Social Psychology- Lec 1

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  • Created by: tasha
  • Created on: 04-12-12 13:21


The scientific investigation of how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others (Allport, 1954).  

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Influenced by other people – Social psychology is the scientific study of social influence. Milgram et al. (1969)

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Attitude - An individuals evaluation of a target along a good-bad dimension. ie favourable or unfavourable evaluation.

Atttitide can be based upon 3 sources sometimes it is all 3 used , others just one.

  • affect (feelings,emotions)
  • cognition(information,beliefs)
  • behaviour(past actions towards target)

Ambivalant attitudes - evaluations of a target that comprise of both positive and negative sourses.

Implicit Attitudes - Unconscious or automativ


 Explicit attitudes - conscious and deliberate

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Value-Expressive function

Value-Expressive function-Attitudes are formed to help express values (broad things such as liberty , freedom and justice) and show our identity that connects us to some groups.

Shavitt (1990)

Object appraisal -coffee - positive/negative features of the object ie the nice smell coffee smellcomes from good beans

Value-Expressive - perfume - values , identity and what object the type of coffee you drinkc says something about the person you are

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Measuring Attitudes

Self Report Measures


  • Socially desirable - peoiple may answer to make them look better.
  • assumes that people have concious access to their attitudes.

Likert-Type Scales - shows a clear position or attitude

1 (disagree strongly) to 5 (agree strongly)

Semantic differential scales - multiple attitues recorded per topic

Bad -2  -1  0  1  2  good

Harmful -2 -1 0 1 2  benificial

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Measuring Attitudes

Non Verbal measures

 Behavioral measures - look at over behaviors such as sitting far away from somebody.

Implicit / indirect measures - mainly computer based , ie reaction time measurments.

Indirect Measures

eg , Budgit cuts to departments that are linked with other targets can indirectly measure predudice to the linked target.

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Implicit Association Task

IAT assesses whether people find it easier to associate things with good or bad.

Items are sorted by good or bad meanings and left or right. then asked which was more difficult.

IAT is target of critisism and its predictive validity is still being assessed.

However , IAT has shown spontanious non-verbal reactions ie eye contact and sitting distance.

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How attitudes form


Cognative sourses of attitudes - influanced by belife about pros and cons of targit. for example rational arguments regarding vitamin supplements.

Behavioral sourses of attitudes - when we dont have well developed attitudes we gage our attitudes by reflecting upon our actions

Bem's perception theory if we cant access our thoughts we may base attitude on behavior

Affective sourses of attitudes - our feelings and emotions influance our attitudes . objects make us feel certsin ways due to our previous associations.

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Mere exposure effect

Mere exposure effect - exposure leads to a more favorable attitude, even with out reinforcement. ie familiarity leads to liking.

Zajonc (1968) chineese symbol experiment the more a symbol was shown the more it was liked , cause by affect (emotion) not cognition.

Another example Mita, Dermer & Knight (1977) - familiarity with faces. &Kunst-Wilson & Zajonc (1980) subliminal exposure

Why does it occour?

Uncertainty reduction - we often dont know how to respond to new objects , so when they are familier its less uncertainty

Perceptual Fluency - its easier to percieve and catergerise quicker than unfamiliar objects. trhis pleases us , so we feel good about the object.

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Limitations of Mere exposure


Too many exposures produce boredom

Repeted exposure with negative experiance leasd to dislike not like!!

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How attitudes affect behavior.

The theory of reasoned action (TRA) Fishbein & Ajzen 1975

This theory views humans as rational decision makers , who behave logically. This applies only to Volitional (voluntary) behavior.

Attitudes: personal preferances based on pos or neg consequences of behaviors.  attitudes to parts of a believe make up the whole believe as positive or negative , like weighing up the pros and cons. something might be bad but overal his attitude is positive ...

Subjective Norms:percived social pressure to preform behaviors based on beliefs of how others want you to behave.,

Critisisms :

in a study (Lapiere) 90% of people said they would not serv chineese however only 1 in 250 actually didnt serve the,.

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Attitudes predict behavior

1)When attitude is strong

  • extremity - strong attitudes can lead to extreme positions.
  • importance - things of high imporance to individual
  • accessibility - how easy to activate attitude
  • direct exposure - based on direct experiance with object
  • value expressive- takes high degree of commitment ie voulutry work

2) when the behavior is controllable

  • if not allowed to choose how to react then attitude is irrelivant.

percieved behavioral control

if the person intends to do something.

3) When the measures match

  • spacific attitude measures spacific behavior and general to general.
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