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Flashcards in Social Psychology Deck (96)
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Impresssion Formation

Impressions of other ppl are influenced by a # of factors.

Ex: we're often swayed most by info. received early in an interaction (the primacy effect), & we frequently exhibit a trait negativity bias which is the tendency to weigh negative information more heavily than positive information (Rozin & Royzman. 2001).

Other factors that influence the impressions we form of others include the following:

  • Schemata (or Schemas)
  • Prototypes
  • Scripts




Cognitive structures that organize past info. & experiences & provides a framework (organized, interconnected mental networks of information) that help process, organize & understand new social information & experiences.

Research shows people:

  1. Pay more attention to evidence the confirm schematas
  2. Interpret new information in way consistent with schematas
  3. Have better recall of schemata consistent information.



Type of Schemata that is more abstract and consist of knowledge about the most respresentative or ideal example of a particular category of people, objects or events.



Provide knowledge about the appropriate sequence of behaviors in specific social situations.

(Ex: your script for “mental health clinic" informs you about how you should behave in that setting and how you can expect others to behave.)


Central Traits

Are charateristics that have a greater impact than others on impression formation.

Asch (1946) found that certain traits influence impressions more as they carry more weight than other traits because they provide unique info. about a person. 

Ex: Descriptor of "warm" & "cold" are central traits that provide unique info. & assoc. w/a large number of other charatieristics therefore carry more weight than other attributes.


Psudopatients Study



Rosenhan‘s (1973) pseudopatient study demonstrated the effects of the social context & labeling on impression formation.

The results have been interpreted as showing that the behavior of others tends to be percieved in a manner consistent with the social env. in which they occur. 

Ex: Once admitted to a mental hospital, the pseudopatients (confederates) were viewed, especially by hospital staff, as being schizophrenic even though they did not exhibit any abnormal behaviors/symptoms & acted normally when when interacting w/staff & other patients. As a result of staff beliefs they diagnosed all but 1 as having schizophrenia.



Refers to the process of determining or inferring why a behavior has occured. 


3 Types of Attributions

  1. Dispositional Vs. Situational - Behavior may be attributed the dispostional (internal) attributes (Mood, ability & desire) or to the situational (external) factors (Charaterisitics of a task, social situation, & physical environment).
  2. Stable Vs. Unstable - Behavior assumed to be the result of stable, enduring factors (intelligence/personality) or unstable, temporary factors (fatigue or other transient states).
  3. Specific Vs. Global - Behaviors viewed as specific (restricted to a limited number of events/circumstances) or Global (occur in many different situations).


Gender & Attributions

Deaux & Emswiller (1974) research found that:

  • Men:
    • Success = High level of ability;
    • Failure = Lack of effort/unfair Tx

(tend to attribute thier own success to high levels of ability & failiure to a lack of effort or unfair treatment.)

  • Women:
    • Succes = High Effort/outside help;
    • Failure = Lack of Ability

(attribute their own success to high effort or outside help & failure to lack of ability; Felder et al, 95).


Fundamental Attribution Bias

The tendency for an observer to overestimate dispositional (internal attributes) causes & underestimate situational (external) causes when making attributions about an persons (actor's) behavior.


Actor-Observer Effect

In causal attribution, the tendency for an observer to
overestimate the effects of dispositional (internal) factors when making attributions about a person's behavior but to overestimate the effects of situational (external) factors when making self-attributions.

Attribute own behavior to situational factors.


Self-Serving Bias

The self-serving bias refers to the tendency to attribute our own successes to dispositional (internal) factors & failures to situational (external) factors & is influenced by the consequences of our behavior.

Situational = negative consequences; blame external factors for failures

Dispositional = positive consequences; take credit for successes

Exception: People who are depressed often exhibit learned helplessness & attribute thier failures to internal, stable & global factors.



Heuristics are mental shortcuts that people use when making attributions and other social judgments and include the:

  1. Representativeness,
  2. Availability,
  3. Simulation, 
  4. Anchoring & Adjustment heuristics.

Although heuristics allow us to reach conclusions quickly, they may result in errors.



Representativeness Heuristic

Involves basing your judgement about the likelihood that a person, object or event  belong to a particular category on how representative (similar) the person, object or event is to that category while ignoring probability (base rate) data.


Avalibility Heuristic

Involves judging the likelihood/frequency of an event based on how easy it is to retrieve info. about the event from long-term memory.

You will predict that an event is more likely to occur if you're able to recall many examples of its occurence than only one example. 


Simulation Heuristic

Involves using mental simulations of an event to determine the likelihood that the event will happen - i.e., if you can easily imagine the event will happen, you're more likely to predict it will happen.

Ex: Olympic athletes that won silver medals appeared to be less happy about thier win than those w/bronse medals, bc it was easier for silver medalists to imagine winning gold.


Anchoring & Adjustment Heuristic

Involves using an inital value (anchor) as the basis for making a judgement or estimate. 


Base Rate Fallacy

The tendency to underutilize or ignore relevant statistical data (base rate) & to rely, instead, on irrelevant (case-specific) info. when est. the likelihood (making probabilistic judgments) about an event or characteristic.

Ex: In a study participants were given data about the distribution of GPS in the population & then asked to est. the GPA of hypothetical students. Instead of relying on stats info the participants were more likely to use irrelevant descriptive info about each hypothetical student to est. the GPA.


Confirmation Bias

The tendency to seek or pay attention to info. that confirms one’s current belief's (hypothesis) & to ignore or invalidate information that does not.


Illusory Correlation

The belief that 2 characteristics, events, or other varaibles are related when they actually are not.

Related to outcomes as it causes us to recall and pay more attention to information that confirms our beliefs.


False Consensus Effect

Occurs when we overestimate the degree to which the beliefs, opinions, and behaviors of others are similar to our own. 


Gambler's Fallacy

The tendency to believe that the likelihood of a particular chance event is affected by the occurence of previous events when there is actually no relationship between the events. 

Ex: A gambler is convinced a string of losses must be followed by a win.



An innate motive that contributes to the initiation & maintenance of interpersonal relationships. Research confirmed that it is affected by several factors including:

  • Anxiety - "misery loves company" (Schachter)
  • Arousability - The degree to which a person's CNS is physiologically aroused by external stimuli (including the presence of others) affects his/her desire to affiliate.
  • Gender - Women spend more time conversating, talking to same sex, and affiliate in public places more than men.


Misery Loves Miserable Company

Schachter (1959) research on affiliation demonstrated that, in anxiety-arousing situations, social comparison is a more potent determinant of affiliation than relief from discomfort.

He concluded that people like to affiliate most w/other ppl who are in similar circumstances (e.g., anxious people prefer to affiliate with other anxious people; miserable ppl prefer to affiliate w/other miserable ppl).


Gender Differences in Affiliation

The research has shown that women generally spend more time than men engaged in:

  • Conversation,
  • Friendships often depend more on communication,
  • Are more likely to talk to ppl of the same gender, 
  • May affiliate more than men do in public places.



Attraction (liking) is a special type of affiliation and, like affiliation, is affected by a number of factors:

  • Competence - Tend to like competent & intelligent people more than their incompetent & unintelligent peers, especially when the competent person occasionally makes small blunders.
  • Similarity - More attracted to people who are similar to ourselves, with similarity in attitudes being particularly important (Law of Attraction, Byrnes). 
  • Reciprocity - Like others who are like us & dislike those who dislike us (Gain-Loss Effect). 



Law of Attraction

Byrne's (1971) law of attraction, we are attracted to others who have similar attitudes bc interacting w/those indivs. is more rewarding than interacting w/ppl who have dissimilar attitudes & is, therefore, more likely to generate positive affect.


Gain-Loss Effect

(Aronson & Linder, 1965) Predicts that people tend to be most attracted to individuals who show increasing liking for them & to be least attracted to individuals who show decreasing liking for them.

Ex: Most attracted to people who initally evaluate us negatively but subsequently evaluate us positively.

Predicts that liking is related to the pattern rather than the amt. of rewards.

+ to - = Greater liking


Evolutionary Theory

(Attractivness in Romantic Relationships)

This theory emphasizes gender differences in reporoductive goals; the primary goal for:

  • Men - Pass on their genes to the next generation. Therefore men are attracted to young physically attractive women whose youth & beauty signal health & fertility.
  • Women - Raise their children. Therefore women are attracted to men who have adequate resources to provide for them & their children & traits such as loyalty & emotional stability to help ensure the man will remain committed to the relationship.

Studies show that qualities that attrcact men & women in romantic partners differs; Men focus on physical attractivness & women are more intersted in a mate's status and resources.


Evolutionary Theory & Sexual Jealousy

Gender differences in jealousy related to major threats to reproductive goals for men & women:

  • Sexual Infidelity (Men) - The chance that another man will make his wife pregnant.
  • Emotinal Infidelity (Women) - Possibility the her husband will become emotionally involved with another woman & unavalible to provide resources to support her & her children.

(Buss, Larsen, Westen & Semmelroth, 1992)