Unit 14: Social Psychology

Leigh-Ann Foley and Lindsey Castelo

Major Theories and Concepts:

  • Attribution theory- people tend to attribute others' behavior either to their internal dispositions or to the situation
  • Cognitive dissonance theory- people feel discomfort when their actions conflict with their attitudes; to relieve it people make their attitudes align with their actions
  • Scapegoat theory- suggests that prejudice offers an outlet for anger by providing someone to blame when things go wrong
  • Social exchange theory- we aim to maximize our benefits and minimize our costs
  • Fundamental attribution error-

  • Normative social influence- conforming to avoid rejection or gain social approval
  • Informational social influence- when we accept information about reality provided by a group
  • Groupthink- the desire for harmony overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives

Key Words:

Social psychology- studies how we think about, influence, and relate to one another

Central route persuasion and peripheral route persuasion-

Social facilitation- the presence of others boosts performance; however on tougher people perform less well when others are present

Group polarization-

Prejudice- an unjustifiable and usually negative attitude toward a group and its members; a mixture of beliefs (stereotypes), emotions, and predisposition to action (discriminate)

Bystander effect-

Key People:

Zimbardo- prison experiment

Asch- conformity experiment

Milgram- obedience experiment

Charles Osgood- made strategy called GRIT (Graduated and Reciprocated Initiatives in Tension-Reduction)

Major Research and Experiments:

Stanford prison experiment:

Zimbardo had students come and assigned them to either guards or prisoners; after a few days the students adopted their new roles and took it too far so they ended the experiment after just 6 days


Milgram Obedience experiment:

-social psychology's most famous and controversial experiment that tested obedience; results were 63% complied fully and found obedience is highest when the person giving orders is perceived to be an authority figure, the figure was supported by a prestigious institution, the victim was depersonalized or at a distance, and there was no role model for defiance


Solomon Asch Study on Conformity:

Asch did his study to test conformity and found that under certain conditions people will conform to a group's judgement even when it is clearly incorrect.


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