Social psychology

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  • Created on: 20-05-18 12:15

L1: Types of self and identity 1

Types of self and identity

• Social and Personal identity (Tajfel and Turner, 1979)

• Brewer and Gardner (1996) – 3 types of self

1) Individual – personal traits that distinguish you from others (friendly)

2) Relational – dyadic relationships that assimilate you to others (mum)

3) Collective – group membership (academic) 

The following research suggested that the way you think about yourself depends on the context you are in:

ie. if in a lecture theatre you may not introduce yourself as a student as everyone is a student. But if went to a family/social event you may mention that you are a university student.

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L1: Types of self and identity 2

There are differences between your private and public self!

Private (thoughts, feelings, attitudes)- your real/true self

Public Self (social image)- image to present to the public/ other people (Carver & Scheier;1981)

Public Self - can be seen and evaluated by others:- one is more likely to be self-aware

evaluation apprehension-

  • more prone to making error 

enjoy success, admiration- the public self can be positive

adhere to social standards of behaviour-

  • likely to conform to social norms- ie do what people expect of you
  • makes one concious and more likely to follow social conventions
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L1: Self awareness- definition


  • Self Awareness is a state- one can become more or less self aware depending on the context.
  • Linked to traits, feelings and behaviour
  • It is a reflexive thought ' fundamental part of the human beings'
  • Involves realisation of being an individual!
  •  Mirror test (Gallup, 1970)- test to see whether chimps and young children are self aware ie. when children are born- they are not aware that they are separate to their care givers 
  • a red mark is put on the childs face subtly 
  • the mirror is held up against the child to see if the child notices a difference
  • key observation: does the child touch the red mark on the mirror or on their own face
  • If the child is able to recognise the mark is infact on themselves and not the mirror the child is self aware- this 'self awareness' develops in children between the ages of 1-4
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L1: chronic self awareness

chronic self awareness is associated with teenagers developing their self-identity and developing their self awareness.

Chronic self- awareness relates to individuals who are excessively self-aware

  • this can be very stressful- as individuals are constantly aware of there shortcomings 
  • it often leads to avoidance behaviours- drinking, suicide and drug taking.

Reduced self-awareness- opposite of chronic self- awareness it isn't positive though

  • can lead to deindividualisation- eg. crown behaviour at football games- people our far less aware of their actions. 
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L1: chronically aware- self conscious


  • more intense emotions- internal reflections, affects how you feel
  • more accurate self-perception
  • adhere to personal beliefs- sense that one looks inward and are able to monitor their mental state and rectify problems which arise.

= advantage of having a heightened private self: less stress related illnesses- however looking inward too much can lead to depression and neuroticism


  • focus on perception by others 
  • nervousness
  • loss of self-esteem
  • adhere to group norms, avoid embarracement 
  • concern with physical appearance, both self and others 
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L1: Self knowledge

Self Awareness → access information

self identity will differ according to context- context activates different nodes and activates different parts of the brain

Self- schemas:- mental structure for lots of different stimuli. built up of cognitive associations in the brain

  • act, think, behave, feel

Self-schematic: Important part of self concept

Aschematic: Not that important to me ie. an academic singing in her free time - may be bothered if insulted as an academic but wouldn't mind if insulted about singing as singing is not an important part of her self- schema 

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L1: self-schema

Main stimulus- eg. Me or You

  • in a self schema plot there is a relationship between the main stimulus (Me/You) and other concepts
  • we use our self schemas to:
  • make sense of the world
  • help-predict how to behave 
  • how to feel and process information


  • you will have stronger associations to some things.
  • those in bold lines on the plot have a strong association
  • Strong associations are activated quickly in the brain 
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L1: Self-Development theories overview

There are 6 theories to how self-schemas develop

HOW SHOULD IT BE:-Self regulation:

1. Control theory of self regulation

2. Self discrepancy theory

OTHER INDIVIDUALS:- Self regulation

3. Social comparision theory

4. Self evaluation maintenance 

OTHER GROUPS:-Self regulation

5. Social Identity theory

6. Self categorisation theory

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L1: Control Theory of Self-regulation


CONTROL THEORY OF SELF REGULATION- (carver and scheier, 1981,1998)

  • self awareness- we assess whether goals are met- we assess ourselves with respect to how we would like to be.
  • we compare ourselves to how we ought to be


  • we test ourselves against goals set out
  • when you meet your goal one enters the "exit" process
  • this happenes until one is prompted to check their self identity again


  • eg. publically seem like you want to keep with average of the class but privately want to be in the top 5% of the class.
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L1: Self- discrepancy theory



  • Actual (present), Ideal (like to be), ought (should be)

Motivate change and if I fail

  • Actual – Ideal: dejection (e.g. disappointment)- a more private emotion 
  • Actual – Ought: agitation (e.g. anxiety)- a more public related emotion
  • instead of goals- comparing yourself to your "ideal" self or an "ought" self 
  • if there is a discrepancy it will motivate change 
  • this theory looks at how this change is motivated 
  • there are emotional drivers/discrepancies: this results in an uncomfortable emotional state that urges and drives you to resolve that discrepany

= this develops yourself in comparision to how you ought to be!

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L1: Social Comparison Theory



  • Objective benchmark in similar people
    • ie. we tend to seek out similar people to validate what we have understood.
  • For performance generally downward comparison
    • seek out people who are going to do worse than us 
    • this makes us feel better about ourselves 
  • Can also be upwards in some situations  
    • eg. an older sibling comparision- this is likely to always be the case as developmentally the older sibling is ahead
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L1: Social comparison theory cont'd

Reasoning to cope with upward social comparision:-

  • there are processes which shape ourselves- identity/how we think about oursleves 
  • ie. devalue comparision dimention 
  • making that association as part of your schema more aschematic- moves you away from progressing in X
  • this shapes how we think about ourselves.

E.g. Analysis of facial expressions in the Barcelona 1992 olympic games (Medvac et al 1995)

  • Gold winners appear the happiest 
  • Silver medalist- least happy- tended to make an upward social comparision with the Gold 
  • Bronze winner- made a downwards social comparision- this winner was overjoyed just to be placed for a medal!
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L1: Self-evaluation Maintenance



veloped by Tesser in 1988- evaluated what we do when we have unavoidable upward comparision.

1) Exaggerate target's ability- consider that 'they are just good at everything'

2) Change the target- avoiding comparing yourself to a better person

3) Distance ourselves from the target- convince yourself you are very different from another person so it doesn't matter that they are better than you.

4) Devalue comparision dimension- neglect caring for doing a task as one believes that they are better at something else

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L1: Social Identity Theory


SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY (Tajifel and Turner, 1979)- we can identify ourselves by our group memberships.

  • Personal Identity- 
    • Based on unique personal attributes, relationships and traits- such that even meaningless groupings can impact behaviour.
  • Social Identity-
    • Defines self by group membership associated with inter-group behaviour/ group norms
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L1: Self-categorisation theory



  • self-categorisation to groups → internalise group attributes → collective self → Social identity 
    • e.g. with social identity- people take on the positive achievement of the group i.e. football fans.
  • Meta-contrast principle (differences, similarities) — 
    • look for similarities in your group and accentuate (emphasise) the differences
  • BIRGing - ‘basking in reflected glory’ — 
  • If group categorisation too salient, perception of self and others becomes depersonalised
    • Depersonalisation is when self-categorisation becomes dangerous- differences between ones own group and other groups accentuates and other groups are thought of negatively = THIS CAUSES INTERGROUP CONFLICT
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L1: Self motives

1.  Self-Assessment

  • desire for accurate and valid info 
  • seek out the truth about self- we like to understand our self-identity

2.  Self-Verification 

  • desire to confirm what they know- even when we think we know that something is negative in another individual
  • seek out consistency about self

3.  Self Enhancement- STRONGEST MOTIVE: desire to look good

  • desire to maintain good image
  • seek favourable info about self
    • self-affirmation theory-affirm pos aspects (i.e. boasting- publically or subtly)
    • self-serving attribution bias 
      • assigning a cause to something, like to take credit for successes, like to distant ourselves from failures.
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L1: Self- Esteem


1.  Overestimate positive aspects-

2.  Overestimate control over event- self delusion

3.  Unrealistic optimism- we think lots of good things will happen

  • The self- enhancing triad stops us from becoming PSYCHOLOGICALLY ADAPTIVE
    • This is when low self-esteem causes mental health issues such as depression.
  • High self-esteem can also be volitle if problematic- e.g cause individuals to develop narcissism
  • Social Identity -> validate self concept
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L1: Cultural Differences

Culture Differences- looks at the differences between individualist cultures and collectivist cultures- Broad generalisation- can have aspects of both


  • western countries where the economics emphasise labour mobility
  • expectation of organising yourself around a job.


  • eastern countries such as India, China
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L1: Cultural Differences cont'd


  • Individuals feel they are independent, autonomous and separate from the context
  • Focus in on own thoughts, feelings, abilities and internal traits- hence individuals are more likely to behave more consistently over time as they are inward looking
  • unitary and stable across situations
  • Acting true to internal beliefs and feelings, promoting own goals and differences from others in order to stand out from others.


  • connected with others and embedded in social context
    • focus on how we are related to others, feel you are represented as part of your social group- more like to behave less consistently over time because of the changes in context.
  • represented in terms of roles and relationships 
  • fluid and variable self, changing across situations.
  • Belonging, fitting in and acting appropriately- promoting group harmony goals- focus is on belonging as opposed to individual goals 
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L1: Cultural Differences- an example

Studies of different regions of Italy- Semin and Rubini 1990 looked at insults and devices use to hurt another persons self-identity

NORTH- Individialistic culture- more likely to be insulted in terms of 'YOU' directly

  • eg. YOU are incredibly ugly

SOUTH- Collectivist culture- more likely to insult a member with a family or community,

  • eg. your mother is a whore
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L2: Social Cognition

Social Psychology:-

  • Perceptions and behaviour and how influenced by others — 

Social Cognition:-—

  •  How we process and store social information
  • — How this affects our percep-ons and behaviour


  • ATTRIBUTION– process of assigning a cause to our own and others’ behaviour.
  • SOCIAL SCHEMAS- knowledge about concepts  - make sense with limited information facilitate top-down (theory-driven) processing — 
  • CATEGORY- organised hierarchically (associative network)
    • fuzzy sets of features organised around a prototype — 
  • PROTOTYPES- cognitive representation of typical defining features of a category(average category member) 
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L2: Attribution

CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION- An inference process through which percievers attribute an effect to one or more causes 

e.g you have studies for an exam and the mark you get is not as good as you expected- why might this be 

  • in trying to answer WHY one is engaging in more causes

We all practice psychology:

NAIVE SCIENTIST- people who are rational and scientific- like in making cause-effect attributions

BIASED/ INTUITIONIST- information is limited and driven by motivations- this leads to errors and biases

COGNITIVE MISER- people use atleast complex and demanding info processing- cognitive short-cuts 

MOTIVATED TACTICIAN- Think deeply when required and only then!

  • Think carefully and scientifically about certain things- when personally important or necessary.
  • Think quickly and use heuristics for others- when less important so that one can do more done and do things quickly.
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L2: Theories of Attribution Processes Overview

—1) Naïve psychologist (Heider, 1958)  —

2) Attribution theory (Weiner, 1979)

3) Correspondent inference theory (Jones and Davis, 1965)

4) Covariation model (Kelley, 1967)

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L2: The Naive Scientist

The Naive Scientist- Fritz Heider, 1958

  • Homo rationalis?
    • analytical, cogent, balanced, logical
    • hypothesis testing
    • attribution caues to effects to create a stable world that makes sense.
  • Three principles:

1) Need to form a coherent view of the world 

  • we search for motives in others behaviours- we like to think there are intentions to why people do things as opposed to chaotic behaviour.

2) Need to gain control over the environment

  • search for consistent properties which cause behaviour

3) Need to identify internal (personal) vs external (situational) factors 

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L2: Attribution Theory

ATTRIBUTION THEORY (WEINER, 1979)- Weiner focused on outcomes of behaviour and the result was

  • Causality of Success of Failure- looks at 3 dimentions which determine causality
    • Locus (internal/external)
    • Stability (e.g. natural ability/ mood)
      • natural ability to do well in exa,s because we are clever - may fluctuate over time with mood.
    • Controllablity (e.g. effort/luck)
      • can one do anything about it i.e. if you put in anymore effort will you do better? Or is success/failure down to luck?
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L2: Attribution Theory cont'd

Reasons for performance:- 

1) Performance (success/failure)- eg. may succeed in an exam- do really well

2) Feelings (positive/negative)- initial positive feeling about doing well

3) Attributions- this leads to attibutions- reasons for good performance understand why/ how the success came about.

4) Specific emotions (eg. pride)- feeling of pride for getting a top mark

5) Expectations- of a future outcome/ behaviour e.g achieve another high mark in the next exam

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L2: Correspondent inference theory


Definition of Disposition: predominant/prevailing tendency of one's spirit. Natural, mental and emotional outlook or mood

  • This theory looks at 5 cues to see if behaviour is dispositional or not? (meaning is it internally caused?)
  • look at 5 cues to see if a person was meant to do something or not?

1) ACT WAS FREELY CHOSEN- if the act wasn't freely chosen the act may not represent the person themselves and their disposition, if it was however then it does represent their disposition.

2) ACT PRODUCED A NON- COMMON EFFECT- was the behaviour distinctive? did it stand out- if it did more likely to represent the disposition of a person

3) NOT SOCIALLY DESIRABLE- If the behaviour is socially desrable an individual may just be joining in for the sake of it! if not- more likely to be dispositional

4) HEDONIC RELEVENCE- whether the behaviour would have important consequences for you.

  • A person may have taken more care over something if they have done something for you

5) PERSONALISATION- was the behaviour carried out likely to affect you

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L2: Co-variation model

CO-VARIATION MODEL (Harold Kelly, 1967)

  • use multiple observations to try to identify factors that co-vary with behaviour
    • assign a causal role to the factors 
  • whether behaviour is internal or external is key

Theory looks at 3 aspects looking at the xtent to which a factor appears with the outcome we are interested with.




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L2- Co-variation theory cont'd

A working example- Fail an exam- an individual went drinking the night before- one wants to know whether the two were causally linked

1) Consistently- does this behaviour always co-occur with the cause

  • low- never failed an exam before after nights out - discounting- look for a different cause
  • high- always fail exams if I go out the night before- these are linked

eg. look for consistency of whether behaviour of going out was linked to failure in exam and does this always happen?

  • If an individual thinks that 'everytime' I got out before an exam I fail then the two may be linked.
  • If an individial has never failed the exam the night before, then the individual may discount the alcohol and look for other causes.
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L2: Co-variation theory cont'd

2) Distinctiveness- is the behaviour exclusively linked to this cause or it is a common reaction

  • high- (I have never failed other exams before- attribution to other causes
    • Does the outcome often occur (failing the exam) without the cause of drinking?.- an external factor of drinking.
  • low- (I generally fail exam) = internal attributions 
  • If you usually fail exams it is likely to be an internal factor as opposed to the external factor of drinking.

3) Consensus- do other people react in the same way to the cause/ situation 

  • high- strengthen the attribution to external cause (realise not to drink before the exam)
    • if everyone failed then the alcohol was the external cause
  • low- internal attribution (may just affect me in an adverse way)
    •  look to what everyone else was doing- ie. did other people go out the night before as well?
    • if everyone else didn't fail then it is something distinct about you
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L2: Naive Scientist

NAIVE SCIENTIST- theories could be more/less iseful in certain situations! for different people 


1) Heider's naive scientist:

  •  Internal/ stable or external/situational
    • critique the difference between internal/external causes are they oppposites?
    • can they be external and internal at once?- sometimes behaviour can be dispositionally produced and situationally produced
  • BUT- inverse relationship? validity of distrinction?

2) Correspondent inference model:

  • infer behaviour to internal attributes (e.g. traits)
  • BUT- intentionally? Automatic or deliberate attribution 
    • focus on being dispositional, what about the external causes? ignore context
    • focuses on intentional behaviour- doesn't focus on accidental/automatic behaviour- majority of behaviour is automatic 
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L2: Co-variation theory cont'd

3) Kelly's co-variation model:

  • consistency, distinctiveness and consensus
  • BUT: covariation really used? salience of prior info. looks at factors which co-vary
  • co-variation= correlation not always equally to causation.
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L2: Attribution Biases- False Consensus

  •  Attributional biases= systematic errors indictative of shortcuts, gut feeling, intuition
    • we may take our opinions as representative of everyone else.
  • How common is your opinion?

Ross et al, 1977

  • asked students- would you walk around campus to advertise cafeteria?
    • RESULTS: YES (62%) and NO (67%)
  • why?
    • seek out similar opinions 
      • we tend to seek oiut similar people- comparision groups are similar to us
    • Salience of own opinion
      • we lhave insight into our own heads
    • Self-esteem maintainance
      • we like to validate our behaviour and opinions 
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L2: Attribution Biases- Fundamental Attribution er

  • Tendency to attribute behaviour to enduring dispositions 
  • Even where clear situational causes
    • eg. Ross et al, 1977- knowledgable quiz master- quiz master + lots of participants
  • Why? Focus on attention/salient effect- focus on a target ie. a person in a situation 
    • Target most salient- internal attributions most accessible
    • more likely to forget situational causes- dispositional shift 
      • quiz master created questions for participants 
      • participants got some right and some wrong- other people were asked to judge who was more knowledgable- all judged that the quiz master was more knowledgable
      • people tend to assign thingts to dispositional reasons 
      • as time goes on tend to forget the contestants and remember the key features 
  • Also known as correspondance bias 
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L2: Attibution Bias- Actor-Observer Bias

Actor-Observe bias- (jones and Nisbett, 1972)

1) A shop assistant is rude to you...

  • they are either a rude person or simply stressed?
  • More likely to make an Internal Attribution for other people
    • more likely to make dispositional attributions for other people and less likely to have this bias for yourself
    • more likely to think the shop assistant was rude 

2) You are rude to the shop assistant

  • Are you rude or simply stressed?
  • More likely to make an External Attribution for yourself- more likely to consider your own behaviour to be acceptible.
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L2: Attribution Biases- Actor-Observer Bias cont'd


  • Perceptual focus
    • looking at the shop keeper- they are the target- hence more likely to think dispositionally
  • Informational difference
    • you have accesss to your previous behaviour and you understand your emotions- you understand why you might have behaved in that way.
    • however, The shop assistant doesn't know that you are NOT rude to everyone or that you behave in this way ordinarily- therefore they may make strong internal attributions.


  • Positive behaviour- disposition is more likely- more likely to be internally caused
  • Perspective taking reverse effect
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L2: Attribution Biases- Self-serving Bias

Self-Serving Bias (Olson and Ross 1988)

  • Success- Internal = I am smart
  • Failure- External= That exam was hard
  • kingdom (1976)- self serving bias in american politics
    • those who were elected:- attributed the win to internal factors:- hard work, their reputation, campaign strategy.
    • those who weren't elected:attributed the loss to external factors:- it was due to something their opponent did, it was due to not enough money being put into the campaign.

WHY? Expectations and self-esteem

  • motivational- maintainance of self-esteem- this is split into self enhancing and self-protecting bias( defend yourself against critism)
  • cognitive: intend/expect to succeed- attribute internal causes to expected events 
  • Operates on a goup level as well- football wins and losses.
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L2: Attribution Heuristics

Heuristics- (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974)

  • also known as mental short cuts
  • Cognitive shortcut 
    • avoid effort, resources expediture 
    • rule of thumb, not complex mental judgement
    • quick and easy

e.g Which is deadlier- sharks or horses?

  • Horses cause more deaths every year compared to sharks.
  • however, people are more scared of sharks 
  • shark deaths are vivid- however a shark attack is more likely to be reported than a horse accidient- people are more likely to think of sharks as they remember they have been on TV
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L2: Types of Heuristics

1) Availability Heuristic:

  • judge frequency or probability of events by how easy it is to think of examples (memory accessibility 
    • when there are floods on the news- flood insurance enquires go up
    • people have been reminded about how important it is to prevent flooding.

2) Representative Heuristic:

  • Categorise based on similarity between instance and prototypical category members 
    • similarity of stimulus and prototypical member of that category- judging something based on how it fits into a category 
    • e.g if you meet a girl from essex you may apply a particular stereotype.
  • Allocate a set of attributes
    • may think a small sample is representative of a large group
    • mental short cut- one instance is representative of the whole group e.g you holiday to Iceland and meet a rude preson- then take the opinion that all Icelandic people are rude.
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L2: Types of Heuristics cont'd

3) Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristics:

  • Starting point (or intial standard) influences subsequent judgements
    • we have a starting point and don't deviate from it.
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