Social Perception and Social Cognition
• Social perception – the process through which
we try to understand other people and
– People acquire judgments, attitudes, and beliefs
through socialization experiences from their
• Social cognition – the process through which
we interpret, remember, and then use
information about the world and ourselves
– Tends to be conservative
• Attitude –
representation of
various features of
the social or
physical world
• Abstract components of
– The cognitive component
– The emotional component
– The behavioral component
• Values – attitudes that
reflect a principle,
standard, or quality
considered by the
individual as most
desirable or
– Terminal values
– Instrumental values
• Hold more central
position than attitude
Study: Smith & Schwartz, 1997
Independent Variable – individual values
– 1. the extent to which people are independent of or dependent on groups
– 2. views on prosperity and profit
– 3. views on whether it is appropriate to exploit, fit in, or submit to the outside world
Dependent Variable – how groups cope with basic societal problems
– Type 1. Conservatism vs. Autonomy
– Type 2. Hierarchy vs. Egalitarianism
– Type 3. Mastery vs. Harmony
Original aim: to see if individual values are connected to how a group deals with a
societal problem, and whether these values are different across cultures
Results of the study: Groups were split into Western European, Anglo (including
US), Eastern European, Islamic, East Asian, Japan, and Latin American
East Asian – high on hierarchy, low on egalitarianism and autonomy
Western European – low on hierarchy, high on egalitarianism and autonomy
Anglo – between East Asian and Western European samples
Japan – high on harmony, high on conservatism
Implications of study: this study helped the idea that, though individual values vary
within a society, they do create cultural differences between regions/nations. An
import observation of the study was that order is promoted in large families,
verifying that social perception is highly defined by environment.
Western and Non-Western Values
work, achievement,
striving for efficiency,
consumption of
material goods
respect for tradition,
reverence to
authority, overall
“Outlived” Western Values:
• The nature of human beings is selfish
• Scarcity is a primary condition of nature
• Progress means growth, complexity,
competition, and freedom
The Cognitive Balance Theory
• Balance - you and a person you like agree on something;
you and a person you dislike disagree on something
• (A) is a
person who
• (B) is an
object, issue,
or person
that is being
• (C) is an
object, issue,
or person
that is being
Cognitive Dissonance
• Cognitive dissonance –
psychological tensions
created by a mismatch
1. Attitudes and behavior,
2. Two or more decisions,
3. Two or more attitudes
• To reduce dissonance:
1. Improve your evaluation
of the chosen alternative
(‘Chipotle has the best burritos ever’),
2. Lower your evaluation of
the alternative not
chosen (‘Qdoba is for wannabes
anyways’), or
3. Just don’t think about it
Psychological Dogmatism
• Dogmatism – tendency
to be extremely
selective, rigid, and
inflexible in opinions
and subsequent
– this rigid central idea has
absolute authority over
the individual and
causes intolerance
towards others
Social Attribution
The process through which we seek to explain and identify the
causes of the behavior of others as well as our own actions
Trends in Social Attribution
View positively
the people we
groups we
like; view
belong to to
negatively the
be more
people we
A face with a
scar vs. same
face without
Judging people
based on
accents; the
“TV network”
Attribution as Locus of Control
• Internal Locus of
Control - events are
influenced by
controllable internal
• External Locus of
Control - events are
influenced by
uncontrollable external
Attribution of Success and Failure
Cross-culturally, the same
explanations for
success/failure pop up
• Individual ability (‘I have the
skillz’/ ‘I does not have the skillz’)
• Effort (‘I studied all night’/ ‘I do
not even know what class this is’)
• Task difficulty (‘That test was
so easy’/ ’That test blew up my
• Correlation between
collectivism and
individualism and selfesteem/self-like
(Chinese vs. Americans)
• Private self – feelings
and thoughts about
oneself for oneself
• Public self – concept of
self in relation to others
and for others
Do Social Norms Affect the Way We
See Our Own Body?
Rich Country –
(thinner = richer)
Poor Country –
(thinner = poorer)
Duty and Fairness in Individualist and
Collectivist Cultures
• Justice-based view – the autonomy of the individual
are most important applicable to every human being
(individualist cultures)
• Duty-based view – obligation to others is the basis
of morality (collectivist cultures)
• Merit standpoint – people have access to resources
based on their accomplishments and skills
• Need standpoint – people have to receive equal
shares of the benefits of society regardless of their
“worth” to society
• Even if you have enough money to support yourself would
you want to work?”
permitting similarities between phenomena to eclipse the differences
• Stereotypes –
categorical assumptions
that all members of a
given group have a
particular trait
• Strong connection
between interpersonal
conflict and

social perception and cognition - Klicks-IBPsychology-Wiki