Social Psychology

Created by:

Camilla Addo

Nicole Irish

May 18, 2014

What Is It?

  • How and why people think, feel, and do the things they do depending upon the situation they are in

Key People

  1. Solomon Asch
  • Did an experiment on conformity showing that under certain circumstances, a large percentage of people will conform to a majority position even when the position is clearly incorrect.

       2. Leon Festinger

  • Developed the theory of cognitive dissonance, a motivational theory suggesting that people seek to minimize discomfort caused by inconsistent beliefs and behaviors.

       3. Irving Janis

  • He did research on groupthink, which he defined as "a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members' strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.

      4. Stanley Milgram

  • Famous for a set of studies suggesting that most people will obey an experimenter's order to administer potentially deadly levels of electric shock to a protesting stranger.

Key Terms

Attribution Theory Bob's personal disposition or situation

Attribution theory

  • We explain someone’s behavior by crediting either the situation or the person’s disposition.
  • More likely to attribute behavior to a personal disposition rather than the situation known as the fundamental attribution error.

Foot-in-the-door phenomenon

  • The tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a larger request.
  • During the Korean War, Chinese communists demonstrated this phenomenon by giving American prisoners harmless requests and gradually escalating their demands. Having “trained” the prisoners to speak or write trivial statements, the communists then asked them to copy or create something more important, such as the flaws of capitalism. Then, to gain privileges, the prisoners participated in group discussions, wrote self-criticisms, or uttered public confessions. After doing so, they often adjusted their beliefs to reflect that of their public acts.

Social facilitation:

  • Stronger responses on simple or well-learned tasks in the presence of others.

Major Experiments

Groups and Conformity

Asch’s conformity experiments

  1. Which of the three comparison lines is equal to the standard line?
  2. What do you suppose most people would say after hearing five others say, “Line 3”?
  • In this photo from one of Asch’s experiments, the student in the center shows the severe discomfort that comes from disagreeing with the responses of other group members (in this case, confederates of the experimenter).



Milgram's Experiment

65 percent of the adult male “teachers” in the experiment fully obeyed the experimenter’s commands to continue, despite the “learner’s” earlier mention of a heart condition and despite hearing cries of protest after 150 volts and agonized protests after 330 volts.

What Is It?

  • Practice of concern for the welfare of others

Bystander Effect - the unselfish regard for the welfare of others


Factors that affect it

1. Proximity - geographic nearness

The mere exposure effect is the repeated exposure to novel stimuli which increases our liking for them.

People are even somewhat more likely to marry someone whose familiar-sounding first or last name resembles their own.

Because the human face is not perfectly symmetrical, the face we see in the mirror is not the same as the one our friends see. Most of us prefer the familiar mirror image, while our friends like the reverse probably prefer.

2. Physical Attraction

Personal appearance plays a role in attraction, in that, people tend to have a want to be surrounded by others who are physically attractive. This stems from the idea that attractive people are healthier and happier, whether or not this assumption is true.

3. Similarity

The proposal that opposites attract is inaccurate.

Birds of the same feather do flock together.

When people can relate to each other's experiences, backgrounds, interests, etc., it makes them feel more comfortable and familiar, which, in turn, makes it easier to strike up conversation and to continue the process of getting to know each other.

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