Social Psychology
• Basic premise: Who we are is
determined by our social interactions
– --Past: our social development
– --Present: social influence
We’ll start with an area of overlap between
cognition and social influence; attitudes,
including their formation and change
Attitudes & Attitude Change
• Definition of an attitude (vs. belief) ABC
– Affective: including evaluation (+/-)
– Behavioral tendencies policy
– Cognitive (belief)
• Central feature: consistency
• Propaganda and other attitude change
Strong Generalization About
We like to maintain consistancy of
1. selective exposure
2. selective interpretation
3. selective memory
Propaganda or Attitude Change
1. Characteristics of the source of a message
--Credibility, expertise, knowledge, prestige
plus sleeper effect
2. Characteristics of the message
--One-sided vs. two-sided
--Fear + way out
--Moderate discrepancy
3. Characteristics of the recipient
--intelligence level
Techniques for Selling
Reciprocity: create an obligation
Low-balling: get commitment, up price
Foot in the door: start small
Door in the face: start big!
That’s not all! –sweeten the deal
Prestige: Everyone (or famous) doing it
Exclusive, defining: You are 1 of 3…
Bait and switch
• Explicit attitude: attitudes we are aware of
• Implicit attitude
– Involuntary, uncontrollable, often
– IAT (lab)
– But implicit cognitions aren’t all-controlling
Attitudes toward groups
• Stereotypes
– Cognitive component
– Generalization in which identical characteristics
are assigned to all members
• Prejudice
– Affective component
– Hostile or negative attitude toward people just
because they are a group member
• Discrimination
– Behavioral component
– Unjustified negative or harmful action toward a
group member because of their membership
1. Suburban housewife
2. Professional football player
3. College professor
4. Business CEO
5. Insurance salesman
6. Carpenter
A. Chevy sedan
B. Ferrari
C. Mercedes sedan
D. Dodge mini-van
E. Buick Lasalle
F. Toyota Prius
Prejudice in the classroom ex.
Jane Elliott: Prejudice can be taught
(Demonstration/not exper.)
– Told students blue-eyed people were better than brown-eyed
– Brown-eyed children had to wear collars and sit in the back
of class
– Over the course of one day: brown eyed children became
self-conscious, depressed, and demoralized
– Next day: Elliott switched the stereotypes about eye-color
– Brown-eyed kids exacted their revenge
So can discrimination and aggression!
Sherif & Sherif: Robber’s Cave Experiment
Why are stereotypes maintained?
• Categories enable prediction: Make us feel (rightly or
wrongly) that we understand world & what will happen!
• Illusory correlation
– See correlations where they don’t exist
– Remember confirmatory examples more
– Example: Cheerleaders are outgoing
• Out-group homogeneity effect
– Us vs. them
– “All ______ are alike”
– See others as exemplars of their group
• In-group bias
– Positive feelings for people who are part of our in-group
– Alumni, state residency, affinity (varies with distance)!
Fundamental Attribution Error
• Interpret behavior of others as a characteristic of the
individual rather than the situation and behavior of self
as due to situation
– Person unemployed must be a bad worker, if I lose job, bad boss
– If my friend gets a low grade: dumb or lazy friend, if I get low
grade: hard exam!
• Maintain stereotypes:
– Attribute confirmatory examples to the individual
– Ignore/attribute to the situation examples which don’t fit or
Stronger Theories of Attitude
• Balance Theory (Heider)
• Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Festinger)
• Self Perception Theory (Bem)
Heider’s Balance Theory
Want to maintain consistency among our attitudes
– Prefer to agree with someone I like
– Disagree with someone I dislike
– Three + & one + balanced, 0 + and 2 + unbalanced
Other Self
Balance Theory
• What if my attitudes are imbalanced?
– Change beliefs about the object -
– Change beliefs about the person
• Change whichever is easier
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
• Leon Festinger: Two cognitions that are
in conflict or dissonant (one implies the
opposite of the other) result in pressure
to change one or both to bring them into
• In practice, the two are an attitude and a
behavior and the attitude changes
Three types of Dissonance Situations
or Experiments
• Justification of effort:
--(Aronson & Mills)
--when prophecy fails (Ms. Keech)
• Inadequate external justification
--counterattitudinal advocacy (Yale)
• Consequences of a decision (Brehm)
Knox & Inkster betting study
(consequences of making a decision)
Self Perception Theory- Bem
The theory and its relation to cog. diss.
Experimental evidence (Bem, Valins)
Can we know ourselves given all this?
(Back to Missouri!)
Real World Example of Induced Attitude Change
Bystander Apathy &
• Surprising work of Darley & Latane on
the effect of the no. of bystanders
Mechanisms That Produce
Bystander Apathy Effects
1. Moral diffusion
2. Lack of clarity--ambiguity of interp. and of action.
airport/subway crutch--fall 83 vs. 41 % helped, and
they were people more familiar with the surround.
3. Costs of intervention. sometimes they are raised
by the presence of others (surveillance)
4. Rules for behaving: don't stare, unless you know what
to do/day, keep your mouth shut etc.
5) Mood: Isen dime in coin slot mailing letter 10-->90 %
Solomon Asch: Conformity
Conformity: Good or bad?
Major findings: 2/3 conform 1/3 of time!
Hard to resist!
But lots of power!
Stanley Milgram: Obedience
• Description of Experiment
• Basic findings 2/3 obey
• Field theory explanation (exper. vs.
victim force fields)
Underlying Explanation
Foot in the door
Other is responsible (diffusion of resp.)
Perceived lack of expertise/knowledge
Aloneness- lack of social support
Ambiguity about situation/what to do!!!
Other directedness (Reisman)
Schein’s POW Work
• Level of compliance and how it was
• The power of social isolation
• Who resisted?
• Solution: inner codes vs. external or
situational control
• Conclusion: balance?……a dilemma we
all have to solve
Don’t Underestimate Social