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Influencing & Conforming (Chapter 6)

This chapter deals with one of the most classic areas of social psychology, that of Social Influence. This refers to the efforts by people to change attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors of other people. Some classic topics within this area include:

· Conformity

· Obedience

· Power

· Leadership

Do note that some of these studies have several criticisms aimed against the methodology, procedures and conclusions. It is important to note that replications are necessary and no simplistic conclusions can be drawn from any one study. For purposes of this class, note that these are “classics” in the field of social psychology so know the basic methodology and the specific findings; in general, they serve to highlight the importance of external or situational factors on our behavior.

Social Influence & Conformity

· Spontaneous, adaptive, imitation

· Informational social influence (accuracy, social comparison and private acceptance)

· Normative social influence (to be liked, social norms and public compliance)

· Majority influence (Sherif’s “autokinetic” study and Asch’s “line” study)

· Minority influence – don’t need to know in detail

· Situational determinants – group size/social impact; unanimity (don’t worry about importance of task)

Obedience, Power, & Leadership

· Milgram’s original obedience study – what are some important situational factors from variations (there are some personality factors as well – don’t need to know for this section)

· Zimbardo’s prison study

· Types of power (just know basic)

· Types of leaders (just know basic)

· Don’t worry about leadership and person-situation interaction

Person, Gender, and Cultural Differences in Conformity (consider some of the important concepts and findings for each one)

What is psychological reactance? (it helps to think of some examples)

Well, that’s it for one of the most powerful topics within social psychology. In this chapter, you have just covered some classic concepts within the field and been exposed to some classic studies in all of psychology. Hope you enjoyed it.

We move on next to considering what attracts us to others in a chapter covering “Liking and Loving.”

Perceiving Others (Chapter 5)

We begin our second section of class with a chapter on what is often referred to as “Social Perception.” You can think about it as the processes we go through in order to understand others (and to a certain extent, understand ourselves). It makes a lot of sense that in order to live in this world, we need to make some sense of it, and not surprisingly couple of the themes we encounter often is that we make sense of it in an egocentric way (of course, we want to protect the “self” and benefit ourselves) and it is done without awareness (people think intuition is very valuable but often, it can be wrought with errors and biases). Some major topics covered: Impression Formation, Nonverbal communication, Causal Attribution, Biases in attributions and Individual differences.

Initial impression formation (person perception)

· Accuracy

· Nonverbal behavior

· Negative info

· Detecting deception – how good are we?

· Averaging traits

· Central traits – Asch’s 1946 warm/cold study (also involved primacy)

· Importance of primacy and recency effects in impression formation – cognitive misers & assimilation (halo effect)

Causal attribution = process of trying to determine cause of behaviors

· Personal (internal, dispositional) vs. situational (external)

· Unexpected vs. expected (don’t worry about this for exam)

· Covariation Principle (just know basics: consensus, consistency, distinctiveness)

· Weiner’s Attributions for success/failure (just understand the dimensions)

Biases in Attribution

· fundamental attribution error/correspondence bias

· actor-observer effect or difference

· self-serving attributions/bias

· ultimate attribution bias

· just world hypothesis (defensive attributions)

Individual & Cultural Differences

· Cognitive accessibility – what does it refer to?

· Need for Cognition – basic meaning

· Entity vs. incremental theorists – what are key differences?

· Attributional style (facing negative events, internal, stable, global = negative AS; external, unstable, specific = positive AS)

· AS & consequences: learned helplessness, unrealistic optimism, self-handicapping

· Don’t forget the importance of culture (discussed throughout) – so primary difference in individualism vs. collectivism

Okay, that’s it for now. In this chapter, you’ve encountered several important topics in Social Psychology that relate to how we perceive others. One important takeaway should be that we would all benefit from taking time in making our evaluations and judgments of others (and of ourselves) so we don’t fall prey to so many naturally occurring biases.

Next time, on to another interesting discussion of such topics as social influence, conformity, and obedience …

Liking & Loving (Chapter 7)

Welcome to a discussion of interpersonal attraction and close relationships. Within social psychology, “Interpersonal Attraction” has been studied for over a hundred years and refers specifically to an attitude or evaluation we have of another person and it can range on a continuum from like to dislike. More recently (in the past few decades), researchers have also focused on the topic of “Close Relationships” and how they vary in families, friendships, and when involving romance or love. Many factors play a role in these dynamics so let’s examine some now.

Interpersonal Attraction

Initial Attraction

· Physical attraction (basic findings? Cultural diffs? Gender diffs?)

· Similarity (basics)

· Know what proximity and mere exposure mean

· Affect

· What about arousal?

Close Relationships

· Passionate vs. Companionate love

· Closeness & intimacy (reciprocal self-disclosure)

· Communal vs. exchange relationships

· Interdependence & commitment – what do the concepts mean?


· Sternberg’s triangular model (nicely captured in Fig. 7.9)

· Individual differences (attachment styles – again nice summary in Table 7.1)

STOP here: I am doing my best to minimize some of the material so although interesting, don’t worry for the exam about internet relationships, lasting relationships & end of relationships. I would, of course, recommend that you read it at your leisure if you are interested (and who wouldn’t be interested?! 🙂

These are a great set of topics, aren’t they?!? We need to stop sometime so this is a good time.

Let’s move on next to one of the most classic areas of social psychology – “Stereotyping, Discrimination, & Prejudice” – which will be the last material included for Exam 2.

Stereotypes, Prejudice, & Discrimination (Chapter 11)

We end our second section of class with the classic topics of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Do keep in mind that social psychologists differentiate these three concepts for ease of studying but they certainly do overlap and have complex relationships to each other:

Prejudice = affective component = unjustifiable negative emotions/feelings toward members of a social group

Stereotype = cognitive component = sweeping or generalized cognitive/thinking/beliefs of members of social groups (can be positive but we mainly consider negative)

Discrimination = behavioral component = unjustified negative behaviors/actions directed at members of some social group

ABCs (prejudice could be positive like the “halo effect” but for now, consider it as being negative since that is most often how the term is used)

Social Categorization & Stereotyping (know some basics and some research findings)

· Spontaneous

· Benefits

· Negative outcomes

· Out-group homogeneity

· Why are stereotypes so hard to change?

· Implicit/indirect measures

· Self-fulfilling prophecies? Stereotype threat?

In-group favoritism & Prejudice (again, know basics and some research findings)

· Tajfel brief research, “us” and “them” & ingroup favoritism

· What is the ultimate attribution error?

· Causes (briefly)

· When does it not occur (briefly – what is the black sheep effect?)

· Personality (authoritarianism, SDO) & Culture

Reducing Discrimination (know some basic findings and research findings)

· Change cognitive aspects (such as thinking of non-stereotypical characteristics or positive models)

· Change social norms

· Intergroup contact/contact hypothesis (interdependence; jigsaw classroom; what does extended-contact suggest?)

· Recategorization (Sherif and colleagues “Robbers’ Cave Experiment” – superordinate goals and common ingroup identity)

I hope you enjoyed this chapter. As with all the chapters in class, it is loaded with such interesting information but there is no way we can do anything other than scratch the surface in an undergraduate Social Psychology class. If you continue on through graduate school, you will have an entire class or two just on these topics.

By the way, you’ll be happy to know that this ends the chapters we will be covering for exams. The last two chapters we cover on helping and aggression will appear in the last discussion but won’t appear on an exam.

I wish you all the best in studying for Exam 2. Make sure to clarify questions with me ahead of time. I am always right here!

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