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The socio-psychological perspective- How do Other People Influence Opinions?

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Presentation on theme: "The socio-psychological perspective- How do Other People Influence Opinions?"— Presentation transcript:

1 The socio-psychological perspective- How do Other People Influence Opinions?

2 Attribution theory Began by Daryl Bem. Attitudes toward an issue will change to the extent that people view a message being presented as conveying the truth about the issue. The change will not take place if the message is attributed to factors that compromise truth value. For example: people are more likely to believe information appeared in News Story than information appeared in Advertisements, even if it is the same information. Because information that appears in the news is usually perceived as more objective, more true and non-commercial behavior.

3 Attribution theory How can we know true information? The information people take into account in inferring the meaning behind messages will often include salient “contextual cues” such as the “communicator’s personal circumstances and the audience the communicator is addressing.” In evaluating the truth value of a message, we may try to ascertain the reason the communicator is conveying the information and why we are the targets of the message. For example: A company is communicating with us in order to encourage us to buy its product. A candidate is communicating with us in order to encourage us to vote for him.

4 Attribution theory Consistent biases For one thing, we have a tendency to attribute our own negative behavior to aspects of the situation we are in. For example, if a person fails to complete an assignment on time, you may attribute this to his busy schedule. By contrast, we may attribute other’s negative behavior to their personality. For example, his professor, receiving your late assignment, may attribute your lateness to your lack of commitment to that particular class.

5 Stereotyping Stereotype are beliefs that all members of a group have the same qualities or characteristics. In other words, the group is perceived and treated by others as homogeneous. Most social psychologists define stereotypes as “ socially shared sets of belief about traits that are characteristic of members of a social category.

6 Approaches to the formation of stereotype Comparison Through comparison of one group to another, individuals fit themselves into a particular category. So the comparative context affects the way individuals categorize themselves into one group or another. Perception Studies show that as people increasingly perceive themselves to be part of an in-group identity, the level of consensus among members increases along with perceptions of in-group homogeneity.

7 Communication Communication among in-group members has been shown to increase consensus concerning both in- group and out-group stereotypes, with the greater effect occurring for in-groups. Stereotypes are not always the product of direct experience. Many come to us indirectly from what we are told by other people or by the media.

8 Stereotyping Accentuation principle Developed by Henry Tajfel He hypothesized that people tend to engage in “perceptual accentuation”, which makes them more aware of similarities within groups and difference between groups. Tajfel offers a list of the functions that stereotypes serve for the individual and for society as a whole. Individual Functions Social Functions CognitiveSocial causality ValueSocial justification Social differentiation

9 Cognitive Function Help people make sense of the complex world that they live in. Value Function Directly influence one’s own value system and perception of oneself by contrasting the attributes of one’s own group with the attributes of other groups. Social Causality Is the search for an understanding of “complex and usually distressing large- scale social events” resulting in “scapegoating.” Out-groups are seen as the “cause” of the distress ( scapegoating). For example, public opinion about economic problem in the United States has been directed against the Chinese, for “causing” trade imbalances. So it is clear that social causality is at work to the extent that blame is placed on the others.

10 Social Justification Refers to the use of specific stereotypes of a group in order to justify actions against that group. For example, terrorist and terrorism Social Differentiation Is the tendency for ethnocentrism (enhancing one’s own social group) to occur through stereotyping. For example, racist and racism

11 Social Norms Norms are created by groups. Norms are created by groups. Norms are often very persistent. But norms can be changed, too. When norms are in transition, people are often uncomfortable. The roles norms play in our society: The “consensus” view of society and the “conflict” view of society. Taking the consensus perspective, norms are responsible for uniformities of social behavior. For example, the laws of rules of society. According to the conflict view, norms describe and evaluate the typical behavior of a typical member of a particular group or social category.

12 Two functions: descriptive and injunctive norms. Norms that characterize what is commonly done (the perception of what most people do) are descriptive norms. For example, why do you invest in stocks? Because others do so and appeared to reap rewards. Descriptive norms tend to influence opinion formation. Norms that characterize the perception of what most people approve or disapprove (what ought to be done) are injunctive norms. For example, I cannot express my opinions on an issue related to racial unrest because my particular opinion would probably be considered racist by others. Injunctive norms tend to influence opinion expression because racism is bad.

13 Social Interaction McPhee model McPhee thinks in the social interaction, citizens form their own responses to political stimuli, and they share these responses with others. If their responses and interactions receive social support, the process is terminated. But if their responses are met by disagreement, they are likely to continue their search for information. Nature of the information search is the source of the observed positive correlation in beliefs among people who share a common social setting. They will change their own opinions.

14 Social Interaction Social group model One explanation points to the interactions that occur within and between social groups: An individual’s political preferences are affected by the group memberships of other people in the context. It gives attention to patterns of interaction that are structured by social densities: different social contexts present different opportunities for interaction between and within social groups. People who frequently come into contact with a particular group are sometimes more likely to identify with that group and adopt group norms.

15 Social Interaction For example, a middle-class individual who lives in a working- class environment: He or she might maintain a sense of middle-class identify, but exposure to a working-class population might alter political attitudes regarding issues and candidates that affect the working class. Most important, the content of the interaction need not be explicitly political in order to have political implications. Thus, the social group model specifies a generalized milieu effect that does not depend on interpersonal communication with explicitly political content.

16 Social Interaction Behavioral contagion model Interactions that occur within and between populations that demonstrate different political preferences : an individual’s political preferences are affected by the preferences of other people in the context. One citizen obtains political information from other citizens, and thus it is typically the case that people are more likely to adopt a political preference if they are surrounded by other people who demonstrate the same preference.

17 Social Comparison Theory Outlined by Festinger’s Communication stems from a pressure toward uniformity in groups, from drives among individuals to change their position in a social structure, and also from needs for emotional expression. Pressures toward group uniformity arise out of a group’s need for consensus to achieve certain collective goals, and also out of a basic drive shared by all human beings to evaluate their ideas, opinions and abilities. The consequences of communication are two: members of the group change their opinions to achieve the requisite uniformity, or relationships within the group must change.

18 Social Comparison Theory At the core of social comparison theory is the idea that an opinion, a belief, and attitude is correct, valid and proper to the extent that it is anchored in group of people with similar beliefs, and opinions and attitudes.

19 Summary Attribution theories emphasize how people’s inferences about the reason behind other people’s behavior or attitudes affect their own agreement with these behaviors or attitudes. Stereotyping has two functions: individual or social. Social norms serve as two functions: descriptive and injunctive norms Social Interaction is used as the priority approach to influence opinions. Social Comparison Theory and stereotyping are closely related.

20 Thank you very much for your attention


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