity for each of the two groups at the summer camp.
When the groups met, members of the two groups began to develop stereotypes and prejudice against the other group, with physical aggression sometimes occurring.
The researchers created situations in which the two groups had to work together to accomplish goals that neither group could accomplish on its own.
Relations between the two groups improved as the children cooperated.
The Rapid Review section has a list of important contributors to social psychology.
If you want to practice for an exam on this topic, go to Rapid Review and Practice.