Social Psychology

Social Psychology

  • - Broad field whose goals are to understand and explained how our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and behaviors are influenced by the presence of or interactions with others.
  • Cognitive social psychology
    • Subarea of social psychology that focuses on how cognitive processes, such as perceiving , retrieving, and interpreting information about social interactions and events, affect emotions and behaviors and how emotions and behaviors affect cognitions.


  • Definition:
    • Widely held belief that people have certain traits because they belong to a particular group, usually very inaccurate and frequently portrays the members as of a less powerful.
  • 2 Types:
  • Prejudice: refers to an unfair, biased, or intolerant attitude toward another group of people.
  • Discrimination: refers to specific unfair behaviors exhibited toward members of a group.

Why we use them

  • Thought saving
    • Helps us to make a quick (and sometimes inaccurate) decision of a person or social group.
    • Alertness and survival (makes us aware of individuals of unfamiliar groups).
      • How many of you stand with your back to the wall when people you are leery of come into a room?

Behavior in groups

  • Conformity:
    • Any behavior you preform because of group pressure even though that pressure might not involve direct requests.

Bystander effect

  • Definition:
    • The greater the number of people present, the less likely people are to help a person in distress.

Physical appearance

  • Attractive people?
    • People are judged first by appearance
  • What do we find attractive?
    • Men and women with symmetrical features
    • Women with curvy or “ hour glass” shape
    • Men with more masculine faces, broader shoulders and smaller waist.


  • Definition:
    • Things we point to as the cause of events, other people’s behaviors, and our own behaviors.
  • 2 types:
    • Internal attribution (explanations of behavior based on the internal characteristics or dispositions of the person performing the behavior. AKA Dispositional attributions
    • External attribution (explanations of behavior based on the external circumstances or situations). AKA Situational attributions

Biases and error

  • Actor-Observer effect (tendency when you are behaving (or acting) to attribute your own behavior to situational factors, however you are observing others and their behaviors).
  • Self- Serving Bias
    • Explaining our successes by attributing them to our dispositions or personality traits and explaining our failures by attributing them to the situations.


  • Definition:
    • Belief or opinion that includes an evaluation of some object, a person, or even among a continuum from negative to positive and that predisposes us to act in a certain way toward that object, person, or event.


  • Cognitive (includes both thoughts and beliefs that are involved in evaluating some object, person, or idea).
  • Affective (involves emotional feelings that can be weak or strong, positive or negative).
  • Behavior ( performing or not performing some behavior)


  • Central Type:
    • Presents information with strong arguments, analyses, facts, and logic
  • Peripheral Type:
    • Emphasizes emotional appeal, focuses on personal traits, and generates positive feelings.


  • Definition:
    • Preforming some behavior in response to an order given by someone in a position of power or authority
      • Ex: Running a red light?
      • Milgram’s experiment


Missing material:

Personal perception : refers to seeing someone and then forming impressions and making judgements about that person’s likability ad the kind of person he or she is, such as guessing his or her intentions, traits, and behaviors.

Empathy, personal distress, and moral values are the 3 reasons why we help people.