Social Psychology - Growing Social module


The social self

Social Psychology is the scientific study of how individuals think, feel and behave in a social context. The understanding of social psychology is dominant but contested. They study the self-attitudes and attitude formation, how we form impressions of other people, prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination, group processes, attraction and close relationships, conformity, aggression. 

  • Mostly built on hypothesis driven quantitative methods (Theory --> Prediction --> Experiment --> Observation)
  • However, some social psychology uses qualitative methods
  • "self", culturally, historically specific concepts e.g. western europe/north american cultures said to conscribe to an individualistic view of the self
  • Brewer and Gardiner, 1996:
  • Personal self: personal traits that seperate self from others
  • collective or social self: group memberships, inevitability define by a wider social context
  • a relational self: comes from a persons relationships with others. Exists within an interconnected network of duties, responsibilities and expectations 
  • Experimental social psychology understands the self mostly in terms of 'personal self' 
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  • Self-concept: the sum total of individuals beliefs about his or her own personal attributes 
  • Self-schema: beliefs people hold about themselves that guide the processing of self-relevant information 
  • self-recognition: historically, many theories assumed that people assume the role of the other in order to gain an understanding of themselves (the looking glass self)
  • But, people see themselves as how they think others see them

Self-perception theory (Bem): suggesting we know who we are by observing our own behaviour particularly when our internal cues might be weak.

  • 2 groups, matched for self-esteem, group A, induced to describe themselves in flattering ways. Group B, induced to describe themselves more modestly. self-esteem mesured, group A self-esteem much higher - formed attitude

Social Comparison Theory (Festinger): people evaluate their own abilities and opinions by comparing themselves to others (when objective information isn't readily available). "Downward" comparison leads to an evaluatively positive self-concepts and vice versa.

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Intrinsic motivation: derived from challenge, enjoyment, fufillment 

Extrinsic motivation: 'means to an end', motivated by tangible benefits (e.g. money)

  • Intrinsic enables task performance to be attributed internally to enjoyment/commitment 
  • However, individual differences, some people more intrinsically motivated. Reward may be unnecessary 
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Culture and Self-identity:

  • varies historically and socio-culturally 
  • Individualistic culture values; independant view of the self i.e. self-contained, distinct, automnous and unique 
  • Collectivist culture values; interdependant view of the self, part of a larger network of relationships with friends, family, co-workers etc.
  • Contempory societies express aspects of both but there may be a difference in which are emphasised in prevading cultural norms 
  • Psychology textbooks may refer that collectivist cultures are those predominant in Africa, Asia, Latin America. There is keen emphasis on iterdependancy, co-operation and group harmony. Individualistic cultures are predominant in western europe, north america, australia and new zealand, keen emphasis on the individual, independance, self-reliance
  • This is lead to be demonstarted by social psychology research - differences between American and Chinese students in self-description, differneces between american and others in judgments of individual contributions 
  • However, we should be careful of this as social psychology is typically conducted from the perspectives of WENA countries/cultural. Overlooks variation of tension 
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  • much attention paid to this in westernised socities 
  • an effective component of the self, consisting of persons positive and negative self-evulations 
  • low self-esteem linked to increased risk of depression, delinquency, poor school performance 
  • boosting self-esteem through self-improvement held up as route to happiness and success
  • but there are other ways; pursuit of equivalent of 'self-esteem' through communality interconnected and self-criticism 

Self-discrepancy theory:

  • We all have an atual self (person who we think we are), ought self (person we think we should be) and ideal self (person we would like to be)
  • system has a key role in self-regulation but also has affective consequences 
  • If the actual self is inconsistent with the ideal self, this leads to unhappiness, dissapointment, dissatisfaction and self-dislike. If the actual self is inconsistent with the ough self, this leads to fear, anxiety, personal inadequacy and alienation
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Self-awareness: when north american research participants forced to focus on themselves they reported feeling relatively unhappy and wishing they were doing something else.

Self-awareness theory: certain situations force us to be self-focused, lead us to compare our behaviour with some standard. Comparison often results in a negative discrepancy, temporarily lowers self-esteem

Ways of coping with discomfort that non-voluntary self-awareness brings:

  • Try to match our behaviour with the standard of comparisons 
  • avoid situations that draw us into a heightened, non-voluntary state of self-awareness 
  • Solution chosen depends on whether people think they can reduce their self-discrepancy and the progress they make once they try

Self-serving cognition/bias:

  • people tend to take credit from their successes and distance themselves from their failures 
  • this tendancy is said to occur across a range of cultures
  • research to suggest that people are unrealistically optimistic
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  • referred to as optimistic bias
  • Across cultures most people report desirable events or more likely to occur than undesirable events. Suggests people harbour "illusions of control"


  • desire to have others percieve us similar to the way we percieve ourselves, confirm ones self-concept. Attempted to reduce self-disrepancy amongst self-schematas - protect our self-esteem.
  • People selectivly elicit recall and accept our personality feedback which confirms their self


  • some have argued that identity (not fixed, much more dyanmic) is performed; dynamic and multiple, 'ready by others'. Strategic self-presentation (in order to make people feel a certain way about you)
  • Self-promotion: doing behaviours that would make others think you are competent 
  • Ingratiation: behaving in a way to essentially get people to like you
  • Intimidation: behaving in ways to make people think you are dangerous
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  • Exemplification: behaving in ways to make poeple think you are morally right - upstanding citizen
  • Supplication: presenting yourself to others that shows that you need help or some kind of support. Draws people to you.
  • However, strategic presentation can go wrong 
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Aggression: behaviour intended to harm (mentally/physically) another individual

Instrumental aggression: aggressive acts committed as a means to a desired end (e.g. trying to rob someones money)

Emotional aggression: harm is inflicted for its own sake; often more impulsive and reactive (representing end points on a continuum)

Comparisons across socities:

  • individualism vs collectivism 
  • Forbes: individualism associated with aggression
  • possible associations between social inequality and aggression - although complex
  • cross cultural differences in attitudes e.g. north americans  have more +ve attitudes towards guns
  • "subcultures of violence"
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How can aggression be measured?

  • questionnaires completed by subject or subject report
  • ratings by others around subject
  • providing an opportunity to do something aggressive 

What kind of aggression is this measuring?

  • These methods appear to target violent behaviours
  • direct/overt aggression: harmful behaviours (including violence) directly aimed at an individual
  • indirect/relational aggression: behaviours that recruit others into harmful behaviours such as attempts to socially isolate someone, spreading rumours, gossip etc.

Predictors of aggression:

  • aggression in childhood predicts aggression in adolescence and adulthood
  • certain personality types suggested to be more likely aggressive when provoked (emotional susceptibility, narcissism, type A personality, impulsivity)
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  • self-esteem is not a realiable predictor of agression

Social learning theory: 

  • underpinnings in positive/negative reinforcement 
  • how are behaviours acquired?
  • how are they instigated?
  • how are they maintained?

Bandura suggested aggressive behaviour depends on:

  • subjects experience of other's aggression
  • how successful aggression has been in the past
  • situational likelihood of reward/punishment 
  • matrix of other factors in situtation 
  • Modelling effect for aggression: The bobo doll experiment (Bandura, 1963)
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Gender differences and socialisation:

  • aggression (particularly overt) associated more with males than females
  • boys are more likely to be 'rewarded' for aggressive behaviours 
  • e.g. highly aggressive boys are sometimes the most popular in school
  • girls in primary school who exhibit characteristics traditionally associated with masculinity (e.g. active, assertive, self-assured) sometimes labelled '*******' 
  • SLT highly influential, now developed into script theory (develop aggression schema, affect social cognition)

Frustration-aggression hypothesis (Dollard):

  • all frustration leads to aggression
  • all aggression arises from frustration
  • displacement: directing aggression towards a 'scapegoat' (not the source of our frustration) 
  • may enable catharsis (getting out of system)
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Support for FA hypothesis:

  • Hoobler: workers vented frustrations on family
  • Penderson: people more likely to direct frustration towards outgroups/people they dislike
  • BUT:
  • not all frustration leads to aggression
  • 'catharsis' is not supported as a defence mechanism, aggression is more likely to lead to further aggression rather than less.

Negative feelins (affect) and aggression:

  • social rejection prompts negative affect 
  • social rejection from one person led to retaliation against all group members, measured afterwards. Recruited into a second role, ended up using far louder sounds.
  • "macro" alienation/disenfranchisement 
  • violent crimes; political uprisings; indirect aggression

Hostile attribution bias: socially rejected by peers --> hostile attribution bias (percieve others to have hostile intentions) --> exhibit aggression --> rejected further by peers

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External influences: 

  • automatic cognitions: presence of guns (give bigger shocks) seemed to prompt unconscious aggression 'weapons effect'. Automatic explicit affect, primed them
  • Group behaviours: deindividuation (prevented by situational factors present in a group from becoming self-aware
  • Many other factors e.g. evidence for +ve correlation between hot temperactures and aggression
  • time of day (night tends to be more aggressive)
  • crowding/physical environment 

High order cognition: cognitive control:

  • higher order cognitive processing 
  • may decide consequences for aggression too great
  • may be opposed to aggression as a matter of principle
  • behaviour of those aound us will be influential 
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Aggression (2)

Collective aggression: (group acting aggressively)

Baiting effect: someone distressed, looking like they will kill or hurt themselves. When a crowd forms, minority of cases that crowd shouts for that person to jump (further away from the crowd, the bigger the crowd = more likely)

  • Disinhibition: doing something you wouldn't usually do, acting out of character 
  • De-individuation: set of processes leading to disinhibition. "prevented by situational factors present in a group from becoming self-aware". Loose self-awareness - crowds or groups (don't necessarily have to be a bad thing e.g. at festivals or concerts
  • Dehumanisation: an individual or group appear to stop percieving another individual as if they were human

De-individuaion environmental conditions:

  • Anonymity (when one feels anonymous)
  • High level of arousal (any kind of emotional arousal, really happy, really dad)
  • focus on external events (crowd viewing something)
  • close group unity
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--> reduced self-awareness --> deindividuation -->

  • weakened restraints against impulsive behaviour
  • increased sensitivity to immeadiate cues/states (more sensitive and aroused/provocations)
  • inability to monitor or regulate own behaviour 
  • lessened concern about evaluations by others (less concern about what others think)
  • lowered ability to engage in rational planning (e.g. london riots - lowering debility to rationally plan)

Institutionalised aggression:

  • some forms of aggression are sanctioned by (and practised by) an authority e.g. corporal and capital punishment; military action
  • "aggression that is given formal or informal recognition and social legitimacy by being incorporated into group norms 
  • de-individuation is a significant factor in such aggression (still happens in war, some argue war relies on de-individuation)
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Levels of explanations: Individualistic vs group based or wider social/political explanations 

Individualistic explanation: granting all this, the present writer is still inclined to emphasise the importance of individualistic considerations in the filed of group relations. Dealings between groups ultimately become problems of the psychology of the individual. Individuals decide to go to war; battles are fought by individuals and peace is established by individuals. It is the individual who adopts the beliefs prevailing in his society, even though the extent to which these opinions are shared by many people is a factor governing his readiness to adopt them, and he transmits these views to other individuals. Ultimately, it is the single person who attacks the feared and disliked ethnic minority group, even though many people around him share his feelings and are very important in determining his willingness to agress against this minority

Group-based/political: granting all this, the present writer is still inclined to emphasise the importance of considering the field of group relations in terms of social structure. Dealings between groups cannot be accounted for by the psychology of the individual. Governments decide to go to war; battles are fought by armies and peace is established by governments. The social conditions in which groups live largerly determine their beliefs and the extent to which they are shared. Ultimately, a single person's attack on ethnic minority group that he dislikes or

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Aggression (2) -4

fears would remain a trivial occurence had it not been for the fact that he acts in unison with others who share his feelings and are very important in determining his willingness to aggress against this minority. 

Cultural factors/aggresion/violence: 

  • are there other ways in which aggression is represented socially, culturally or politically that is a factor in aggressive behaviour?
  • key question: does exposure to media aggression/violence increase the likelihood of this being replicated in real life?
  • 'moral panic': freak out when there is a new form of aggression e.g. 'video nasties', 'video games', 'horror comics'
  • media replete with violence but we need to be more mindful of broader (moral) contexts 

Mass Media and Agression:

  • meta-analysis (pieces of previous research, taken and put together using statistics) clear links claimed between exposure to media aggression and real world aggression
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Aggression (2) -5

  • TV: watching violent TV as a child predicts aggressiveness and criminality in adulthood even when other factors (parenting styles, socio-economic circumstances) were controlled for
  • Video games: exposure to violent games linked to increases in aggressive behaviour, cognitions, affect, arousal and decrease in prosocial behaviour
  • playing rather than just watching has stronger effects

Indirect aggression in media: evidence seems unequivocal, media depictions of violence do have effects on real world aggression:

Theory 1 - priming/general aggression model:

  • media aggression/violence can trigger aggressive and hostile thoughts
  • Misogynistic song lyrics study: to see if songs lyrics resulted in misogny after, prepare chilli sauce to give to individuals, the amount depended on the gender of the individual and the song played prior to choosing the sauce
  • Misogynistic songs: "self esteem" by offspring. "superman" by eminem (more likely to give more chilli sauce if you were to listen to these songs - primed)
  • control songs: "it's my life" by Bon Jovi, "let me entertain you" by robbie williams
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Aggression (2) -6

Theory 2: Desensitisation (the process by which where you show a lower a response rate to something that happens frequently) (short term and long term effects)

  • Playing violent video games found to decrease physiological responses to real violence (short-term effect)
  • Similar to SLT - not getting punished
  • participants who had a long history of playing violent video games were less prosocial

Theory 3: Cultivation 

  • mass media construct social reality in a way that people come to believe is real or true
  • this can make people more fearful, more distrustful and more likely to arm themselves and behave aggressively in what they percieve to be a threatning situation
  • a lot of media is about fear, makes people more fearful, creates a level of paranoia 

Reducing aggression/violence:

  • suggested solutions depend on how the problem is understood (individual vs socio-cultural/political)
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  • multi-layered and complex phenomenom: 'the most effective strategies for reducing aggression recognise this complexity and work on multiple levels' e.g. successful treatment for violent juvenile delinqunents is a multi-systematic therapy. Attempts to adress individuals problems on different levels
  • Intervention programme carried out in elemantry schools in high risk (black) neighbourhoods in chicago between 1990-1997. Included how to generate prosocial solutions when conflict arises; teachers modelling prosocial behaviour; encouraging children to see things from other peoples perspectives. Effective in supportive environments and help change childrens cognitions and behaviours BUT exposure to neighbourhood violence causes increases in subsequent aggression regardess of any intervention 
  • Improving peoples living conditions as central? e.g. social inequality, healthy living conditions, social support
  • "nidotherapy": for anti-social personality disorder individuals, people who hate the world 
  • "weapons effect": suggests reducing or eliminating weapons from the environment will also reduce aggression (sub-consciou and desensitisation)
  • fostering social values such as co-operation rather than competitiveness 
  • mass media and aggression: more regulation??
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Perceiving persons

Social perception: how people come to know (or think that they know) other people (how you use that knowledge of other people)

Attribution: Heider: 'naive scientists' - work out other peoples behaviours through scientific process of reasoning. Categorised peoples explanations for others behaviours into personal attributions and situational attributions. Depending on various factors which attribution might you use for someone in different settings/contexts

  • Personal attributions: process of assigning the cause of our own or others behaviour to internal or dispositional factors e.g. "my brother failed the exam because he is lazy and didn't do any preperation"
  • Situational attributions: assigning the cause of our own or others behaviours to external or environmental factors e.g. "my brother failed the exam because the questions were misleading".

Jones correspondent theory:

  • concerned with degree to which the actor (any person seen to do any action) seen as
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  • behaving according to a stable and enduring disposition (a persons inherent qualities of mind and character)
  • We make inferences based on 5 factors:
  • Persons degree of choice: argued that freely chosen behaviour is more informative about a person than behaviour is coerced. 
  • US students gave pro or anti-castro speeches (revolutionary leader in Cuba, established a one-party state with a ruling communist party. extremly divisive figure, especially in US) but some were directed to do so whereas others chose to do so. The audience, who knew whether students had been directed or had chosen their position, then rated how 'pro' castro each speaker was. Attributions change depending on whether an individuals position is seen as freely chosen. 
  • Intended effects or consequences of the behaviour: Suppose you are planning to go on a postgraduate course, and you short-list two colleges - University College London and the London School of Economics. You choose UCL rather than the LSE. What can the social perceiver learn from this? First there are a lot of common effects - urban environment, same distance from home, same exam system, similar academic reputation, etc. These common effects do not provide the perceiver with any clues about your motivation. 
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  • But if the perceiver believes that UCL has better sports facilities, or easier access to the University Library then these non-common or unique effects which can provide a clue to your motivation. But, suppose you had short-listed UCL and University of Essex and you choose UCL. Now the perceiver is faced with a number of non-common effects; size of city; distance from home; academic reputation; exam system. The perceiver would then be much less confident about inferring a particular intention or disposition when there are a lot of non-common effects. The fewer the non-common effects, the more certain the attribution of intent. (when we see each other behave in certain ways, we think about possible alternatives that the person could have taken. We use this process of correspondence inference to work out everything about that persons disposition based on comparison of what they did and what they didn't do)
  • Social desirability: tells us little about a persons disposition, because it is likely to be controlled by societal norms. However, socially undesirable behaviour is generally counter-normative and is thus a better basis for making a correspondence inference.
  • We make more confident correspondent inferences about others behaviour that has important consequences for ourselves; that is behaviour that is hedonic relevance (the extent to which a persons behaviour affects you)
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  • we make more confident correspondent inferences about others behaviour that seems to be directly intended to benefit or harm us; that is behaviour that is high in personalism

Kelley's co-variation model: 3 main kinds of information used to select a personal versus situational attribution:

  • Distinctiveness: information about whether a persons reaction occurs only with one stimulus, or is a common reaction to many stimuli e.g. does laugh at everything (low distinctiveness) or only at the comedian (high distinctiveness)
  • Consistency: information about the extent to which a behaviour Y always co-occurs with a stimulus X e.g. does Tom always laugh at this comedian (high consistency) or only sometimes laughs at this comedian (low consistency)
  • Consensuality: information about the extent to which other people react in the same to a stimulus e.g. does everyone laugh at the comedian (high consensus) or is only tom who laughs (low consensus)

Attribution Errors:

  • fundamental attribution error
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  • overemphasise the role of personal causes and underestimate the impact of situations on peoples behaviour
  • problem stems in part from how we make attributions
  • seems that social perception is a two-step process: identify the behaviour and make a quick personal attribution --> we correct/adjust the inference to account for situational factors

Actor-observer effect error:

  • more likely to assume that our own behaviour is situationally determined, whereas others behaviours can be internally attributed. 2 main explanations:
  • perceptual focus: the actor and the observer have different perspectives 
  • informational differences: difference in level of information between actor and observer 

Culture and attribution: "although attribution researchers used to assume that people all over the world explained human behaviour in the same ways, it is now clear that cultures shape in subtle but profound ways the kinds of attributions we make about people, their behaviour and social situations". Miller: US participants made more personal attributions and Indian adult participants made more situational attributions. Different world views shape the way in which we see ourselves and the social world.

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Impression formation: how people form overall impressions of others. When getting to know someone do we: calculate a mental average of the persons traits? OR combine the information in more complicated ways?

Asch, configuration model: 

  • central traits: traits that have a disproportionate influence on the configuration of final impressions, in Asch's configural model of impression formation
  • peripheral traits: traits that have an insignificant influence on the configuration of final impressions, in Asch's configural model of impression formation
  • primary/recency: when asked to recall a list of items in any order (free recall), people tend to begin recall with the end of the list, recalling those items best (the recency effect). Among earlier list items, the first few items are recalled more frequently than the middle items (the primary effect)

Andersons cognitive algebra theory in terms of traits:

  • The averaging model: a method of forming positive or negative impressions by averaging the valence of all the consituent attributes
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  • to present a favourable impression of yourself, you should only present your single best facet
  • The summation model: method of forming positive or negative impressions by first weighting and then averaging the valence of all the constituent person attributes
  • to present a favourable impression of yourself, you should present every facet of yourself that is remotely positive 
  • Anderson found that people tend to form impressions based on the averaging model

Confirmation biases:

  • tendencies to interpret, seek and create information in ways that verify existing beliefs.
  • e.g. 'belief perseverance' resemblance in photos of parents and children not noticed until participants told they were related 
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Conformity, attitudes and persuasion

Social influence: several types of social influence, "the ways that people are affected by the real and imagined pressures of others". percieved pressure that they should not act that way, sometimes, not explicitly stated. Social influence varies in its realisation and effects.

Conformity: refers to changing ones perception, opinions and behaviour in line with group norms. Conformity widespread BUT people don't like to 'admit' to being influenced and people report others as more conforming than themselves. The pressure of being wrong is massive, in IC we support and encourage those to be outspoken and represent their individuality not the same in CC. Time context also effects the conformity of individuals.

Sherif, 1936 (establishing a group norm):

  • norms (can also be perceptual) guide behaviour under conditions of uncertainty 
  • Asked individuals how fast the light moved as participants sat in a dark room. (optical illusion)
  • a frame of referance is established (implicitly come up with similar answers) becomes and established attitude, belief of the world which guides them
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Asch, 1951: Line Judgment task:

  • 6-9 confederates, 1 participant, 18 trials
  • Individually asked to choose which singular line matched with the three provided. 
  • confederates gave 'wrong' answer on 12 out of 18 trials. 
  • Participants conformed to te majority response on approximately 33% of the trials
  • asked afterwards and participants explained how they knew the answer being given was incorrect 

Interpreting Sherif and Asch's studies:

  • Sherifs task was ambiguous. Others served as source of information
  • no ambihuity in Asch's study but some still conformed to the majority (incorrect) answer
  • caught between the need to be right and the desire to be liked

Why do people conform?

  • Informational influence: use the information provided by others around them to deal with the task, driven to answer a particular way
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  • normative influence: (deviancy from group norms can mean being disliked, rejected, ridiculed and dismissed). wanting to say the same thing as others, wanting to be part of a group
  • size of the group: size of the majority only matters to a point (reach a peak of influence by around 4 or 5 people)
  • suggests that social rejection has powerful effects 

Having an ally:

  • Asch found having one other dissenter reduced conformity by 80% (having just one other person not playing along with the other confederates)
  • due to ally agreeing with participant or disagreeing with the majority?
  • Allen and Levine tested this and found simply having a fellow dissenter reduced conformity. their answer doesn't even have to be correct, just have to be saying one answer different, then the rest of the confederates. This makes it much easier for the participant to speak up against the group
  • Suggests: easier to be part of a tiny dissenting minority than standing alone and any time of dissent from ally reduces conformity 
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  • changing behaviour in response to direct request
  • how do people get others to comply with their requests?
  • Strategies used could depend on; how well we know the target person, our status within the relationship, culture and nature of the request

Compliance 'without thinking':

  • Langer et al: pushing in a queue 
  • A: 'excuse me, I have 5 pages. May i use the Xerox machine?' (no reasons provided at all)
  • B: 'excuse me, i have 5 pages. May i use the Xerox machine, because i have to make copies?' (empty reason, not semantically viable)
  • C: 'excuse me, i have 5 pages. May i use the Xerox machine, because i'm in a rush?' (viable reason)
  • A=60% successful, B=93% successful, C=95% successful 
  • when people comply they do so without giving it much too conscious thought, the more material given, the more likely they are to comply 
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The norm of reciprocity: (give and take)

  • Regan (1971): confederate behaved in likeable or dislikeable manner
  • Condition 1: bought coke to participant after break
  • Condition 2: returned empty handed
  • Condition 3: experimenter brought coke for participant 
  • Confederate asked participants in all conditions to buy a raffle ticket
  • participants in condition 1 more likely to buy a ticket
  • Normative obligation to repay others for acts of kindness?
  • contributes to fainess in social interaction - also exploitation? (more likely to comply in situations where we feel the need to repay others)

The foot in the door (small request leads to a larger request)

  • long been employed by sales people
  • telephoned participants to ask permission to ask questions about household products 
  • 3 days later, a larger request made
  • confronted with larger request only = 22% compliance, consent to que's and larger request made =  53% compliance (explanation = self-perception theory)
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The door in the face (larger request leading to a smaller request)

  • college students asked to do:
  • voluntary work for 2 hours per week for 2 years
  • a 'one off' 2 hours
  • findings: smaller request only = 17% compliance. 
  • larger than smaller = 50% compliance 
  • Explanation: reciprocal concession (give and take, negotiation)
  • person requesting has compromised (decreased request)
  • recipient of request should compromise by compliance 
  • used commercially in pricing 
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conformity, attitudes and persuasion (2)

Attitudes: 'a positive, negative, or mixed reaction to a person, object or idea'. Attitudes can vary in strenght along dimensions of positivity and negativity. (positive attitude, negative attitude, ambivalence (strong feelings about something, but those feelings are both positive and negative,) indiffirence) 

Attitudes and behaviour: do peoples attitudes correspond with their behaviour?

  • actual behaviours towards chinese american couple didn't match with their expressed attitudes (after 150 places, only 1 placed denied them service)
  • 90% of bars and restraunts said no, they would not serve chinese people after they were rang, therefore, their attitudes not representing their behaviour 
  • more recent thinking; link is subject to a number of conditions - however, they may not have been denied as they were with a while male professor

Attitudes in context: (all about levels of similarity)

  • asked about the contraceptive pill, specific questions more closely matched with the behaviour e.g. don't just ask 'how do you feel about birth control' 
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  • ask 'how do you feel about taking birth control starting from now for the next two years'
  • attitudes ONLY correlate with behaviour when attitude measures closely match the behaviour in question --> Theory of planned behaviour  (our attitudes influences behaviour through deliberate descision making)
  • E.G: BA - i want to improve my grade in semester one
  • SN - if everyone around is doing really well this will influence you to better your grade
  • PBC - i've been ill this semester, but despite that i know i can improve my grades
  • Intention - i intend to improve my grades in semester one 
  • behaviour - you get your good grades in semester one 
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conformity, attitudes and persuasion (2) -3

Persuasion: the process by which attitudes are changed. Many industries that persuade us to do something, not to do something or even persuade us to buy something e.g. the government wanting us to do something or the consumer industry 

Dual process model: (based on people don't always process communications in the same way) - "elboration/likelihood model"

  • central route to persuasion: people influenced by the strenght and qualities of the arguments, people think critically about the contents of the message. 
  • Step 1: reception (learning of message) --> Step 2: elaboration (consider personally relevant implications, seek further information) --> Step 3: acceptance of message 
  • Peripheral route to persuasion: people being taking shortcuts and being influenced by more superficial cues (e.g. graphics, appearance of speaker, background music)
  • people evaluate a message using simple-minded heuristics (rules of thumb that you might attend to when you're watching a particular message)
  • example of cues; communicator has a good reputation, speaks/writes well, reputation for honesty, long list of arguments 
  • route taken depends on cognitive effort expanded on message 
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conformity, attitudes and persuasion (2) -4

What influences which route we take? source (who is the communicator), message (content) and audience (recipients of message)

The source: credibility and likeability (high credibility sources are more likely to be persuasive than low credibility sources e.g. journal article vs a tabloid magazine)

  • Credibility:
  • competence: refers to a speakers percieved ability (more knowledgeable, expertise)
  • trustworthiness: (truthfulness) base our judgments in terms of social position of the speaker (nurses got 87% on honesty rating, bankers 38%, care sales person 8%), vested interest e.g. celebrities endorsements 
  • Likeability:
  • sources more persuasive if they are likeable 
  • what makes someone more likeable? 
  • similarity (e.g. percieved similarity in values, interests, group memberships etc.) and (if celebrity is doing multiple endorsements at once we might believe they are doing it for the money and not because they believe in the item
  • attractiveness (e.g. supermodels used in advertising)
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conformity, attitudes and persuasion (2) -5

The message: when people care about an issue, the strenght of a message determines its impact (rather than characteristics of the source). Both what a person has to say AND how the person says it (it was announced that tuition fees were increasing by a couple thousand, you'd be more concerned about the content and less concerned about likeability and attractiveness of the speaker)

  • Persuasiveness depends on which route is taken by the audience (pheripheral or central route)
  • central rouete to persuasion, a lengthy message can either aid or hinder persuasion: lots of supporting information --> length aids persuasion and extra arguments are weak --> length hinders persuasion

Other message factors:

  • repitition (exposure to a tv advertising motivates preferances rather than which brand they prefer/ repitition does not necessarily mean its good, may get bored unless you have an attraction to that particular franchise.
  • "illusion of truth effect"
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conformity, attitudes and persuasion (2) -6

  • fear (health campaigns - alcohol, smoking) more likely to recieve a consequence to the behaviour, more likely we are to be fearful and change our behaviour 
  • impact of our fear depends on perception of likelihood of consequence for participants 
  • dental hygiene versus smoking cessation 
  • impact depends on how afraid participants already are
  • facts versus feeling: factual advertising vs evulative advertising, reflect opinions and is more subjective 

The audience:

  • self-esteem - a distracted audience is more easily persuaded than someone who is paying full attention. Those with low self-esteem are more susceptible than those with high self-esteem. Inverted U curve --> people with low or high self-esteem are less persuasible than those with moderate self-esteem
  • men and women - another controversial finding is that women are more easily persuaded than men. Some psycholgists say this is due to the fact that women are socialised to be co-operative and non-assertive and are therefore less resistant than men to attempts to influence them
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Group processes

Group: a set of individuals who share (at least one) of the following characteristics:

  • direct interactions with each other over a period of time
  • joint membership in a social category based on sex, race or other attributes
  • a shared fate, identity or set of goals
  • groups can be short/long term
  • they can also be voluntary or involuntary (e.g. family)

Why do people joun groups? (evolutionary)

  • protection against threat and uncertainty (to create a greater chance of passing on the genes, survival of genes)
  • gain a greater sense of social identity?
  • OR: is this just what humans do? (overwhelming and basic need to be in a group?)

Group cohesiveness: The extent to which forces push groups members close together (e.g. feelings of intimacy, how unified the group feel working together, commitment to group goals) (if you have the same commitment to a task will have greater group cohesiveness)

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group processes 2

  • cohesiveness and performance; better performance = improved cohesivenss for smaller groups
  • performance effects cohesiveness, also depended on the same group. The smaller the group the better the performance and group cohesiveness 
  • female sport teams: women tend to be more interdependant than men. Women tend to rely on each other within a group. Highly cohesive groups may lead to bad decisions 

The presence of others: Triplett: (how the presence of others affecrs behaviour)

  • hypothesis: competitive instinct 'released' in presence of another, increasing nervous energy and enhancing performance. Cyclists who performed against each other performed better than those who rode against the clock. Stated the competitiveness of individuals came out.
  • Study: fishing reels: 40 children winding fishing reels, alone vs in competition with another, results: faster when in competition than when alone 

Social facilitation: drive theory: the presence of others increases arousal, which strengths the dominant response to a stimulus (presence effects performance in different steps): 

  • step 1: physical presence of others creates physiological arousal 
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group processes 3

  • step 2: increased arousal enhances tendency to perform the dominant response (drive)
  • step 3: quality of performance depends on type of task:
  • easy task = successful response 
  • difficult task = unsuccessful response 

More recently...

  • consistent findings in a variety of settings e.g. 
  • driving tests; if someone else taking the test is in the car with you, then your driving is impaired
  • electronic gambling; performance improves when others are present - easier tasks, those that can be well learnt 
  • the presence of virtual others - students completed tasks alone in the company of another person or in the company of a virtual presence (on a computer, 3D generated image, appeared to watch them) social presence is just as present with a virtual being)
  • social facilitation effects just as evident, despite these findings there is quite a lot of controvery about drive theory:
  • Zajoncs theory: that the physical presence of members of the same species instinctively causes arousal that motivates performance of habitual behaviour patterns
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group processes 4

Distraction conflict theory: an audience causes inevitable distraction, and therefore cognitive load, which effects an individuals performance.

  • The difference between both is the drive theory predicts peoples behaviour is unpredictable the presence of others may either be posotive or negative whereas the distraction conflict theory clearly states the presence of others is simply a distraction 

Social Loafing: identity of an individual cannot be identified. Do not know who is doing what task.

  • Ringelmann: individual output decreased, when working together rather than working alone. Did not state why this was the case though
  • Ingham: rope pulling task
  • condition 1: participants led to think that they were pulling with a group
  • condition 2: participants informed they were pulling one 
  • participants pulled almost 20% harder when they thought they were pulling alone (when they could be identified they placed more effort)
  • Social loafing = group produced reductions in indiviual output 
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group processes 5

Social-loafing evidence:

  • later research: social loafing is not restricted to simple motor tasks (sharing responsibility with others e.g. swimming in a relay race reduces loafing
  • reliable phenomena across tasks and across numerous countries 
  • Collective effort model: meta-analysis of 78 studies, loafing happens, mediated by many variables 

Reducing self-loafing: according to the collective effort model: when do we see reductions in social loafing?

  • if people believe their own performance can be identified and evaluated by others
  • the task is more important and meaningful to those performing 
  • if people percieve their efforts to be critical to a successful outcome (so, perceptions of efforts of rest of group are critical)
  • if the group: expects to be punished for poor performance; is small; is cohesive (membership is in the group is valuable and important to the members and the individuals like each other)
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group processes 6

  • university students - assesed social factors than can reduce loafing in groups, identified 3 factors were key to reduce social loafing. limit the scope of the group project (smaller project to work on, or breaking larger projects into small components), keep the group small and also use peer evaluation. As the number of times fellows evaluated each others performance, then social loafing decreased. 

De-individuation: the loss of a persons sense of individuality and the reduction of normal constraints of deviant behaviour. Factors that contribute to deindividuation; arousal, anonymity, reduced responsibility. Do people really lose their sense of 'self' when deindividuation?

  • female undergraduates delivered electric shocks to a confederate 
  • two groups; group 1, dressed as Ku Klux Klan members, group 2, wearing nurses' uniforms
  • two conditions, condition 1, identified, condition 2, anonymous 
  • surprise findings, participants wearing KKK costumes gave larger shock intensities. Those in nursing uniforms decreased the shocks 4 times as much. By dressing as KKK members you are identifying yourself with a particular group and their extremist views
  • Suggests social cues an important part of the group process of deindividuation:
  • social identity model of deindividuation effects (SIDE) (SIDE explains the effects of anonymity and identifiability on group behaviour)
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group processes 7

Groupthink: (highly cohesive groups wanting to reach a unanimous descision. Overrides irrational decision making)

  • a mode of thinking in highly cohesive groups in which the desire to reach an unimous agreement overrised the motivation to adopt proper rational descision making procedures
  • a need for consensus within excessively cohesive groups
  • decision making processes
  • wider social implications e.g. Jury, government 
  • an alternative explanation for convergence and conformity 
  • Three characteristics:
  • highly cohesive groups (more likely to reject members who have highly different opinions to the rest of the majority groups)
  • group structure (strong leader, particularly likely to suffer from group think)
  • stressful situations 
  • its like a disease, infected groups display a number of symptoms. more likely to come across issues.
  • "illusions of invulnerability" (your group wont be impaired or shattered) --> defective desicion making process --> bad descisions
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Stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination

  • Prejudice: negative feelings towards persons based on their membership in certain groups (feelings or attitudes, doesn't include a behaviour elemant)
  • Discrimination: behaviour directed against persons because of their membership in a particular group
  • Stereotypes: beliefs or associations that link with whole groups of people with certain traits or characteristics (cognitive elemant, some psychologists believe responsible for the actual acts of discrimination 


  • sex race and age are the most prevalent bases for stereotyping.
  • "prejudice and discrimination against people based on their gender" (less socially accepted in less contemporary socities)
  • sexism persists in many forms; the consequences are powerful and highly detrimental
  • gender stereotypes are prescriptive; they suggest how men and women should be e.g. stereotypes of working mothers (suggest how men [assertive] and women should [nurturing, gentle] not seen as feminine to have this assertive male characteristics
  • unusually, sexist stereotypes involve ambivalence (used to describe both positives and negatives of women)
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination 2

  • Hostile sexism: negative feelings about womens abilities, value and ability to challenge mens power
  • Benevolent sexism: chivalrous feelings underpinned by the belief in womens vulnerability (and in need of protection) (opressive and harmful)
  • positively correlated (as one increases so does the other) (greater levels of political economoy are associated with both hostile and benovelent sexism amongst men)
  • emerge in many indirect ways (e.g. being unladylike)

Sexism and employment:

  • Looked at gendered wording in job advertisements (masculine and feminine e.g. support, understand, interpersonal themed words). When they showed their participants these job advertisements women found these job roles less appealing that used more masculine wording even though the job was of the same nature.


  • attitudes of white college students 
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination 3

  • Average white american - smart, industrious, and ambitious 
  • average african american - supersticious, ignorant, lazy and happy go-lucky
  • similar studies since 1951 to 2001:
  • negative images of African Americans mostly replaced with more positive favourable images 
  • however, racism like sexism can form in subtle yet insidious ways

Modern Racism (overt racism, less common and less socially acceptable):

  • Racial prejudice that manifests in subtle ways when it is deemed safe, socially acceptable and easy to rationalise due to its ambiguity. 
  • e.g. in ambigious situations, racial prejudice is more likely to surface. (when the situation is unclear, students more likely to find the black defendant guilty rather than the white)
  • Racists beliefs are generally more likely to be expressed these in situations where its deemed 'safe' to do so e.g. if the individual is in the company of those who might express racist tendancies. It is seen as more safe to be racist

Implicit racism:

  • Racism that operates unconciously and unintentionally (can manifest in individuals that want to be seen)
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination 4

  • predictors of whether a criminal defendant was likely to be sentenced to death 
  • examined 600+ 'death penalty eligable' cases between 1979 and 1999
  • in cases where the victim was white, the more the defendants physical appearance was 'stereotypically black', the more likely he would be sentenced to death
  • jurors and judges in these trials not consciously aware of this bias? yet the consequences are enourmous 

Realistic conflict theory:

  • Sherif, argued that when groups have to compete over scarce rescources, intergroup relations become marked by conflict, and ethnocentrism arises.
  • Ethnocentrism: use of ones own ethnic group and ways of doing things as a point of referance; ones own group (e.g. its beliefs, values etc.) regared as superior to anything different 
  • 'Robbers cave': 2 groups of (white) boys first isolated, then introducd/engaged in competitive games
  • resulted in intense rivalry and hostility i.e. displayed intense ingroup favouritism and outgroup hostility. Later groups set super-ordinate goals; needed to work in co-operation with each other. 
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination 5

  • Led to considerable improvements in intergroup relations. Used to model racism and routes to improving integration 

Social Identity Theory (to try and understand the prestige and social status of the groups of which individuals are in, even when there is no personal level at harm)

  • Tajel, Dots study: (slides, quick successions, asked to estimare the dots on each slide)
  • boys told that they'd been divided into two groups, overestimators and underestimators
  • asked to allocate rewards to other participants which could later be cashed in for money
  • The boys consistently allocated more points to members of their own group
  • how come when: boys had no history of rivalry/antagonism, they didn't appear to mind which group they were in, they didn't compete for a limited rescource, they weren't even acquinted with one another. Designed to categorise people with trival similarities. Known as the minimal groups paradigm. Known as ingroup favouritism. 
  • People try to enhance their self-esteem which has two components:
  • personal identity: self-esteem gained through personal achievements
  • social identities: self-esteem gained through associating with different groups 
  • Two basic predictions: threats to self-esteem increase the need for ingroup favouritism and expressions of ingroup favouritism enhance ones self-esteem
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination (2)

  • Early attempts to describe prejudice with referance to individuals early experiences 
  • Authoritarian personality: hostile to those who are of inferior status, but obedient of people with high status, farily rigid in their opinions and beliefs, conventional, upholding traditional vales. More likely to categorise people into 'us' and 'them' groups, seeing their own group superior.
  • Dogmatism: the tendancy to lay down principles as undeniably true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others.
  • However, these accounts:
  • underemphasised situational and socio cultural factors e.g. racism varied across culture, even when participants all reported the same authoritarian personality type
  • failed to account for sudden surges in prejudice against specific groups at specific times

Belief congruence theory:

  • how does it feel when you find out that someone you like holds very different beliefs to you?
  • Rokeach: belief is more important than group membership as factor in discrimination 
  • congruent (consistent) belief systems facilitate group harmony 
  • incongruent belief systems produce a opposite effect 
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination (2) -2

  • Therefore, prejudice is an individual reaction to incongruent belief systems, not an attitude based on group membership 
  • However, this theory does not account for many kinds of prejudice 

Social cognition and prejudice: Key assumptions:

  • prejudice arises from the tendency to discriminate between others/groups using cognitive categories and schemas 
  • perceptions of others are often skewed by stereotypes
  • stereotypes can lead to inaccurate perceptions of other illusionary correlations 

Social categorisation: 

  • using group memberships to make inferences (conclusions) about others saves times and effort
  • However, percieved differences between groups are magnified, with depersonalisation of the result (a state in which ones thoughts and feelings seem unreal or not belong to oneself)
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination (2) -3

Social cognitive accounts - implications:

  • social categorisation: percieved differences between groups are magnified (this could imply how prejudice might be avoided/reduced)
  • However, what if people are in social/group situations where they are an active agents in prejudice?
  • Do these theories 'naturalise' prejudice in a problematic way?

Impacts of prejudice: Social stigma:

  • targets of prejudice usually belong to stigmatised groups, prejudice upholds stigma
  • stigma: group attributes that mediate a negative social evaluation of people belonging to the group
  • devalues particular social identities in specific social contexts 
  • experience of stigma hinges on: visability (e.g. race, gender, obesity), visible vs invisible. Controlability (e.g. obesity, lung cancer) controllable vs uncontrollable
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination (2) -4

Impacts of prejudice: psychological wellbeing and self-esteem:

  • stigmatised groups: devalued/low status
  • stereotypical images consentually accepted within broader society 
  • targets often evaluate themselves according to these negative stereotypes 
  • adoption of negative stereotypes functions to opress target of prejudice
  • self-esteem, self worth
  • reverse discrimination: discrimination against members of a dominant or majority group in favour of members of a minority of historically disadvantaged group
  • self-esteem bolstered in short-term but severly damaged in long term

Impacts of prejudice: stereotype threat:

  • awareness of stigmatised individuals that others are judging them stereotypically, notion of the self-fufilling phrophecy 
  • Evidence: non-white and white students were to take a very difficult test (with 2 different labeles): tasks assessed awareness of racial stereotypes. Ambigious sentence fragmen completion excercise, non- white students tended to complete sentence fragmants with words relating to racism e.g. ___erior = inferior 
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination (2) -5

Impacts of prejudice: dehumanisation and violence:

  • ********* out group members of status as 'human beings'
  • justifies acts of discrimination and prejudice 
  • usually individuals acts of degradation and violence 
  • achieved by removal of basic human rights e.g. dignity, freedom (speech; religion), legal protection, education
  • occurs in absence of institutional/legislative support for targets

Reducing stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination:

  • intergroup contanct, contact hypothesis:
  • direct contact between rival groups will reduce stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination
  • 4 conditions must exist for contact to succeed; equal status, personal intercation, co-operative activities and social norms.
  • Support: the jigsaw classroom: reducing competition between individuals/groups reduces prejudice and stereotyping 
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stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination (2) -6

  • co-operative approach to learning:
  • small, mixed groups dependant on other members for success
  • each member become and 'expert' on one part of the task
  • each group member then contributes a piece of the jigsaw to the task or 'big picture
  • Evidence: succesful applications in classroom settings globally:
  • 'academic performance, prejudice, and the jigsaw classroom: new pieces to the puzzle' 
  • common in group-identity forged based on shared subordinate goal
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