Chapter 14: Social Behavior
BRIEF CHAPTER OUTLINE
Group Living and Social Influence
Minority Social Influence
Exclusion and Inclusion
Prejudice and Discrimination
Breaking New Ground: The Study of Implicit Bias
Attitudes and Behavior
The Nature and Nurture of Attitudes
The Nature and Nurture of Aggression
Social Influences on Aggression
Psychology in the Real World: Violent Media, Violent World
The Bystander Effect
Liking, Attraction, and Love
Familiarity, Similarity, and Attraction
Sexual Attraction and Mate Selection
EXTENDED CHAPTER OUTLINE
· Social psychology is the study of the effects of the real or imagined presence of others on people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions.
GROUP LIVING AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE
· Group living offered many advantages in the evolution of our species, such as increased safety in the presence of danger, cooperation with others to complete challenging tasks (such as hunting), and rearing children.
· Today we work hard to maintain our relationships, going so far as to modify our behavior when we are in the presence of others.
· Social facilitation occurs when the presence of others improves our performance. The effect of the presence of others can depend on the situation or task at hand, how easy or difficult the task is, and how excited you are.
o CONNECTION: Performance is weakest at low arousal, best at moderate levels of arousal, and it drops off again at high arousal. This is the Yerkes-Dodson law, explained in Chapter 11.
· Social loafing occurs when the presence of others causes one to relax one’s standards and slack off.
· Societal or culturally imposed rules about acceptable behavior are called social norms. They can vary by culture as well.
· Conformity occurs when people adjust their behavior to what others are doing or adhere to the norms of their culture.
o Informational social influence occurs when people conform to the behavior of others because they view them as a source of knowledge about what they are supposed to do. This type of conformity is most pronounced in ambiguous or novel situations.
· Normative social influence occurs when people go along with the behavior of others in order to be accepted by them.
· Asch (1951) assembled several groups of 6 to 7 people (all but one of which was a confederate in the study) in the lab and he told them he was interested in visual acuity. Asch then showed the participants two cards – one with a standard line and the other displaying three lines of varying length. The participant’s job was to pick the one line from the card with three lines that matched the standard line. This comparison process was repeated 18 times and on each occasion, participants said their answers out loud.
· The one real participant was always seated in the last chair, so he heard the judgments of all of the other group members before he made his own choice.
· On the first 6 trials everyone gave the obvious and correct answer. Starting on trial 7, however, all the confederates started giving wrong answers.
· Not every participant agreed with the group all of the time, but more than three-fourths of the participants went along with the group even when the group answer was clearly wrong.
· When participants worked alone, they rarely made any errors.
· Social impact theory says that our likelihood of following either informational or normative social influence depends on three different aspects of the group: (1) how important the group is to you, (2) how close the group is to you in space and time, and (3) how many people are in the group.
· All culture influences conformity.
· In collectivist cultures, groups matter more than the individual, so any group-preserving behavior (such as conformity) would be valued and encouraged.
· CONNECTIONS: Individualism means that behavior is more determined by personal goals, whereas collectivism means that behavior is more determined by shared goals. These characteristics vary between cultures and people, as discussed in Chapter 13.
· At times a single individual or small number of individuals (the minority) can influence an entire group (the larger group is the majority). To do so, the majority must present a consistent, unwavering message.
· Most often, minority opinion shifts majority opinion by means of informational social influence. If a group encounters a situation in which the members are unsure about what to do and a minority carefully presents a well-thought-out position to the majority, then the majority might accept it.
· Obedience is a kind of conformity in which people yield to the social pressure of an authority figure.
Milgram recruited people from the community to
participate in an experiment at
· Then the experimenter showed both the teacher and learner to the adjoining room where the learner would be seated. The learner’s task involved learning and repeating strings of words. He was told that every time he made an error he would receive a mild electric shock, delivered by the teacher. With each mistake, the shocks would increase in intensity. Both teacher and learner were shown the chair where the learner would sit with restraints to make sure the electrodes had a good contact when he received the shock. The teacher then received a sample shock of very low voltage to get a sense of what the learner would be experiencing. In actuality, this was the only real shock ever administered during the experiment.
· Then they went to the teacher’s room. The teacher sat at a table behind a panel of little switches. Under each switch was a label indicating voltage level. The levels started at 15 volts (“mild shock”) and increased in 15-volt increments all the way up to 450, with 315 volts designated as “danger: severe shock” and 435-450 (end of scale) as “XXX.” The teacher was reminded that if the learner made any mistakes he would have to deliver a shock, and with each mistake, he should increase the level. In fact, the experiment was rigged, as the learner played a prerecorded tape of his responses to the shock.
· As the teacher moved up the shock scale and the learner supposedly made more errors, one could hear a yelp of pain from the learner with each shock. At this point, many teachers would ask the experimenter if they should go on, and he would say, “The experiment requires that you go on.”
· Results: At 150 volts there was a drop in obedience – from 100% to about 83%. Some participants stopped, but many went on with the experiment, albeit uncomfortably. Sixty-five percent of participants went all the way to 450 volts. Men and women were equally likely to reach the 450-volt level.
· Although Milgram’s participants clearly experienced mental anguish while taking part in the study, the study sparked a fierce debate about ethics in research. Milgram contacted his participants later and less than 2% reported regretting having participated.
· CONNECTIONS: What are the obligations of researchers to ensure the ethical treatment of participants in research? (See Chapter 2.)
· Burger (2006) conducted a modified version of Milgram’s original study with college students. An important change from the original study was that when the participants began to protest, they were told to continue rather than told that they had to continue. Also, once participants passed the 150-volt range, the experiment stopped. By making these changes, the researchers were able to obtain permission from the American Psychological Association to conduct the experiment, which otherwise would not meet standards for ethical treatment of human participants.
· Burger ALSO reported two-thirds of participants obeyed the authority figure and continued.
· Our social perception is how we make sense of our social world.
· Attributions are the inferences we make about the causes of other people’s behavior.
· Heider (1958) made an important distinction between two types of attributions.
· Internal, or dispositional attributions occur when one thinks that someone’s behavior is caused by something within them, such as their personality, motive, or attitude.
· External, or situational attributions occur when one thinks that something outside the person, such as the nature of the situation, is the cause of his or her behavior.
· The tendency to make situational attributions for our own failures but dispositional attributions for our successes is known as a self-serving bias.
· The fundamental attribution error is the tendency to explain other people’s behavior in terms of dispositional attributions rather than situational ones.
· CONNECTION: Cultural differences in big-picture processing versus detailed processing are seen in performance on visual perception tasks, too. (See Chapter 4.)
· According to the research, most of us are pretty poor lie detectors (performing no better than chance).
· We are bad at detecting liars because we rely too much on misleading cues (e.g., what people are saying and over-interpreting ambiguous nonverbal cues. We should instead focus on inconsistent behaviors (e.g., shaking head while saying yes) and signs of emotion that don’t match what people are saying.
· The best lie detectors attend to nonverbal information more than verbal information. In fact, Secret Service agents and psychologists with a special interest in deception can pick liars at a rate significantly above chance (Ekman & O’Sullivan, 1991; Ekman, O’Sullivan & Frank, 1999).
· Schemas are like lenses through which one filters perceptions.
· We rely on schemas when forming impressions of other people. These are especially likely to color our interpretations when we encounter ambiguous information.
· Schemas of how people are likely to behave based simply on the groups to which they belong are known as stereotypes. With stereotypes, we have formed conclusions about people before we even interact with them based on the fact that they are of a certain ethnicity or live in a certain place. As such, we end up not judging people by their actions, but by our notions of how they are likely to act.
· CONNECTION: Another name for mental shortcuts used when making decisions is heuristics. Heuristics often lead to flawed thinking, as discussed in Chapter 9.
· We rely on stereotypes because they allow us to make easy and fast (and often inaccurate) judgments – especially when we don’t know someone well.
· The human mind has a tendency to categorize and understand all members of a group by typical characteristics of the category, so if we meet someone new and learn that they belong to a particular group (ethnic, social, or whatever), we use what we know about members of that group for how this new person might behave.
· Stereotypes are often linked to something factual, which does not represent the group as a whole.
· Stereotypes paint dividing lines between people. They support notions of belonging and exclusion that can support unfair actions.
Exclusion and Inclusion
· Judgments of “us” versus “them” stem from defending against other groups and competing with them for limited resources.
· Perceiving others as different from us has several consequences:
1. We may evaluate and treat people differently because of the group they belong to
2. These actions are based on in-group/out-group distinctions
3. It hurts to be excluded from our group
· When we show positive feelings toward people who belong to the same group as us, and negative feelings toward those in other groups, we are displaying in-group/out-group bias.
· The out-group homogeneity effect is our tendency to see all members of an out-group as the same.
· Nature-Nurture Pointer: Social rejection activates the same brain circuitry that is activated by physical pain.
· People often use stereotypes to unfairly categorize people, which can lead to prejudice and discrimination.
Prejudice and Discrimination
· A prejudice is a biased attitude toward a group of people or an individual member of a group.
o Prejudicial thinking often stems from stereotypes and a lack of information.
o Prejudices about race are called racism; those about sex are called sexism.
· Discrimination is preferential treatment of certain people that is usually driven by prejudicial attitudes.
o Discrimination can also result from institutionalized rules.
· Prejudicial attitudes are learned early in life and even if they are formally abandoned later in life, these reactions can become quite automatic (Banaji & Greenwald, 1995).
o Prejudiced attitudes operate outside conscious awareness and they sometimes stand in stark contrast to one’s conscious beliefs.
o There may also be evolutionary reasons underlying some of this automatic responding – the mechanism of recognizing group members that may have evolved to preserve group harmony, cohesion, and close alliances as means to enhance the survivability of individuals (Neuberg & Cottrell, 2006).
· See separate section for detailed explanation.
ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOR
· An attitude is a person’s favorable or unfavorable beliefs, feelings, or actions toward an object, idea, or person.
· Attitudes have affective, cognitive, and behavioral components. Attitudes differ by how heavily each component is weighted.
o The affective component includes the feelings or emotions associated with the belief.
o The cognitive component consists of the rational thoughts and beliefs that make up the attitude.
o The behavioral component includes the motive to act in a particular way toward the person or object of the attitude.
· Nature-Nurture Pointer: Evolutionary forces explain certain inborn attitudes, but many of our attitudes come from experience.
o Certain negative attitudes and emotional responses (e.g., fear of snakes or revulsion for bodily waste and decaying) may be so important for human survival that they are part of our genetic heritage.
o Many of our attitudes come from experience.
§ People around us teach us their attitudes through both direct and indirect instruction.
§ The direct experience with an object, idea, or person increases one’s overall preference for it – this is called mere exposure.
o Conditioning can also play a role in the formation of our attitudes. An attitude can become paired with a pleasant or unpleasant feeling in classical conditioning, leading to attitude change.
§ Mark Zanna and his colleagues (1970) paired nonsense syllables with emotionally positive or negative words. After viewing many such pairs shown rapidly in random order, participants reported liking better the nonsense syllables that had been paired with positive words than with negative words.
§ CONNECTION: Advertising makes use of classical conditioning to pair products with things we like. Refresh your memory of classical conditioning by looking at Chapter 8.
· Attitudes vary on both their strength and their accessibility. Strong attitudes are those that people firmly believe, and usually reflect beliefs we have had for a long time. It makes sense that the stronger the attitude is, the harder it is to change.
· Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort caused by information that is different from your conception of yourself as a reasonable and sensible person. When two cognitions or beliefs conflict, especially those that threaten our images of ourselves, it creates discomfort. Because we don't like feeling uncomfortable, we are motivated to try to reduce the discomfort. How?
1. We can change our behavior to make it consistent with dissonant cognition
2. We can attempt to justify our behavior by changing one of the cognitions to make it more consistent with our behavior
3. We can add new cognitions that are consistent with the behavior and thus support it
· People experiencing cognitive dissonance may go extreme lengths to reduce it and maintain our self-esteem. We often end up behaving very irrationally and rationalizing our behavior to reduce cognitive dissonance.
· Persuasion occurs when a person or group attempts to change our opinions, beliefs, or choices by explaining or arguing their position.
· How successful persuasive attempts will be depends on three things: who they are (source), the method they use to convey the message, and who we are (audience).
· The more prestigious and trustworthy the persuader, the more likely he or she is to succeed in persuading us. If the persuader is also attractive and familiar, so much the better.
· The use of fear can be very persuasive (e.g., dentists showing you pictures of what will happen to your gums if you don’t floss).
· Not all people are equally malleable in their opinions or behavior. The more people know about a topic and the firmer their prior opinions are, the less likely they are to change them.
The Nature and Nurture of Aggression
· Aggression refers to the violent behaviors that are intended to cause psychological or physical harm, or both, to another being.
· Aggression is often provoked by anger, but not always.
· Hostile aggression stems from feelings of anger.
· When aggression is a means to achieve some goal, it is called instrumental aggression.
· CONNECTION: How does hostility differ from anger? Hostility is an affective trait, an aspect of personality that sets the threshold for the occurrence of the emotion of anger (see Chapter 11).
o Nature-Nurture Pointer: Aggression results from the interaction between genetic and social forces.
§ Caspi and colleagues (2002) found that when genetic factors combine with an abusive and neglectful environment, the likelihood of violence increases dramatically.
· Several brain areas are involved in aggression, including the hypothalamus, the amygdala, and the frontal cortex (Pincus, 1999).
o The part of the frontal lobe cortex responsible for impulse control is often malfunctioning in aggressive and violent people.
o Being in a constant state of fear can lead to neural systems that are primed for unusually high levels of anxiety, impulsive behavior, and vigilance, or a constant state of alertness.
· Two hormones are most consistently related to high levels of aggression: testosterone and serotonin.
o The importance of testosterone in aggression may be related to one of the more consistent gender differences: boys are consistently more aggressive than girls at most ages.
o In adults, the great majority of people arrested for criminal offenses are men.
o Relatively high levels of testosterone, whether in men or women, positively correlate with a propensity toward violence.
o Low levels of serotonin were found in criminals who had committed violent acts but not in criminals who had committed nonviolent crimes.
o Experimental research with monkeys has confirmed the link between low serotonin levels and aggression.
Social Influences on Aggression
o Situations that frustrate us and prevent us from obtaining our goals are likely to make us aggressive. Moreover, the closer we are to our goal when we become frustrated, the more aggressive we are likely to be.
§ Harris (1974) had confederates cut in front of people in lines for movies or crowded restaurants, but sometimes they cut in front of the second person in line and at other times they cut in front of someone further back in line. The response of the person standing behind the intruder was much more aggressive when the confederate cut in front of the person second in line – closest to the goal.
o Situations that lead to anger stimulate aggression, especially hostile aggression (e.g., threats to personal safety and the safety of our families).
o Observing aggressive people and the consequences of their action can make us more aggressive.
§ CONNECTION: Social learning theory offers an explanation of the kind of learning that occurs when we model or imitate the behavior of others (see Chapter 8).
· The more violence people watch on TV when they are children, the more violent behavior they exhibit as adults (Huesmann, Moise-Titus, & Podolski, 2003).
· Experimental findings also suggest that watching TV violence leads to aggressive behavior in children.
Psychology in the Real World: Violent Media, Violent World
· Bushman and Anderson (2001) have argued that the level of violence on TV greatly exaggerates the level of violence in society. Media have ignored this or denied such a relationship.
· Bushman and Anderson (2001) used meta-analytic techniques to objectively assess the relationship between TV violence and aggression. They reported that numerous scientific studies find a much stronger relationship between TV violence and aggression than is portrayed by the media.
· Young children are most often exposed to violence in cartoons on TV, which appears to increase aggression in those who watch them (Kirsh, 2006). Older children play violent video games.
· Another way to look at this issue is to see if repeated exposure to violence desensitizes the viewer.
a study of desensitization to violence in kids who play violent video games,
the researchers randomly assigned over 250 male and female college students to
play either a violent or a nonviolent video game for 20 minutes (Carnagey,
o Some psychologists argue that desensitization to violence can increase aggression by reducing the perceived seriousness of a situation they encounter and reducing the likelihood of helping behavior in emergencies (Carnagey et al., 2007).
· Prosocial behavior refers to behavior that is beneficial to others.
The Bystander Effect
o The bystander effect states that the greater the number of bystanders who witness an emergency, the less likely any one of them is to help.
o Darley and Latané (1968) applied the scientific method to try to understand why no one came to help Kitty Genovese.
§ Research participants heard over an intercom a neighboring subject choking (or so they thought). The researchers led some of the participants to believe that they were the only ones hearing the choking subject, while others thought many people heard the choking incident. Of the participants who thought they alone heard the choking man, 85% tried to help. Of those who thought many people (including them) heard the choking, only 62% tried to offer help.
o Diffusion of responsibility occurs when there are many people around and the responsibility of any one person to act seems lessened.
o A number of factors influence whether or not someone will intervene in an emergency.
§ One is whether people actually notice the event.
§ When many people are present and doing nothing, people are less likely to interpret an event as an emergency.
§ The individual must decide that it is their responsibility to do something about the emergency.
o Altruism is selfless concern for and helping of others.
o Because altruists often expose themselves to greater danger than those who selfishly protect themselves, helping is a disadvantage to personal survival so it doesn’t make a lot of evolutionary sense.
o Two explanations for altruistic behavior:
§ Kin selection is the evolutionary favoring of genes that prompt individuals to help their relatives or kin.
· Burnstein and colleagues (1994) asked people to report on who they would be most likely to help in life-and-death situations and non-life-and-death situations. For life and death situations, people reported they would be more likely to help a relative. This did not hold for non-life-and-death situations.
§ Reciprocal altruism occurs when you help others in the hope that they will help you in the future. This clearly promotes cooperation.
o Social exchange theory argues that in our relations with others we try to maximize our gains and minimize our losses. We help others because such behavior can be rewarding, but we will help only if the rewards will outweigh the costs.
o According to this perspective, then, truly selfless altruism does not exist.
o Empathy is sharing, feeling, and understanding another person’s situation.
o Batson’s empathy-altruism hypothesis states that people will offer selfless help only when they truly empathize with the victim.
o Two different motivations:
§ Egoistic motivation is helping in order to relieve one’s own distress.
§ Empathic motivation may spring from an altruistic desire to reduce the distress of the person in need.
o Nature-Nurture Pointer: Watching someone you love experience pain activates components of physical pain circuitry in the brain.
Singer and colleagues examined brain activation
during one’s real pain experience and when witnessing the pain of a loved one
(Singer et al., 2004). They created an experiment to study one’s response to a
loved one’s pain in the confines of an
· The actual pain stimulus activated a well-known pain circuit in the brain.
· When her partner was experiencing pain, only those structures in the pain circuit that are the emotional aspect of the pain circuit showed activation.
Liking, Attraction, and Love
Familiarity, Similarity, and Attraction
o People with similar ideas, values, and interests are more likely to like one another and share satisfying, long-lasting relationships (Keller et al., 1996).
§ Randomly assigned roommates become real friends if they have common backgrounds, similar majors, and share similar political viewpoints (Newcomb, 1961).
§ People report they like and want to help out others who have similar personalities, attitudes, or beliefs (Wakimoto & Fujihara, 2004; Westmaas & Silver, 2006).
§ People tend to be attracted to and partner with people of a similar level of attractiveness to themselves – a phenomenon known as assortative mating (Buss, 2004).
o People rate average and symmetrical faces as more attractive than less average and symmetrical faces. Note: average means that the sense that the size, location, and shape of each feature of the face is mathematically average in the population.
o Averaged faces tend to be more symmetrical, and people seem to prefer symmetry when they provide ratings of attractiveness of faces. Symmetry is a rough indicator of genetic fitness.
Sexual Attraction and Mate Selection
o Sexual strategies theory suggests that men and women face different problems when they seek out mates, and so they often approach relationships in very different ways (Buss & Schmitt, 1993).
o In virtually all societies, men and women engage in both short-term matings (affairs, one-night stands) and long-term matings (marriages, extended companionships) under certain conditions. Both are effective ways to increase one’s reproductive fitness, but each strategy has strengths and weaknesses.
o CONNECTION: Men are more likely than women to be interested in casual sex. For the reasons why, see Chapter 11.
§ Sex differences in attraction arise because parental investment is greater for women than for men. As such, men devote a larger portion of their total mating effort to short-term mating than do women.
o Men value qualities that may signal fertility and accessibility (e.g., large breasts, wide hips compared to waist, youth), especially in short-term partners. This is less true in evaluating long-term partners.
o Women value men who can provide resources to support their offspring. Mate selection factors might drive sexual partnerships, but it is love that keeps us together.
o Types of Love
§ Sternberg’s (1986) triangular theory of love proposes that three components, in various combinations, explain all the forms of human love.
· Intimacy refers to close, connected, and bonded feelings in loving relationships.
· Passion refers to the drives that lead to romance, physical attraction, sexual consummation, and is accompanied by physiological changes and arousal.
· Commitment refers to both the decision to love someone or not as well as to the decision to commit to it long-term.
§ These three components exist in different amounts for different kinds of love.
· Companionate love exists when intimacy and commitment are high and passion is low.
· Passionate love exists when intimacy and passion are high and commitment is low.
· Lust exists when there is a lot of passion but no intimacy or commitment.
§ Love as Attachment
· CONNECTION: John Bowlby (1969) used an evolutionary framework to describe how infants become emotionally attached to their caregivers and emotionally distressed when separated from them (see Chapter 5).
· Hazan and Shaver (1987) argued that the infant-caregiver attachment system underlies many of the important dynamics and individual differences observed in adult romantic relationships. The attachment system is first established when we are infants, in which our relationships with our main caregiver forms a template how we attach with others as adults, including our intimate partners. They found that:
o Securely attached adults report that they easily get close to others, readily trust others, and have more satisfying romantic relationships.
o Anxious/ambivalent adults tend to have less satisfying relationships, are more preoccupied with them, and fear that their partners do not want to be as intimate as they desire to be.
o Avoidant adults are uncomfortable being close with others, and have less satisfying relationships (Hazan & Shaver, 1987).
Making Connections in Social Psychology: Analysis of the Jonestown Cult
· See separate section for detailed explanation.
aggression: refers to the violent behaviors that are intended to cause psychological or physical harm, or both, to another being.
attitude: an individual’s favorable or unfavorable beliefs, feelings, or actions toward an object, idea, or person.
attributions: the inferences we make about the causes of other people’s behavior.
bystander effect: the greater the number of bystanders who witness an emergency, the less likely any one of them is to help.
cognitive dissonance: the feeling of discomfort caused by information that is different from your conception of yourself as a reasonable and sensible person.
conformity: occurs when people adjust their behavior to what others are doing or adhere to the norms of their culture.
cult: an extremist group led by a charismatic, totalitarian leader in which coercive methods are used to prevent members from leaving the group.
discrimination: preferential treatment of certain people that is usually driven by prejudicial attitudes.
empathy: sharing feeling and understanding about another person’s situation.
fundamental attribution error: occurs when people tend to explain others’ behavior in terms of dispositional attributions rather than situational ones.
informational social influence: occurs when people conform to the behavior of others because they view them as a source of knowledge about what they are supposed to do.
in-group/out-group bias: when we show positive feelings toward people who belong to the same group as us and negative feelings toward those in other groups.
kin selection: the evolutionary favoring of genes that prompt individuals to help their relatives or kin.
normative social influence: occurs when people go along with the behavior of others in order to be accepted by them.
obedience: occurs when one or more people follow the direct commands of another person.
out-group homogeneity: the tendency to see all members of an out-group as the same.
persuasion: when a person or group attempts to change our opinions, beliefs, or choices by explaining or arguing their position.
prejudice: a biased attitude toward a group of people or an individual member of a group based on unfair generalizations about what members of that group are like.
prosocial behavior: behavior that is beneficial to others.
reciprocal altruism: when you help others in the hope that they will help you in the future.
self-serving bias: the tendency to make situational attributions for our failures but dispositional attributions for our successes.
sexual strategies theory: suggests that men and women face different problems when they seek out mates, and so they often approach relationships in very different ways.
social psychology: the study of the effects of the real or imagined presence of others on people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions.
social facilitation: occurs when the presence of others improves our performance.
social loafing: occurs when the presence of others causes one to relax one’s standards and slack off.
social norms: the cultural context in which we live imposes rules about acceptable behavior.
social impact theory: says that our likelihood of following either informational or normative social influence depends on three different aspects of the group: (1) how important the group is to you, (2) how close the group is to you in space and time, and (3) how many people are in the group.
stereotypes: schemas about people based on what they are likely to do or be like based simply on groups to which they belong.
triangular theory of love: three components (intimacy, passion, and commitment), in various combinations, can explain all the forms of human love.
MAKING THE CONNECTIONS
GROUP INFLUENCE AND SOCIAL LIVING
CONNECTION: Performance is weakest at low arousal, best at moderate levels of arousal, and drops off again at high arousal. This is the Yerkes-Dodson law, explained in Chapter 11.
· Discussion: Ask students to relate this to test performance. If they are bored with a task, they tend to lose focus and make silly mistakes. If they are too nervous/aroused when taking the test, they will experience test anxiety. They perform best when there is enough arousal to keep them focused but they are not too aroused to perform.
CONNECTION: Individualism means that behavior is more determined by personal goals, whereas collectivism means that behavior is more determined by shared goals. These characteristics vary between cultures and people, as discussed in Chapter 13.
Discussion: Ask students what they recall from the
2008 Summer Olympics held in
CONNECTION: What are the obligations of researchers to ensure the ethical treatment of participants in research? (See Chapter 2.)
Discussion: Remind students about
CONNECTION: Cultural differences in big-picture processing versus detailed processing are seen in performance on visual perception tasks, too. (See Chapter 4.)
· Discussion: One reason we may make the fundamental attribution error is due to where our visual attention is drawn. When we are acting in a situation, we are visually focused on our current situational demands. Subsequently, when asked why we did what we did, we make situational attributions. When we are watching others, however, we are focused on them and not their situations. For this reason we make dispositional attributions when we describe others. Ask students to consider how this is different in collectivist cultures.
CONNECTION: Another name for mental shortcuts used when making decisions is heuristics. Heuristics often lead to flawed thinking, as discussed in Chapter 9.
· Discussion: If heuristics are types of schemas and they are error-prone, remind students that algorithms always result in the right answer. Ask students what the relative “algorithm” would be for stereotyping.
ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOR
CONNECTION: Advertising makes use of classical conditioning to pair products with things we like. Refresh your memory of classical conditioning by looking at Chapter 8.
· Discussion: Ask students which advertisements most clearly make use of classical conditioning to generate attitudes toward their products (examples can be beer commercials, car commercials, soap products, etc.).
CONNECTION: How does hostility differ from anger? Hostility is an affective trait, an aspect of personality that sets the threshold for the occurrence of the emotion of anger (see Chapter 11).
· Discussion: Just because you feel anger does not mean that you will act on it (i.e., be aggressive). Ask students how they manage anger and avoid aggression.
CONNECTION: Social learning theory offers an explanation of the kind of learning that occurs when we model or imitate the behavior of others (see Chapter 8).
· Discussion: Remind students of Bandura’s Bobo Doll study. Ask students to relate that to video game violence.
CONNECTION: Men are more likely than women to be interested in casual sex. For the reasons why see Chapter 11.
· Discussion: Ask students how many children a woman typically can have in a year (one) versus how many a man can have (sky’s the limit). Explain how this difference in reproductive potential influences the type of sexual strategy each gender utilizes most often.
MAKING CONNECTIONS IN SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: An Analysis of Jonestown
The tragic mass suicide of hundreds of members
of the People’s
· A cult is an extremist group led by a charismatic, totalitarian leader in which coercive methods are used to prevent members from leaving the group.
Jim Jones founded the People’s
His group helped feed and employ the poor.
· Throughout the 1960s, the group grew in size and popularity. But as its popularity grew, rumors surfaced about coercive methods Jones used to keep people in the cult.
In the mid-1970s Jones and a large percentage of
the cult’s members moved to a jungle outpost in
In 1978, U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan heard reports
that the People’s
Two families secretly informed Ryan that they
wanted out. As Ryan’s party and these two “defector” families tried to board
· Jones was a charismatic figure. He sought out people who needed to hear his message: the urban poor, the elderly, ex-addicts and convicts, and minorities.
· Potential members first encountered an almost idyllic scene in which blacks and whites lived, worked, and worshiped together in total harmony. Guests were greeted warmly and invited to share a meal.
· Jones also gave them miracles. He cured diseases; sometimes he made predictions that came true with uncanny frequency.
Members were motivated to believe in Jones; they
appreciated the racial harmony, sense of purpose, and relief from feelings of
worthlessness that the People’s
Jones carefully managed his public image. He
used letter writing and the political clout of hundreds of cult members to
praise and impress the politicians and reporters who supported the People’s
The Role of Conformity and Obedience
Getting into the group was not easy. People
underwent a severe initiation process that actually drew members more firmly
into the group. As they became increasingly involved in the People’s
· Before they entered the meeting room for each service, they wrote self-incriminating letters that were turned over to the church. If anyone objected, the refusal was interpreted as “lack of faith” in Jones.
· As he gradually increased his demands, Jones also exposed cult members to the concept of a “final ritual,” mass suicide. Rehearsals of this ritual served to test followers and their faith in Jones.
o Jones was making use of the foot-in-the-door technique by getting people to agree to a moderate request (i.e., rehearsal). Once cult members had agreed to engage in frequent rehearsals of mass suicide, it became less difficult for them to go through with the real thing.
· The suicides at Jonestown can be viewed as the product of obedience. Whatever Jim Jones commanded, the members did.
· Jones used threats to induce the discipline and devotion he demanded, and he took steps to eliminate any behavior that might encourage resistance among his followers.
· Jones worked to dissolve marital bonds by forcing couples into extramarital relations, thereby working against kin selection.
· Cognitive dissonance helps explain why cult members believed Jones to the end and why so few defected.
· People did not become cult members all at once. Rather, the process of justifying their choice and becoming committed to Jones unfolded slowly over the course of weeks and months, sometimes years.
These acts were the product of a situation that
made dissent impossible and faith in Jones and the
Nature-Nurture Pointer: Social rejection activates the same brain circuitry that is activated by physical pain.
· Suggested Article: A Psychology Today article on social rejection and physical pain -
Attitudes and Behavior
Nature-Nurture Pointer: Evolutionary forces explain certain inborn attitudes, but many of our attitudes come from experience.
· Discussion: Ask students what attitudes they may have that they learned from others and which are evolutionarily predisposed.
Nature-Nurture Pointer: Aggression results from the interaction between genetic and social forces.
· Discussion: Ask students what environmental factors have led them to aggressive actions.
Nature-Nurture Pointer: Watching someone you love experience pain activates components of physical pain circuitry in the brain.
· Discussion: Ask students what they would find more painful: having each one of their toes broken or watching the person they love most in the world having his/her toes broken.
Innovations in Measuring Implicit Bias
Additional Discussion Topics
3. Have students discuss different societal norms in our culture. Examples include elevator behavior, personal space, dating scripts, etc.
4. Ask students for examples of when they might have been the victims of prejudice or discrimination. A common example that students may have experienced is poor service at a restaurant because the wait staff did not think they would be good tippers, or trying to rent an apartment with a management company that does not allow cosigners.
5. Ask students how many of them have taken CPR classes. Ask them about the first thing they are taught to say to the “victim” (i.e., the dummy). Usually it’s “Are you alright? Are you OK? YOU call 911” (said while pointing to one person). Why do we specify that one person is responsible for calling 911? Because if you don’t, then people tend to look around for who is supposed to act, leading no one to act. This uncertainty is the result of diffusion of responsibility.
6. Ask students when the last time they helped someone was. Today? Yesterday? A week ago? Who did they help? Why? What did they do? You can also ask when the last time they received help was.
7. Ask students if they think altruism really exists. Ask for examples.
8. Ask students whether they think “opposites attract” or “birds of a feather flock together.” Ask why and then explain that usually it is the latter.
1. Have students violate a standard cultural norm – for example, invading someone’s personal space, standing backwards in a crowded elevator, etc. Ask them to describe the reaction they received from others and how they felt in the process.
2. Have students discuss what a typical member of each of the following categories is like: men, women, teenagers, Republicans, Democrats, and any other category you feel is relevant. Explain to them that all their answers represent stereotypes which can potentially lead to prejudice and discrimination.
3. Have students complete an IAT study by going to . Ask them if they felt the results were accurate.
4. Come into the classroom to prepare for the day’s lecture. Then tell the students you forgot something and will be back in a few minutes, leaving your purse or briefcase on the desk or lectern. Have an accomplice then come in and take what you left. Return to the room and see how long it takes students to report the theft.
5. Begin your lecture for the day. About 10 minutes into the lecture, arrange for an accomplice to make noises outside the classroom as if they fell off their skateboard/ tripped, etc., and hurt themselves. Continue lecturing as if nothing happened and see how long it takes for students to respond.
2. Milgram’s obedience study and Ghostbusters introduction:
3. Asch’s line study explained (this is not very “scientific” but it is cute and informative):
4. Abu Ghraib coverage:
5. The Simpsons – Moe takes a lie detector test:
6. Mean Girls (2004) is a good example of social rejection.
7. Disclosure (1994) is a good example of sexual harassment, but there are scenes with graphic sexuality and cursing. There are some great legal scenes that discuss what sexual harassment is, though.
8. The Great Debaters (2007)
9. A Class Divided (a PBS special on Jane Elliot’s blue-eye/brown-eye research):
10. Wesley Autry on Late Night with David Letterman:
11. CBS news coverage on Wesley Autry:
12. Darley and Latané’s smoke-filled room study reenacted:
13. Jonestown – The
Life and Death of People’s
14. Paul Ekman – Why We Lie:
1. Sigmund Freud and the Freud archives:
2. How to Detect Lies:
4. Jane Elliot’s homepage:
5. Wesley Autrey’s story:
6. Bibb Latané’s homepage:
7. John Darley’s homepage:
– Jim Jones and the People’s
The Killing of Kitty Genovese:
Darley, J. M., Lewis, L., & Teger, A. (1973). Do groups always inhibit individuals’ responses to
potential emergencies? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 26, 395-400.
Ekman, P. & Davidson, R. J. (1993). Voluntary smiling changes regional brain activity.
Psychological Science, 4, 342-345.
Ekman, P., Friesen, W. V., & O’Sullivan, M. (1997). Smiles when lying. Ekman, P. &
Rosenberg, E. L. (Eds.) What the Face Reveals: Basic and Applied Studies of Spontaneous Expression
Using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) (201-216).
Social Science, 71(2-3), 165-Latané, B. (1986).
Latané, B. (1981). The psychology of social impact. American Psychologist, 36, 343-356.
Latané, B. & Darley, J. (1969). Bystander “apathy.” American Scientist, 57, 244-268.
Latané, B. & Darley, J. M. (1970). The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn’t He Help? New
Preview Levine, J.M. & Moreland, R.L.
(Eds.). Small Groups (297-308).
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 27(2), 154-164.
Zajonc, R.B., Heingartner, A., & Herman, E. M. (1969). Social enhancement and impairment of
Zajonc, R. B. & Sales, S. M. (1966).
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2(2), 160-168.