Social Cognition

Social Psychology Ninth Edition

Elliot Aronson

Timothy D. Wilson

Robin M. Akert

Samuel R. Sommers

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Aronson, Elliot. Social psychology / Elliot Aronson, Timothy D. Wilson, Robin M. Akert, Samuel R. Sommers. — Ninth Edition. pages cm Revised editon of the authors’ Social psychology, 2013. ISBN 978-0-13-393654-4 (Student Edition) 1. Social psychology. I. Wilson, Timothy D. II. Akert, Robin M. III. Title. HM1033.A78 2016 302—dc23 2015016513

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To my grandchildren: Jacob, Jason, Ruth, Eliana, Natalie, Rachel, and Leo. My hope is that your capacity for empathy and compassion will help make

the world a better place.


To my family, Deirdre Smith, Christopher Wilson, and Leigh Wilson


To my mentor, colleague, and friend, Dane Archer


To my students—past, present, and future—for making coming to work each morning fun, educational, and unpredictable.


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1 Introducing Social Psychology 1

2 Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research 23

3 Social Cognition: How We Think About the Social World 51

4 Social Perception: How We Come to Understand Other People 84

5 The Self: Understanding Ourselves in a Social Context 119

6 The Need to Justify Our Actions: The Costs and Benefits of Dissonance Reduction 157

7 Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings 188

8 Conformity: Influencing Behavior 226

9 Group Processes: Influence in Social Groups 269

10 Interpersonal Attraction: From First Impressions to Close Relationships 303

11 Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help? 344

12 Aggression: Why Do We Hurt Other People? Can We Prevent It? 375

13 Prejudice: Causes, Consequences, and Cures 413

Social Psychology in Action 1 Using Social Psychology to Achieve a Sustainable and Happy Future 455

Social Psychology in Action 2 Social Psychology and Health 476

Social Psychology in Action 3 Social Psychology and the Law 496

Brief Contents

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Preface xi About the Authors xvii Special Tips for Students xix

1 Introducing Social Psychology 1 Defining Social Psychology 3 Try IT! How Do Other People Affect your Values? 3

Social Psychology, Philosophy, Science, and Common Sense 4 How Social Psychology Differs from Its Closest Cousins 6

Try IT! Social Situations and Shyness 7

The Power of the Situation 9 The Importance of Explanation 10 The Importance of Interpretation 12

Where Construals Come From: Basic Human Motives 15 The Self-Esteem Motive: The Need to Feel Good About Ourselves 16


The Social Cognition Motive: The Need to Be Accurate 17 ExpECTATioNS AbouT ThE SoCiAL WoRLD

Summary  20 • Test Yourself  21

2 Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research 23

Social Psychology: An Empirical Science 24 Try IT! Social Psychology Quiz: What’s your Prediction? 25

Formulating Hypotheses and Theories 25 iNSpiRATioN fRoM EARLiER ThEoRiES and ReSeaRch  •  hYpoTheSeS BaSed  oN pERSoNAL obSERvATioNS

Research Designs 27

The Observational Method: Describing Social Behavior 28 eThnogRaphY  •  aRchival analYSiS  •  limiTS  of ThE obSERvATioNAL METhoD

The Correlational Method: Predicting Social Behavior 30 SuRveYS  •  limiTS of The coRRelaTional meThod:  CoRRELATioN DoES NoT EquAL CAuSATioN

Try IT! Correlation and Causation: Knowing the Difference 33

The Experimental Method: Answering Causal Questions 34 independenT and dependenT vaRiaBleS  •  inTeRnal  validiTY in expeRimenTS  •  exTeRnal validiTY  in expeRimenTS  •  field expeRimenTS  •  ReplicaTionS  and meTa-analYSiS  •  BaSic veRSuS applied ReSeaRch

New Frontiers in Social Psychological Research 42 Culture and Social Psychology 43 The Evolutionary Approach 43 Social Neuroscience 44

Ethical Issues in Social Psychology 45 Summary  48 • Test Yourself  49

3 Social Cognition: How We Think About the Social World 51

On Automatic Pilot: Low-Effort Thinking 53 People as Everyday Theorists: Automatic Thinking with Schemas 54 Which Schemas Do We Use? Accessibility and Priming 56 Making Our Schemas Come True: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy 58

Types of Automatic Thinking 61 Automatic Goal Pursuit 62 Automatic Decision Making 63 Automatic Thinking and Metaphors About the Body and the Mind 63 Mental Strategies and Shortcuts: Judgmental Heuristics 65

how eaSilY doeS iT come To mind? The availaBiliTY  heuRiSTic  •  how SimilaR iS a To B? The  REpRESENTATivENESS hEuRiSTiC

Try IT! reasoning Quiz 69

peRSonaliTY TeSTS and The RepReSenTaTiveneSS  hEuRiSTiC

Cultural Differences in Social Cognition 70 Cultural Determinants of Schemas 70 Holistic versus Analytic Thinking 71

Controlled Social Cognition: High-Effort Thinking 73 Controlled Thinking and Free Will 73

Try IT! Can you Predict your (or your Friend’s) Future? 76

Mentally Undoing the Past: Counterfactual Reasoning 76 Improving Human Thinking 77

Try IT! How Well Do you reason? 78

Watson Revisited 79 Summary  80 • Test Yourself  82

4 Social Perception: How We Come to Understand Other People 84

Nonverbal Communication 86 Try IT! Using your Voice as a Nonverbal Cue 87

Facial Expressions of Emotion 87 evoluTion and facial expReSSionS  •  whY iS decoding  SomeTimeS difficulT?

Culture and the Channels of Nonverbal Communication 90

First Impressions: Quick but Long-Lasting 93 The Lingering Influence of Initial Impressions 94 Using First Impressions and Nonverbal Communication to Our Advantage 95


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vi Contents

Causal Attribution: Answering the “Why” Question 97 The Nature of the Attribution Process 97

Try IT! Listen as People Make Attributions 98

The Covariation Model: Internal versus External Attributions 98 The Fundamental Attribution Error: People as Personality Psychologists 101

ThE RoLE of pERCEpTuAL SALiENCE iN ThE fuNDAMENTAL aTTRiBuTion eRRoR  •  The Two-STep aTTRiBuTion  pRoCESS

Self-Serving Attributions 106 The “Bias Blind Spot” 108

Culture and Social Perception 109 Holistic versus Analytic Thinking 110


Cultural Differences in the Fundamental Attribution Error 111 Culture and Other Attributional Biases 113 Summary  115 • Test Yourself  117

5 The Self: Understanding Ourselves in a Social Context 119

The Origins and Nature of the Self-Concept 120 Cultural Influences on the Self-Concept 122

Try IT! A Measure of Independence and Interdependence 123

Functions of the Self 124

Knowing Ourselves Through Introspection 125 Focusing on the Self: Self-Awareness Theory 125

Try IT! Measure your Private Self- Consciousness 127

Judging Why We Feel the Way We Do: Telling More Than We Can Know 127 The Consequences of Introspecting About Reasons 128

Knowing Ourselves by Observing Our Own Behavior 130 Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivation 131 Mindsets and Motivation 134 Understanding Our Emotions: The Two-Factor Theory of Emotion 134 Finding the Wrong Cause: Misattribution of Arousal 137

Using Other People to Know Ourselves 139 Knowing Ourselves by Comparing Ourselves to Others 140 Knowing Ourselves by Adopting Other People’s Views 141 Knowing Our Future Feelings by Consulting Other People 143

Self-Control: The Executive Function of the Self 144

Impression Management: All the World’s a Stage 146 Ingratiation and Self-Handicapping 147 Culture, Impression Management, and Self-Enhancement 149

Self-Esteem: How We Feel About Ourselves 150 Summary  153 • Test Yourself  155

6 The Need to Justify Our Actions: The Costs and Benefits of Dissonance Reduction 157

The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance 158 When Cognitions Conflict 158

whY we oveReSTimaTe The pain of diSappoinTmenT

Dissonance and the Self-Concept 162 Decisions, Decisions, Decisions 163

diSToRTing ouR likeS and diSlikeS  •  The peRmanence  of ThE DECiSioN

Try IT! The Advantage of Finality 165

cReaTing The illuSion of iRRevocaBiliTY  •  The deciSion To Behave immoRallY

Dissonance, Culture, and the Brain 167 diSSonance in The BRain  •  diSSonance acRoSS  CuLTuRES

Self-Justification in Everyday Life 169 The Justification of Effort 169

Try IT! Justifying What you’ve Done 171

External versus Internal Justification 171

counTeRaTTiTudinal advocacY

Punishment and Self-Persuasion 173 The laSTing effecTS of Self-peRSuaSion  •  NoT JuST TANgibLE REWARDS oR puNiShMENTS

The Hypocrisy Paradigm 176 Justifying Good Deeds and Harmful Acts 177

The Ben fRanklin effecT: JuSTifYing acTS of kindneSS

Try IT! The Internal Consequences of Doing Good 179

dehumanizing The enemY: JuSTifYing cRuelTY

Some Final Thoughts on Dissonance: Learning from Our Mistakes 181

poliTicS and Self-JuSTificaTion  •  ovERCoMiNg DiSSoNANCE

Summary  185 • Test Yourself  186

7 Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings 188

The Nature and Origin of Attitudes 190 Where Do Attitudes Come From? 190

cogniTivelY BaSed aTTiTudeS  •  affecTivelY BaSed  ATTiTuDES

Try IT! Affective and Cognitive Bases of Attitudes 192

BehavioRallY BaSed aTTiTudeS

Explicit versus Implicit Attitudes 193

When Do Attitudes Predict Behavior? 195 Predicting Spontaneous Behaviors 196 Predicting Deliberative Behaviors 196

Specific aTTiTudeS  •  SuBJecTive noRmS  •  peRceived  bEhAvioRAL CoNTRoL

How Do Attitudes Change? 199 Changing Attitudes by Changing Behavior: Cognitive Dissonance Theory Revisited 199 Persuasive Communications and Attitude Change 200

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ThE CENTRAL AND pERiphERAL RouTES To peRSuaSion  •  The moTivaTion To paY  aTTenTion To The aRgumenTS  •  The aBiliTY To paY  aTTenTion To The aRgumenTS  •  how To achieve  LoNg-LASTiNg ATTiTuDE ChANgE

Emotion and Attitude Change 205 feaR-aRouSing communicaTionS  •  emoTionS  aS a heuRiSTic  •  emoTion and diffeRenT TYpeS  of ATTiTuDES

Attitude Change and the Body 209

The Power of Advertising 210 How Advertising Works 211 Subliminal Advertising: A Form of Mind Control? 212

DEbuNkiNg ThE CLAiMS AbouT SubLiMiNAL adveRTiSing  •  laBoRaToRY evidence foR SuBliminal  iNfLuENCE

Try IT! Consumer Brand Attitudes 215

Advertising, Stereotypes, and Culture 215 gendeR STeReoTYpeS and expecTaTionS  •  CuLTuRE AND ADvERTiSiNg

Resisting Persuasive Messages 219

Attitude Inoculation 219 Being Alert to Product Placement 219 Resisting Peer Pressure 220 When Persuasion Attempts Backfire: Reactance Theory 221 Summary  223 • Test Yourself  224

8 Conformity: Influencing Behavior 226 Conformity: When and Why 228

Informational Social Influence: The Need to Know What’s “Right” 230

The Importance of Being Accurate 233 When Informational Conformity Backfires 234 When Will People Conform to Informational Social Influence? 235

when The SiTuaTion iS amBiguouS  •  when The SiTuaTion  iS a cRiSiS  •  when oTheR people aRe expeRTS

Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted 236

Conformity and Social Approval: The Asch Line-Judgment Studies 238 The Importance of Being Accurate, Revisited 241 The Consequences of Resisting Normative Social Influence 243

Try IT! Unveiling Normative Social Influence by Breaking the rules 244

When Will People Conform to Normative Social Influence? 244

when The gRoup gRowS laRgeR  •  when The gRoup iS  impoRTanT  •  when one haS no allieS in The gRoup  •  WhEN ThE gRoup’S CuLTuRE iS CoLLECTiviSTiC

Minority Influence: When the Few Influence the Many 248

Strategies for Using Social Influence 249 The Role of Injunctive and Descriptive Norms 250

Using Norms to Change Behavior: Beware the “Boomerang Effect” 252 Other Tactics of Social Influence 253

Obedience to Authority 256 The Role of Normative Social Influence 259 The Role of Informational Social Influence 260 Other Reasons Why We Obey 261

confoRming To The wRong noRm  •  Self-JuSTificaTion  •  The loSS of peRSonal ReSponSiBiliTY

The Obedience Studies, Then and Now 263 iT’S NoT AbouT AggRESSioN

Summary  266 • Test Yourself  267

9 Group Processes: Influence in Social Groups 269

What Is a Group? 270 Why Do People Join Groups? 270 The Composition and Functions of Groups 271

Social noRmS  •  Social RoleS  •  gRoup  coheSiveneSS  •  gRoup diveRSiTY

Individual Behavior in a Group Setting 275 Social Facilitation: When the Presence of Others Energizes Us 276

Simple veRSuS difficulT TaSkS  •  aRouSal  and The dominanT ReSponSe  •  whY The pReSence  of oThERS CAuSES ARouSAL

Social Loafing: When the Presence of Others Relaxes Us 279 Gender and Cultural Differences in Social Loafing: Who Slacks Off the Most? 280 Deindividuation: Getting Lost in the Crowd 281

DEiNDiviDuATioN MAkES pEopLE fEEL LESS accounTaBle  •  deindividuaTion incReaSeS  oBedience To gRoup noRmS  •  deindividuaTion  oNLiNE

Group Decisions: Are Two (or More) Heads Better Than One? 283

Process Loss: When Group Interactions Inhibit Good Problem Solving 284

failuRe To ShaRe unique infoRmaTion  •  gRoupThink: manY headS, one mind

Group Polarization: Going to Extremes 287 Leadership in Groups 289

leadeRShip and peRSonaliTY  •  leadeRShip  STYleS  •  The RighT peRSon in The RighT  SiTuaTion  •  gendeR and leadeRShip  •  culTuRe  AND LEADERShip

Conflict and Cooperation 293 Social Dilemmas 293

Try IT! The Prisoner’s Dilemma 295


Using Threats to Resolve Conflict 296


Negotiation and Bargaining 298 Summary  300 • Test Yourself  301

Contents vii

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10 Interpersonal Attraction: From First Impressions to Close Relationships 303

What Predicts Attraction? 305 The Person Next Door: The Propinquity Effect 306

Try IT! Mapping the Effect of Propinquity in your Life 306

Similarity 308 opinionS and peRSonaliTY  •  inTeReSTS  and expeRienceS  •  appeaRance  •  geneTicS  •  Some final commenTS aBouT SimilaRiTY

Reciprocal Liking 310 Physical Attractiveness 311

whaT iS aTTRacTive?  •  culTuRal STandaRdS  of BeauTY  •  The poweR of familiaRiTY  •  ASSuMpTioNS AbouT ATTRACTivE pEopLE

Evolution and Mate Selection 316 evoluTion and Sex diffeRenceS  •  alTeRnaTe  pERSpECTivES oN SEx DiffERENCES

Making Connections in the Age of Technology 320 Attraction 2.0: Mate Preference in an Online Era 321 The Promise and Pitfalls of Online Dating 323

Love and Close Relationships 325 Defining Love: Companionship and Passion 325

Try IT! Passionate Love Scale 327

Culture and Love 327 Attachment Styles in Intimate Relationships 329 This Is Your Brain . . . in Love 331 Theories of Relationship Satisfaction: Social Exchange and Equity 332

Social exchange TheoRY  •  equiTY TheoRY

Ending Intimate Relationships 338 The Process of Breaking Up 338 The Experience of Breaking Up 339 Summary  341 • Test Yourself  342

11 Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help? 344

Basic Motives Underlying Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help? 345

Evolutionary Psychology: Instincts and Genes 346 kin SelecTion  •  The RecipRociTY noRm

Try IT! The Dictator Game 347


Social Exchange: The Costs and Rewards of Helping 348 Empathy and Altruism: The Pure Motive for Helping 349

Personal Qualities and Prosocial Behavior: Why Do Some People Help More Than Others? 353

Individual Differences: The Altruistic Personality 354 Try IT! Empathic Concern 354

Gender Differences in Prosocial Behavior 355

Cultural Differences in Prosocial Behavior 355 Religion and Prosocial Behavior 357 The Effects of Mood on Prosocial Behavior 357

effecTS of poSiTive moodS: feel good, do good  •  fEEL bAD, Do gooD

Situational Determinants of Prosocial Behavior: When Will People Help? 359

Environment: Rural versus Urban 359 Residential Mobility 360 The Number of Bystanders: The Bystander Effect 361

noTicing an evenT  •  inTeRpReTing The evenT aS an  emeRgencY  •  aSSuming ReSponSiBiliTY  •  knowing  how To help  •  deciding To implemenT The help

Effects of the Media: Video Games and Music Lyrics 366

How Can Helping Be Increased? 368 Increasing the Likelihood That Bystanders Will Intervene 368 Increasing Volunteerism 370 Positive Psychology, Human Virtues, and Prosocial Behavior 371 Summary  372 • Test Yourself  373

12 Aggression: Why Do We Hurt Other People? Can We Prevent It? 375

Is Aggression Innate, Learned, or Optional? 376 The Evolutionary View 377


Culture and Aggression 378 ChANgES iN AggRESSioN ACRoSS TiME and culTuReS  •  culTuReS of honoR

Gender and Aggression 381 phYSical aggReSSion  •  RELATioNAL AggRESSioN

Try IT! Do Women and Men Differ in Their Experiences with Aggression? 383

Learning to Behave Aggressively 383 Some Physiological Influences 385

The effecTS of alcohol  •  The effecTS  of pAiN AND hEAT

Social Situations and Aggression 387 Frustration and Aggression 388 Provocation and Reciprocation 389

Try IT! Insults and Aggression 390

Weapons as Aggressive Cues 390 Putting the Elements Together: The Case of Sexual Assault 391

moTivaTionS foR Rape  •  Sexual ScRipTS  and The pRoBlem of conSenT  •  puTTing  ThE ELEMENTS TogEThER

Violence and the Media 394 Studying the Effects of Media Violence 394

expeRimenTal STudieS  •  longiTudinal STudieS

The Problem of Determining Cause and Effect 397

viii Contents

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How to Decrease Aggression 399 Does Punishing Aggression Reduce Aggression? 399


Catharsis and Aggression 401 ThE EffECTS of AggRESSivE ACTS oN SubSEquENT aggReSSion  •  Blaming The vicTim of ouR  AggRESSioN

What Are We Supposed to Do with Our Anger? 403 vENTiNg vERSuS SELf-AWARENESS

Try IT! Controlling your Anger 404

TRAiNiNg iN CoMMuNiCATioN AND pRobLEM-SoLviNg SkillS  •  counTeRing dehumanizaTion  BY Building empaThY

Disrupting the Rejection-Rage Cycle 406 Summary  408 • Test Yourself  411

13 Prejudice: Causes, Consequences, and Cures 413

Defining Prejudice 414 The Cognitive Component: Stereotypes 415

fRom caTegoRieS To STeReoTYpeS

Try IT! Stereotypes and Aggression 417

whaT’S wRong wiTh poSiTive STeReoTYpeS?  •  STeReoTYpeS of gendeR

The Affective Component: Emotions 420

Try IT! Identifying your Prejudices 421

The Behavioral Component: Discrimination 421 Racial diScRiminaTion  •  gendeR diScRiminaTion  •  ThE ACTivATioN of pREJuDiCE

Detecting Hidden Prejudices 427 Ways of Identifying Suppressed Prejudices 427 Ways of Identifying Implicit Prejudices 428

The Effects of Prejudice on the Victim 430 The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy 430 Stereotype Threat 431

Causes of Prejudice 434 Pressures to Conform: Normative Rules 434 Social Identity Theory: Us versus Them 436

eThnocenTRiSm  •  in-gRoup BiaS  •  ouT-gRoup  homogeneiTY  •  Blaming The vicTim  •  JuSTifYing  feelingS of enTiTlemenT and SupeRioRiTY

Realistic Conflict Theory 440 ECoNoMiC AND poLiTiCAL CoMpETiTioN

Reducing Prejudice 442 The Contact Hypothesis 443 When Contact Reduces Prejudice 445


Cooperation and Interdependence: The Jigsaw Classroom 447

whY doeS JigSaw woRk?

Try IT! Jigsaw-Type Group Study 449


Summary  451 • Test Yourself  453

Social Psychology in Action 1 Using Social Psychology to Achieve a Sustainable and Happy Future 455

Applied Research in Social Psychology 458 Capitalizing on the Experimental Method 459

ASSESSiNg ThE EffECTivENESS of inTeRvenTionS  •  poTenTial RiSkS of Social  iNTERvENTioNS

Social Psychology to the Rescue 461

Using Social Psychology to Achieve a Sustainable Future 461

Conveying and Changing Social Norms 462

Try IT! reducing Littering with Descriptive Norms 463

Keeping Track of Consumption 464 Introducing a Little Competitiveness 465 Inducing Hypocrisy 465 Removing Small Barriers to Achieve Big Changes 467

Happiness and a Sustainable Lifestyle 469 What Makes People Happy? 469

SaTiSfYing RelaTionShipS  •  flow: Becoming  engaged in SomeThing You enJoY  •  accumulaTe  expeRienceS, noT ThingS  •  helping oTheRS

Try IT! Applying the research to your Own Life 472

Do People Know What Makes Them Happy? 472 Summary  473 • Test Yourself  474

Social Psychology in Action 2 Social Psychology and Health 476

Stress and Human Health 477 Resilience 478 Effects of Negative Life Events 479

Try IT! The College Life Stress Inventory 480


Perceived Stress and Health 481 Feeling in Charge: The Importance of Perceived Control 482

iNCREASiNg pERCEivED CoNTRoL iN nuRSing homeS  •  diSeaSe, conTRol, and  WELL-bEiNg

Coping with Stress 486 Gender Differences in Coping with Stress 487 Social Support: Getting Help from Others 487

Try IT! Social Support 488

Reframing: Finding Meaning in Traumatic Events 489

Prevention: Promoting Healthier Behavior 491 Summary  493 • Test Yourself  494

Contents ix

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Social Psychology in Action 3 Social Psychology and the Law 496

Eyewitness Testimony 498 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? 498

acquiSiTion  •  SToRage  •  ReTRieval

Judging Whether Eyewitnesses Are Mistaken 503 ReSponding quicklY  •  The pRoBlem wiTh  veRBalizaTion  •  poST-idenTificaTion  fEEDbACk

Try IT! The Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony 506

The Recovered Memory Debate 506

Juries: Group Processes in Action 509 How Jurors Process Information During the Trial 509 Confessions: Are They Always What They Seem? 510 Deliberations in the Jury Room 512 Summary  513 • Test Yourself  514

Glossary 516

References 522

Credits 567

Name Index 573

Subject Index 588

Answer Key AK-1

x Contents

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When we began writing this book, our overrid-ing goal was to capture the excitement of social psychology. We have been pleased to hear, in many kind letters and e-mail messages from professors and students, that we succeeded. One of our favorite responses was from a student who said that the book was so inter- esting that she always saved it for last, to reward herself for finishing her other work. With that one student, at least, we succeeded in making our book an enjoyable, fascinating story, not a dry report of facts and figures.

There is always room for improvement, however, and our goal in this, the ninth edition, is to make the field of social psychology an even better read. When we teach the course, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the sleepy stu- dents in the back row sit up with interest and say, “Wow, I didn’t know that! Now that’s interesting.” We hope that students who read our book will have that same reaction.

What’s New in This Edition? We are pleased to add new features to the ninth edition that we believe will appeal to students and make it easier for them to learn the material. Each chapter begins with some learning objectives, which are repeated in the sections of the chapter that are most relevant to them and in the chapter- ending summary. All major sections of every chapter now end with review quizzes. Research shows that students learn material better when they are tested frequently, thus these section quizzes, as well as the test questions at the end of every chapter, should be helpful learning aids. Every chapter now has several writing prompts that instructors can decide to assign or not. In addition, we have retained and refined features that proved to be popular in the pre- vious edition. For example, many of the Try It! exercises, which invite students to apply specific concepts to their everyday behavior, have been revised or replaced.

We have updated the ninth edition substantially, with numerous references to new research. Here is a sampling of the new research that is covered:

• A signature of our book continues to be Chapter 2, “Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research,” a readable, student-friendly chapter on social psychol- ogy research methods. This chapter has been updated for the ninth edition with new references and examples.

• Chapter 3, “Social Cognition: How We Think About the Social World,” has been reorganized to make the struc- ture clearer to students. There are now four major sec- tions: On Automatic Pilot: Low-Effort Thinking; Types of Automatic Thinking, Cultural Differences in Social Cognition, and Controlled Social Thinking. There are

also new sections on automatic goal pursuit and deci- sion making. Finally, the chapter has been updated with numerous new references.

• Chapter 4, “Social Perception: How We Come to Un- derstand Other People,” now includes a new section on “First Impressions: Quick but Long-Lasting,” with new coverage of thin-slicing, belief perseverance, and the use of nonverbal communication to personal advantage (e.g., in the form of power posing). The chapter also pre- sents updated research and conclusions regarding the universality of emotional expression, and new popular media examples from programs such as Breaking Bad, Duck Dynasty, and the podcast Serial.

• Chapter 5, “The Self: Understanding Ourselves in a So- cial Context,” has been reorganized into seven major sections instead of five, which should make the mate- rial clearer to students. We also revised the opening example, added a section on affective forecasting, re- organized some of the other sections (e.g., on culture and the self and on mindsets), added two new figures, and deleted or consolidated two other figures. Nearly 50 references to recent research have been added.

• Chapter 6, “The Need to Justify Our Actions,” now in- cludes a revised definition of cognitive dissonance and two dozen new references. These updates include stud- ies examining dissonance and cheating, hypocrisy and its consequences for self-justification, the justification of kindness in very young children, and a field study of jus- tification of effort among participants in a religious ritual in Mauritius.

• Chapter 7, “Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings,” includes some reorganization of section order in response to reviewer suggestions and an updated analysis of advertising, stereotypes, and culture. New Try It! exercises have also been added regarding the role of automatic thought processes in consumer-related attitudes.

• Chapter 8, “Conformity: Influencing Behavior,” now boasts a new section on tactics of social influence, in- cluding the foot-in-the-door and door-in-the-face tech- nique. We have also added review of the Bond et al. (2012) election study in which the appearance of an “I Voted” button on Facebook was found to influence users’ own likelihood of voting. This chapter also dis- cusses the role of normative social influence in the polar plunge trend and the ALS ice bucket challenge that went viral on social media in 2014.

• Chapter 9, “Group Processes: Influence in Social Groups,” includes a new section on the relationship between group diversity, morale, and performance. The discussion of deindividuation has also been updated to consider the tendency as it is manifested in on-line contexts.

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xii preface

• Chapter 10, “Interpersonal Attraction: From First Im- pressions to Close Relationships,” has a new opening vignette focusing on Tinder and other dating-related apps/websites. We have expanded the treatment of fer- tility and attraction in response to reviewer feedback, and also added new research on the relationship be- tween genetic similarity and attraction.

• In Chapter 11, “Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help?” we substantially revised the sections on religion and prosocial behavior and on positive psychology. We now discuss recent research by van den Bos on appraisal and bystander intervention and recent media examples, such as a mention of the movie Kick Ass.

• Chapter 12, “Aggression: Why Do We Hurt Other Peo- ple? Can We Prevent It?,” has undergone significant organizational changes across the entire chapter for clarity and narrative flow. The first section now uni- fies various answers to the question of the origins of aggression—evolutionary, cultural, learned, physi- ological influences—with special attention to gender and aggression (similarities as well as the familiar dif- ferences). We have also added a section, “Putting the Elements Together: The Case of Sexual Assault.” Here we not only updated the references but also added the latest studies about causes of rape and sexual assault; sexual scripts; and a 2015 review of research on sexual miscommunications.

• In Chapter 13, “Prejudice: Causes, Consequences, and Cures,” we have added more on the Implicit Associa- tion Test (IAT) as it relates to measuring implicit bias. The chapter also now includes more social neuroscience research on social categorization and expands its dis- cussion of the effects of prejudice on its targets. Several new glossary entries have been added to reflect these updates.

• Social Psychology in Action chapters—“Using Social Psychology to Achieve a Sustainable and Happy Fu- ture,” “Social Psychology and Health,” and “Social Psychology and the Law”—have been updated with many references to new research, but remain shorter chapters. When we teach the course, we find that stu- dents are excited to learn about these applied areas. At the same time, we recognize that some instructors have difficulty fitting the chapters into their courses. As with the previous edition, our approach remains to maintain a shortened length for the applied chap- ters to make it easy to integrate these chapters into different parts of the course in whatever fashion an instructor deems best. SPA1, “Using Social Psychology to Achieve a Sustainable and Happy Future,” has a new opening example about the effects of climate change on U.S. cities and a new discussion of how experiences make people happier than material things. In SPA2, “Social Psychology and Health,” we revised the sections on perceived control, “tend and befriend” responses to stress, and behavioral causes of health problems. SPA3, “Social Psychology and Law,” has updated information on the role of post-identification feedback on eyewit- ness confidence and revised conclusions regarding the repressed memory debate.

REVEL™ Educational technology designed for the way today’s students read, think, and learn When students are engaged deeply, they learn more effec- tively and perform better in their courses. This simple fact inspired the creation of REVEL: an immersive learning ex- perience designed for the way today’s students read, think, and learn. Built in collaboration with educators and stu- dents nationwide, REVEL is the newest, fully digital way to deliver respected Pearson content.

REVEL enlivens course content with media interactives and assessments—integrated directly within the authors’ narrative—that provide opportunities for students to read about and practice course material in tandem. This immer- sive educational technology boosts student engagement, which leads to better understanding of concepts and im- proved performance throughout the course.

We are proud to release the ninth edition of Social Psychol- ogy in REVEL. This version of the book includes integrated videos and media content throughout, allowing students to explore topics more deeply at the point of relevancy. All of the interactive content in REVEL was carefully written and designed by the authors themselves, ensuring that students will receive the most effective presentation of the content in each chapter. Videos were also carefully selected by the au- thor team, and several of them were filmed specifically for the ninth edition in REVEL.

REVEL also offers the ability for students to assess their content mastery by taking multiple-choice quizzes that of- fer instant feedback and by participating in a variety of writing assignments such as peer- reviewed questions and auto-graded assignments.

Learn More About REVEL

Actor A

Actor B


ObserverA + B



ObserverA + B


This hands-on interactive helps students understand a well-known study on perceptual salience by giving them additional pop-up information when they click on a particular participant perspective.

A01_ARON6544_09_SE_FM.indd 12 28/05/15 1:47 AM

preface xiii

Teaching and Learning Resources A really good textbook should become part of the classroom experience, supporting and augmenting the professor’s vision for the class. Social Psychology offers a number of sup- plements that enrich both the professor’s presentation of social psychology and the students’ understanding of it.

MyPsychLab® • MyPsychLab (013401264X) combines proven learning

applications with powerful assessment to engage stu- dents, assess their learning, and help them succeed.

• An individualized study plan for each student, based on performance on chapter pre-tests, helps students focus on the specific topics where they need the most support. The personalized study plan arranges content from less complex thinking—like remembering and un- derstanding—to more complex critical-thinking skills— like applying and analyzing—and is based on Bloom’s taxonomy. Every level of the study plan provides a formative assessment quiz.

• Media assignments for each chapter—including videos with assignable questions—feed directly into the grade- book, enabling instructors to track student progress au- tomatically.

• The Pearson eText (0134012631) lets students access their textbook anytime and anywhere, and in any way they want, including listening online.

• Designed to help you develop and assess concept mas- tery and critical thinking, the Writing Space offers a single place to create, track, and grade writing assign- ments, provide resources, and exchange meaningful, personalized feedback with students, quickly and easily. Thanks to auto-graded, assisted-graded, and

create-your-own assignments, you decide your level of involvement in evaluating students’ work. The au- to-graded option allows you to assign writing in large classes without having to grade essays by hand. And because of integration with Turnitin®, Writing Space can check students’ work for improper citation or pla- giarism.

Instructor Resources We know that instructors are “tour guides” for their stu- dents, leading them through the exciting world of social psychology in the classroom. As such, we have invested tremendous effort in the creation of a world-class collection of instructor resources that will support professors in their mission to teach the best course possible.

For this edition, new coauthor Sam Sommers guided the creation of the supplements package. Here are the high- lights of the supplements we are pleased to provide:


• MyPsychLab Video Series for Social Psychology (0205847021) Current and cutting edge, the new MyPsychLab Video Series for social psychology features videos covering the most recent research, science, and applications. Watch clips from ABC’s wildly popular What Would You Do? series and discover how real peo- ple in real-world scenarios bring to life classic concepts in social psychology. The video series is also available to adopters on a DVD. Contact your Pearson representa- tive for more information.

• Social Psychology PowerPoint Collection (0134012348) The PowerPoints provide an active format for presenting concepts from each chapter and incorporating relevant figures and tables. Instructors can choose from three PowerPoint presentations: a lecture presentation set that

This edition of Social Psychology offers a variety of video types includ- ing interviews, as shown here with our lead author Elliot Aronson; news segments; and original lab experiment re-enactments directed by the authors and filmed at Tufts University.

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highlights major topics from the chapters, a highly visu- al lecture presentation set with embedded videos, or a PowerPoint collection of the complete art files from the text. The PowerPoint files can be downloaded from www

• Instructor’s Resource Manual (0134012445) The In- structor’s Manual includes key terms, lecture ideas, teaching tips, suggested readings, chapter outlines, stu- dent projects and research assignments, Try It! exercises, critical thinking topics and discussion questions, and a media resource guide. It has been updated for the ninth edition with hyperlinks to ease facilitation of navigation within the IM.


• Test Bank (0134012453) Each of the more than 2,000 questions in this test bank is page-referenced to the text and categorized by topic and skill level. Each question in the test bank was reviewed by several instructors to ensure that we are providing you with the best and most accurate content in the industry.

• MyTest Test Bank (0134012437) This Web-based test- generating software provides instructors “best in class” features in an easy-to-use program. Create tests and eas- ily select questions with drag-and-drop or point-and- click functionality. Add or modify test questions using the built-in Question Editor, and print tests in a vari- ety of formats. The program comes with full technical support.


• Learning Catalytics™ is an interactive, student-response tool that uses students’ smartphones, tablets, or laptops to engage them in more sophisticated tasks and think- ing. Now included with MyLab & with eText, Learning Catalytics enables you to generate classroom discussion, guide your lecture, and promote peer-to-peer learning with real-time analytics. Instructors, you can:

• Pose a variety of open-ended questions that help your students develop critical thinking skills.

• Monitor responses to find out where students are struggling.

• Use real-time data to adjust your instructional strat- egy and try other ways of engaging your students during class.

• Manage student interactions by automatically group- ing students for discussion, teamwork, and peer-to- peer learning.

Acknowledgments Elliot Aronson is delighted to acknowledge the collabora- tion of Carol Tavris in helping him update this edition. He would also like to acknowledge the contributions of his best friend (who also happens to be his wife of 60 years), Vera Aronson. Vera, as usual, provided inspiration for his ideas and acted as the sounding board for and supportive critic of many of his semiformed notions, helping to mold them into more-sensible analyses.

Tim Wilson would like to thank his graduate mentor, Richard E. Nisbett, who nurtured his interest in the field and showed him the continuity between social psychologi- cal research and everyday life. He also thanks the many stu- dents who have taken his course in social psychology over the years, for asking fascinating questions and providing wonderful examples of social psychological phenomena in their everyday lives. Lastly, he thanks the many graduate students with whom he has had the privilege of working for joining him in the ever-fascinating discovery of new so- cial psychological phenomena.

Robin Akert is beholden to Jonathan Cheek, Julie Don- nelly, Nan Vaida, Melody Tortosa, and Lila McCain for their feedback and advice, and to her family, Michaela and Wayne Akert, and Linda and Jerry Wuichet; their enthu- siasm and boundless support have sustained her on this project as on all the ones before it. Finally, she wishes to ex- press her gratitude to Dane Archer—mentor, colleague, and friend—who opened the world of social psychology to her and who has been her guide ever since.

Sam Sommers would like to acknowledge, first and foremost, the lovely Sommers ladies, Marilyn, Abigail, and Sophia, for being patient with round-the-clock revision ses- sions, for tolerating the constantly expanding mass of pa- pers and books on the floor of the study (he promises to clean them up before work starts on the tenth edition), and for frequently providing excellent real-life examples that illustrate social psychological concepts. He also gives spe- cial thanks to all of his teachers of social psychology, for in- troducing him to the field, for continued support, and for serving as role models as instructors, mentors, researchers, and writers.

No book can be written and published without the help of many people working with the authors behind the scenes, and our book is no exception. We would like to thank the many colleagues who read one or more chapters of this edition and of previous editions of the book.

Reviewers of the Ninth Edition Jim Allen, State University of New York, College at Geneseo; Kathryn Anderson, Our Lady of the Lake University; Anila Bhagavatula, California State University–Long Beach; Amy Bradshaw-Hoppock, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Ngoc Bui, University of La Verne; Bernardo Carducci, Indiana Univer- sity Southeast; Alex Czopp, Western Washington University; Keith Davis, University of South Carolina; Michael Dudley, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Heidi English, College of the Siskiyous; Joe Ferrari, DePaul University; Christine Floether, Centenary College; Krista Forrest, University of Nebraska at Kearney; Allen Gorman, Radford University; Jerry Green, Tarrant County College; Dana Greene, University of North Carolina; Donnell Griffin, Davidson County Community College; Lisa Harrison, California State University, Sacramento; Gina Hoover, Ohio State University; Jeffrey Huntsinger, Loyola University Chicago; Alisha Janowsky, University of Central Florida; Bethany Johnson, University of Nebraska–Omaha; Deborah Jones, Columbia University; Suzanne Kieffer, University of Houston; Marvin Lee, Tennessee State Uni- versity; Alexandra Luong, University of Minnesota Duluth; Robyn Mallett, Loyola University Chicago; Brian Meier, Gettysburg College; Andrea Mercurio, Boston University; Lori Nelson, University of Iowa; Darren Petronella, Nassau Community Col- lege; Jennifer Rivers, Elms College; Kari Terzino, Des Moines Area

xiv preface

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Community College; T. Joel Wade, Bucknell University; Angela Walker, Quinnipiac University; Chrysalis Wright, University of Central Florida; Garry Zaslow, Nassau Community College; Jie Zhang, University at Buffalo

Reviewers of Past Editions Jeffrey B. Adams, Saint Michael’s College; Bill Adler, Collin County Community College; John R. Aiello, Rutgers University; Charles A. Alexander, Rock Valley College; Sowmya Anand, Ohio State University; Nathan Arbuckle, Ohio State University; Art Aron, State University of New York, Stony Brook; Danny Axsom, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Joan W. Baily, Jersey City State College; Norma Baker, Belmont Uni- versity; Austin Baldwin, University of Iowa; John Bargh, New York University; William A. Barnard, University of Northern Colorado; Doris G. Bazzini, Appalachian State University; Arthur Beaman, University of Kentucky; Gordon Bear, Ramapo College; Susan E. Beers, Sweet Briar College; Kathy L. Bell, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Leonard Berkowitz, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Ellen S. Berscheid, University of Minnesota; John Bickford, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Thomas Blass, University of Maryland; C. George Boeree, Ship- pensburg University; Lisa M. Bohon, California State University, Sacramento; Jennifer Bosson, The University of Oklahoma; Chante C. Boyd, Carnegie Mellon University; Peter J. Brady, Clark State Community College; Kosha Bramesfeld, Pennsylva- nia State University; Kelly A. Brennan, University of Texas, Aus- tin; Richard W. Brislin, East-West Center of the University of Hawaii; Jeff Bryson, San Diego State University; Melissa Burkley, Oklahoma State University; Amy Bush, University of Houston; Amber Bush Amspoker, University of Houston; Brad Bushman, Iowa State University; Thomas P. Cafferty, University of South Carolina, Columbia; Melissa A. Cahoon, Wright State University; Frank Calabrese, Community College of Philadelphia; Michael Caruso, University of Toledo; Nicholas Christenfeld, University of California, San Diego; Margaret S. Clark, Carnegie Mellon University; Russell D. Clark, III, University of North Texas; Susan D. Clayton, Allegheny College; Megan Clegg-Kraynok, West Virginia University; Brian M. Cohen, University of Texas, San Antonio; Florette Cohen, Rutgers Uni- versity; Jack Cohen, Camden County College; Steven G. Cole, Texas Christian University; Eric J. Cooley, Western Oregon State University; Diana Cordova, Yale University; Traci Craig, Univer- sity of Idaho; Jack Croxton, State University of New York, Fredonia; Keith E. Davis, University of South Carolina, Columbia; Mary Ellen Dello Stritto, Ball State University; Dorothee Dietrich, Hamline University; Kate Dockery, University of Florida; Susann Doyle, Gainesville College; Steve Duck, University of Iowa; Michael G. Dudley, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Karen G. Duffy, State University of New York, Geneseo; Valerie Eastman, Drury College; Tami Eggleston, McKendree College; Timothy Elliot, University of Alabama–Birmingham; Steve L. Ellyson, Youngstown State University; Cindy Elrod, Georgia State University; Kadimah Elson, University of California, San Diego/Grossmont College; Rebecca S. Fahrlander, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Alan Feingold, Yale University; Edward Fernandes, East Carolina University; Phil Finney, Southeast Missouri State University; Susan Fiske, University of Massachu- setts; Robin Franck, Southwestern College; Denise Frank, Ramapo College of New Jersey; Timothy M. Franz, St. John Fisher College; William Rick Fry, Youngstown State University; Russell Geen, University of Missouri; Glenn Geher, State University of

New York at New Paltz; David Gersh, Houston Community College; Frederick X. Gibbons, Iowa State University; Cynthia Gilliland, Louisiana State University; Genaro Gonzalez, Univer- sity of Texas; Jessica Gonzalez, Ohio State University; Sara Gorchoff, University of California, Berkeley; Beverly Gray, Youngstown State University; Gordon Hammerle, Adrian Col- lege; H. Anna Han, Ohio State University; Judith Harackiewicz, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Elaine Hatfield, University of Hawaii, Manoa; Vicki S. Helgeson, Carnegie Mellon University; Joyce Hemphill, Cazenovia College; Tracy B. Henley, Mississippi State University; Ed Hirt, Indiana University; Harold Hunziker Jr., Corning Community College; David E. Hyatt, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh; Marita Inglehart, University of Michigan; Carl Kallgren, Behrend College, Pennsylvania State University, Erie; Stephen Kilianski, Rutgers University; Bill Klein, Colby Col- lege; James D. Johnson, University of North Carolina, Wilmington; Lee Jussim, Rutgers University; Stephen Kilianski, Rutgers Uni- versity; Fredrick Koenig, Tulane University; Alan Lambert, Washington University, St. Louis; Emmett Lampkin, Kirkwook Community College; Elizabeth C. Lanthier, Northern Virginia Community College; Patricia Laser, Bucks County Community Col- lege; G. Daniel Lassiter, Ohio University; Dianne Leader, Georgia Institute of Technology; John Lu, Concordia University; Stephanie Madon, Iowa State University; John Malarkey, Wilmington College; Andrew Manion, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota; Allen R. McConnell, Michigan State University; Adam Meade, North Carolina State University; Joann M. Montepare, Tufts University; Richard Moreland, University of Pittsburgh; Dave Nalbone, Purdue University–Calumet; Carrie Nance, Stetson University; Todd D. Nelson, Michigan State University; Elaine Nocks, Furman University; Matylda Osika, University of Houston; Cheri Parks, Colorado Christian University; W. Gerrod Parrott, Georgetown University; David Peterson, Mount Senario College; Mary Pritchard, Boise State University; Cynthia K. S. Reed, Tarrant County College; Dan Richard, University of North Florida; Neal Roese, University of Illinois; Darrin L. Rogers, Ohio State University; Joan Rollins, Rhode Island College; Paul Rose, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Lee D. Ross, Stanford University; Alex Rothman, University of Minnesota; M. Susan Rowley, Champlain College; Delia Saenz, Arizona State University; Brad Sagarin, Northern Illinois University; Fred Sanborn, North Carolina Wesleyan College; Connie Schick, Bloomsburg University; Norbert Schwartz, University of Michigan; Gretchen Sechrist,University at Buffalo; Richard C. Sherman, Miami University of Ohio; Paul Silvia, University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Randolph A. Smith, Ouachita Baptist University; Linda Solomon, Marymount Manhattan Col- lege; Janice Steil, Adelphi University; Jakob Steinberg, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Mark Stewart, American River College; Lori Stone, The University of Texas at Austin; JoNell Strough, West Virginia University; T. Gale Thompson, Bethany College; Scott Tindale, Loyola University of Chicago; David M. Tom, Columbus State Community College; David Trafimow, New Mexico State University; Ruth Warner, St. Louis University; Anne Weiher, Metropolitan State College of Denver; Gary L. Wells, Iowa State University; Jackie White, University of North Carolina at Greens- boro; Paul L. Wienir, Western Michigan University; Kipling D. Williams, University of Toledo; Tamara Williams, Hampton Uni- versity; Paul Windschitl, University of Iowa; Mike Witmer, Skagit Valley College; Gwen Wittenbaum, Michigan State University; William Douglas Woody, University of Northern Colorado; Clare Zaborowski, San Jacinto College; William H. Zachry, University of Tennessee, Martin; Leah Zinner, University of Wisconsin–Madison

preface xv

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We also thank the wonderful editorial staff of Pearson for their expertise and professionalism, including Dickson Musslewhite (Editorial Director), Diane Szulecki (Program Manager), Lindsey Prudhomme Gill (Product Marketing Manager), Luke Robbins (Editorial Assistant), Christopher Fegan (Digital Product Manager), and Shelly Kupperman (Project Manager). We would especially like to thank Mary Piper Hansen (Developmental Editor), who provided ex- pert guidance with constant good cheer and insight even

through barrages of e-mail exchanges and attachments, and Amber Chow (Executive Editor), whose smart vision for the book, and commitment to making it as good as it can be, have truly made a difference. Finally, we thank Mary Falcon, but for whom we never would have begun this project.

Thank you for inviting us into your classroom. We wel- come your suggestions, and we would be delighted to hear your comments about this book.

xvi preface

Elliot Aronson

Tim Wilson

Robin Akert

Sam Sommers

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neat,” they said. “We broke a window and nobody cared!” My friend and I hopped onto our bikes to investigate. We had no trouble finding the house—there it was, sitting off by itself, with a big, jagged hole in a first-floor window. We got off of our bikes and looked around. My friend found a baseball-sized rock lying on the ground and threw a per- fect strike through another first-floor window. There was something exhilarating about the smash-and-tingle of shat- tering glass, especially when we knew there was nothing wrong with what we were doing. After all, the house was abandoned, wasn’t it? We broke nearly every window in the house and then climbed through one of the first-floor windows to look around.

It was then that we realized something was terribly wrong. The house certainly did not look abandoned. There were pictures on the wall, nice furniture, books in shelves. We went home feeling frightened and confused. We soon learned that the house was the home of an elderly couple who were away on vacation. Eventually, my parents dis- covered what we had done and paid a substantial sum to repair the windows. For years, I pondered this incident: Why did I do such a terrible thing? Was I a bad kid? I didn’t think so, and neither did my parents. How, then, could a good kid do such a bad thing? Even though the neighbor- hood kids said the house was abandoned, why couldn’t my friend and I see the clear signs that someone lived there? How crucial was it that my friend was there and threw the first rock? Although I didn’t know it at the time, these re- flections touched on several classic social psychological issues, such as whether only bad people do bad things, whether the social situation can be powerful enough to make good people do bad things, and the way in which our expectations about an event can make it difficult to see it as it really is. Fortunately, my career as a vandal ended with this one incident. It did, however, mark the beginning of my fascination with basic questions about how people understand themselves and the social world—questions I continue to investigate to this day.

Tim Wilson did his undergraduate work at Williams College and Hampshire College and received his PhD from the University of Michigan. Currently Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, he has published numerous articles in the areas of introspection, attitude change, self-knowledge, and affec- tive forecasting, as well as a recent book, Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change. His research has received the support of the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Mental Health. He has been elected twice to the Execu- tive Board of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology and is a Fellow in the American Psychological Society and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. In 2009, he was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2015 he received the William James Fellows Award from the Association for Psycho- logical Science. Wilson has taught the Introduction to Social Psy- chology course at the University of Virginia for more than 30 years. In 2001 he was awarded the University of Virginia All-University Outstanding Teaching Award, and in 2010 was awarded the Uni- versity of Virginia Distinguished Scientist Award.

Elliot Aronson When I was a kid, we were the only Jewish family in a viru- lently anti-Semitic neighborhood. I had to go to Hebrew school every day, late in the afternoon. Being the only youngster in my neighborhood going to Hebrew school made me an easy target for some of the older neighborhood toughs. On my way home from Hebrew school, after dark, I was frequently way- laid and roughed up by roving gangs shouting anti-Semitic epithets.

I have a vivid memory of sitting on a curb after one of these beatings, nursing a bloody nose or a split lip, feel- ing very sorry for myself and wondering how these kids could hate me so much when they didn’t even know me. I thought about whether those kids were taught to hate Jews or whether, somehow, they were born that way. I wondered if their hatred could be changed—if they got to know me better, would they hate me less? I speculated about my own character. What would I have done if the shoe were on the other foot—that is, if I were bigger and stronger than they, would I be capable of beating them up for no good reason?

I didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but eventually I discovered that these were profound questions. And some 30 years later, as an experimental social psychologist, I had the great good fortune to be in a position to answer some of those questions and to invent techniques to reduce the kind of prejudice that had claimed me as a victim.

Elliot Aronson is Professor Emeritus at the University of Califor- nia at Santa Cruz and one of the most renowned social psychologists in the world. In 2002, he was chosen as one of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the twentieth century. Dr. Aronson is the only per- son in the 120-year history of the American Psychological Associa- tion to have received all three of its major awards: for distinguished writing, distinguished teaching, and distinguished research. Many other professional societies have honored his research and teaching as well. These include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which gave him its highest honor, the Distinguished Scientific Research award; the American Council for the Advancement and Sup- port of Education, which named him Professor of the Year of 1989; the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, which awarded him the Gordon Allport prize for his contributions to the reduction of prejudice among racial and ethnic groups; and the William James Award from the Association for Psychological Science. In 1992, he was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A col- lection of papers and tributes by his former students and colleagues, The Scientist and the Humanist, celebrates his contributions to social psychological theory and its application to real-world prob- lems. Dr. Aronson’s own recent books for general audiences include Mistakes Were Made (but not by ME), with Carol Tavris, and a memoir, Not by Chance Alone: My Life as a Social Psychologist.

Tim Wilson One day when I was 8, a couple of older kids rode up on their bikes to share some big news: They had discovered an abandoned house down a country road. “It’s really

About the Authors

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xviii About the Authors

Robin Akert One fall day when I was about 16, I was walking with a friend along the shore of the San Francisco Bay. Deep in conversa- tion, I glanced over my shoulder and saw a sailboat capsize. I pointed it out to my friend, who took only a perfunctory interest and went on talking. However, I kept watching as we walked, and I realized that the two sailors were in the water, clinging to the capsized boat. Again I said something to my friend, who replied, “Oh, they’ll get it upright—don’t worry.”

But I was worried. Was this an emergency? My friend didn’t think so. And I was no sailor; I knew nothing about boats. But I kept thinking, “That water is really cold. They can’t stay in that water too long.” I remember feeling very confused and unsure. What should I do? Should I do any- thing? Did they really need help?

We were near a restaurant with a big window overlook- ing the bay, and I decided to go in and see if anyone had done anything about the boat. Lots of people were watching but not doing anything. This confused me too. Meekly, I asked the bartender to call for some kind of help. He just shrugged. I went back to the window and watched the two small figures in the water. Why was everyone so unconcerned? Was I crazy?

Years later, I reflected on how hard it was for me to do what I did next: I demanded that the bartender let me use his phone. In those days before “911,” it was lucky that I knew there was a Coast Guard station on the bay, and I asked the operator for the number. I was relieved to hear the Guardsman take my message very seriously.

It had been an emergency. I watched as the Coast Guard cutter sped across the bay and pulled the two sailors out of the water. Maybe I saved their lives that day. What really stuck with me over the years was how other people behaved and how it made me feel. The other bystanders seemed un- concerned and did nothing to help. Their reactions made me doubt myself and made it harder for me to decide to take ac- tion. When I later studied social psychology in college, I re- alized that on the shore of the San Francisco Bay that day, I had experienced the “bystander effect” fully: The presence of other, apparently unconcerned bystanders had made it diffi- cult for me to decide if the situation was an emergency and whether it was my responsibility to help.

Robin Akert graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she majored in psychology and so- ciology. She received her PhD in experimental social psychology from Princeton University. She is currently a Professor of Psychology at Wellesley College, where she was awarded the Pinanski Prize for Ex- cellence in Teaching early in her career. She publishes primarily in the area of nonverbal communication, and recently received the AAUW American Fellowship in support of her research. She has taught the social psychology course at Wellesley College for nearly 30 years.

Sam Sommers I went to college to major in English. I only found myself in an Intro to Psychology course as a second-semester freshman because, well, it just seemed like the kind of thing you did as a second-semester freshman. It was when we got to the social psychology section of the course that a little voice in my head starting whispering something along the lines of, Hey, you’ve gotta admit this is pretty good stuff. It’s a lot like the conversations you have with your friends about daily life, but with scientific data.

As part of the class, we had the opportunity to partici- pate in research studies for course credit. So one day I found myself in an interaction study in which I was going to work on solving problems with a partner. I walked in and it was clear that the other guy had arrived earlier—his coat and bag were already hanging on the back of a chair. I was led to another, smaller room and shown a video of my soon-to-be partner. Then I was given a series of written questions about my perceptions of him, my expectations for our upcoming session together, and so forth. Finally, I walked back into the main area. The experimenter handed me a chair and told me to put it down anywhere next to my partner’s chair, and that she would go get him (he, too, was presumably completing written questionnaires in a private room).

So I did. I put my chair down, took a seat, and waited. Then the experimenter returned, but she was alone. She told me the study was over. There was no other participant; there would be no problem-solving in pairs. The video I had watched was of an actor, and in some versions of the study he mentioned having a girlfriend. In other versions, he mentioned a boyfriend. What the researchers were actually studying was how this social category information of sexual orientation would influence participants’ attitudes about the interaction.

And then she took out a tape measure. The tape measure was to gauge how close to my part-

ner’s chair I had placed my own chair, the hypothesis being that discomfort with a gay partner might manifest in terms of participants placing their chairs farther away. Greater comfort with or affinity for the partner was predicted to lead to more desire for proximity.

And at that, I was hooked. The little voice in my head had grown from a whisper to a full-throated yell that this was a field I could get excited about. First of all, the researchers had tricked me. That, alone, I thought was, for lack of a better word, cool. But more important, they had done so in the ef- fort to get me and my fellow participants to reveal something about our attitudes, preferences, and tendencies that we never would have admitted to (or perhaps even would have been aware of) had they just asked us directly. Here was a fasci- natingly creative research design, being used in the effort to study what struck me as an incredibly important social issue.

Like I said, I was hooked. And I look forward to help- ing to introduce you to this field that caught me by surprise back when I was a student and continues to intrigue and inspire me to this day.

Sam Sommers earned his BA from Williams College and his PhD from the University of Michigan. Since 2003 he has been a fac- ulty member in the Department of Psychology at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. His research examines issues related to stereotyping, prejudice, and group diversity, with a particular inter- est in how these processes play out in the legal domain. He has won multiple teaching awards at Tufts, including the Lerman-Neubauer Prize for Outstanding Teaching and Advising and the Gerald R. Gill Professor of the Year Award. He was also inducted into the Tufts Hall of Diversity for his efforts to promote an inclusive climate on campus for all students. He has testified as an expert witness on issues related to racial bias, jury decision-making, and eyewit- ness memory in criminal trial proceedings in seven states. His first general audience book on social psychology was published in 2011, titled Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World. His next book, titled Your Brain on Sports, is coauthored with L. Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated and will be published in early 2016.

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Just Say No to the Couch Potato Within Because social psychology is about everyday life, you might lull yourself into believing that the material is all common sense. Don’t be fooled. The material presented in this book is more complicated than it might seem. Therefore, we want to emphasize that the best way to learn it is to work with it in an active, not passive, fashion. You can’t just read a chapter once and expect it to stick with you. You have to go over the material, wrestle with it, make your own con- nections to it, question it, think about it, interact with it. Actively working with material makes it memorable and makes it your own. Because it’s a safe bet that someone is going to ask you about this material later and you’re going to have to pull it out of memory, do what you can to get it into memory now. Here are some techniques to use:

• Go ahead and be bold—use a highlighter! If you high- light important points using the highlighting tool in your toolbar, you will remember those important points better and can scroll back through them later.

• Read the chapter before the applicable class lecture, not afterward. This way, you’ll get more out of the lecture, which will likely introduce new material in addition to what is in the chapter. The chapter will give you the big picture, as well as a lot of detail. The lecture will en- hance that information and help you put it all together. If you haven’t read the chapter first, you may not under- stand some of the points made in the lecture or realize which points are most important.

• Here’s a good way to study material: Write out a key concept or a study in your own words, without looking at the book or your notes. Or say it out loud to your- self—again in your own words, with your eyes closed. Can you do it? How good was your version? Did you omit anything important? Did you get stuck at some point, unable to remember what comes next? If so, you now know that you need to go over that information in more detail. You can also study with someone else, describing theories and studies to each other and seeing if you’re making sense.

• If you have trouble remembering the results of an im- portant study, try drawing your own version of a graph of the findings (you can use our data graphs for an idea of how to proceed). You will probably find that you remember the research results much better in pictorial form than in words. Draw the information a few times and it will stay with you.

• Remember, the more you work with the material, the better you will learn and remember it. Write it in your own words, talk about it, explain it to others, or draw visual representations of it.

“There is then creative reading as well as creative writing,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1837, and that aptly sums up what you need to know to be a proficient student: Be an active, creative consumer of information. How do you accomplish that feat? Actu- ally, it’s not difficult. Like everything else in life, it just takes some work—some clever, well-planned, purposeful work. Here are some suggestions about how to do it.

Get to Know the Textbook Believe it or not, in writing this book, we thought care- fully about the organization and structure of each chapter. Things are presented as they are for a reason, and that rea- son is to help you learn the material in the best way possi- ble. Here are some tips on what to look for in each chapter.

Key terms are in boldface type in the text so that you’ll notice them. We define the terms in the text, and that definition appears again in the margin. These marginal def- initions are there to help you out if later in the chapter you forget what something means. The marginal definitions are quick and easy to find. You can also look up key terms in the alphabetical Glossary at the end of this textbook.

Make sure you notice the headings and subheadings. The headings are the skeleton that holds a chapter together. They link together like vertebrae. If you ever feel lost, look back to the previous heading and the headings before it— this will give you the “big picture” of where the chapter is going. It should also help you see the connections between sections.

The summary at the end of each chapter is a succinct shorthand presentation of the chapter information. You should read it and make sure there are no surprises when you do so. If anything in the summary doesn’t ring a bell, go back to the chapter and reread that section. Most im- portant, remember that the summary is intentionally brief, whereas your understanding of the material should be full and complete. Use the summary as a study aid before your exams. When you read it over, everything should be familiar. When you have that wonderful feeling of know- ing more than is in the summary, you’ll know that you are ready to take the exam.

Be sure to do the Try It! exercises. They will make concepts from social psychology concrete and help you see how they can be applied to your own life. Some of the Try It! exercises replicate social psychology experiments. Oth- ers reproduce self-report scales so you can see where you stand in relation to other people. Still others are short quiz- zes that illustrate social psychological concepts.

Watch the videos. Our carefully curated collection of interviews, news clips, and research study reenactments is designed to enhance, and help you better understand, the concepts you’re reading. If you can see the concept in ac- tion, it’s likely to sink in a little deeper.

Special Tips for Students

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• Last but not least, remember that this material is a lot of fun. You haven’t even started reading the book yet, but we think you’re going to like it. In particular, you’ll see how much social psychology has to tell you about your real, everyday life. As this course progresses, you might want to remind yourself to observe the events of your daily life with new eyes—the eyes of a social psychologist— and try to apply what you are learning to the behavior of friends, acquaintances, strangers, and, yes, even yourself. Make sure you use the Try It! exercises and visit the Web site. You will find out how much social psychology can help us understand our lives. When you read the news, think about what social psychology has to say about cur- rent events and behaviors; we believe you will find that your understanding of daily life is richer. If you notice a

news article that you think is an especially good example of “social psychology in action,” please send it to us, with a full reference to where you found it and on what page. If we decide to use it in the next edition of this book, we’ll list your name in the Acknowledgments.

We realize that ten years from now you may not re- member all the facts, theories, and names you learn now. Although we hope you will remember some of them, our main goal is for you to take with you into your future a great many of the broad social psychological concepts pre- sented herein—and, perhaps more important, a critical and scientific way of thinking. If you open yourself to social psychology’s magic, we believe it will enrich the way you look at the world and the way you live in it.

xx Special Tips for Students

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Chapter 1

Introducing Social Psychology

Chapter Outline and Learning Objectives

Defining Social Psychology 1.1 What is social psychology, and how is it different

from other disciplines?

Social Psychology, Philosophy, Science, and Common Sense

How Social Psychology Differs from Its Closest Cousins

The Power of the Situation 1.2 Why does it matter how people explain and interpret

events—and their own and others’ behavior?

The Importance of Explanation The Importance of Interpretation

Where Construals Come From: Basic Human Motives 1.3 What happens when people’s need to feel good about

themselves conflicts with their need to be accurate?

The Self-Esteem Motive: The Need to Feel Good About Ourselves

The Social Cognition Motive: The Need to Be Accurate

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2 Chapter 1

It is a pleasure to be your tour guides as we take you on a journey through the world of social psychology. The four authors of your book, combined, have taught this course for almost 100 years, so we know the terrain pretty well. As we embark on this journey, our hope is to convey our excitement about social psychology—what it is and why it matters. Not only do we enjoy teaching this stuff, we also love contributing to the growth and development of this field—for, in addition to being teachers, each of us is a scientist who has contributed to the knowledge base that makes up our dis- cipline. In effect, not only are we leading this tour, we also helped create some of its major attractions. We will travel to fascinating and exotic places like prejudice, love, propaganda, education, the law, aggression, compassion, . . . all the rich variety and surprise of human social life. Ready? OK, let’s go!

Let’s begin with a few examples of the heroic, touching, tragic, and puzzling things that people do:

• After two brothers set off a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three people and severely injuring 170 others, citizens of Boston raced to the rescue. Many, in spite of the risk to themselves, ran straight to the site of the bombing to help the injured, putting tourniquets on bleeding wounds until ambu- lances could arrive. “We’re a strong city,” said the mayor. “Boston will overcome.”

• Kristen has known Martin for 2 months and feels that she is madly in love with him. “We’re soul mates!” she tells her best friend. “He’s the one!” “What are you thinking?” says the BF. “He’s completely wrong for you! He’s as different from you as can be—different background, religion, politics; you even like different movies.” “I’m not worried,” says Kristen. “Opposites attract. I know that’s true; I read it on Wikipedia!”

• Janine and her brother Oscar are arguing about fraternities. Janine’s college didn’t have any, but Oscar is at a large state university in the Midwest, where he has joined Alpha Beta. He went through a severe and scary hazing ritual to join, and Janine cannot understand why he loves these guys so much. “They make the pledges do such stupid stuff,” she says. “They humiliate you and force you to get sick drunk and practically freeze to death in the middle of the night. How can you possibly be happy living there?” “You don’t get it,” Oscar replies. “Alpha Beta is the best of all fraternities. My frat brothers just seem more fun than most other guys.”

• Abraham Biggs Jr., age 19, had been posting to an online discussion board for 2 years. Unhappy about his future and that a relationship had ended, Biggs an- nounced on camera that he was going to commit suicide. He took an overdose of drugs and linked to a live video feed from his bedroom. None of his hundreds of observers called the police for more than 10 hours; some egged him on. Paramed- ics reached him too late, and Biggs died.

• In the mid-1970s, several hundred members of the Peoples Temple, a California-based religious cult, immigrated to Guyana under the guidance of their leader, the Reverend Jim Jones, where they founded an interracial commu- nity called Jonestown. But within a few years some members wanted out, an out- side investigation was about to get Jones in trouble, and the group’s solidarity was waning. Jones grew despondent and, summoning everyone in the commu- nity, spoke to them about the beauty of dying and the certainty that everyone would meet again in another place. The residents willingly lined up in front of a vat containing a mixture of Kool-Aid and cyanide, and drank the lethal concoc- tion. (The legacy of this massacre is the term “drinking the Kool-Aid,” referring to a person’s blind belief in an ideology that could lead to death.) A total of 914 people died, including 80 babies and the Reverend Jones.

Why do many people rush into danger and discomfort to help strangers in trou- ble? Is Kristen right that opposites attract or is she just kidding herself? Why did Oscar

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Introducing Social Psychology 3

come to love his fraternity brothers in spite of the hazing they had put him through? Why would people watch a troubled young man commit suicide in front of their eyes, when, by simply flagging the video to alert the Web site, they might have averted a tragedy? How could hundreds of people be induced to kill their own children and then commit suicide?

All of these stories—the good, the bad, the ugly—pose fascinating questions about human behavior. In this book, we will show you how social psychologists go about answering them.

Defining Social Psychology 1.1 What is social psychology, and how is it different from other disciplines?

The task of the psychologist is to try to understand and predict human behavior. Different kinds of psychologists go about this task in different ways, and we want to show you how social psychologists do it. Social psychology is the scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people: parents, friends, employers, teachers, strangers—indeed, by the entire social situation (Allport, 1985). When we think of social influence, the kinds of examples that readily come to mind are direct attempts at persuasion, whereby one person deliberately tries to change another person’s behav- ior or attitude. This is what happens when advertisers use sophisticated techniques to persuade us to buy a particular brand of toothpaste, or when our friends try to get us to do something we don’t really want to do (“Come on, have another beer—everyone is doing it”), or when the schoolyard bully uses force or threats to get smaller kids to part with their lunch money.

The study of direct attempts at social influence is a major part of social psychol- ogy and will be discussed in our chapters on conformity, attitudes, and group pro- cesses. To the social psychologist, however, social influence is broader than attempts by one person to change another person’s behavior. It includes our thoughts and feel- ings as well as our overt acts, and takes many forms other than deliberate attempts at persuasion. We are often influenced merely by the presence of other people, including perfect strangers who are not interacting with us. Other people don’t even have to be present: We are governed by the imaginary approval or disapproval of our par- ents, friends, and teachers and by how we expect others to react to us. Sometimes these influences conflict with one another, and social psychologists are especially interested in what happens in the mind of an individual when they do. For example, conflicts frequently occur when young people go off to college and find themselves torn between the beliefs and values they learned at home and the beliefs and values of their professors or peers. (See the Try It!)

Social Psychology The scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people

Social Influence The effect that the words, actions, or mere presence of other people have on our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or behavior

Try IT! How Do Other People Affect Your Values? Think of the major values that govern people’s lives: love, money, sex, religion, freedom, compassion for others, security, children, duty, loyalty, and so on. Make three lists of the 10 values that are most important to (1) you, (2) your parents, and (3) your closest friends in college. If there are

differences in your lists, how do they affect you? Are some of your values conflicting with those of your parents or friends, and if so do you find yourself rejecting one set of values in favor of the other? Are you trying to find a compromise between the two?

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4 Chapter 1

We will spend the rest of this introductory chapter expanding on these issues, so that you will get an idea of what social psychology is, what it isn’t, and how it differs from other, related disciplines.

Social Psychology, Philosophy, Science, and Common Sense Throughout history, philosophy has been a major source of insight about human nature. Indeed, the work of philosophers is part of the foundation of contempo- rary psychology. Psychologists have looked to philosophers for insights into the nature of consciousness (e.g., Dennett, 1991) and how people form beliefs about the social world (e.g., Gilbert, 1991). Sometimes, however, even great thinkers find themselves in disagreement with one another. When this occurs, how are you sup- posed to know who is right? Are there some situations where Philosopher A might be right, and other situations where Philosopher B might be right? How would you determine this?

We social psychologists address many of the same questions that philosophers do, but we attempt to look at these questions scientifically—even questions concern- ing that great human mystery, love. In 1663, the Dutch philosopher Benedict Spinoza offered a highly original insight. In sharp disagreement with the hedonistic philoso- pher Aristippus, he proposed that if we fall in love with someone whom we formerly

Our thoughts, feelings, and actions are influenced by our immediate surroundings, including the presence of other people—even mere strangers.

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Introducing Social Psychology 5

hated, that love will be stronger than if hatred had not preceded it. Spinoza’s prop- osition was beautifully worked out, with impeccable logic. But how can we be sure that it holds up? Does it always hold up? What are the conditions under which it does or doesn’t? These are empirical questions, meaning that their answers can be derived from experimentation or measurement rather than by personal opinion (Aronson, 1999; Aronson & Linder, 1965).

Now let’s take another look at the examples that opened this chapter. Why did these people behave the way they did? One way to answer would simply be to ask them. We could ask the people who observed Abraham Biggs’s suicide why they didn’t call the police; we could ask Oscar why he enjoys fraternity life; we could ask the Boston rescuers why they ran headlong into a potentially dangerous situation. The problem with this approach is that people are often unaware of the reasons behind their own responses and feelings (Gilbert, 2008; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977; Wilson, 2002). People might come up with plenty of justifications for not call- ing the police to rescue Biggs, but those justifications might not be the reason they did nothing.

After the mass suicide at Jonestown, everyone had an explanation:

• Jones used hypnotism and drugs to weaken the resistance of his followers.

• Jones attracted people who were already clinically depressed.

• Only mentally ill or emotionally disturbed people join cults.

These were the leading “common sense” answers, but they are mistaken. More- over, if we rely on commonsense explanations of one particular tragic event, we don’t learn much that helps us understand other, similar ones.

Thus, in explaining a tragedy like Jonestown—or any other topic of interest— social psychologists would want to know which of many possible explanations is the most likely. To do this, we have devised an array of scientific methods to test our assumptions, guesses, and ideas about human social behavior, empirically and sys- tematically rather than by relying on folk wisdom, common sense, or the opinions and insights of philosophers, novelists, political pundits, and our grandmothers. Doing

British soldiers stand near burning vehicles in Kabul, Afghanistan, after a suicide car bomber killed soldiers on a NATO-led peacekeeping mission. What causes a person to become a suicide bomber? Popular theories say such people must be mentally ill, alienated loners, or psychopaths. But social psychologists would try to understand the circumstances and situations that drive otherwise healthy, well-educated, bright people to commit murder and suicide for the sake of a religious or political goal.

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6 Chapter 1

experiments in social psychology presents many challenges, primarily because we are attempting to predict the behavior of highly sophisticated organisms in complex situations. As scientists, our goal is to find objective answers to such questions as: What are the factors that cause aggression? What causes prejudice, and how might we reduce it? What variables cause two people to like or love each other? Why do certain kinds of political advertisements work better than others?

To answer questions like these, the first task of the social psychologist is to make an educated guess, called a hypothesis, about the specific situations under which one outcome or the other would occur. Just as a physicist performs experiments to test hypotheses about the nature of the physical world, the social psychologist performs experiments to test hypotheses about the nature of the social world. The next task is to design well-controlled experiments sophisticated enough to tease out the situ- ations that would result in one or another outcome. This method allows us to make accurate predictions once we know the key aspects of the prevailing situation. (See Chapter 2.)

Social psychologists are not opposed to folk wisdom—far from it. The primary problem with relying entirely on such sources is that, like philosopher A and phi- losopher B, they often disagree with one another. Consider what folk wisdom has to say about the factors that influence how much we like other people. We know that “birds of a feather flock together.” Of course, we say, thinking of the many examples of our pleasure in hanging out with people who share our backgrounds and interests. But folk wisdom also tells us—as it persuaded lovestruck Kristen—that “opposites attract.” Of course, we say, thinking of all the times we were attracted to people with different backgrounds and interests. Well, which is it? Similarly, are we to believe that “out of sight is out of mind” or that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”?

Social psychologists would suggest that there are some conditions under which birds of a feather do flock together, and other conditions under which opposites do attract. Similarly, in some conditions absence does make the heart grow fonder, and in others “out of sight” does mean out of mind. But it’s not enough to say both proverbs can be true. Part of the job of the social psychologist is to do the research that specifies the conditions under which one or another is most likely to take place.

How Social Psychology Differs from Its Closest Cousins If you are like most people, when you read the examples that opened this chapter, you assumed that the individuals involved had some weaknesses, strengths, and personality traits that led them to respond as they did. Some people are leaders and others are followers; some people are public-spirited and others are selfish; some are brave and others are cowardly. Perhaps the people who failed to get help for Abraham Biggs were lazy, timid, selfish, or heartless. Given what you know about their behavior, would you loan them your car or trust them to take care of your new puppy?

Asking and trying to answer questions about people’s behavior in terms of their traits is the work of personality psychologists, who generally focus on individual dif- ferences, the aspects of people’s personalities that make them different from others. Research on personality increases our understanding of human behavior, but social psychologists believe that explaining behavior primarily through personality traits ignores a critical part of the story: the powerful role played by social influence.

Consider again the tragedy at Jonestown. Remember that it was not just a handful of people who committed suicide there, but almost 100 percent of them. It is highly improbable that they were all mentally ill or had the same constellation of person- ality traits. If we want a richer, more thorough explanation of this tragic event, we need to understand what kind of power and influence a charismatic figure like Jim

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Introducing Social Psychology 7

Jones possessed, the nature of the impact of living in a closed society cut off from other points of view, and other factors that could have caused mentally healthy peo- ple to obey him. In fact, as social psychologists have shown, the social conditions at Jonestown were such that virtually anyone—even strong, nondepressed individuals like you or us—would have succumbed to Jones’s influence.

Here is a more mundane example. Suppose you go to a party and see a great-look- ing fellow student you have been hoping to get to know better. The student is look- ing pretty uncomfortable, however—standing alone, not making eye contact, not talking to anyone who comes over. You decide you’re not so interested; this person seems pretty aloof, even arrogant. But a few weeks later you see the student again, now being outgoing, witty, and appealing. So what is this person “really” like? Shy or arrogant, charming and welcoming? It’s the wrong question; the answer is both and neither. All of us are capable of being shy in some situations and outgoing in others. A much more interesting question is: What factors were different in these two situations that had such a profound effect on the student’s behavior? That is a social psychologi- cal question. (See the Try It!)

Personality psychologists study qualities of the individual that might make a person shy, conventional, rebellious, and willing to wear a turquoise wig in public or a yellow shirt in a sea of blue. Social psychologists study the powerful role of social influence on how all of us behave.

Try IT! Social Situations and Shyness 1. Think about one of your friends or acquaintances whom you

regard as shy. (You may use yourself!) Try not to think about him or her as “a shy person,” but rather as someone who has difficulty relating to people in some situations but not others.

2. List the situations you think are most likely to bring out your friend’s shy behavior.

3. List the situations that might bring forth more outgoing behaviors on your friend’s part. Being with a small group of friends he or she is at ease with? Being with a new person, but one who shares your friend’s interests?

4. Set up a social environment that you think would make your friend comfortable. Pay close attention to the effect that it has on your friend’s behavior—or yours.

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8 Chapter 1

Social psychology is related to other disciplines in the social sciences, includ- ing sociology, economics, and political science. Each examines the influence of social factors on human behavior, but important differences set social psychology apart—most notably in their level of analysis. For biologists, the level of analy- sis might be genes, hormones, or neurotransmitters. For personality and clinical psychologists, the level of the analysis is the individual. For the social psychologist, the level of analysis is the individual in the context of a social situation. For example, to understand why people intentionally hurt one another, the social psycholo- gist focuses on the psychological processes that trigger aggression in specific sit- uations. To what extent is aggression preceded by frustration? Does frustration always precede aggression? If people are feeling frustrated, under what condi- tions will they vent their frustration with an aggressive act and under what con- ditions will they restrain themselves? What are other causes of aggression? (See Chapter 12.)

Other social sciences are more concerned with social, economic, political, and historical factors that influence events. Sociology, rather than focusing on the indi- vidual, focuses on such topics as social class, social structure, and social institu- tions. Of course, because society is made up of collections of people, some overlap is bound to exist between the domains of sociology and those of social psychology. The major difference is that in sociology, the level of analysis is the group, institution, or society at large. So while sociologists, like social psychologists, are interested in causes of aggression, sociologists are more likely to be concerned with why a par- ticular society (or group within a society) produces different levels of violence in its members. Why is the murder rate in the United States so much higher than in Canada or Europe? Within the United States, why is the murder rate higher in some geographic regions than in others? How do changes in society relate to changes in aggressive behavior?

Social psychology differs from other social sciences not only in the level of analysis, but also in what is being explained. The goal of social psychology is to iden- tify properties of human nature that make almost everyone susceptible to social inf luence, regardless of social class or culture. The laws governing the relationship between frustration and aggression, for example, are hypothesized to be true of most peo- ple in most places, not just members of one gender, social class, culture, age group, or ethnicity.

However, because social psychology is a young science that developed mostly in the United States, many of its findings have not yet been tested in other cultures to see if they are universal. None- theless, our goal is to discover such laws. And increas- ingly, as methods and theories developed by American social psychologists are adopted by European, Asian, Afri- can, Middle Eastern, and South American social psychol- ogists, we are learning more about the extent to which these laws are universal, as well as cultural differences in the way these laws are expressed (see Chapter 2). Cross- cultural research is therefore extremely valuable, because it sharpens theories, either by demonstrating their universality or by leading us to discover additional variables that help us improve our understanding and prediction of human behav- ior. We will offer many examples of cross-cultural research in this book.

In sum, social psychology is located between its closest cousins, sociology and personality psychology (see Table 1.1). Social psychology and sociology share an interest in the way the situation and the larger society

The people in this photo can be studied from a variety of perspectives: as individuals or as members of a family, a social class, an occupation, a culture, or a region. Sociologists study the group or institution; social psychologists study the influence of those groups and institutions on individual behavior.

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Introducing Social Psychology 9

influence behavior. Social psychology and personality psychology share an inter- est in the psychology of the individual. But social psychologists work in the over- lap between those two disciplines: They emphasize the psychological processes shared by most people around the world that make them susceptible to social influence.

Table 1.1 Social Psychology Compared to Related Disciplines

Sociology Social Psychology Personality Psychology

The study of groups, organizations, and societies, rather than individuals.

The study of the psychological processes people have in common that make them susceptible to social influence.

The study of the characteristics that make individuals unique and different from one another.

revIew QueSTIonS 1. A social psychologist would tend to look for explanations of a

young man’s violent behavior primarily in terms of: a. his aggressive personality traits. b. possible genetic contributions. c. how his peer group behaves. d. what his father taught him.

2. The topic that would most interest a social psychologist is a. how the level of extroversion of different presidents

affected their political decisions. b. whether people’s decision about whether to cheat on

a test is influenced by how they imagine their friends would react if they found out.

c. the extent to which people’s social class predicts their income.

d. what passers-by on the street think of global warming.

3. How does social psychology differ from personality psychology? a. Social psychology focuses on individual differences,

whereas personality psychology focuses on how people behave in different situations.

b. Social psychology focuses on the shared processes that make people susceptible to social influence, whereas personality psychology focuses on individual differences.

c. Social psychology provides general laws and theories about societies, whereas personality psychology stud- ies the characteristics that make people unique.

d. Social psychology focuses on individual differences, whereas personality psychology provides general laws and theories about societies.

4. What is the “level of analysis” for a social psychologist? a. The individual in the context of a social situation. b. The social situation itself. c. A person’s level of achievement. d. A person’s level of reasoning.

5. Which of the following research topics about violence is one that a social psychologist might investigate? a. How rates of violence change over time within a culture. b. Why murder rates vary across cultures. c. Brain abnormalities that produce aggression when a

person is provoked. d. Why some situations are more likely to provoke aggres-

sion than others.

See page AK-1 for the answers.

The Power of the Situation 1.2 Why does it matter how people explain and interpret events—and their own

and others’ behavior?

Suppose you stop at a roadside restaurant for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. The server comes over to take your order, but you are having a hard time deciding which pie you want. While you are hesitating, she impatiently taps her pen against her note- pad, rolls her eyes toward the ceiling, scowls at you, and finally snaps, “Hey, I haven’t got all day, you know!” Like most people, you would probably think that she is a nasty or unpleasant person.

But suppose, while you are deciding whether to complain about her to the man- ager, a regular customer tells you that your “crabby” server is a single parent who

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10 Chapter 1

was kept awake all night by the moaning of her youngest child, who was terribly sick; that her car broke down on her way to work and she has no idea where she will find the money to have it repaired; that when she finally arrived at the restaurant, she learned that her coworker was too drunk to work, requiring her to cover twice the usual number of tables; and that the short-order cook keeps screaming at her because she is not picking up the orders fast enough to please him. Given all that information, you might now conclude that she is not a nasty person but an ordinary human under enormous stress.

This small story has huge implications. Most Americans will explain someone’s behavior in terms of personality; they focus on the fish, and not the water the fish swims in. The fact that they fail to take the situation into account has a profound impact on how human beings relate to one another—such as, in the case of the server, whether they feel sympathy and tolerance or impatience and anger.

The Importance of Explanation Thus, the social psychologist is up against a formidable barrier known as the fundamental attribution error: the tendency to explain our own and other people’s behavior entirely in terms of personality traits and to underestimate the power of social influence and the immediate situation. We are going to give you the basics of this phenomenon here, because you will be encountering it throughout this book. Understanding that people’s behavior is often not caused by their personalities but by the situations they are in is central to social psychology.

Explaining behavior in terms of personality can give us a feeling of false security. When people try to explain repugnant or bizarre behavior, such as suicide bombers or the people of Jonestown taking their own lives and killing their own children, they find it tempting and, in a strange way, comforting to write off the victims as flawed human beings. Doing so gives them the feeling that it could never happen to them. Ironically, this way of thinking actually increases our vulnerability to destructive social influences by making us less aware of our own susceptibility to them. More- over, by failing to fully appreciate the power of the situation, we tend to oversimplify the problem, which can lead us to blame the victim in situations where the individ- ual was overpowered by social forces too difficult for most of us to resist, as in the Jonestown tragedy.

To take a more everyday example, imagine a situation in which two people are playing a game and they must choose one of two strategies: They can play competi- tively and try to win as much money as possible and make sure their partner loses as much as possible, or they can play cooperatively and try to make sure they both win some money. How do you think each of your friends would play this game?

Few people find this question hard to answer; we all have a feeling for the rel- ative competitiveness of our friends. Accordingly, you might say, “I am certain that my friend Jennifer, who is a hard-nosed business major, would play this game more competitively than my friend Anna, who is a soft-hearted, generous person.” But how accurate are you likely to be? Should you be thinking about the game itself rather than who is playing it?

To find out, Lee Ross and his students conducted the following experiment ( Liberman, Samuels, & Ross, 2004). They described the game to resident assis- tants (RAs) in a student dorm and asked them to come up with a list of undergrads whom they thought were either especially cooperative or especially competitive. As expected, the RAs easily identified students who fit each category. Next, Ross invited these students to play the game in a psychology experiment. There was one added twist: The researchers varied a seemingly minor aspect of the social situation—what the game was called. They told half the participants that they would be playing the

Fundamental Attribution Error The tendency to overestimate the extent to which people’s behavior is due to internal, dispositional factors and to underestimate the role of situational factors

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Introducing Social Psychology 11

Wall Street Game and the other half that they would be playing the Community Game. Everything else about the game was identical. Thus, people who were judged as either competitive or cooperative played a game that was called either the Wall Street Game or the Community Game, resulting in four conditions: cooperative peo- ple playing the Wall Street Game, cooperative people playing the Community Game, competitive people playing the Wall Street Game, or competitive people playing the Community Game.

Again, most of us go through life assuming that what really counts is an individu- al’s personality, not something about the individual’s immediate situation and certainly not something as trivial as what a game is called, right? Not so fast! As you can see in Figure 1.1, the name of the game made a tremendous difference in how people behaved. When it was called the Wall Street Game, approximately two-thirds of the students responded competitively; when it was called the Community Game, only a third responded competitively. The name of the game sent a powerful message about how the players should behave. But a student’s alleged personality trait made no measurable dif- ference in the student’s behavior. The students labeled competitive were no more likely to adopt the competitive strategy than those who were labeled cooperative. We will see this pattern of results throughout this book: Aspects of the social situation that may seem minor can overwhelm the differences in people’s personalities (Ross & Ward, 1996).

If merely assigning a name to the game has an important impact on the behavior of the players, what do you think the impact would be of changing the atmosphere of the classroom to reflect the nature of the game being played? Suppose you are a seventh-grade history teacher. In one of your classes, you structure the learning expe- rience so that it resembles the situation implied by the term “Wall Street Game.” You encourage competition, you tell your students to raise their hands as quickly as pos- sible and to jeer at any incorrect answers given by other students. In your other class, you structure the learning situation such that the students are rewarded for cooper- ating with one another, for listening well, for encouraging one another and pulling together to learn the material. What do you suppose the effect these different situa- tions might have on the performance of your students, on their enjoyment of school, and on their feelings about one another? Such an experiment will be discussed in Chapters 12 and 13 (Aronson & Patnoe, 2011).

Wall Street GameCommunity Game










“Cooperative” people

“Competitive” people

P er

ce nt

ag e

of p

eo pl

e ch

oo si

ng c

oo pe

ra ti

ve s

tr at

eg y

Figure 1.1 Why the Name of the Game Matters In this experiment, when the name of the game was the “Community Game,” players were far more likely to behave cooperatively than when it was called the “Wall Street Game”—regardless of their own cooperative or competitive personality traits. The game’s title conveyed social norms that trumped personality and shaped the players’ behavior.

(Data from Liberman, Samuels, & Ross, 2004)

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Of course personality differences do exist and frequently are of great importance, but social and environmental situations are so powerful that they have dramatic effects on almost everyone. This is the domain of the social psychologist.

The Importance of Interpretation It is one thing to say that the social situation has profound effects on human behav- ior, but what exactly do we mean by the social situation? One strategy for defining it would be to specify the objective properties of the situation, such as how reward- ing it is to people, and then document the behaviors that follow from these objective properties.

This is the approach taken by behaviorism, a school of psychology maintaining that to understand human behavior, one need only consider the reinforcing properties of the environment: When behavior is followed by a reward (such as money, attention, praise, or other benefits), it is likely to continue; when behavior is followed by a pun- ishment (such as pain, loss, or angry shouts), it is likely to become extinguished. Dogs come when they are called because they have learned that compliance is followed by positive reinforcement (e.g., food or petting); children memorize their multiplication tables more quickly if you praise them, smile at them, and paste a gold star on their foreheads following correct answers. Behavioral psychologists, notably the pioneer- ing behaviorist B. F. Skinner (1938), believed that all behavior could be understood by examining the rewards and punishments in the organism’s environment.

Behaviorism has many strengths, and its principles explain some behavior very well. (See Chapter 10.) However, because the early behaviorists did not concern them- selves with cognition, thinking, and feeling—concepts they considered too vague and mentalistic and not sufficiently anchored to observable behavior—they overlooked phenomena that are vital to the human social experience. Most especially, they over- looked the importance of how people interpret their environments.

For social psychologists, the relationship between the social environment and the individual is a two-way street. Not only does the situation influence people’s behav- ior; people’s behavior also depends on their interpretation, or construal, of their social environment (Griffin & Ross, 1991; Ross & Nisbett, 1991). For example, if a per- son approaches you, slaps you on the back, and asks you how you are feeling, your response will depend not on what that person has done, but on how you interpret that behavior. You might construe these actions differently depending on whether they come from a close friend who is concerned about your health, a casual acquain- tance who is just passing the time of day, or an automobile salesperson attempting to be ingratiating for the purpose of selling you a used car. And your answer will vary also, even if the question about your health were worded the same and asked in the same tone of voice. You would be unlikely to say, “Actually, I’m feeling pretty worried about this kidney pain” to a salesperson, but you might tell your close friend.

The emphasis on construal has its roots in an approach called Gestalt psychology. First proposed as a theory of how people perceive the physical world, Gestalt psy- chology holds that we should study the subjective way in which an object appears in people’s minds (the gestalt, or whole) rather than the way in which the objective, phys- ical attributes of the object combine. For example, one way to understand how people perceive an overall image of a painting would be to break it down into its individual elements, such as the exact amounts of primary colors applied to the different parts of the canvas, the types of brushstrokes used to apply the colors, and the different geo- metric shapes they form. According to Gestalt psychologists, however, it is impossible to understand how an object is perceived only by studying these building blocks of perception. The whole is different from the sum of its parts. One must focus on the phenomenology of the perceivers—on how an object appears to them—instead of on its objective components.

Behaviorism A school of psychology maintaining that to understand human behavior, one need only consider the reinforcing properties of the environment

Construal The way in which people perceive, comprehend, and interpret the social world

Gestalt Psychology A school of psychology stressing the importance of studying the subjective way in which an object appears in people’s minds rather than the objective, physical attributes of the object

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Introducing Social Psychology 13

The Gestalt approach was formulated by German psychologists in the first part of the twentieth century. In the late 1930s, several of these psychologists fled to the United States to escape the Nazi regime. Among the émigrés was Kurt Lewin, gen- erally considered the founding father of modern experimental social psychology. As a young German Jewish professor in the 1930s, Lewin experienced the anti-Semitism rampant in Nazi Germany. The experience profoundly affected his thinking, and once he moved to the United States, Lewin helped shape American social psychology, directing it toward a deep interest in exploring the causes and cures of prejudice and ethnic stereotyping.

As a theorist, Lewin took the bold step of applying Gestalt principles beyond the perception of objects to social perception. It is often more important to understand how people perceive, comprehend, and interpret the social world, he said, than it is to understand its objective properties (Lewin, 1943). “If an individual sits in a room trusting that the ceiling will not come down,” he said, “should only his ‘subjective probability’ be taken into account for predicting behavior or should we also consider the ‘objective probability’ of the ceiling’s coming down as determined by engineers? To my mind, only the first has to be taken into account.”

Social psychologists soon began to focus on the importance of how people con- strue their environments. Fritz Heider, another early founder of social psychology, observed, “Generally, a person reacts to what he thinks the other person is perceiv- ing, feeling, and thinking, in addition to what the other person may be doing.” We are busy guessing all the time about the other person’s state of mind, motives, and thoughts. We may be right—but often we are wrong.

That is why construal has major implications. In a murder trial, when the pros- ecution presents compelling evidence it believes will prove the defendant guilty, the verdict always hinges on precisely how each jury member construes that evidence. These construals rest on a variety of events and perceptions that often bear no objec- tive relevance to the case. During cross-examination, did a key witness come across as being too remote or too arrogant? Did the prosecutor appear to be smug, obnoxious, or uncertain?

A special kind of construal is what Lee Ross calls “naïve realism,” the conviction that we perceive things “as they really are.” If other people see the same things differ- ently, therefore, it must be because they are biased (Ehrlinger, Gilovich, & Ross, 2005; Pronin, Gilovich, & Ross, 2004; Ross, 2010). Ross has been working closely with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. These negotiations frequently run aground because of naïve realism; each side assumes that other reasonable people see things the same way they do. “[E]ven when each side recognizes that the other side perceives the issues differently,” says Ross, “each thinks that the other side is biased while they themselves are objective and that their own perceptions of reality should provide the basis for set- tlement.” So both sides resist compromise, fearing that their “biased” opponent will benefit more than they.

In a simple experiment, Ross took peace proposals created by Israeli negotiators, labeled them as Palestinian proposals, and asked Israeli citizens to judge them. The Israelis liked the Palestinian proposal attributed to Israel more than they liked the Israeli proposal attributed to the Palestinians. Ross concludes, “If your own proposal isn’t going to be attractive to you when it comes from the other side, what chance is there that the other side’s proposal is going to be attractive when it comes from the other side?” The hope is that once negotiators on both sides become fully aware of this phenomenon and how it impedes conflict resolution, a reasonable compromise will be more likely.

You can see that construals range from the simple (as in the question “How are you feeling?”) to the remarkably complex (international negotiations). And they affect all of us in our everyday lives. Imagine that Jason is a college student who admires Maria from afar. As a budding social psychologist, you have the job of predicting

Kurt Lewin (1890–1947).

Fritz Heider (1896–1988).

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whether or not Jason will ask Maria to have dinner with him. To do this, you need to begin by viewing Maria’s behavior through Jason’s eyes—that is, by seeing how Jason interprets her behavior. If she smiles at him, does Jason construe her behavior as mere politeness, the kind of politeness she would extend to any of the dozens of nerds and losers in their class? Or does he view her smile as an encouraging sign that inspires him to ask her out? If she ignores him, does Jason figure that she’s playing hard to get, or does he take it as a sign that she’s not interested in him? To predict what Jason will do, it is not enough to know Maria’s behavior; we must know how Jason interprets her behavior.

Now suppose that after class one day, Maria impulsively kisses Jason on the cheek as she says goodbye. Again, how he responds will depend on how he construes that act: Does he interpret that kiss as a sign of romantic interest on Maria’s part, clear evi- dence that she’s hot for him? Or does he see it as a sisterly signal that Maria wants to be friends but isn’t really into him? Were Jason to misinterpret the situation, he might commit a serious blunder: He might turn his back on what could have been the love of his life, or he might express his own passionate feelings inappropriately. In either case, social psychologists would say that the best strategy for understanding Jason’s reaction would be to find a way to determine his construal of Maria’s behavior rather than to dissect the objective nature of the kiss itself (its length, degree of pressure, etc.). But how are these construals formed? Stay tuned.

Research by social psychologists on construal shows why negotiation between nations can be so difficult: Each side thinks that it sees the issues clearly but that the other side is “biased.”

revIew QueSTIonS 1. The fundamental attribution error is best defined as the

tendency to a. explain our own and other people’s behavior entirely in

terms of personality traits, thereby underestimating the power of social influence.

b. explain our own and other people’s behavior in terms of the social situation, thereby underestimating the power of personality factors.

c. believe that people’s group memberships influence their behavior more than their personalities.

d. believe that people’s personalities influence their behavior more than their group memberships.

2. What does the Wall Street Game reveal about personality and situation? a. Competitive people will compete fiercely no matter what a

game is called. b. Cooperative people will try hard to get competitive

opponents to work with them. c. The name of the game makes no difference in how

people play the game.

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Introducing Social Psychology 15

Where Construals Come From: Basic Human Motives 1.3 What happens when people’s need to feel good about themselves conflicts

with their need to be accurate?

How will Jason determine why Maria kissed him? If it is true that subjective and not objective situations influence people, we need to understand how people arrive at their subjective impressions of the world. What are people trying to accomplish when they interpret the social world? Are they concerned with making an interpretation that places them in the most positive light (e.g., Jason’s deciding that “Maria is ignor- ing me just to make me jealous”) or with making the most accurate interpretation, even if it is unflattering (e.g., “Painful as it may be, I must admit that she would rather go out with a sea slug than with me”)? Social psychologists seek to understand the fundamental laws of human nature, common to all, that explain why we construe the social world the way we do.

We human beings are complex organisms. At any given moment, various inter- secting motives underlie our thoughts and behaviors, including hunger, thirst, fear, a desire for control, and the promise of love, favors, and other rewards. (See Chapters 10 and 11.) Social psychologists emphasize the importance of two central motives: the need to feel good about ourselves and the need to be accurate. Sometimes, each of these motives pulls us in the same direction. Often, though, these motives tug us in opposite directions, where to perceive the world accurately requires us to admit that we have behaved foolishly or immorally.

Leon Festinger, one of social psychology’s most innovative theorists, realized that it is precisely when these two motives pull in opposite directions that we can gain our most valuable insights into the workings of the mind. Imagine that you are the pres- ident of the United States and your country is engaged in a difficult and costly war. You have poured hundreds of billions of dollars into that war, and it has consumed tens of thousands of American lives as well as thousands more lives of innocent civil- ians. The war seems to be at a stalemate; no end is in sight. You frequently wake up in the middle of the night, bathed in the cold sweat of conflict: On the one hand, you deplore all the carnage that is going on; on the other hand, you don’t want to go down in history as the first American president to lose a war.

Some of your advisers tell you that they can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that if you intensify the bombing or add thousands more troops, the enemy will soon capitulate and the war will be over. This would be a great outcome for you: Not only will you have succeeded in achieving your military and political aims, but his- tory will consider you to have been a great leader as well. Other advisers, however,

d. The name of the game strongly influences how people play the game.

3. A stranger approaches Emily on campus and says he is a professional photographer. He asks if she will spend 15 minutes posing for pictures next to the student union. According to social psychologists, Emily’s decision will depend on which of the following? a. How well dressed the man is. b. Whether the man offers to pay her. c. How Emily construes the situation. d. Whether the man has a criminal record.

4. Social psychology had its origins in a. Gestalt psychology. b. Freudian psychology. c. behavioral psychology. d. biological psychology.

5. “Naïve realism” refers to the fact that a. most people are naïve (uneducated) about psychology. b. few people are realistic. c. most people would rather be naïve than accurate. d. most people believe they perceive things accurately.

See page AK-1 for the answers.

Leon Festinger (1919–1989) wrote: “If the empirical world looks complicated, if people seem to react in bewilderingly different ways to similar forces, and if I cannot see the operation of universal underlying dynamics, then that is my fault. I have asked the wrong questions; I have, at a theoretical level, sliced up the world incorrectly. The underlying dynamics are there, and I have to find the theoretical apparatus that will enable me to reveal these uniformities.” Finding and illuminating those underlying dynamics is the goal of social psychology.

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believe that intensifying the bombing will only strengthen the enemy’s resolve; they advise you to sue for peace.

Which advisers are you likely to believe? Pres- ident Lyndon Johnson faced this exact dilemma in the 1960s, with the war in Vietnam; so did George W. Bush in 2003, when the war in Iraq did not end in six weeks as he had predicted; so did Barack Obama, in deciding in 2009 whether to invest more troops in the war in Afghanistan. (See Chapter 6.) Most presidents have chosen to believe their advis- ers who suggest escalating the war, because if they succeed in winning, the victory justifies the human and financial cost; but withdrawing not only means going down in history as a president who lost a war, but also having to justify the fact that all those lives and all that money have been spent in vain. As you can see, the need to feel good about our decisions can fly in the face of the need to be accurate, and can have catastrophic consequences (Draper, 2008; McClellan, 2008; Woodward, 2011). In Johnson’s case, the decision to increase the bombing did strengthen the enemy’s resolve, thereby prolonging the war in Vietnam.

The Self-Esteem Motive: The Need to Feel Good About Ourselves Most people have a strong need to maintain reasonably high self-esteem—that is, to see themselves as good, competent, and decent (Aronson, 1998, 2007; Baumeister, 1993; Tavris & Aronson, 2007). Given the choice between distorting the world to feel good about themselves and representing the world accurately, people often take the first option. They put a slightly different spin on the matter, one that puts them in the best possible light. You might consider your friend Roger to be a nice guy but an awful slob—somehow he’s always got stains on his shirt and empty food cartons all over his kitchen. Roger, though, probably describes himself as being casual and noncompulsive.

Self-esteem is obviously a beneficial thing, but when it causes people to justify their actions rather than learn from them, it can impede change and self-improve- ment. Suppose a couple gets divorced after 10 years of a marriage made difficult by the husband’s irrational jealousy. Rather than admitting the truth—that his jealousy and possessiveness drove his wife away—the husband blames the breakup of his mar- riage on her; she was not responsive enough to his needs. His interpretation serves a purpose: It makes him feel better about himself (Simpson, 2010). The consequence of this distortion, of course, is that learning from experience becomes unlikely. In his next marriage, the husband will probably recreate the same problems. Acknowledging our deficiencies is difficult, even when the cost is seeing the world inaccurately.

SufferinG and Self-JuStification Let’s go back to one of our early scenar- ios: Oscar and the hazing he went through to join his fraternity. Personality psycholo- gists might suggest that only extroverts who have a high tolerance for embarrassment would want to be in a fraternity. Behavioral psychologists would predict that Os- car would dislike anyone or anything that caused him pain and humiliation. Social psychologists, however, have found that the major reason that Oscar and his fellow pledges like their fraternity brothers so much was the degrading hazing ritual itself.

Self-Esteem People’s evaluations of their own self-worth—that is, the extent to which they view themselves as good, competent, and decent

This is Edward Snowden, a former computing contractor for the National Security Agency. Snowden’s release in 2013 of thousands of classified documents related to the U.S. government’s surveillance programs led the Department of Justice to charge him with espionage. Some have argued that Snowden is a spy, a traitor, and a criminal who should be brought back to the United States from his asylum in Russia to face trial. Others view him as a whistleblower, a patriot, and a hero fighting to protect privacy rights and inform the American public of what its government is up to (in fact, here you see him pictured receiving a German peace prize, a prize he was only able to accept via Skype). Each side is sure that they are right. Where do differing construals come from, and what are their consequences?

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Introducing Social Psychology 17

Here’s how it works. If Oscar goes through a severe hazing to become a member of the fra- ternity but later discovers unpleasant things about his fraternity brothers, he will feel like a fool: “Why did I go through all that pain and embarrassment to live in a house with a bunch of jerks?” To avoid feeling like a fool, he will try to justify his decision to undergo the haz- ing by distorting his evaluation of his fraternity brothers. He will try to put a positive spin on his experiences.

An outside observer like his sister Janine, however, can see the downside of fraternity life more clearly. The fraternity dues make a significant dent in Oscar’s budget, the frequent parties take a toll on the amount of studying he can do, and consequently his grades suffer. But Oscar is motivated to see these negatives as trivial; indeed, he considers them a small price to pay for the sense of brotherhood he feels. He focuses on the good parts of liv- ing in the fraternity, and he dismisses the bad parts as inconsequential.

Does this explanation sound far-fetched? In a series of laboratory experiments, social psychologists investigated the psychological consequences of hazing. The experimenters held constant everything in the situation, including the precise behav- ior of the fraternity members; the only thing they varied was the severity of the hazing that the students underwent to become members. The results demonstrated that the more unpleasant the procedure the participants underwent to get into a group, the more they liked the group—even though, objectively, the group members were the same people behaving the same way for everyone (Aronson & Mills, 1959; Gerard & Mathewson, 1966). (See Chapter 6.)

The take-home message is that human beings are motivated to maintain a pos- itive picture of themselves, in part by justifying their behavior, and that under cer- tain specifiable conditions, this leads them to do things that at first glance might seem surprising or paradoxical. They might prefer people and things for whom they have suffered to people and things they associate with ease and pleasure.

The Social Cognition Motive: The Need to Be Accurate Even when people are bending the facts to see themselves as favorably as they can, most do not live in a fantasy world. We might say they bend reality but don’t com- pletely break it. But the ways in which human beings think about themselves and the social world influence what they do. Many social psychologists therefore special- ize in the study of social cognition: how people select, interpret, remember, and use information to make judgments and decisions (Fiske & Taylor, 2013; Markus & Zajonc, 1985; Nisbett & Ross, 1980). Researchers who investigate processes of social cognition begin with the assumption that all people try to view the world as accurately as possi- ble. They regard human beings as amateur sleuths who are doing their best to under- stand and predict their social world.

Just as the need to preserve self-esteem can occasionally run aground, so too does the need to be accurate. Unfortunately, we often make mistakes in that effort to understand and predict, because we almost never know all the facts we need to judge a given situation accurately. Whether it is a relatively simple decision, such as which breakfast cereal offers the best combination of healthfulness and tastiness, or a slightly more complex decision, such as our desire to buy the best car we can

Social Cognition How people think about themselves and the social world; more specifically, how people select, interpret, remember, and use social information to make judgments and decisions

These first-year students are being “welcomed” to their university by seniors who subject them to hazing. Hazing is sometimes silly, but it is often dangerous as well (and even fatal), leading college campuses to crack down on the practice. One difficulty faced by such efforts is that for all of its downsides, hazing can also build group cohesiveness.

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for under $12,000, or a much more complex decision, such as choosing a partner who will make us deliriously happy for the rest of our lives, it is usually impossi- ble to gather all the relevant information in advance. Moreover, we make countless decisions every day. No one has the time and stamina to gather all the facts for each of them.

Does this sound overblown? Aren’t most decisions fairly easy? Let’s take a closer look. Which breakfast cereal is better for you, Lucky Charms or Quaker Oats 100% natural granola with oats, honey, and raisins? If you are like most of our students, you answered, “100% Natural.” After all, Lucky Charms is a kids’ cereal, full of sugar and cute little marshmallows, with a picture of a leprechaun on the box. Quaker Oats cereal boxes have pictures of healthy granola and wheat, and doesn’t natural mean “good for you”? If that’s the way you reasoned, you have fallen into a common cog- nitive trap: You have generalized from the cover to the product. A careful reading of the ingredients in small print will reveal that, per one cup serving, Quaker Oats 100% Natural has 420 calories, 30 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of fat; Men’s Health maga- zine rated it the worst packaged cereal in America. In contrast, a cup of Lucky Charms has 142 calories, 14 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of fat. Even in the simple world of cereals, things are not always what they seem.

expectationS about the Social World To add to the difficulty, sometimes our expectations about the social world interfere with perceiving it accurately. Our expectations can even change the nature of the social world. Imagine that you are an elementary school teacher dedicated to improving the lives of your students. At the beginning of the academic year, you review each student’s standardized intelligence test scores. Early in your career, you were pretty sure that these tests could gauge each child’s potential; now you are certain that they do. Almost invariably, the kids who got high scores on these tests are the ones who did the best in your classroom, and the kids who got low scores performed poorly.

This scenario doesn’t sound all that surprising, except for one thing: You might be wrong about the validity of the intelligence tests. It might be that the tests were not accurate but that you unintentionally treated the kids with high scores and the kids with low scores differently. This is exactly what Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacob- son (1968/2003) found in their investigation of a phenomenon called the self-fulfilling prophecy: You expect that you or another person will behave in some way, so you act in ways to make your prediction come true. (See Chapter 3.) The researchers went into elementary school classrooms and administered a test. They then informed each

We rely on a series of expectations and other mental short-cuts in making judgments about the world around us, from important life decisions to which cereal to buy at the store, a conclusion with which advertisers and marketers are very well aware.

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Introducing Social Psychology 19

teacher that, according to the test, a few specific students were “bloomers” who were about to take off and perform extremely well. In actuality, the test showed no such thing. The children labeled as bloomers were chosen at random by drawing names out of a hat and thus were no different, on average, from any of the other kids. Lo and behold, on returning to the classroom at the end of the school year, Rosenthal and Jacobson found that the bloomers were performing extremely well. The mere fact that the teachers were led to expect them to do well caused an improvement in their performance. This striking phenomenon is no fluke; it has been replicated a number of times in many different schools (Rosenthal, 1994).

Although this outcome seems almost magical, it is embedded in an important aspect of human nature. If you were one of those teachers and were led to expect two or three specific students to perform well, you would be more likely to treat them in special ways: paying more attention to them, listening to them with more respect, call- ing on them more frequently, encouraging them, and trying to teach them more chal- lenging material. Your attention and attitude would, in turn, almost certainly make these students feel happier, more respected, more motivated, and smarter—and, voilà, the prophecy is fulfilled. Thus, even when we are trying to perceive the social world as accurately as we can, there are many ways in which we can go wrong, ending up with the wrong impressions.

revIew QueSTIonS 1. Researchers who study social cognition assume that people

a. try to view the world as accurately as possible. b. can’t think clearly with other people around them. c. distort reality in order to view themselves favorably. d. are driven by the need to control others.

2. Which of the following reflect(s) the motive to maintain high self-esteem? a. After Sarah leaves Bob for someone else, Bob decides

that he never liked her much anyway. b. Students who want to take Professor Lopez’s seminar

have to apply by writing a 10-page essay. Everyone who is selected ends up loving the class.

c. Janetta did poorly on the first test in her psychology class. She admits that she didn’t study enough and vows to study harder for the next test.

d. Zach has been involved in several minor traffic acci- dents since getting his driver’s license. “There sure are a lot of terrible drivers out there,” he says. “People should learn to be good drivers like me.”

3. The “self-fulfilling prophecy” is the reason that many people a. love Doomsday predictions. b. make a prophecy that they will fail their exams. c. create a prophecy that they will succeed on their

exams. d. act in ways to make predictions of their own behavior

or others’ come true.

See page AK-1 for the answers.

We defined social psychology as the scientific study of social influence. But why do we want to understand social influence in the first place? What difference does it make whether our behavior has its roots in the desire to be accurate or to bolster our self-esteem?

The basic answer is simple: We are curious. Social psychologists are fascinated by human social behavior and want to understand it on the deepest possible level. In a sense, all of us are social psychologists. We all live in a social environment, and we are all more than mildly curious about such issues as how we become influenced, how we influence others, and why we fall in love with some people, dislike others, and are indifferent to still others. You don’t have to be with people literally to be in a social environment. Facebook is a social psychologist’s dream laboratory because it’s all there: love, anger, bullying, bragging, affection, flirting, wounds, quarrels, friend- ing and unfriending, pride and prejudice.

Today, social psychologists’ interest in how people think, feel, and act in social environments leads to research designed to study behavioral tendencies on Facebook, Twitter, and across other platforms, sites, and apps.

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20 Chapter 1

Many social psychologists have another reason for study- ing the causes of social behavior: to contribute to the solution of social problems. This goal was present at the founding of the discipline. Kurt Lewin, having barely escaped the horrors of Nazi Germany, brought to America his passionate interest in understanding how the transformation of his country had happened. Ever since, social psychologists have been keenly interested in their own contemporary social challenges, as you will discover reading this book. Their efforts have ranged from reducing violence and prejudice to increasing altruism and tol- erance (Chapters 11 and 13). They study such pressing issues as how to induce people to conserve natural resources like water and energy, practice safe sex, or eat healthier food (Chap-

ter 7). They study the effects of violence in the media (Chapter 12). They work to find effective strategies to resolve conflicts within groups—whether at work or in juries— and between nations (Chapter 9). They explore ways to raise children’s intelligence through environmental interventions and better school programs, and reduce the high school dropout rate of minority students. They study happier topics, too, such as pas- sion, liking, and love—and what sustains them (Chapter 10).

Throughout this book, we will examine many other examples of the application of social psychology to real-world problems. For interested readers, we have included three final chapters on health, the environment, and law. We hope that by understand- ing the fundamental causes of behavior as social psychologists study them, you will also be better able to change your own self-defeating or misguided behavior, improve your relationships, and make better decisions.

We are now ready to begin our tour of social psychology in earnest. So far, we have been emphasizing the central theme of social psychology: the enormous power of most social situations. As researchers, our job is to ask the right questions and to find a way to capture the power of the social situation and bring it into the laboratory for detailed study. If we are adept at doing that, we will arrive at truths about human behavior that are close to being universal. And then we may be able to bring our labo- ratory findings into the real world—for the ultimate betterment of our society.

Summary 1.1 What is social psychology, and how is it different

from other disciplines?

• defining Social psychology Social psychology is de- fined as the scientific study of the way in which peo- ple’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people. Social psychologists are interested in understand- ing how and why the social environment shapes the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the individual.

• Social psychology, philosophy, Science, and common Sense Social psychologists approach the understanding of social influence differently from philosophers, journalists, or the layperson. Social psychologists develop explanations of social influence through empirical methods, such as exper- iments in which the variables being studied are

carefully controlled. The goal of the science of so- cial psychology is to discover universal laws of hu- man behavior, which is why cross-cultural research is often essential.

• how Social psychology differs from its closest cousins When trying to explain social behavior, personality psychologists explain the behavior in terms of the person’s individual character traits. Although social psychologists would agree that personalities vary, they explain social behavior in terms of the power of the social situation to shape how one acts. The level of analysis for social psychol- ogy is the individual in the context of a social situation. In contrast, the level of analysis for sociologists is the group, institution, or society at large. Social psychologists seek to identify universal properties

Social psychology can help us study social problems and find ways to solve them. Social psychologists might study whether children who watch violence on television become more aggressive themselves—and, if so, what kind of intervention might be beneficial.

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Introducing Social Psychology 21

of human nature that make everyone susceptible to social influence regardless of their social class, gender, or culture.

1.2 Why does it matter how people explain and interpret events—and their own and others’ behavior?

• the power of the Situation Individual behavior is powerfully influenced by the social environment, but many people don’t want to believe this.

• the importance of explanation Social psycholo- gists must contend with the fundamental attribu- tion error, the tendency to explain our own and other people’s behavior entirely in terms of person- ality traits and to underestimate the power of social influence. But social psychologists have shown time and again that social and environmental situations are usually more powerful than personality differ- ences in determining an individual’s behavior.

• the importance of interpretation Social psychol- ogists have shown that the relationship between individuals and situations is a two-way street, so it is important to understand not only how situations influence individuals, but how people perceive and interpret the social world and the behavior of others. These perceptions are more influential than objective aspects of the situation itself. The term construal re- fers to the world as it is interpreted by the individual.

1.3 What happens when people’s need to feel good about themselves conflicts with their need to be accurate?

• Where construals come from: basic human Motives The way in which an individual construes (perceives, comprehends, and interprets) a situation is largely shaped by two basic human motives: the need to feel good about ourselves and the need to be accurate. At times these two motives tug in opposite directions; for ex- ample, when an accurate view of how we acted in a situation would reveal that we behaved selfishly.

• the Self-esteem Motive: the need to feel Good about ourselves Most people have a strong need to see themselves as good, competent, and decent. People often distort their perception of the world to preserve their self-esteem.

• the Social cognition Motive: the need to be accurate Social cognition is the study of how hu- man beings think about the world: how they select, interpret, remember, and use information to make judgments and decisions. Individuals are viewed as trying to gain accurate understandings so that they can make effective judgments and decisions that range from which cereal to eat to whom they marry. In actuality, individuals typically act on the basis of incomplete and inaccurately interpreted information.

Test Yourself 1. Social psychology is the study of

a. the real or imagined influence of other people.

b. social institutions, such as the church or school.

c. social events, such as football games and dances.

d. psychological processes, such as dreaming.

2. For social psychologists, the likely explanation of the mass suicide at Jonestown was

a. members of the cult were mentally unstable or clinically depressed.

b. the cult leader used hypnotism or drugs to coerce his followers into obedience.

c. processes that could ensnare almost any healthy person.

d. the open, welcoming nature of the cult that made members feel it was safe to obey their leader.

3. In social psychology, the level of analysis is

a. society at large.

b. the individual in a social context.

c. groups and organizations.

d. cognitive and perceptual brain processes.

4. How many of the following comments illustrate the fundamental attribution error?

a. A man says, “My wife has sure become a grouchy person” but explains his own grouchiness as a result of having a hard day at the office.

b. A woman reads about high unemployment in poor communities and says, “Well, if those people weren’t so lazy, they would find work.”

c. “The people who committed suicide at Jonestown were socially isolated and thus cut off from other points of view about their leader.”

d. “The people who committed suicide at Jonestown were mentally ill.”

5. What do social psychology and personality psychol- ogy have in common?

a. They both focus on the individual.

b. They both focus on personality traits.

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22 Chapter 1

c. They both focus on formative childhood experiences.

d. They both focus on genetic contributions to personality.

6. What do social psychology and sociology have in common?

a. They both examine demographic trends in society.

b. They both study national institutions.

c. They both are concerned with personality differences.

d. They both are concerned with group processes.

7. In social psychology, why is construal so important?

a. People’s behavior is affected by their interpretation of events, not only the events themselves.

b. People’s behavior is primarily determined by the objective circumstances they are in.

c. People are aware of their biases in perceiving events.

d. People realize that other reasonable people see things they way they do.

8. What was the main contribution of Gestalt psychol- ogy to social psychology?

a. It added an understanding of how the brain works.

b. It emphasized how people perceive the physical world.

c. It showed that the whole is larger than the sum of its parts.

d. It added historical perspective to the study of behavior.

9. What two central motives influence the way we con- strue the world?

a. The need to feel our opinions are right.

b. The need to maintain reasonably high self-esteem.

c. The need to feel superior to others.

d. The need to be accurate in our perceptions and decisions.

e. The need for self-expression.

10. To get people to change self-destructive behavior, so- cial psychologists would be likely to

a. persuade them by offering useful information.

b. scare the living daylights out of them.

c. threaten them with punishment.

d. all of the above.

e. none of the above.

See page AK-1 for the answers.

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Chapter 2

Methodology How Social Psychologists Do Research

Chapter Outline and Learning Objectives

Social Psychology: An Empirical Science 2.1 How do researchers develop hypotheses and theories?

Formulating Hypotheses and Theories

Research Designs 2.2 What are the strengths and weaknesses of various

research designs that social psychologists use?

The Observational Method: Describing Social Behavior The Correlational Method: Predicting Social Behavior The Experimental Method: Answering Causal Questions

New Frontiers in Social Psychological Research 2.3 What impact do cross-cultural studies, the evolutionary

approach, and social neuroscience research have on the way in which scientists investigate social behavior?

Culture and Social Psychology The Evolutionary Approach Social Neuroscience

Ethical Issues in Social Psychology 2.4 How do social psychologists ensure the safety and welfare

of their research participants, while at the same time testing hypotheses about the causes of social behavior?

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24 Chapter 2

In this information age, when pretty much anything can be found on the Internet, pornography is more available than ever before. One study found that 25% of all search engine requests were pornography related (Carroll et al., 2008). Another found that a quarter of all employees who have access to the Internet visit porn sites during their workdays (“The Tangled Web of Porn,” 2008). It is thus import- ant to ask whether exposure to pornography has harmful effects. Is it possible, for example, that looking at graphic sex increases the likelihood that men will become sexually violent?

There has been plenty of debate on both sides of this question. Legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon (1993) argued that “Pornography is the perfect preparation—motivator and instruction manual in one—for . . . sexual atroci- ties” (p. 28). In 1985, a group of experts, appointed by the attorney general of the United States, voiced a similar opinion, concluding that pornography is a cause of rape and other violent crimes. But in 1970, another commission reviewed much of the same evidence and concluded that pornography does not contribute significantly to sexual violence. Who are we to believe? Is there a scientific way to determine the answer? We believe there is, and in this chapter we will discuss the kinds of research methods social psychologists employ, using research on pornog- raphy as an example.

Social Psychology: An Empirical Science 2.1 How do researchers develop hypotheses and theories?

A fundamental principle of social psychology is that many social problems, such as the causes of violence, can be studied scientifically (Reis & Gosling, 2010; Reis & Judd, 2000; Wilson, Aronson, & Carlsmith, 2010). Before we discuss how social psychological research is done, we begin with a warning: The results of some of the experiments you encounter will seem obvious because social psychology concerns topics with which we are all intimately familiar—social behavior and social influ- ence (Richard, Bond, & Stokes-Zoota, 2001). This familiarity sets social psychology apart from other sciences. When you read about an experiment in particle physics, it is unlikely that the results will connect with your personal experiences. We don’t know about you, but we have never thought, “Wow! That experiment on quarks was just like what happened to me while I was waiting for the bus yesterday,” or “My grandmother always told me to watch out for positrons and antimatter.” When reading about the results of a study on helping behavior or aggression, however, it is quite common to think, “Come on. I could have predicted that. That’s the same thing that happened to me last Friday.”

The thing to remember is that, when we study human behavior, the results may appear to have been predictable—in retrospect. Indeed, there is a well-known human tendency called the hindsight bias, whereby after people know that some- thing occurred, they exaggerate how much they could have predicted it before it occurred (Calvillo, 2013; Davis & Fischhoff, 2014; Fischhoff, 2007; Nestler, Blank, & Egloff, 2010). After we know the winner of a political election, for example, we begin to look for reasons why that candidate won. After the fact, the outcome seems inevitable and easily predictable, even if we were quite unsure who would win before the election. The same is true of findings in psychology experiments; it seems like we could have easily predicted the outcomes—after we know them. The trick is to predict what will happen in an experiment before you know how it turned out. To illustrate that not all obvious findings are easy to predict, take the Try It! quiz that follows.

Hindsight Bias The tendency for people to exaggerate, after knowing that something occurred, how much they could have predicted it before it occurred

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Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research 25

Try IT! Social Psychology Quiz: What’s Your Prediction? Answer the following questions, each of which is based on social psychological research.

1. Suppose an authority figure asks college students to administer near-lethal electric shocks to another student who has not harmed them in any way. What percentage of these students will agree to do it?

2. If you give children a reward for doing something they already enjoy doing, they will subsequently like that activity (a) more, (b) the same, or (c) less.

3. When a business or governmental agency is faced with an important choice it is always better to have a group of people make the decision, because “two heads are better than one”: (a) true (b) false.

4. Repeated exposure to a stimulus—such as a person, a song, or a painting—will make you like it (a) more, (b) the same, or (c) less.

5. You ask an acquaintance to do you a favor—for example, to lend you $10—and he or she agrees. As a result of doing you this favor, the person will probably like you (a) more, (b) the same, or (c) less.

6. Who do think would be least likely to help a stranger who drops a bunch of papers all over the ground? Some who is in a (a) good mood (b) neutral mood, or (c) bad mood?

7. In the United States, female college students tend not to do as well on math tests as males do. Under which of the following circumstances will women do as well as men: (a) when they are told that there are no gender

differences on the test, (b) when they are told that women tend to do better on a difficult math test (because under these circumstances they rise to the challenge), or (c) when they are told that men outperform women under almost all circumstances?

8. Which statement about the effects of advertising is most true? (a) Subliminal messages implanted in advertisements are more effective than normal, everyday advertising; (b) normal TV ads for painkillers or laundry detergents are more effective than subliminal messages implanted in ads; (c) both types of advertising are equally effective; or (d) neither type of advertising is effective.

9. What effect, if any, does playing violent video games have on how likely people are to act aggressively in everyday life? (a) playing the games increases the likelihood that they will act aggressively; (b) they become less aggressive because the games “get it out of their system”; (c) playing the games has no effect on how aggressive people are.

10. Students walking across campus are asked to fill out a questionnaire on which they rate the degree to which student opinion should be considered on a local campus issue. Which group do you think believed that students should be listened to the most? (a) Those given a light clipboard with the questionnaire attached; (b) those given a heavy clipboard with the questionnaire attached; (c) the weight of the clipboard made no difference in people’s ratings.

See page AK-1 for the answers.

Formulating Hypotheses and Theories How, then, do social psychologists come up with the ideas for their studies? Research begins with a hunch, or hypothesis, that the researcher wants to test. There is lore in science that holds that brilliant insights come all of a sudden, as when Archimedes shouted, “Eureka! I have found it!” when the solution to a problem flashed into his mind. Although such insights do sometimes occur suddenly, science is a cumulative process, and people often generate hypotheses from previous theories and research.

InspIratIon from EarlIEr tHEorIEs and rEsEarcH Many studies stem from a researcher’s dissatisfaction with existing theories and explanations. After reading other people’s work, a researcher might believe that he or she has a better way of explaining people’s behavior. In the 1950s, for example, Leon Festinger was dissatisfied with the ability of a major theory of the day, behaviorism, to explain why people change their attitudes. He formulated a new approach—cognitive dissonance theory—that made specific predictions about when and how people would change their attitudes. As we will see in Chapter 6, other researchers were dissatisfied with Festinger’s explanation of the results he obtained, so they conducted further research to test other possible explanations. Social psychologists, like scientists in other

I love games. I think I could be very happy being a chess player or dealing with some other kinds of games. But I grew up in the Depression. It didn’t seem one could survive on chess, and science is also a game. You have very strict ground rules in science, and your ideas have to check out with the empirical world. That’s very tough and also very fascinating.

—Leon Festinger, 1977

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26 Chapter 2

disciplines, engage in a continual process of theory refinement: A theory is developed; specific hypotheses derived from that theory are tested; based on the results obtained, the theory is revised and new hypotheses are formulated.

HypotHEsEs BasEd on pErsonal oBsErvatIons Social psychology also deals with phenomena we encounter in everyday life. Researchers often observe something in their lives or the lives of others that they find curious and interesting, stimulating them to construct a theory about why this phenomenon occurred—and to design a study to see if they are right. In the early 1960s, for example, a tragic murder was committed in the Queens section of New York City that led to a major research area in social psychology. Kitty Genovese, a young woman returning to her apartment late one night in 1964, was brutally killed in an attack that lasted 45 minutes. The New York Times reported that 38 apartment residents either saw the attack from their windows or heard Genovese’s screams, and that no one attempted to help her, not even by calling the police. Although we know now that the Times exaggerated the number of eyewitnesses who did nothing (Cook, 2014; Pelonero, 2014), the story vividly captured public fears and, for its time, “went viral.” There is no doubt that bystanders often fail to help in emergencies (as we will see in Chapter 11), and the Genovese murder triggered a great deal of soul searching as to why. Some concluded that living in a metropolis dehumanizes us and leads inevi- tably to apathy, indifference to human suffering, and lack of caring.

Bibb Latané and John Darley, two social psychologists who taught at universities in New York, had another idea. Instead of focusing on “what was wrong with New Yorkers,” Latané and Darley thought it would be more interesting and important to examine the social situation in which Genovese’s neighbors found themselves. Maybe, they thought, the more people who witness an emergency, the less likely it is that any given individual will intervene. Genovese’s neighbors might have assumed that someone else had called the police, a phenomenon Latané and Darley (1968) called the diffusion of responsibility. Perhaps the bystanders would have been more likely to help had each thought he or she alone was witnessing the murder. How can we tell whether this hypothesis is true? In science, idle speculation will not do; researchers must collect data to test their hypoth- eses. Let’s look at how different research designs are used to do just that.

In October of 2011, a 2-year-old girl was struck by two vans in a row. A dozen people walked or rode past her. Why didn’t they stop to help?

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Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research 27

Research Designs 2.2 What are the strengths and weaknesses of various research designs that social

psychologists use?

Social psychology is a scientific discipline with a well-developed set of methods for answering questions about social behavior, such as the one about the causes of violence with which we began this chapter, and the one about reactions to violence that we just discussed. There are three types of methods: the observational method, the correlational method, and the experimental method (see Table 2.1). Any of these methods could be used to explore a specific research question; each is a powerful tool in some ways and a weak tool in others. Part of the creativity in conducting social psycholog- ical research involves choosing the right method, maximizing its strengths, and mini- mizing its weaknesses.

Here we discuss these methods in detail and try to provide you with a firsthand look at both the joy and the difficulty of conducting social psychological studies. The joy comes in unraveling the clues about the causes of interesting and important social behaviors, just as a sleuth gradually unmasks the culprit in a murder mystery. Each of us finds it exhilarating that we have the tools to provide definitive answers to questions philosophers have debated for centuries. At the same time, as seasoned researchers, we have learned to temper this exhilaration with a heavy dose of humility, because there are formidable practical and ethical constraints involved in conducting social psychological research.

Table 2.1 A Summary of Research Methods

Method Focus Question Answered

Observational Description What is the nature of the phenomenon?

Correlational Prediction From knowing X, can we predict Y?

Experimental Causality Is variable X a cause of variable Y?

revIew QuesTIons 1. Which of the following is a basic assumption that social

psychologists make? a. Social problems have complex causes and we will never

know why they occur. b. It is hard to study what effect looking at pornography

has on people, because everyone is different. c. Many social problems can be studied scientifically. d. Many people fail to help others in emergencies

because they don’t care about other people.

2. Which of the following is true about social psychological findings? a. They sometimes seem obvious after we learn about them,

because of a hindsight bias. b. Most people could easily predict them in advance of

knowing how the studies turned out.

c. Wise people such as our grandparents could easily predict them in advance of knowing how the studies turned out.

d. Most people who live in the culture in which the studies were conducted could predict the findings in advance of knowing how the studies turned out.

3. How do social psychologists formulate hypotheses and theories? a. They are inspired by previous theories and research. b. They disagree with a previous researchers’

interpretations of his or her study. c. They construct hypothesis and theories based on

personal observations in everyday life. d. All of the above.

See page AK-1 for the answers.

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28 Chapter 2

The Observational Method: Describing Social Behavior There is a lot to be learned by being an astute observer of human behavior. If the goal is to describe what a particular group of people or type of behavior is like, the observational method is very helpful. This is the technique whereby a researcher observes people and records measurements or impressions of their behavior. The observational method may take many forms, depending on what the researchers are looking for, how involved or detached they are from the people they are observing, and how much they want to quantify what they observe.

EtHnograpHy One example of observational learning is ethnography, the method by which researchers attempt to understand a group or culture by observing it from the inside, without imposing any preconceived notions they might have. The goal is to understand the richness and complexity of the group by observing it in action. Ethnography is the chief method of cultural anthropology, the study of human cultures and societies. As social psychology broadens its focus by studying social behavior in different cultures, ethnography is increasingly being used to describe different cultures and generate hypotheses about psychological principles (Fine & Elsbach, 2000; Flick, 2014; Uzzel, 2000).

Consider this example from the early years of social psychological research. In the early 1950s, a small cult of people called the Seekers predicted that the world would come to an end with a giant flood on the morning of December 21, 1954. They were convinced that a spaceship from the planet Clarion would land in the backyard of their leader, Mrs. Keech, and whisk them away before the apocalypse. Assuming that the end of the world was not imminent, Leon Festinger and his colleagues thought it would be interesting to observe this group closely and chronicle how they reacted when their prophecy was disconfirmed (Festinger, Riecken, & Schachter, 1956). To monitor the hour-to-hour conversations of this group, the social psychologists found it necessary to become members and pretend that they too believed the world was about to end. On the fateful morning of December 21, 1954, with no flood waters lapping at the door and no sign of a spaceship, they observed a curious thing: Rather than admitting that she was wrong, Mrs. Keech “doubled down” on her beliefs, announcing that God had spared Planet Earth because of the Seekers’ faith, and that it was now time for the group to go public and recruit more members. Based on his observations of Mrs. Keech’s tena- cious adherence to her beliefs, Festinger formulated one of the most famous theories in social psychology, cognitive dissonance, which we discuss in Chapter 6.

The key to ethnography is to avoid imposing one’s preconceived notions on the group and to try to understand the point of view of the people being studied. Sometimes, however, researchers have a specific hypothesis that they want to test using the observational method. An investigator might be interested, for example, in how much aggression children exhibit during school recesses. In this case, the observer would be systematically looking for particular behaviors that are concretely defined before the observation begins. For example, aggression might be defined as hitting or shoving another child, taking a toy from another child without asking, and so on. The observer might stand at the edge of the playground and systemat- ically record how often these behaviors occur. If the researcher were interested in exploring possible sex and age differences in social behavior, he or she would also note the child’s gender and age. How do we know how accurate the observer is? In such studies, it is important to establish interjudge reliability, which is the level of agreement between two or more people who independently observe and code a set of data. By showing that two or more judges independently come up with the same observations, researchers ensure that the observations are not the subjective, distorted impressions of one individual.

Observational Method The technique whereby a researcher observes people and systematically records measurements or impressions of their behavior

Interjudge Reliability The level of agreement between two or more people who independently observe and code a set of data; by showing that two or more judges independently come up with the same observations, researchers ensure that the observations are not the subjective, distorted impressions of one individual

Ethnography The method by which researchers attempt to understand a group or culture by observing it from the inside, without imposing any preconceived notions they might have

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Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research 29

arcHIval analysIs The observational method is not limited to observations of real-life behavior. The researcher can also examine the accumulated documents, or archives, of a culture, a technique known as an archival analysis (Mullen, Rozell, & Johnson, 2001; Oishi, 2014). For example, diaries, novels, suicide notes, popular music lyrics, television shows, movies, magazine and newspaper articles, advertising, social media, and the ways in which people use the Internet all tell us a great deal about human behavior. One study, for example, analyzed millions of Twitter messages sent in 84 countries to examine daily rhythms in people’s mood. Judging by the content of the messages they send, most people’s positive moods appear to peak at two different times of the day: In the morning, soon after they get up, and late in the evening, before they go to bed (Golder & Macy, 2011). Researchers have also used archival data to answer questions about pornography usage. For example, do you think that people who live in some areas of the United States are especially likely to look at on-line pornography? Perhaps you guessed that it is those who live in more liberal “blue” states that are the biggest consumers, given that liberals tend to have more permissive attitudes toward social issues. To address this question, a researcher examined credit card subscriptions to Internet pornography sites (Edelman, 2009). Although he was not given access to the names of people who subscribed, he did know their zip codes, which enabled him to estimate regional variations. As it turned out, residents of “blue” states and “red” were equally likely to subscribe to pornography sites ( residents of Utah came in first).

lImIts of tHE oBsErvatIonal mEtHod The study that analyzed Twitter messages revealed interesting daily patterns, but it did not say much about why moods peak in the morning and at night. Furthermore, certain kinds of behavior are difficult to observe because they occur only rarely or only in private. You can begin to see the limitations of the observational method. Had Latané and Darley chosen this method to study the effects of the number of bystanders on people’s willingness to help a victim, we might still be waiting for an answer, given the infrequency of emergencies and the difficulty of predicting when they will occur. And, archival data about pornography, while informative about who is accessing it, tells us little about the effects on their attitudes and behavior of doing so. Social psychologists want to do more than just describe behavior; they want to predict and explain it. To do so, other methods are more appropriate.

Researchers use archival analyses to test psychological hypotheses. One study, for example, analyzed millions of Twitter messages to see how people’s moods varied over the course of a day.

Archival Analysis A form of the observational method in which the researcher examines the accumulated documents, or archives, of a culture (e.g., diaries, novels, magazines, and newspapers)

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30 Chapter 2

The Correlational Method: Predicting Social Behavior A goal of social science is to understand relationships between variables and to be able to predict when different kinds of social behavior will occur. What is the relation- ship between the amount of pornography people see and their likelihood of engaging in sexually violent acts? Is there a relationship between the amount of violence chil- dren see on television and their aggressiveness? To answer such questions, researchers frequently use another approach: the correlational method.

With the correlational method, two variables are systematically measured, and the relationship between them—how much you can predict one from the other—is assessed. People’s behavior and attitudes can be measured in a variety of ways. Just as with the observational method, researchers sometimes make direct observations of people’s behavior. For example, researchers might be interested in testing the relation- ship between children’s aggressive behavior and how much violent television they watch. They too might observe children on the playground, but here the goal is to assess the relationship, or correlation, between the children’s aggressiveness and other factors, such as TV viewing habits, which the researchers also measure.

Researchers look at such relationships by calculating the correlation coefficient, a statistic that assesses how well you can predict one variable from another—for example, how well you can predict people’s weight from their height. A positive correlation means that increases in the value of one variable are associated with increases in the value of the other variable. Height and weight are positively correlated; the taller people are, the more they tend to weigh. A negative correlation means that increases in the value of one variable are associated with decreases in the value of the other. If height and weight were negatively correlated in human beings, we would look very peculiar; short people, such as children, would look like penguins, whereas tall people, such as NBA basketball players, would be all skin and bones! It is also possible, of course, for two variables to be completely unrelated, so that a researcher cannot predict one variable from the other (see Figure 2.1).

survEys The correlational method is often used in surveys, research in which a representative sample of people are asked questions about their attitudes or behavior. Surveys are a convenient way to measure people’s attitudes; for example, people can be telephoned and asked which candidate they will support in an upcoming election or

Figure 2.1 The diagrams below show three possible correlations in a hypothetical study of watching violence on television and aggressive behavior in children. The diagram at the left shows a strong positive correlation: The more television children watched, the more aggressive they were. The diagram in the middle shows no correlation: The amount of television children watched is not related to how aggressive they were. The diagram at the right shows a strong negative correlation: The more television children watched, the less aggressive they were.

Low Amount of television watched

Positive correlation No correlation Negative correlation

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