Social psychology focuses on social behavior and the attitudes, perceptions, and influences of others that impact behavior. In this chapter, we first looked at social behaviors, including attraction, aggression, attachment, and social support. We also looked at the biological explanations of specific social behaviors, including foraging, mate choice, altruism, game theory, and inclusive fitness. We further defined the components of social perception and impression biases. The way we view ourselves also influences the way we view others and how we attribute behavior to others. Finally, we took a look at stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.
These last few topics demonstrate a negative side of classifying individuals. We can use classification to create hierarchies, inequities in opportunity and finances, as well as to silence or suppress communities. But classification can also serve a positive purpose. In social science, we often classify populations to study interactions between groups, changes in population makeup over time, and to track migration patterns. These classifications are considered in the field of demographics, which we will explore in the next chapter.
· Interpersonal attraction is what makes people like each other and is influenced by multiple factors:
o Physical attractiveness, which is increased with symmetry and proportions close to the golden ratio
o Similarity of attitudes, intelligence, education, height, age, religion, appearance, and socioeconomic status
o Self-disclosure, which includes sharing fears, thoughts, and goals with another person and being met with empathy and nonjudgment
o Reciprocity, in which we like people who we think like us
o Proximity, or being physically close to someone
· Aggression is a physical, verbal, or nonverbal behavior with the intention to cause harm or increase social dominance.
· Attachment is an emotional bond to another person, and usually refers to the bond between a child and a caregiver. There are four types of attachment:
o Secure attachment requires a consistent caregiver so the child is able to go out and explore, knowing he or she has a secure base to return to; the child will show strong preference for the caregiver.
o Avoidant attachment occurs when a caregiver has little or no response to a distressed, crying child; the child shows no preference for the caregiver compared to strangers.
o Ambivalent attachment occurs when a caregiver has an inconsistent response to a child’s distress, sometimes responding appropriately, sometimes neglectfully; the child will become distressed when caregiver leaves and is ambivalent when he or she returns.
o Disorganized attachment occurs when a caregiver is erratic or abusive; the child shows no clear pattern of behavior in response to the caregiver’s absence or presence and may show repetitive behaviors.
· Social support is the perception or reality that one is cared for by a social network.
o Emotional support includes listening to, affirming, and empathizing with someone’s feelings.
o Esteem support affirms the qualities and skills of the person.
o Material support is providing physical or monetary resources to aid a person.
o Informational support is providing useful information to a person.
o Network support is providing a sense of belonging to a person.
· Foraging is searching for and exploiting food resources.
· A mating system describes the way in which a group is organized in terms of sexual behavior.
o Monogamy consists of exclusive mating relationships.
o Polygamy consists of one member of a sex having multiple exclusive relationships with members of the opposite sex, including polygyny (a male with multiple females) and polyandry (a female with multiple males).
o Promiscuity allows a member of one sex to mate with any member of the opposite sex without exclusivity.
· Mate choice, or intersexual selection, is the selection of a mate based on attraction and traits.
· Altruism is a form of helping behavior in which the person’s intent is to benefit someone else at some cost to him- or herself.
· Game theory attempts to explain decision making between individuals as if they are participating in a game.
· Inclusive fitness is a measure of an organism’s success in the population. This is based on the number of offspring, success in supporting offspring, and the ability of the offspring to then support others.
Social Perception and Behavior
· Social perception or social cognition is the way by which we generate impressions about people in our social environment. It contains a perceiver, his or her target, and the situation or social context of the scenario.
· Implicit personality theory states that people make assumptions about how different types of people, their traits, and their behavior are related.
· Certain cognitive biases impact our perceptions of others.
o The primacy effect refers to when first impressions are more important than subsequent impressions.
o The recency effect is when the most recent information we have about an individual is most important in forming our impressions.
o A reliance on central traits is the tendency to organize the perception of others based on traits and personal characteristics that matter to the perceiver.
o The halo effect is when judgments of an individual’s character can be affected by the overall impression of the individual.
o The just-world hypothesis is the tendency of individuals to believe that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.
o Self-serving bias refers to the fact that individuals will view their own successes as being based on internal factors, while viewing their failures as being based on external factors.
· Attribution theory focuses on the tendency for individuals to infer the causes of other people’s behavior.
o Dispositional (internal) causes are those that relate to the features of the person whose behavior is being considered.
o Situational (external) causes are related to features of the surroundings or social context.
· Correspondent inference theory is used to describe attributions made by observing the intentional (especially unexpected) behaviors performed by another person.
· Fundamental attribution error is the bias toward making dispositional attributions rather than situational attributions in regard to the actions of others.
· Attribute substitution occurs when individuals must make judgments that are complex but instead substitute a simpler solution or heuristic.
· Attributions are highly influenced by the culture in which one resides.
Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination
· Stereotypes occur when attitudes and impressions are made based on limited and superficial information about a person or a group of individuals.
· Stereotypes can lead to expectations of certain groups, which can create conditions that lead to confirmation of the stereotype, a process referred to as self-fulfilling prophecy.
· Stereotype threat is concern or anxiety about confirming a negative stereotype about one’s social group.
· Prejudice is defined as an irrational positive or negative attitude toward a person, group, or thing prior to an actual experience.
· Ethnocentrism refers to the practice of making judgments about other cultures based on the values and beliefs of one’s own culture.
· Cultural relativism refers to the recognition that social groups and cultures should be studied on their own terms.
· Discrimination is when prejudicial attitudes cause individuals of a particular group to be treated differently from others.
o Individual discrimination refers to one person discriminating against a particular person or group.
o Institutional discrimination refers to the discrimination against a particular person or group by an entire institution.
Answers to Concept Checks
1. Interpersonal attraction is what makes people like each other and is influenced by at least five factors discussed in the chapter: physical attractiveness, similarity, self-disclosure, reciprocity, and proximity.
2. No, in addition to behavior with the intent to cause harm, aggression can also be a behavior that increases relative social dominance. Aggression can be physical, verbal, or nonverbal.
Type of Attachment
Response to Caregiver
Upset at departure of caregiver, comforted by return; trusts caregiver, who is viewed as a secure base
Shows no preference for a stranger or caregiver; shows little distress at departure and little relief by return of caregiver
Distressed by departure of caregiver with mixed reactions at return
No clear pattern of behavior; sometimes exhibits repetitive behaviors or seems dazed, frozen, or confused
4. Social support is the perception or reality that one is cared for by a social network. There are five types discussed in this chapter: emotional support, esteem support, material support, informational support, and network support.
5. Altruism is a form of helping behavior in which the person’s intent is to benefit someone else at some cost to him- or herself.
1. The primacy effect is the power of first impressions over later impressions of an individual. The recency effect is weighing the most recent information of a person as the most important. The halo effect occurs when one applies general feelings about a person (usually, “good” or “bad”) to specific characteristics of that person. The just-world hypothesis is the belief that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Self-serving bias is the tendency to attribute our successes to internal factors and our failures to external factors.
2. Attribution theory focuses on the tendency of individuals to infer the causes of other people’s behavior. Attributions are divided into two types: dispositional (internal) causes, which relate to the features of the target, and situational (external) causes, which relate to features of the surroundings or context.
3. Fundamental attribution error is the general bias toward making dispositional attributions rather than situational attributions about the behavior of others, especially in negative contexts.
4. Attribute substitution occurs when individuals must make judgments that are complex but instead substitute a simpler solution or heuristic.
1. Stereotypes occur when attitudes and impressions are made based on limited and superficial information about a person or a group of individuals and are cognitive. Prejudice is defined as an irrational negative, or occasionally positive, attitude toward a person, group, or thing, which is formed prior to an actual experience and is affective. Discrimination is when prejudicial attitudes cause individuals of a particular group to be treated differently than others and is behavioral.
2. Power, prestige, and class all influence prejudice through unequal distribution of wealth, influence, and resources.
3. Ethnocentrism refers to the practice of making judgments about other cultures based on the values and beliefs of one’s own culture. Cultural relativism refers to the recognition that social groups and cultures must be studied on their own terms. In both cases, an individual perceives another group to which he or she does not belong; however, it is the reaction to that other group that determines which paradigm is being used.
· Behavioral Sciences Chapter 5
o Motivation, Emotion, and Stress
· Behavioral Sciences Chapter 6
o Identity and Personality
· Behavioral Sciences Chapter 8
o Social Processes, Attitudes, and Behavior
· Behavioral Sciences Chapter 9
o Social Interaction
· Behavioral Sciences Chapter 11
o Social Structure and Demographics
· Behavioral Sciences Chapter 12
o Social Stratification
Discrete Practice Questions
1. The tendency to become close friends with neighbors rather than people in other neighborhoods is most strongly related to which of the following factors?
2. Which of the following would be associated with high levels of aggression?
1. Increased amygdala activity
2. Decreased amygdala activity
3. Increased prefrontal cortex activity
4. Decreased prefrontal cortex activity
5. I and III only
6. I and IV only
7. II and III only
8. II and IV only
3. A child who cries when his mother departs and smiles and runs to his mother when she returns is displaying which type of attachment pattern?
1. Avoidant attachment
2. Ambivalent attachment
3. Disorganized attachment
4. Secure attachment
4. Elephant seal males mate with multiple females each mating season, while females only have one mate each. What type of mating system is this?
5. A person with a ventromedial hypothalamus injury will likely show which behavior?
1. Increased empathy
2. Decreased empathy
3. Increased food intake
4. Decreased food intake
6. Female great reed warblers are attracted to males with larger song repertoires because they tend to produce offspring with higher viability. This is an example of which of the following?
1. Runaway selection
2. Sensory bias
3. Direct phenotypic benefits
4. Indirect phenotypic benefits
7. In several species of shrimp, the larger adults will sacrifice themselves to protect the younger, smaller shrimp. How is this behavior best explained?
1. Inclusive fitness
2. Direct benefit
3. Sensory bias
8. Which of the following is NOT a component of social perception?
1. The target
2. The situation
3. The perceiver
4. The process
9. When you first meet Dustin, he is very rude to you. You run into him twice more and he is very friendly, but you still dislike him because of your first meeting. What impression bias does this describe?
1. Primacy effect
2. Recency effect
3. Reliance on central traits
10. Glen brings cookies to work. Although you have not yet tasted them, you say to another coworker, “Glen is such a great guy; I’m sure these cookies are fantastic!” What type of bias is this?
1. Reliance on central traits
2. Direct benefits
3. Halo effect
11. A friend wins a tennis game and says, “I trained so hard—that was a great win!” When she loses a subsequent match, she says, “My baby brother kept me up all night crying; I was tired for the match.” These statements reflect which of the following principles?
1. Just-world hypothesis
2. Fundamental attribution error
3. Self-serving bias
4. Esteem bias
12. Carl is always happy and smiling. Today, you notice he seems down and think something must have happened to upset him. What types of attribution are you making?
5. I and III only
6. I and IV only
7. II and III only
8. II and IV only
13. A group of men and women are going to be rated on their driving abilities. The role of gender is emphasized in the experiment and the women perform worse than the men. In another experiment, the role of gender is not mentioned and the ratings are comparable between the two groups. Which principle do these results support?
1. Institutional discrimination
2. Stereotype threat
4. The just-world hypothesis
14. The behavior that accompanies the negative attitudes a person has toward a group or individual is referred to as:
2. cultural relativism.
15. Game theory is designed to study:
1. reliance on central traits.
2. behavior attribution.
3. decision-making behavior.
Discrete Practice Answers
1. AEach of the answer choices influences social attraction; however, proximity deals with the tendency to be attracted to those who are physically close by.
2. BAggression is influenced both by the amygdala and prefrontal cortex activity. Activity of the amygdala increases aggression. The prefrontal cortex should control aggression; decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, therefore, is associated with increased aggression.
3. DThis attachment pattern is representative of secure attachment. Secure attachment is seen when a child has a consistent caregiver and is able to go out and explore, knowing he or she has a secure base to return to. The child will be upset at the departure of the caregiver and will be comforted and resume exploring upon the return of the caregiver.
4. BPolygamy involves a male having exclusive relationships with several females (polygyny) or a female having exclusive relationships with several males (polyandry), (A). Monogamy, (C), consists of exclusive mating relationships. Promiscuity, (D), refers to a member of one sex mating with any member of the opposite sex.
5. CA person with a ventromedial hypothalamus injury will never feel satiated when eating and will therefore never feel the sensation to stop eating. A person with a lateral hypothalamus injury will never feel hunger and will have decreased food intake, (D).
6. DPhenotypic benefits refer to observed traits in an individual that make them more attractive to the opposite sex. Benefits associated with increased fitness through direct material advantages are direct benefits, (C), while indirect benefits involve increased genetic fitness for offspring.
7. AIn evolutionary psychology, inclusive fitness is a measure of the number of offspring an individual has, how they support their offspring, and how their offspring can support others. Inclusive fitness promotes the idea that altruistic behavior can improve the fitness and success of a species; the behavior in this scenario can be described as altruism: benefiting another at one’s own expense.
8. DThere are three primary components of perception: the perceiver, the target, and the situation.
9. AThe impressions we form when meeting others are influenced by a number of perceptual biases. The primacy effect refers to those occasions when first impressions are more important than subsequent impressions.
10. CThe halo effect is a cognitive bias in which judgments of an individual’s character can be affected by the overall impression of the individual.
11. CSelf-serving bias refers to the fact that individuals will view their own successes as being based on internal factors, while viewing their failures as being based on external factors.
12. CTypes of attribution fall into two main categories: dispositional (internal) and situational (external). Dispositional (internal) causes are related to the features of the person whose behavior is being considered. Situational (external) causes are related to features of the surroundings.
13. BStereotype threat refers to the phenomenon of people being concerned or anxious about confirming a negative stereotype of their social group. Stereotype threat can hinder performance, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
14. DDiscrimination is when prejudicial attitudes cause individuals of a particular group to be treated differently than others. While prejudice is an attitude, discrimination is a behavior.
15. CGame theory was originally designed to study decision-making behavior in economics and mathematics; it has since been used to describe decision making in politics, biology, philosophy, and other fields.
Consult your online resources for additional practice.