Social Psychology
Dr. Will Reader
[email protected]
Theory of mind
Making attributions
Cognitive dissonance
Power, obedience and conformity
Stereotypes, stigma and scapegoating
Group conflict and influence
Theory of Mind
Theory of mind
Underpins most social behaviour
The ability to understand other people’s
Emotional states
Perceptual states (see, hear etc.)
And the understanding that these can be
different from your own (and that your own
can change)
That beliefs can be “false”
Unexpected Transfer (Maxi) Task
Unexpected Transfer (Maxi) Task
Test: Where will Maxi look for his chocolate?
Memory: Where did Maxi put his chocolate?
Reality: Where did Mum put his chocolate?
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Triad of Impairment
(Wing & Gould, 1979)
Autism Spectrum Disorder
- indifference to other people, difficulty making friends
- difficult to understand other people's thoughts and emotions
- seem to be 'in a world of their own‘
- don't develop the usual verbal or non-verbal (eg pointing) skills of other
children the same age (protodeclarative and protoimperative pointing)
- unable to understand jokes or sarcasm
- difficulty to read body language and facial expressions (Temple Grandin)
- inability to play imaginatively with objects or toys (pretend play) or others
- may be overly interested in repetitive activities, resistance to novel
Sally-Anne problem
Baron-Cohen, Leslie, and Frith (1985)
Social and emotional problems secondary
to cognitive problem
Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Hill, Raste &
Plumb (2001)
What is an Attitude?
Attitude is defined as “tendencies to evaluate an
entity [attitude object] into some degree of favour
or disfavour, ordinarily expressed in cognitive,
affective and behavioural responses” (Eagly &
Chaiken, 1993)
Different from beliefs which are things held to be
true and often do not have an evaluative side
Attitude: Definitions
Attitudes involve associations between
attitude objects and evaluations of these
objects (Fazio, 1989)
Attitudes are evaluations of various
objects that are stored in memory (Judd et
al., 1991)
Attitude is a psychological tendency that is
expressed by evaluation of a particular
entity with some degree of favour or
disfavour (Eagly & Chaiken,1993).
Component Theories of Attitude
Unitary model. Attitudes are a single
positive or negative evaluation of an
attitude object
Dual model. A mental state of readiness
and therefore guides some evaluation or
response towards and object
Tripartite model. Include feeling
(affective), action (behavioural), and
thought (cognitive) components – “ABC”
Tripartite Model?
Attitude object: Beer
Belief based e.g.
Emotion based e.g.
“Beer kills my brain cells”
“Beer helps me to relax”
“Beer tastes good after a hard days work”
Intention based e.g.
“I will cut down on my beer drinking”
“I intend to drink beer when I’m stressed”
“I plan to drink more beer after work”
What are Attitudes Used for?
Attitudes serve as conscious and unconscious motives
and have four functions (Katz, 1960):
• They assist in helping us make sense of our world and
to organize the information we encounter (c.f. cognitive
• They help us make behave in socially acceptable ways
to gain positive and avoid negative outcomes
• They act as a guide to behaviour in social situations and
help us in self- and social- categorization (SOCIAL
• They allow use to preserve a positive sense of self
Attitude-Behaviour Relationship
Of principle concern - if attitudes don’t guide behaviour
then their efficacy and utility as a construct is greatly
Classic study: LaPiere (1934) restaurateur's attitudes
towards Asians in 1930’s USA- questioned validity of the
attitude-behaviour link
Wicker (1969) attitudes were very weakly correlated with
behaviour across 45 studies (average r =.15)
Gregson and Stacey (1981) only a small positive
correlation between attitudes and alcohol consumption
Stimulated study into the personality, contextual, temporal
and methodological influences on the attitude-behaviour
Attitude-behaviour relationship
Reasons for lack of a relationship:
Unreliability and low validity of attitude and/or
behavioural measures
People sometimes don't care about their attitudes
Often it is difficult to put attitudes into practice (perceived
behavioural control or self-efficacy)
Recent research includes the latter two (e.g. Armitage and
Conner, 2001) stronger attitude-behaviour relationships:
Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB)
Measuring Attitudes
Thurstone (1928) check all items that
apply (can be weighted)
Likert (1932) scale – n (usually 5)- point
Semantic differential scale (Osgood et al.,
1957) – uses word pairs
All above can be used to derive numerical
values relating to attitudes
Thurstone scale
A 7-Point ‘Likert-Type’ Self-Rating Scale
Are you favour of having nuclear power plants in Britain?
Rating The Concept of `Nuclear Power´ on a
7-Point Semantic Differential Scale
Nuclear power
Issues with scales
Scales must be reliable: all items must
measure the same thing (e.g. depression) in
order for them to be added up
This can be computed statistically
Scales must be valid: they must measure
what they are supposed to measure
E.g. by comparing scale results with objective
measures (e.g. of depression)
Measuring Implicit Attitudes
Attitudes may be explicit (conscious
awareness), or implicit
Implicit attitudes may exert effects on
behaviour outside of conscious
May show unbiased attitudes (may not)
Measured with Implicit Association Test
(Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998)
Attribution is the process of assigning causes
for our own behaviour to that of others
Hogg & Vaughan (2005)
Heider’s Naïve Scientist
Suggests that people create ‘theories’ of
other people based on observation of
Inferring unobservable causes from
observable behaviour or other perceived
Everyone is a naïve scientist
Internal (dispositional) attributions
– personality characteristics
– beliefs
External (situational) attributions
– situational pressure/influence
Example: Student turns in papers late
– Internal: lazy, partying all the time
– External: family problems, working,
boy/girlfriend problems
Self-serving bias
Take credit for success (attribute internally)
But not for failure (attribute externally)
Maintains control and consistence
E.g. student will take credit for doing well
in an exam
Student will blame test difficulty or lecturer’s
tough marking policy for failure
Self serving bias
Harré, Brandt & Houkamau (2004)
The attributions of young drivers for their
own and their friends' risky driving
Dispositional attributions e.g., "Showing
off, acting cool" used more for friends
than self
Situational attributions e.g., "In a hurry,
late" used more for self than friends
Participants also rated their friends as
taking more risks than themselves
The myth of pure evil
Tendency to interpret wrong-doers as
depraved psychopaths Baumeister (1997)
E.g. demonising leaders of 'rogue' states
(part of fundamental attribution error —see later)
Baumeister's narratives
People asked to describe a situation in which
they were the angered someone and which
they were angered
Found two distinct types of narrative: that of
the perpetrator and that of the victim
Perpetrator's narrative
The story begins with the harmful act. At the
time I had good reasons for doing it. Perhaps
I had been responding to extreme
provocation. Or I was just reacting to the
situation in a way that any reasonable person
would. I had a perfect right to do what I did,
and it's unfair to blame me for it. The harm
was minor, and easily repaired, and I
apologised. It's time to get over it, put it all
behind us, let bygones be bygones
Victim's narrative
The story begins long before the harmful
act, which was just the latest incident in a
long history of mistreatment. The
perpetrator’s actions were incoherent,
senseless, incomprehensible. Either that or
he was an abnormal sadist, motivated only by
a desire to see me suffer, though I was
completely innocent. The harm he did is
grievous and irreparable, with effects that will
last forever. None of us should forget it.
The moralisation gap
(Part of the self-serving bias)
We see ourselves as more moral than others
and our reasons more justified and coherent
'Why everyone (else) is a hypocrite'
(Kurzban, 2011)
The Fundamental Attribution Error
Ross (1977) when observing behaviour
people tend to:
• Overestimate the significance of DISPOSITIONAL
• Underestimate the significance of SITUATIONAL
• Jones and Harris’ (1967) classic experiment
illustrated this bias
• Participant's had to rate people pro-Castro biases
based on some writing they did
Jones and Harris (1967): Study
IV2: Writer’s Position
Pro-Castro Anti-Castro
Pro-Castro Anti-Castro
IV1: Writer’s Chosen
to Choose
No Choice, No Choice,
Not Chosen Pro-Castro Anti-Castro
Hypothesised Summary of
Summary of Results
Reasons for these attributions
Self serving bias
We wish to appear competent to other people (to
influence them, gain their trust, gain their
cooperation, etc)
Generally believing we are can encourage them to
believe this
Fundamental attribution error
Focus on individuals other influence is just
Less prominent in collectivist culture (Miller, 1984)
We sometimes believe our own lies
Participants asked to plan a study in which half of them
have a pleasant and half an unpleasant task
Ran in pairs: participants asked to decide who did which
Could choose themselves OR use a number generator
Most chose the easy task and said that this was fair
HOWEVER if they were asked while doing a memory
span test they judged themselves harshly
Valdesolo & DeSteno (2008)
Cognitive dissonance
Cognitive dissonance
When prophecy fails
(Festinger, Riecken, & Schachter, 1956)
Studied an American cult called 'the seekers'
Believed that the world would end on December
21st 1954
They would be rescued by a flying saucer just
They had given up their jobs, money,
possessions and families
The flying saucer never came
The world didn't end
What happened to their beliefs?
When prophecy fails
Festinger noted that rather than giving up their
beliefs the seekers redoubled their efforts to
recruit new followers
They concluded that their piety had been
recognised and their actions had saved humanity
Cognitive dissonance
When there is conflict between a belief or
attitude and an event or behaviour this produces
This is uncomfortable so to maintain consistency
people are motivated to alter one of the elements
They can
Change their attitudes
Change their behaviour
Cognitively reappraise the situation
Examples of Cognitive Dissonance
Source of
The world
believe that the does not end
world is going
to end
Conflict between
what was
thought to
happen and
what happened
Behavioural: Fake the end of the world
Attitudinal: recognise that they were
Add consonant elements: the world
didn't end because of our efforts
A student
believes he’s
intelligent and
that intelligent
people perform
well at school
between belief
in intelligence
Behavioural: Tries harder to get good
Attitudinal: Believes he’s not that
Add consonant elements: “I don’t have
time to study”; “My teacher is rubbish
and unfair”; “Grades aren’t a good
indicator of intelligence, anyway
He gets bad
grades all the
Induced dissonance
Festinger & Carlsmith (1954) participants had to
perform a dull task (turning pegs for an hour)
They paid either $1 or $20 for this
They were then asked to tell a potential
participant (stooge) that it was interesting
They then rated the interestingness of the task
Who found the task more interesting?
Induced Compliance
Rating of liking for the task
Source: Festinger, L. & Carlsmith, J.M. (1959). Cognitive consequences of
forced compliance. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 58, 203-210.
Explaining this
Belief 'This is a dull task'
Behaviour 'This is an interesting task'
$20 group had a motivation for lying, $1 had
none so had to internalise the attitude
ALSO if it is dull, why did I do it? Payment of
$20 give justification, $1 did not
Unpaid dull jobs seem less boring than paid
What is Aggression?
• Definitions have some commonality: “Intent to harm”
(Carlson et al., 1989)
• Means used in previous research to measure
• Punching a inflatable plastic doll (Bandura et al., 1963)
• Pushing a button to ostensibly deliver an electric shock
(Buss, 1961)
• Pencil-and-paper ratings by teachers and classmates of
a child’s aggressiveness (Eron, 1982)
• Self-report of prior aggressive behaviour (Leyens et al.,
• Verbal expression of willingness to use violence (Geen,
• Ethical considerations in level of ‘aggressive acts’
people can be induced to do in experiments
• The above measures are an analogue for measuring
‘real’ aggression
Evolutionary/ethological theories
Aggression is natural and sensible (Lorenz,
1966; Ardrey, 1966; Morris, 1967)
Innate aggression triggered by situation
Individual protects itself and its offspring from
Competition for resources (including mates)
In many mammalian species male-male
aggression greater than other forms
Evolutionary/ethological theories
of aggression
Aggression often doesn't lead to violence
Aggression 'displays' in animals and humans
Hope one animal backs down without risking
costly fights (but this is principally intrasexual
When personal risk is lower, violence is more
common across the animal kingdom (e.g.
chimps, Goodall — see later)
Theories of Aggression
Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis (Dollard et al.,
Aggression the product of an ‘anger response’ to the
frustration of goals and desires
Aggression directed to perceived source of frustration
e.g. terrorism might be spawned by chronic and acute
frustration over the ineffectiveness of other means (e.g.,
negotiation) to achieve socio-economic goals
However, limited because frustrating events (e.g., job
loss, refereeing decisions, traffic jams) lead to lots of
frustration but seldom aggression (Berkowitz, 1993)
Theories of Aggression
Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977, 1997)
• Observational learning (imitation and vicarious experience)
during childhood may contribute to violent actions
Bobo doll experiments
Bandura et al. (1961): ~ 4 year
olds watched an adult playing with
‘Bobo doll’ (5-foot inflated plastic
Children exposed to the violent
model displayed significantly more
aggression toward the doll
Theories of Aggression
Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977, 1997)
Source: Bandura & Walter (1963)
Factors Influencing Aggression
Sex, Evolution and Socialisation
• Men are more likely to engage in aggressive
behaviour (Wrangham & Peterson, 1996)
• Men are also more likely to display aggressive
attitudes and beliefs (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993)
• This may be due to:
• Elevated levels of androgens (e.g., testosterone)
• Evolutionary benefit to aggression in terms of status and
• Socialisation of aggressive tendencies during
Human relationships
Fiske (1991) four basic types of human relationship
Communal sharing
Share with no counting of cost (friendships,
Authority ranking
Dominance and hierarchies
Equality matching
Reciprocation, payment 'in kind'
Market pricing
As above but a 'token' economy (money)
Affiliation: The urge to form connections and make
contact with other people
The need to affiliate is powerful and pervasive across
people and determine the formation of important
interpersonal relationships (Baumeister & Leary, 1995)
Affiliative behaviour: Acts that indicate that a person
(or organism) chooses to engage in social relationships
with others
Governed by rules of Communal Sharing (Fiske, 1991)
With whom do we affiliate?
Generally people that are similar to us
Homophily (McPherson, Smith-Lovin & Cook,
Also exists for social media where physical
proximity isn't a requirement (Murthy, 2012)
Similarity reduces conflicts of interest and
increases shared interest (important in
cooperation, Tooby & Cosmides, 1996)
Power, dominance, obedience
and conformity
To what extent are we 'wired' for dominance (c.f.
Fiske's authority ranking)?
Obedience and authority
Conformity to group norms
Most non-human primate societies organised
into dominance hierarchies (male and female)
Brain regions associated with dominance
(periacquaductal gray, hypothalamus, amygdala)
All contain testosterone receptors (Panksepp,
Anterior preoptic hypothalamus twice as large in
men as women
Testosterone and male
Testosterone associated with violence (Dabs &
Dabs, 2000)
Principle focus is on male dominance violence
not violence per se
Higher in high status men, both a cause and an
effect of status (Dabs & Dabs, 2000)
Increases following a win in sport, decreases
following a loss (Johnson et al, 2006)
Similar results for women but less pronounced
Social influence
Being influenced…
Obedience — explicitly complying with
instructions usually from an authority figure
Conformity — implicit compliance, usually
to group norms or high-status people
Compliance — can describe both of the
Social influence processes
Milgram (1963): Classic but
controversial study of
compliance under duress
from an ‘expert’
• In Milgram’s study,
participants were asked to
deliver different voltages (0450 volts) as a punishment
to the “learner” in a mock learning experiment
• Milgram’s question was at what point would subjects
refuse to deliver shock to another person?
Social influence processes
Results Near lethal electric shocks applied to
‘stooge’ connected to apparatus in the mock
learning trial (65% administered the full 450v)
Milgram (1974) explained that subjects felt under
pressure but did not believe that the experimenter
would allow harm to come to ‘stooge’.
‘Nothing is bleaker than the sight of a person
striving yet not fully able to control his own
behaviour in a situation of consequence to him’
(Milgram, 1974, pp. xiii) .
Milgram’s studies
Sample to participants at 45 Volts
• 75V: Ugh!
• 150V: Get me out of here! My heart’s starting to
bother me! I refuse to go on! Let me out!
• 180V: I can’t stand the pain!
• 220V: Let me out! Let me out!
• 270V: Agonised screams
• 300V: Refuse to answer and agonised screams
• 315V: Intensely agonised screams
• 345V on: Silence
• Throughout: if the participant was hesitating, the
experimenter told him/her to go on.
Social influence processes
Milgram’s study replicated in both male
and female groups
Replicated in many countries:
Spain and Holland = 90% compliance
rate (Meeus & Raaijmakers, 1986)
Italy, Germany, Austria = 80% (Mantell,
Australian men = 40%, Australian women
= 16% (Kilham & Mann, 1974)
Social influence processes
Obedience: Explanations
One explanation is that people have
committed themselves to an action that
was difficult to overturn
Immediacy is an influential factor – how
close a person is to the ‘learner’:
Unseen and unheard: 100% compliance
Pounding on the wall: 62.5%
Visible during experiment: 40%
Holding hand to electrode: 30% (!)
Obedience 40 years on
Burger (2008) replicated (as much as he
could) the Milgram study
70% still went up to 150 Volts
But twice as many (30%) disobeyed the
Things are changing but not as much as we
might like
All of these people were inexperienced in
torture [!], well educated, and clinically normal
Psychopathy, sadists and torturers tend to
habituate to their particular role (Baumeister,
They can come to enjoy it following repeated
Conforming to the group
Stanford prison experiment (Haney, Banks,
& Zimbardo, 1973)
UG students volunteered to participate in the
study 2-week study
Randomly assigned to roles of prisoners and
Guards given power over prisoners – control
of resources, mete out rewards and
Power and Influence
• Entire basement of Stanford University
Psychology Department used to set up a ‘mock’
• Prisoners were ‘arrested’ at their residences,
made to wear prison issue uniforms (‘dresses’),
placed in cells, limited freedom to exercise,
• Guards observed to resort to tyranny
and anti-social behaviours to keep
prisoners in line
Power and Influence
Brutality of the ‘guards’ and suffering of the prisoners
resulted in the experiment being abandoned after only 6
Suggestion that guards were depersonalised in the
group and their ‘role’ losing their individuality
Therefore ‘tyranny’ was ‘embedded’ in the psychology of
powerful groups – group of people in ‘social roles’ create
‘group norms’ and comply with them
Group norms = acceptable beliefs and behaviours in a
Social influence processes
Asch (1952): Classic experiment examining
normative influence effects.
Estimation of line lengths by
individual in group comprised of
experimenter’s confederates
Social influence processes
Results: 37% gave erroneous errors compared to
0.7% in control group. Powerful effects of conformity but
dependent upon a number of factors:
The ambiguity of the task
The group structure (one or more ‘deviants’)
Individual differences
Cultural expectations of conformity
Bond and Smith’s (1996) meta-analysis of 133 studies
using Asch’s paradigm found that conformity was
significantly higher in collectivist cultures.
Pro and anti-social behaviour
The bystander effect
The case(?) of Kitty Genovaise murdered
following a 30 minute attack
No one helped, no one called the police
Lataney & Darley (1979) 80% failed to
respond when stooge also failed, when alone
only 30% failed to respond
Research on Prosocial and
Altruistic Behaviour
Research into prosocial behaviour and altruism was
stimulated by the Kitty Genovese murder
Despite a horrific attack lasting 30 minutes not one of
her neighbours assisted or called the police
“The story became the journalistic sensation of the
decade. ‘Apathy,’ cried the newspapers. ‘Indifference,’
said columnist and commentators. ‘Moral
callousness,’ ‘dehumanisation,’ ‘loss of concern for
our fellow man’ added preachers, professors and
sermonisers. Movies, television specials, plays and
books explored this incident and many like it.
Americans became concerned with their lack of
concern” (Latané & Darley, 1976, p. 309)
Bystander effect
Diffusion of responsibility
People use others as a source of information (if
they don't respond, maybe everything is OK)
Often fear of putting oneself in danger (why
should I be the first to stand up to the attacker?)
People (usually) more likely to help when
Pluralistic ignorance
An explanation for why people engage in some
anti-social behaviour
Everyone does something because they
assume everyone expects them to (and often
Similar to Asch's conformity studies
A few true believers can cause an idea to
spread among non-adherents (Centola, Willer
& Macy, 2005)
PI and the false consensus
Willer, Kuwabara & Macy (2005)
Participants sampled wine (one spiked with vinegar)
An 'expert' pronounced the spiked wine the best
Everyone agreed except a stooge who pronounced it
Everyone rated everyone else in public or private
Those rating in public derogated the stooge's taste
Those rating in private praised his honesty
Increasing pro-social behaviour
Reduce anonymity
People are concerned about their reputation
Permit punishment
Sounds odd but if there is a comeback people
are nicer (Fehr & Gachter, 1999)
Education about the lives and feelings of
Need to see the consequences of action (Pinker,
Stereotypes and stigma
Greek: stereos = solid, typos = impression
A cognitive shortcut enabling us to think
about categories of individuals without the
(important) clutter of individual variation
Think of a bird
How big is it?
What does it eat?
How does it get about?
Stereotypes and stigma
Generalisations are (usually) OK with birds,
but with people they can cause problems
Each individual inherits stereotypical group
Sometimes based on ignorance
Often have negative connotations (c.f. Outgroup bias)
Sex Stereotypes and Discrimination
Sex stereotyping – social stereotypes of women as “nice
and incompetent and men as competent but not so nice”
prevail across cultures and in both genders! (Fiske, 1998)
But research suggests that people do not actually
describe themselves in terms of this sex stereotype
(Martin, 1987) (e.g., women and sex-discrimination)
People actually represent the sexes as ‘subtypes’:
 Housewife
 Businessman
 Sexy woman
 Macho man
 Career woman
 Feminist/athlete/lesbian
 Men and women generally see women as more
homogenous than men (Lorenzi-Cioldi et al., 1995)
Sex Stereotypes and Discrimination
Why are there these differential stereotypes
which prevail across genders?
Sex roles: Behaviour viewed as sexstereotypically appropriate
Socialisation into sex roles – so do sex
stereotypes reflect actual differences in
psychological factors or role assignment?
Very few differences on psychological
dimensions, but large differences in terms of
perceptions of sex roles
Therefore certain roles are ‘sex typed’ (Eagly &
Steffen, 1984)
E.g. role assignment in jobs
Sex Stereotypes and Discrimination
Restaurant servers
Telephone operators
Lorry drivers
Business executives
Dental hygienists
Nursery school teachers
Sex Stereotypes and Discrimination
Glass-ceiling effect: Stereotypes prevent
promotion due to competence perceptions
e.g. female in upper management, males
in flight attendants
Maintaining sex stereotypes: Media
largely responsible – unsubtle vs. subtle
Face-ism: Media depiction gives greater
prominence to the head and less
prominence to the body for men, but viceversa for women (Archer et al., 1983)
Sex Stereotypes and Attributions
By a MAN
attributed to
ability or high
level of effort
Performance viewed as
more deserving of
reward or recognition
Successful task
attributed to luck
or an easy task
Performance viewed
as less deserving of
reward or recognition
Sex Stereotypes and Attribution
Ratings of Target
More to
More to
Female actor
Male actor
Male task
Female task
Source: Deaux and Emswiller (1974)
Racism: Prejudice and discrimination
against people based on ethnicity or race
Much research focused on anti-black
attitudes among whites in the United
Dramatic reduction in unfavourable
attitudes since 1930’s
Similar reduction toward ethnic minorities
in Britain and Western Europe
Percentage of white respondents selecting
Source: Dovidio et al. (1996)
‘New’ Racism
Racial stereotypes have not gone away but
Theories of new racism suggest that people
experience conflict between prejudiced attitudes
and modern egalitarian values
Although explicit attitudes might appear
egalitarian, implicit 'attitudes' suggest that 'racism'
might still be at play
Theories of prejudice
Loads of these (see textbook) but important
factors are:
Official sanction
E.g. racial segregation in US & South Africa;
women not being given the vote, antihomosexual proclamations in religious texts;
inclusion on DSM II, etc, etc
Group behaviour
People affiliate with groups
Mostly these are enduring and rooted in
Sometimes transitory and ephemeral
Group are one way we achieve more than as
But they can be dysfunctional
Group Polarisation
Polarisation refers to the enhancement of the
dominant group perception or opinion after
discussion/negotiation (Moscovici & Zavalloni,
People become more polarised from initial
starting position e.g. Myers and Bishop (1970)
prejudice levels after a group discussion
Group Polarisation
Three Theoretical Explanations
Normative influence: People maintain their beliefs in
the socially desirable direction so as not to ‘stand out’
Informational influence: (Isenberg, 1986) New
information is made available and the shift is a function
of the proportion of arguments in favour of one side,
their clarity and novelty.
Social Identity: (Turner et al., 1989) People construct
a ‘group norm’ and then conform to that norm, results
in a polarised ‘in-group’ norm. Processes of selfcategorisation and deindividuation occur.
Minority vs. Majority
Minority Influence
Moscovici (1969) demonstrated that a minority can
influence the majority perceptions if the minority were
consistent and perceived as viable (couldn’t be
explained away in terms of dogma, eccentric, weird)
Mugny & Papastamou (1980) found that minority
groups can be influential if their message is
consistent yet flexible and open to reach
compromises c.f. Film about jurors “12 Angry Men”
Minority vs. Majority
Majority Influence
Groupthink: Psychological drive for consensus at any
cost suppressing dissents and alternatives in cohesive
decision making (Janis, 1972). Five requirements:
• A cohesive group
• High stakes
• Insulated from external information
• No searches for alternatives
• Time pressure – an urgency to decide
• Directive leader
Minority vs. Majority
Majority Influence
Groupthink: Symptoms:
• Illusion of moral high ground
• Dissent from leader discouraged – group norm
• No consideration of strengths & weaknesses
• Not willing to listen to other opinions
• ‘Mindguards’ discourage dissent
Can lead to flawed decision making
Minority vs. Majority
Majority Influence
Groupthink: Techniques to avoid:
• Criticism should be encouraged
• Input for external non-group members
• Sub-groups formed and feed-in to main group
• Group leader should not be ‘invulnerable’
Groups and group conflict
The history of humanity is a history of intergroup conflict between
20th Conflicts in Europe (inc. two world wars)
Northern Ireland – protestants vs catholics
Hutus versus Tutsis in Rwanda
In addition to personal affiliations and
personal identities people also have a group
or social identity
(or more correctly they can have many)
Social Identity Theory
Self-concept is linked with the social groups that
we identify with
Tajfel (1979) proposed Social Identity Theory to
explain how group concerns can become
personal concerns and vice-versa
Aims to explain inter-group processes as well as
how people’s cognitions are affected by group
People undergo an ‘identification’ process that
leads them to group affiliation
Social Identity Theory
Affiliation to groups is determined by 2
Social categorisation
– Process in which people categorise social stimuli to
reduce ‘cognitive load’
Social comparison
– Tendency to make comparisons between groups and
positively evaluate ‘in-group’ members
Social Identity Theory has much to offer in
explaining choices of group membership but also
inter-group and intra-group behaviour (as we
shall see later)
Self-Categorisation Theory
People in groups tend to categorise themselves as group members
Tend to internalise the attributes that are common to group
members and make self-evaluations
E.g. Lawyers will assume the characteristics of other lawyers e.g.
using ‘legal-speak’, wearing a suit in court, charging high fees etc.
Personal Identity
Personal I.D. & selfdescriptions - denote specific
aspects of the individual
Turner (1982): These represent
different levels of
Social Identity
Group I.D. & selfdescriptions made
in terms of membership
of social categories
e.g. race, sex, nationality,
profession, religion, sports
team, hobbies etc.
What is Intergroup Behaviour?
Intergroup behaviour is “any perception,
cognition, or behaviour that is influenced by
people’s recognition that they and others are
members of distinct social groups” (Hogg &
Vaughan, 2005, p. 392)
Examples of intergroup behaviour:
•International and intra-national conflicts
•Political confrontations
•Interethnic relations
•Negotiations between unions and management
•Competitive team sports
Collective Violence
Race riots in Watts suburb of Los
Angeles in 1965 occurred after the
perceived injustice of the arrest of 3
black family members
Tensions boiled over and riots broke
$35m property was damaged, 34
people were killed, and the military had
to be called in to restore order
High level of unemployment,
deprivation, and highly secularised
(99% of the population were AfricanAmerican)
Collective Violence
Race riots in South Central Los Angeles in
1992 were seen as a direct response to the
jury acquittal of 4 white policemen for the
beating on Rodney King
Set against a background of rising
unemployment and deep disadvantage in
black communities
50 dead and 2300 injured
Attacks symbolised by beating of white
truck driver Reginald Denny
Intergroup conflict in nonhumans
• Ants, bees and other
social insects will
often experience
intergroup rivalry
• Chimpanzees have
conflict over
resources (Wilson &
Wrangham, 2003)
•Especially (but not
exclusively) when
resources are scarce
Realistic Conflict
Competition between groups over scarce
resources results in conflict and
E.g., Sherif’s (1966) summer camp
Example of ‘realistic’ intergroup hostility and
Four phases:
Spontaneous friendship formation
Ingroup formation
Intergroup competition
Intergroup cooperation (superordinate goals)
Realistic Conflict
Notable points from Sherif’s (1966)
summer camp experiments:
• Latent enthnocentrism existed in absence of competition
• Ingroups formed despite the fact that friends were
actually outgroup members
• Prejudice, discrimination, and ethnocentrism arose as a
consequence of real intergroup conflict
• Boys in summer camp did not have authoritarian or
dogmatic personalities
• Simple contact between members of opposing groups
did not improve intergroup relations
Realistic Conflict Theory
Sherif (1966) proposed realistic conflict theory
Individuals who share common goals that
require interdependence will tend to cooperate
and form a group
Individuals who have mutually exclusive goals
(e.g., scarce resources) will be involved in interindividual competition which prevents group
formation and contributes to the collapse of an
existing group
At the intergroup level, mutually exclusive goals
between groups results in realistic intergroup
conflict and ethnocentrism while shared
(superordinate) goals results in cooperation
Social Identity: Minimal Groups
Formation of groups spontaneously creates
intergroup conflict and ethnocentric attitudes
very quickly – even without ‘realistic conflict’
Spontaneous emergent of conflict studied by
Tajfel et al. (1971) using the ‘minimal group
Minimal group paradigm: Experimental
methodology to investigate the effect of social
categorisation alone on group behaviour
Truly a ‘minimal group’ effect:
1. Groups formed on a flimsy criterion
2. No past history or possible future
3. Members had no knowledge of other members
4. No self-interest in the money allocation task
Social Identity: Minimal Groups
Allocation of points in grid game to
ingroup and outgroup in minimal group
Four possible strategies:
1. Fairness
2. Maximum joint profit
3. Maximum ingroup profit
4. Maximum difference
Social Identity: Minimal Groups
1. Mere awareness of being in a group can
influence individuals’ perceptions of other
group members
2. Individuals become ‘depersonalised’ – group
attributes rather than personal become
‘salient’ in group situations
3. The group does not have to be well defined
4. Strong effect in hundreds of minimal group
experiments which:
·Allocated people to groups completely randomly
·Removed the money-points
Prejudice involves a negative attitude toward
specific people based on their membership in
an identified group
Three components of prejudice:
– Stereotypes are thoughts and beliefs about people
based on their group membership
– Strong emotional feelings about the object of
– Predispositions to act in certain negative ways
toward the group (discrimination)
1. Eliminating prejudice may require
– Cognitive retraining
– Increased group contact
Sources of Prejudice
Learning: Prejudice is acquired through
classical and operant conditioning and through
Cognitive processes: People use mental
shortcuts to categorise others
• Ingroup versus outgroup categorisation
Economic/Political competition: Prejudice arises
when financial resources are limited
Displaced aggression: Persons may displace
their frustration onto non-threatening groups, a
practice known as “scapegoating”
Black-sheep effect: When an ingroup member
holding attitudes dissonant to other group
members is derogated (scapegoating)
Reducing group conflict
Realistic conflict theory (Sherif, 1966)
suggests that the existence of superordinate
goals and cooperation reduces intergroup
hostility, also avoidance of mutually exclusive
Social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979)
suggests that hostility will be reduced if
intergroup stereotypes become less
derogatory and polarised and legitimised nonviolent forms of intergroup competition exist
Jaw jaw rather than war war, sanctions etc.
Promoting inter-group cooperation
• Solutions sought to break down out-group
prejudice are...
(1) Promoting interpersonal contact to break-down
attitudes derived from social comparison
(2) Creating super-ordinate goals to promote
intergroup cooperation on a task with mutual
….= Minimising importance of group boundaries
and perceptions of group differences
The process of civilisation
No one would deny prejudice and conflict are
still with us
But things may be getting better
Although humans still have a dark side
education and the rule of law means that it
may be less prominent (see Pinker, 2011)
It is in our genes to be social
But we are not a superorganism
Humans are conditional cooperators
We are wired to influence other and to form
We affiliate with groups
Which can lead to conflict

Social Identity - Yorkshire and the Humber Deanery