Chapter Outline

  1. Forming impressions of others (i.e., person perception: the process of forming impressions of others
    1. Key sources of information
      1. Appearance
      2. Verbal statements
      3. Actions
      4. Nonverbal messages
      5. Situations
    2. Snap judgments versus systematic judgments
      1. Snap judgments may not be accurate
      2. Systematic judgments are made in forming impressions of people who can affect our welfare, happiness
    3. Attributions: inferences that people draw about the causes of their own behavior, others' behavior, and events
      1. Three key dimensions of attributions (see Chapter 5 for detailed discussion)
        1. Internal/external
        2. Stable/unstable
        3. Controllability/uncontrollability
      2. Types of attributions people make about others can have major impact on social interactions
      3. People are selective about making attributions; most likely to make them in specific cases
        1. When unusual events occur
        2. Events have personal consequences
        3. Motives underlying someone's behavior are suspicious
    4. Perceiver expectations
      1. Confirmation bias: tendency to behave toward others in ways that confirm your hypotheses about them
        1. Memory processes can contribute to confirmatory biases
        2. Need for accuracy may reduce tendency
      2. Self-fulfilling prophecy: process whereby expectations about a person cause the person to behave in ways that confirm the expectations
        1. Term coined by sociologist Robert Merton in 1948
        2. Three steps involved in a self-fulfilling prophecy
          1. Perceiver has initial impression of someone (target person)
          2. Perceiver behaves toward target person in a way that is consistent with expectations
          3. Target person adjusts behavior to perceiver's actions
        3. Perceiver mistakenly attributes target person's behavior to internal causes
        4. Limits on self-fulfilling prophecy
          1. Target person can work to change perceiver's beliefs
          2. Target persons who are confident of own views are less likely to be influenced by perceiver's beliefs
    5. Cognitive distortions
      1. Categorizing
        1. People tend to perceive those similar to themselves as members of in-group ("us") and those dissimilar as members of out-group ("them")
        2. Categorizing has three important consequences
          1. Attitudes tend to be more favorable toward in-group members
          2. People tend to see out-group members as being more similar to each other than they really are
          3. Heightens visibility of out-group members when only a few of them are in a large group
            1. Out-group members viewed as more distinctive, seen as having more influence
            2. Distinctiveness makes it more likely that stereotypes will be invoked
      2. Stereotypes: widely held beliefs that people have certain characteristics because of their membership in a particular group
        1. Most prevalent kinds involve gender, age, and ethnicity
        2. Also based on physical appearance (e.g., what-is-beautiful-is-good stereotype)
        3. The persistence of stereotypes
          1. They are functional in the sense that they reduce complex information
          2. Selectivity in social perception, confirmatory biases play a role
          3. Self-fulfilling prophecy is a factor
      3. Fundamental attribution error: the tendency to explain other people's behavior as the result of personal, rather than situational, factors
        1. Different from stereotyping because it's based on actual behavior
        2. Cultural values seem to promote different attributional errors
      4. Defensive attribution: the tendency to blame victims for their misfortune, so that one feels less likely to be victimized in a similar way
        1. Helps people maintain their belief in a "just world"
        2. Allows people to unfairly attribute undesirable traits to victims (e.g., incompetence, foolishness)
    6. Key themes in person perception
      1. Efficiency
        1. People tend to make judgments quickly
        2. Errors occur with quick judgments
      2. Selectivity
        1. Expectations influence perceptions of others
        2. Ambiguous behavior in someone increases influence of our expectations
      3. Consistency
        1. Primacy effect occurs when initial information carries more weight than subsequent information
        2. Reasons for potency of first impressions
          1. People tend to see what they expect to see
          2. Confirmatory biases may lead people to discount later information
  2. The problem of prejudice
    1. Prejudice versus discrimination
      1. Prejudice: a negative attitude toward members of a group
      2. Discrimination: behaving differently, usually unfairly, toward the members of a group
      3. Tend to go together, but there is no necessary correspondence
    2. Blatant or "old-fashioned" discrimination has declined in past 40 years, but modern discrimination has emerged
      1. People privately harbor negative attitudes toward minority groups (including women), but express them only when they feel that such views are justified or that it's safe to do so
      2. Similar distinctions found in European countries as well
    3. Causes of prejudice
      1. Cognitive distortions
        1. Fundamental attribution error
        2. Defensive attributions
      2. The authoritarian personality
        1. Early research by Robert Adorno and colleagues identified personality type
        2. Characterized by prejudice toward any group perceived to be different from oneself
      3. Competition between groups
        1. Based on early research by Muzafer Sherif and colleagues
        2. Lack of jobs, other resources fosters competition between social groups and breeds fear of losing status
      4. Threats to social identity
        1. Threats to social identity are likely to provoke prejudice, discrimination
        2. Most common response is to show in-group favoritism
    4. Reducing prejudice
      1. Cognitive strategies
        1. Stereotypes may kick in automatically, unintentionally
        2. But can intentionally inhibit stereotyping, prejudice with cognitive effort
      2. Inter-group contact
        1. Based on principle of superordinate goals (or cooperative interdependence): requiring two groups to work together to achieve a mutual goal
        2. Four necessary conditions for reducing inter-group hostility
          1. Groups must work together for common goal
          2. Must be successful outcomes to cooperative efforts
          3. Group members must have opportunity to establish meaningful connections
          4. Must ensure equal status contact
  3. The power of persuasion
    1. Persuasion defined
      1. Persuasion: the communication of arguments and information intended to change another person's attitudes
      2. Attitudes: beliefs and feelings about people, objects, and ideas
        1. Beliefs are thoughts and judgments
        2. The "feeling" component refers to positive/negative aspect of attitude, as well as strength of feeling
    2. The elements of the persuasion process
      1. Source: person who sends a communication
        1. Credibility of source is important factor
          1. Expertise can give a person credibility
          2. Trustworthiness of source is even more important than expertise
        2. Likability also increases effectiveness of source
          1. Physical attractiveness can affect likability
          2. Similarity of source to target also an important factor
      2. Message: the information transmitted by the source
        1. Two-sided arguments generally more effective than one-sided arguments
          1. One-sided arguments work only when audience is uneducated about issue
          2. One-sided arguments also work when audience is favorably disposed to message
        2. Arousal of fear may increase effectiveness of message
        3. Generating positive feelings can be effective
      3. Receiver: person to whom the message is sent
        1. Forewarning may reduce effectiveness
        2. People display disconfirmation bias when evaluating arguments incompatible with their existing beliefs
        3. Discrepancy between receiver's initial position on issue and position advocated by source is factor
          1. Persuasion tends to work best when discrepancy is moderate
          2. Messages that fall outside receiver's latitude of acceptance tend to be ineffective
          3. Within latitude of acceptance, larger discrepancy should produce greater attitude change
      4. Channel: the medium through which the message is sent
    3. The whys of persuasion
      1. According to elaboration likelihood model, an individual's thoughts about a persuasive message (rather than the message itself) determine whether attitude change will occur
      2. When people are distracted, tired, etc., they may be persuaded by cues along the peripheral route, the usual route of persuasion
      3. With the central route, the receiver cognitively elaborates on the message
      4. Two requirements for central route to override peripheral route
        1. Receivers must be motivated to process message
        2. Receivers must be able to understand message
      5. Attitudes formed via central route are longer lasting
  4. Conformity and compliance pressures
    1. Conformity (when people yield to real or imagined social pressure) and compliance pressures
      1. The dynamics of conformity, illustrated by classic experiment in which Solomon Asch examined effect of group pressure on conformity in unambiguous situations
        1. Participants varied considerably in tendency to conform, although 28% conformed on more than half the trials
        2. Two important factors were group size and unanimity
          1. Conformity increase as group size increased from two to four, peaked at seven, then leveled off
          2. Group size had little effect in presence of another dissenter, underscoring importance of unanimity
      2. Conformity versus compliance
        1. Later studies indicated that Asch's participants were not really changing their beliefs
        2. Theorists concluded that Asch's experiments evoked a type of conformity, called compliance (when people yield to social pressure in their public behavior, even though their private beliefs have not changed)
      3. Resisting conformity pressures
        1. Individuals who feel insecure about status in a social group are more likely to comply when peers put down members of out-groups
        2. Good idea to be mindful of social pressures in one's life
    2. Pressure from authority figures
      1. The dynamics of obedience Stanley Milgram demonstrated the power of obedience (a form of compliance that occurs when people follow direct commands, usually from someone in a position of authority)
        1. A "teacher" (participant) was instructed to administer electric shocks to "learner" (confederate)
        2. Although apparatus was fake, participant thought he was administering increasing strong shocks
        3. Twenty-six of 40 participants (65%) administered all 30 levels of shock
        4. Factors producing obedient behavior
          1. Demands on participants were escalated gradually
          2. Authority figure claimed responsibility
          3. Subjects experienced shift in perspective, evaluating their actions on how well they were living up to expectations of authority figure
        5. Study has been consistently replicated
        6. Ethics of procedure are questionable; study would be difficult to replicate today
      2. To obey or not to obey
        1. Whistle-blowing refers to variety of actions taken by employees to protest or change ethically questionable organizational practices
        2. Because risks of whistle-blowing are high, few people are willing to do it
        3. Factors prompting people to act
          1. Individuals must be aware of problem
          2. People must perceive problem as serious and believe they are capable of taking effective action
          3. Social support is important
          4. People must take responsibility for acting and follow through
            1. Individuals who are aware of problem may tell themselves that someone else will do something about it
    3. Fatal social influence
      1. Contemporary examples
        1. Jonestown massacre in Guyana, South America in 1978
          1. Although a small minority of Jim Jones's followers refused to cooperate, most took their own lives as part of mass suicide
          2. Total of 913 Americans died, including more than 200 children
        2. Fire at Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas in 1993
          1. Armed standoff lasted 51 days
          2. Fire killed over 80 adults and children
        3. Mass suicide of Heaven's Gate cult in 1997
      2. Persuasion and social influence at work
        1. Explanations of Jonestown massacre focus on Jones's powers of persuasion and social influence
          1. Members were vulnerable to Jones's message (receiver factors)
          2. Jones was perceived as an expert who was credible and trustworthy (source factors)
          3. Jones had control over information presented to followers (message factors)
        2. Similarities in other cases of fatal social influence
    4. Culture and social influence
      1. People in Asian countries tend to view conformity and obedience more positively than Americans
      2. People in countries where conformity is valued also show higher levels of conformity behavior
      3. Findings are consistent with collectivist versus individualist orientation
  5. Application: Seeing through social influence tactics
    1. The foot-in-the-door technique
      1. The foot-in-the-door technique: getting people to agree to a small request to increase the chances that they will agree to a larger request later
      2. Research supports the effectiveness of this strategy
    2. The door-in-the-face technique
      1. The door-in-the-face technique involves making a very large request that is likely to be turned down to increase the chances that people will agree to a smaller request later
      2. Technique works for two reasons
        1. People are swayed by contrast effects
        2. Targets feel obliged to reciprocate "concession"
    3. Using the reciprocity norm
      1. Reciprocity norm: the rule that one should pay back in kind what one receives from others
      2. Norm is so powerful, it works even when:
        1. Gift is uninvited
        2. Gift comes from someone you dislike
        3. Gift results in an uneven exchange
    4. The lowball technique
      1. Lowball technique: involves getting someone to commit to an attractive proposition before its hidden costs are revealed
      2. Derived from common practice in automobile sales
    5. The scarcity principle
      1. Reactance occurs when a person's freedom to behave in a certain way is impeded, thus leading to efforts to restore the threatened freedom
      2. Effect explains why companies often try to create the impression that their products are in scarce supply