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Social Thinking and Social Influence

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1 Social Thinking and Social Influence
Chapter 7 Social Thinking and Social Influence

2 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
As we engage in person perception, “the process of forming impressions of others”, we rely on five key sources of information: Appearance. Verbal behavior. Actions. Nonverbal messages (e.g., facial expressions, body language, and gestures). Situations.

3 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
Snap judgments vs. systematic judgments Snap judgments about others “are those made quickly and based on only a few bits of information and preconceived notions”. They are “shortcuts” that rely on automatic processing, and are used when we are not motivated to form an accurate impression of another person.

4 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
Snap vs. systematic judgments, continued Systematic judgments require more controlled processing and tend to occur when forming impressions of others that can affect our happiness or welfare.

5 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
Attributions are “inferences that people draw about the causes of their own behavior, others’ behavior, and events”. There are two types: Internal attributions – when people attribute the cause of others’ behavior to personal dispositions, traits, abilities, or feelings. External attributions – when people attribute the cause of others’ behavior to situational demands or environmental constraints.

6 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
Attributions, continued We are most likely to make attributions about others’ behavior when Others behave in unexpected or negative ways. When events are personally relevant. When we are suspicious about others’ motives.

7 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
Perceiver expectations How we expect others to behave can influence our actual perceptions of them. Confirmation bias – “seeking information that supports one’s beliefs while not pursuing disconfirming information”. Self-fulfilling prophecies – occur when “expectations about a person cause the person to behave in ways that confirm the expectations” (see Figure 7.3).

8 INSERT FIG 7.3 Figure The three steps of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Through a three-step process, your expectations about a person can cause that person to behave in ways that confirm those expectations. First, you form an impression of someone. Second, you behave toward that person in a way that is consistent with your impression. Third, the person exhibits the behavior you encourage, which confirms your initial impression. Adapted from Smith, E.R., & Mackie, D.M. (1995). Social Psychology. New York: Worth, p Copyright © 1995 Worth Publishing. Reprinted with permission.

9 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
Cognitive distortions Social categorizations – cognitive “shortcuts” in which we categorize people on the basis of nationality, race, gender, etc. People perceive similar individuals to be members of their ingroup (us) and dissimilar people to be members of the outgroup (them).

10 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
Social categorization, continued Categorizing has three important results: People have more negative attitudes toward outgroup members. People see outgroup members as more alike than they really are (the outgroup homogeneity effect). The visibility of outgroup members is heightened when they comprise the minority in a crowd.

11 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
Stereotypes – “widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their membership in a particular group”. Stereotypes persist because of Simplicity. They are less effortful, cognitively. But, the trade-off for simplicity is inaccuracy. Confirmation bias. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

12 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
The fundamental attribution error – refers to “the tendency to explain other people’s behavior as the result of personal, rather than situational, factors”. Making attributions requires two steps: Focusing on the person (making an internal attribution). Taking the situation into account (allowing for external attributions). The second step is more effortful, so we often skip it (see Figure 7.5).

13 Figure 7. 5. Explaining the fundamental attribution error
Figure Explaining the fundamental attribution error. People automatically take the first step in the attribution process (making a personal attribution). However, they often fail to take the second step (considering the possible influence of situational factors on a person’s behavior) because that requires extra effort. The failure to consider situational factors causes observers to exaggerate the role of personal factors in behavior—that is, they make the fundamental attribution error. (Adapted from Brehm, Kassin, & Fein, 2002)

14 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
A defensive attribution is “the tendency to blame victims for their misfortune, so that one feels less likely to be victimized in a similar way”.

15 Forming Impressions of Others, continued
Key themes in person perception: Efficiency – when forming impressions of others, we default to automatic processing. Selectivity – we “see what we expect to see” by focusing on aspects of the person that confirm our expectations (see Figure 7.6). Consistency – First impressions do matter! Once a perceiver has formed an impression of someone, he or she tunes out subsequent information. This is called the primacy effect.

16 Figure Descriptions of the guest lecturer in Kelley’s (1950) study. These two descriptions, provided to two groups of students before the lecturer spoke, differ by only an adjective. But this seemingly small difference caused the two groups to form altogether different perceptions of the lecturer.

17 The Problem of Prejudice, continued
Prejudice – “a negative attitude toward members of a group”. Discrimination – “involves behaving differently, usually unfairly, toward the members of a group”. Prejudice and discrimination often go together, but this is not always the case (see Figure 7.7). Sometimes, we are not even aware of our prejudices as demonstrated by the Implicit Association Test.

18 Figure 7. 7. Prejudice and discrimination
Figure Prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice and discrimination are highly correlated, but they don’t necessarily go hand in hand. As the examples in the blue cells show, there can be prejudice without discrimination and discrimination without prejudice.

19 Implicit Association Test

20 The Problem of Prejudice, continued
“Old-fashioned” vs. modern discrimination “Old-fashioned”, or overt, discrimination has declined in recent years, but a more subtle (“modern”) form of discrimination has emerged. Modern discrimination occurs when “people privately harbor negative attitudes toward minority groups, but express them only when they feel such views are justified, or that it’s safe to do so” (see Figure 7.8).

21 INSERT FIG 7.8 Figure Measuring old-fashioned and modern sexism. Research shows similarities between old-fashioned and modern beliefs about both racism and sexism. Janet Swim and colleagues (1995) have developed a scale to measure the presence of both types of sexism. Four items from the 13-item scale are shown here. Old-fashioned sexism is characterized by endorsement of traditional gender roles and acceptance of stereotypes that portray females as less competent than males. In contrast, subtle, modern sexism is characterized by denial of continued discrimination and rejection of policies intended to help women. From Swim, J.K., Aikin, K.J., Hall, W.S., & Hunter, B.A. (1995). Sexism and racism: Old-fashioned and modern prejudices. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, Copyright © 1995 American Psychological Association. Reprinted by permission of the author.

22 The Problem of Prejudice, continued
Causes of prejudice The authoritarian personality, a “personality type characterized by prejudice toward any group perceived to be different from oneself”. Cognitive distortions and expectations such as stereotyping, fundamental attribution error, defensive attributions, and expectations.

23 The Problem of Prejudice, continued
Causes of prejudice, continued Competition between groups – perceived threats to one’s group, such as conflict over scarce resources, causes prejudice against outgroup members. Threats to social identity – when the collective self-esteem of a group is threatened, two response may occur: Ingroup favoritism. Outgroup denigration.

24 The Problem of Prejudice, continued
Reducing prejudice Cognitive strategies – make an effort to override stereotypes by using controlled processing. Intergroup contact Superordinate goals – “goals that require two or more groups to work together to achieve mutual ends” can reduce intergroup hostility.

25 The Power of Persuasion, continued
Persuasion – “involves the communication of arguments and information intended to change another person’s attitudes”. Attitudes – include “beliefs and feelings about people, objects, and ideas”.

26 The Power of Persuasion, continued
The elements of the persuasion process (see Figure 7.12). The source is “the person who sends a communication”. The receiver is “the person to whom the message is sent”. The message is “the information transmitted by the source”. The channel is “the medium through which the message is sent”.

27 Figure 7. 12. Overview of the persuasion process
Figure Overview of the persuasion process. The process of persuasion essentially boils down to who (the source) communicates what (the message) by what means (the channel) to whom (the receiver). Thus, four sets of variables influence the process of persuasion: source, message, channel, and receiver factors. The diagram lists some of the more important factors in each category (including some that are not discussed in the text due to space limitations).

28 The Power of Persuasion, continued
Source factors Persuasion is more effective when The source has high credibility. Sources are deemed credible if they have expertise and are trustworthy. The source is likable. Likability is increased when the source is attractive and/or similar to the receiver.

29 The Power of Persuasion, continued
Message factors Messages are most effective when Two-sided arguments are used. This also increases credibility. Persuaders use emotional appeals to shift attitudes. They create positive feelings in the receiver.

30 The Power of Persuasion, continued
Receiver factors Mood (optimistic vs. pessimistic) The receiver’s need for cognition, or “tendency to seek out and enjoy effortful thought, problem solving activities, and in-depth analysis”. Forewarning, which reduces the impact of arguments on receivers. Receivers are harder to persuade when the message content is incompatible with existing beliefs.

31 The Power of Persuasion, continued
The whys of persuasion According to the elaboration likelihood model, our thoughts about a persuasive message are most important in determining whether attitudes will change. Messages can be perceived either through a peripheral route (not mindful processing) or central route (mindful processing). (See Figure 7.13.)

32 Figure 7. 13. The peripheral and central routes to persuasion
Figure The peripheral and central routes to persuasion. Persuasion can occur via two different routes. The central route, which results in high elaboration, tends to produce longer-lasting attitude change and stronger attitudes.

33 The Power of Persuasion, continued
Peripheral versus central routes, continued Messages perceived through central routes are usually more effective, longer-lasting, and a better predictor of behavior. For the central route to override the peripheral route, The receiver must be motivated to process the persuasive message. Receivers must be able to grasp the persuasive message.

34 The Power of Social Pressure, continued
Conformity and compliance pressures Conformity – “occurs when people yield to real or imagined social pressure.” The dynamics of conformity Solomon Asch’s (1955) classic study demonstrated that people conformed easily to wrong answers given by others in a mock perception test (see Figure 7.14). Conformity also increased, to a point, as group size increased, peaking at seven members.

35 Figure 7. 14. Stimuli used in Asch’s conformity studies
Figure Stimuli used in Asch’s conformity studies. Subjects were asked to match a standard line (top) with one of three other lines displayed on another card (bottom). The task was easy—until experimental accomplices started responding with obviously incorrect answers, creating a situation in which Asch evaluated subjects’ conformity. Adapted from illustration on p. 35 by Sarah Love in Asch, S. (1995, November). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193(5), Copyright © 1955 by Scientific American, Inc.

36 The Power of Social Pressure, continued
Conformity, continued Conformity versus compliance Conformity – “occurs when people yield to real or imagined social pressure.” Compliance – “occurs when people yield to social pressure in their public behavior, even though their private beliefs have not changed”.

37 The Power of Social Pressure, continued
Conformity, continued The whys of conformity Normative influence – “operates when people conform to social norms for fear of negative social consequences”. Informational influence – “operates when people look to others for how to behave in ambiguous situations”.

38 The Power of Social Pressure, continued
Conformity, continued Resisting conformity pressures Pressure can come from normative and informational influences. The bystander effect, or “the tendency for individuals to be less likely to provide help when others are present than when they are alone”, is an example of the problem of informational influence.

39 The Power of Social Pressure, continued
Conformity, continued Tips for resisting conformity pressures Pay more attention to social forces operating on you. Identify someone in the group whose views match yours. Bring along a friend with similar views if you know that you will confront pressure.

40 The Power of Social Pressure, continued
Pressure from authority figures Obedience – “is a form of compliance that occurs when people follow direct commands, usually from someone in a position of authority”. The dynamics of obedience Stanley Milgram’s classic study (1963) demonstrated that people’s tendency to obey is strong, even if they are asked to harm another person (see Figure 7.16).

41 Figure 7. 16. Milgram’s (1963) experiment on obedience
Figure Milgram’s (1963) experiment on obedience. The photos show the fake shock generator and the “learner” being connected to the shock generator during an experimental session. The results of the study are summarized in the bar graph. The vast majority of subjects (65%) delivered the entire series of shocks to the learner. Photos copyright 1965 by Stanley Milgram. From the film Obedience, distributed by The Pennsylvania State University. Reprinted by permission of Alexandra Milgram.

42 The Power of Social Pressure, continued
Obedience, continued The causes of obedience Obedience is strongest when Demands increase gradually Others take responsibility for your actions We are motivated to meet the authority figure’s expectations Thus, human behavior is determined more by the power of the situation than by the character of the person.

43 Application: Compliance Tactics, continued
The consistency principle states that “once people agree to something, they will tend to stick with it”. Two common techniques are The foot-in-the-door technique – “getting people to agree to a small request so that they agree to a larger request later” (see Figure 7.17a). The lowball technique – “getting someone to commit to an attractive proposition before its hidden costs are revealed”.

44 Application: Compliance Tactics, continued
The reciprocity principle exploits the tendency for people to think they should pay back in kind what they receive from others. The door-in-the-face technique “involves making a large request that is likely to be turned down in order to increase the changes that people will agree to a smaller request later” (see Figure 7.17b).

45 Figure 7. 17. The foot-in-the-door and door-in-the-face techniques
Figure The foot-in-the-door and door-in-the-face techniques. These two influence techniques are essentially the reverse of each other, but both can work. (a) In the foot-in-the-door technique, you begin with a small request and work up to a larger one. (b) In the door-in-the-face technique, you begin with a large request and work down to a smaller one.

46 Application: Compliance Tactics, continued
The scarcity principle People believe that if something is scarce, it must be good, and they are more likely to buy it. This can be exploited by ads claiming “Limited supply available”. “For a limited time only”. Order “while they last”. “Time is running out”.


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