Social Psychology


Carol Brown

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    In memory of Mu Pail and to Carol and Peter Hawkins, with love and thanks for everything

  • Glossary

    Actor-observer effect – leads to error as attributions about our own behaviour tend to be external and unstable, but for others tend to be internal and stable. This may be because we do actually have different perspectives on behaviour, so perceive other's behaviour as more important and noticeable than our own.

    Affection – the basic need for the company of others (humans).

    Ageism – this is prejudice and discrimination on the basis of age. Generally the negativity will be expressed towards the older generation, who are perceived to make little contribution to society compared to the young.

    Aggregation principle – rather than looking at general measures of attitudes, those taken over time are better at predicting behaviour rather than specific examples as they reflect different situations and times.

    Aggression – Berkowitz (1993) saw aggression as any act “involving behaviour, either physical or symbolic, performed with the intention of harming someone”.

    Altruism – behaviour that is “voluntary, costly to the altruist and motivated by something other than the expectation of material or social reward” (Walster & Piliavin, 1972: 167).

    Anchoring and adjustment heuristic – use a starting value on which to base judgements.

    Attitude – “a mental state of readiness, organised through experience, exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual's response to all objects and situations with which it is related” (Allport, 1935: 150).

    Attitude formation – the formation of attitudes based on experience and emotion.

    Attribution – the process of assigning causes of our own behaviour to that of others'.

    Attribution theory – Weiner (1986) was interested in the attributions made for experiences of success and failure and believed these were made based on three areas: locus which could be internal or external (see Rotter, 1966); stability, which is whether the cause is stable or changes over time; and controllability.

    Authoritarian personality – Adorno found that a certain type of personality – the authoritarian personality – referred to an individual who tended to be hostile, rigid and inflexible, intolerant and someone who therefore upholds traditional values and respects authority that may have originated in childhood. Unconscious hostilities from childhood are simply displaced onto minority groups and their own antisocial views are projected onto minorities, thus serving an ego defensive function.

    Availability heuristic – makes judgements about predicted events and behaviour as they are easily available in memory.

    Balance theory – Heider (1958) focuses on three elements: a person (P), another person (0) and an attitude, object or topic (X). It is therefore a triad of three elements and a person tries to ensure consistency, or a balance, between these because this is preferable. Altogether there are eight possible combinations of relationships between two people and an object – four balanced and four unbalanced. If there is no such cognitive consistency, then it motivates attitude change.

    Behaviour – these interactions can be measured objectively.

    Behaviourism – states in which behaviour can be shaped by positive, negative or no reinforcement such that desirable behaviour can be produced and undesirable behaviour discouraged.

    Belief congruence theory – there is a resistance to change when encountering contradictory beliefs and a need to retain the existing belief system. In his belief congruence theory, Rokeach (1960) proposed that prejudice derives from dissimilar views amongst people (there is incongruence).

    Bystander intervention – intervening behaviour offered by those witnessing an emergency.

    Bystander-calculus model – (Piliavin et al., 1969) propose that bystanders will offer help depending on their level of arousal and on the costs and rewards of potential actions. It involves three stages: experiencing physiological arousal; interpreting and labelling that arousal; and evaluating the consequences (rewards/costs) of offering help.

    Case studies – these focus on one individual and their behaviour, thoughts, feelings and experiences.

    Category – groups of objects are perceived in a similar way.

    Catharsis – release of feelings that have built up (for example, aggression).

    Cognitive algebra – (Anderson, 1965, 1978, 1981) impressions of people are formed by combining pieces of information about a person to complete a whole picture. This approach looks at how information that is positive or negative is put together to give a general impression. To do this, three algebraic processes/models can be used: summation – an impression is created by adding together each piece of information about an individual; averaging – there is an averaging of the characteristics of a person such that they are seen as more favourable if, on the whole, they display more positive attributes; and weighted average – an impression is created by giving weight/value to pieces of information about the person, and this links back to the idea of Asch's central traits (1946) where some characteristics are seen as more important than others.

    Cognitive consistency – because inconsistency is uncomfortable people attempt to achieve cognitive consistency.

    Cognitive dissonance – if we hold beliefs, attitudes or cognitions that are different, then we experience dissonance – this is an inconsistency that causes discomfort. We are motivated to reduce this by either changing one of our thoughts, beliefs or attitudes or selectively attending to information which supports one of our beliefs and ignores the other (selective exposure hypothesis). Dissonance occurs when there are difficult choices or decisions or when people participate in behaviour that is contrary to their attitude. Dissonance is thus brought about by: effort justification (when aiming to reach a modest goal); induced compliance (when people are forced to comply contrary to their attitude); and free choice (when weighing up decisions).

    Cognitive model of bystander intervention – (Latane & Darley, 1970) – this model suggests that a bystander makes a series of decisions before deciding whether or not to offer help to a victim. This includes initially noticing an event or that someone needs help, interpreting the situation as an emergency, deciding whether or not to assume responsibility, knowing what to do and then implementing a decision.

    Cognitive psychology – sees human beings as information processors but influences social psychology as processes such as memory, attention and perception can be applied to understanding social behaviour.

    Collective identity – the self is seen collectively as part of shared views of a group and their actions.

    Collective mind – the idea that individuals form a “collective” or group mind derived from social norms/the social context.

    Collective self – the self is viewed in terms of collective group membership (of one group against another).

    Communication networks – these are networks that provide rules on communications between different roles in the group. Models include those involving three, four or five members with greater performance being achieved on simple tasks when there is more centralisation, but this is less crucial on complex tasks because the complexity of information would overwhelm a single person. To be effective, both a formal and informal communication structure exists in most groups.

    Compatibility/correspondence theory – attitudes predict behaviour if there is compatibility/correspondence in terms of the target, context, action and time. Behaviour can be predicted from specific and also general attitudes.

    Compliance – although a person may privately maintain their own view, they will publicly display the attitudes or behaviour of the majority because they want to be accepted as part of that group and have a desire to be liked (normative social influence).

    Confidentiality – participants must be assured that all information gained during investigations will be kept confidential.

    Configuration model – (Asch, 1946) in forming an impression of others we focus on key factors/pieces of information called “central traits”, and these are very important in forming a final impression of people. The “halo effect” occurs when one positive attribute leads to perception of others (and the same for negative traits). Less important aspects (peripheral traits) are also involved, but are less significant, in this process.

    Conformity/majority social influence – people change their behaviour so that they adopt that of the majority. People are most likely to conform because they have a desire to be liked and a desire to be right (normative and informational social influence) and so publicly (although not necessarily privately) display the attitudes and behaviours of the dominant group.

    Contact hypothesis – Allport (1920) proposed that prejudice can be reduced when there is contact between groups, and this can include equal status contact and the pursuit of common (superordinate) goals. Segregation leads to ignorance and reinforcement of negative stereotyping, but prejudice can be reduced by ensuring contact between groups such that they come to realise that there is some equal status and that each group is made up of individuals. If conflicting groups are made to co-operate with each other to achieve a common goal, then this may also reduce prejudice.

    Correlation – measures the strength of the relationship between two variables; for example, it tests if there is a relationship between two things. It does not, however, test cause and effect – so it does not say that one thing causes the other, but simply says there is some relationship between two things.

    Correspondent inference theory – (Jones & Davis, 1965) people make attributions based on, or corresponding to, underlying traits, drawing on freely chosen behaviour, whether behaviour is common/expected or not, if it is socially desirable, has important consequences or if it is personal or not.

    Covariation/ANOVA model – (Kelley, 1973) our knowledge of behaviour is used to make attributions based on the consensus, consistency and distinctiveness of the available information. It looks at how such information co-varies with each other: is there consensus (do other people behave in the same way as the individual), consistency (has the individual behaved in the same way in the past, or on each occasion) or distinctiveness (where different behaviour is shown in similar, but different, circumstances)? According to this model, an internal (person) attribution will be made when there is low consensus and distinctiveness but high consistency, otherwise an external (situational) attribution is made. If consistency is low, causes are discounted and alternatives sought.

    Debriefing – whilst debriefing does not justify unethical practices, it is used to further the participants' understanding of the research aims and processes in which they have taken part. This is to ensure that they do not later suffer any psychological harm from their participation and allows them to gain a full understanding of what and why procedures have been used and what results were then obtained.

    Deception – according to the BPS ethical guidelines, it is unethical to deceive/mislead/withhold information from participants, knowingly or unknowingly, about the aims or procedures of any research, unless there is strong scientific justification agreed by an ethics committee.

    Dehumanisation – people have their dignity taken away, they are seen only as a group member based on shared characteristics and not as individual human beings.

    Deindividuation – the individual relinquishes individual responsibility for actions and sees behaviour as a consequence of group norms and expectations.

    Dependent variable (DV) – this is what one hopes alters as a result of what is changed (so the DV measures any changes the IV has produced).

    Desensitisation – explains media violence by claiming that exposure to violence decreases one's usual emotional responsiveness to it. One research study by Sheehan (1983), who studied 5–10-year-olds, identified a correlation between children's exposure to violent television and later real-life aggression, but only in the older children. Consistency of aggressive tendencies, fantasy and parental characteristics also played a role.

    Diffusion of responsibility – the less help is offered, the more people present, as responsibility for helping is divided or “diffused” between them because each person assumes someone else will help.

    Discrimination – behaviour that reflects prejudice.

    Disinhibition – the norms that usually stop us from acting in a particular way are not present, so this makes aggression legitimate.

    Dissolution – breakdown of relationships.

    Distraction conflict – we can only attend to a limited amount of information and therefore if performing a simple task we can also attend to the demands of the group, but if we try to focus on both types of demands, then arousal increases and performance declines.

    Dogmatism/closed-mindedness – Rokeach (1960) argued that dogmatism or closed-mindedness accounts for prejudice because such, individuals have a rigid and intolerant cognitive style that predisposes them to be prejudiced simply because it is a way of thinking.

    Drive theory of social facilitation – arousal “drives” social behaviour and increased arousal occurs as a natural instinct in the presence of others. As such, increased arousal due to the audience may increase performance on well-learned/easy tasks, but impair performance when this is not the case.

    Ecological validity – research/theories that are valid and applicable in the real world.

    Effort justification – cognitive dissonance arises when much effort is applied but only to achieve a modest goal.

    Elaboration likelihood model – attitude change occurs as a result of persuasion, but the effect this has depends on the degree of cognitive effort applied to the message. If it requires much effort, a central route is used which involves understanding the argument, picking up on the most important points and considering a balanced argument. When the message requires little effort, then a peripheral route is used. Personal involvement, accountability and negative mood all increase message elaboration, as do individual differences in the need for cognition (engagement and enjoyment in thinking about problems).

    Emotional lability – (Schachter, 1964) – experience of emotion depends on attributions made about those feelings. They involve a physical component which leads to arousal, but also a cognitive component. This relies on the label given, or attribution made, and it is this attribution that will then determine the actual emotion experienced.

    Empathic concern – help is offered because it is only by seeing someone else's viewpoint that one “experiences” their feelings and therefore helps.

    Empathy – an emotion consistent with someone else's feelings, it is something that allows us to identify with another's emotions.

    Empathy arousal hypothesis – according to Batson (1994), one helps others because of empathy, so one identifies with another's distress and is then motivated to help in order to stop this feeling. This process involves perspective taking (seeing someone else's viewpoint), personal distress (feeling emotional) and empathic concern. Help is then offered because it is only by seeing someone else's viewpoint that one “experiences” their feelings and therefore helps.

    Equity theory – relationships are based on a fair/equal balance of input/output or rewards and costs by both partners. Adams (1965) predicts that equity exists when A's outcomes divided by A's inputs equals B's outcomes divided by B's inputs. Such equity is guided by the equity norm, social welfare norm (resources are allocated according to need) and the egalitarian norm (everyone should get equal amounts). If there is inequity, then we alter our input or restructure our perceived input so it does not seem so unequal. If this does not work, then the relationship ends.

    Ethology – explains behaviour as genetic and evolutionary, aiding the survival and functioning of a species.

    Evaluation – requires you to say what is good or bad about a theory/argument/study and focuses on how a theory or idea can be supported by research and how it can be criticised by research. Your ability to demonstrate this skill will differentiate the class of degree you receive.

    Evaluation apprehension – it is not the presence of others that causes arousal, but the apprehension of being evaluated by others. If we are confident of our ability, then being watched/having an audience will increase performance, but if we are not confident and we are worrying about being evaluated, then our arousal increases because of evaluation apprehension and so performance declines.

    Evolutionary social psychology – assumes that behaviour is simply the result of biological/innate factors and that social behaviour occurs because it has helped us to adapt, survive and therefore evolve over time.

    Excitation-transfer theory – aggression is the result of learning, arousal or excitation from an external stimuli and an individual's interpretation of that arousal. Aggression is therefore a result of a sequence whereby arousal is generated and then labelled as a specific emotion, which leads to such behaviour.

    Expectancy value models – predict that the course of action is determined by expected outcome and value, with individuals choosing the course most likely to lead to positive outcomes. Includes the theory of reasoned action and the theory of planned behaviour.

    Expectancy value technique – attitudes towards an object are the result of the “sum of expectancy × the value” products where only relevant features are attended to by the person.

    Experimental method – investigates cause and effect, so if one variable is changed (the IV) will it have an effect on the DV/what you are measuring.

    Exposure and familiarity – according to Zajonc's “mere exposure effect” (1968), the more exposure and familiarity, the higher the preference, and as proximity leads to exposure it may include familiarity, and this also leads us to feel more comfortable, hence increasing the chances of attraction. Familiarity is rewarding as it leads to participation in joint activities, increases self-esteem, eases communication and leads to reciprocal liking.

    External attribution – belief that things occur by chance and are the result of the environment.

    False consensus effect – since consensus was an important factor in Kelly's model, its role has been closely examined and it has been discovered that errors occur because we tend to assume that our behaviour is typical, even when this may not be the case, and therefore assume that everyone else would make the same assumptions. This is most likely to occur when we have strong beliefs about something.

    Field experiment – the researcher also deliberately manipulates the IV, but does so in the participant's own natural environment.

    Filter model – (Kerckhoff & Davis, 1962) the probability of two people meeting is determined by demographic variables/social circumstances. Thus our social group is filtered and we are attracted to those with whom we share similarities. Next, further filtering is based on the sharing of common basic values and then the relationship between emotional needs. This filtering process thus determines the relationship stages.

    Free choice – cognitive dissonance arising from inconsistencies when weighing up decisions.

    Frustration-aggression hypothesis – frustration always causes aggression and aggression is always the result of frustration. Aggression is therefore triggered by frustrating situations and events. So people are driven to aggression in order to reduce frustration and to thus maintain a balanced internal state. Berkowitz (1963) modified this original hypothesis to suggest that frustration actually produces a state of readiness for aggression, but that cues in the situation are also important. This led to the idea of the “weapons effect” whereby aggression is produced more readily if a weapon is present (especially one associated with frustration) rather than a neutral object.

    Fundamental attribution error – people tend to blame behaviour on the individual and their characteristics, and see the individual as responsible for their own actions. Thus internal, dispositional attributions are made. This occurs because one likes to feel that the world is controllable, and therefore placing blame on stable personal characteristics is easier than considering changeable ones. Attention also tends to focus on the immediate individual rather than other factors involved in the situation. Focus of emotion, theories of forgetting, cultural, developmental and linguistic factors could all account for this error.

    Group-based social identity – the self is based on group membership.

    Group cohesiveness – is the factor that binds the group together, giving individuals a sense of membership and group identity.

    Group socialisation – involves stages that initiate individuals into the group, through a process of commitment and adjustment to changing roles.

    Group structure – how a group is structured.

    Guttman's scalogram method (1944) – attitudes are measured by the degree of acceptability of various statements, with a single trait being measured along this continuum of acceptability. It is designed such that agreement with strong items correlates with agreement of weaker ones, and likewise for statements to which a person disagrees. Analysis then reveals an underlying attitude.

    Heuristic processing – decision rules are used to make a judgement/form an attitude, so use mental shortcuts/cues available.

    Heuristic systematic model – a heuristic is a mental shortcut used in the processing of information. When a person has a personal involvement in a situation and attending is therefore important to them, then input/cognitive processes or analysis occurs (systematic processing). In contrast, when personal involvement is low, individuals instead rely on these mental shortcuts to decide on attitude change. Persuasive messages are often processed in this way, as we have a sufficiency threshold where heuristics are used if they give us enough confidence in the attitude we wish to display. The bias hypothesis also predicts that when a message is mixed or ambiguous, then heuristics will be used initially, and this may then lead to biased systematic processing.

    Hypotheses – these are testable statements of a relationship between two or more variables which should be a precise, testable statement which predicts that two variables are related in some way, and if you alter one of them this may cause the participant to alter the other.

    Identification – when membership of a group is important to a person in the social setting, then they adopt the value of the majority both publicly and privately, although this changes once the particular group is no longer of importance.

    Impression management – this is where we try to create a good impression of ourselves. Usually we act deliberately to ensure that we give a favourable impression of ourselves.

    Independent variable (IV) – this is the thing that the researcher deliberately manipulates and so it is the thing that she purposely changes.

    Individual centred approach – the study of social behaviour that emphasises individual experience/behaviour.

    Individual psychology – all psychology focuses on the human mind and behaviour, but social psychology is a specific subsection as it looks at how processes occur in the presence of others/within the social context.

    Individual self – self based on individual traits.

    Individual versus collective self – the individual self has personal and private views and individuals act together and may share an identity. The collective self derives from the group. According to Wundt (1897), the collective self emerges from shared language, customs and so on, and individuals cannot therefore be viewed in isolation. Individuals together therefore form a “group mind”.

    Individualism – influences the rights, values and experiences of the individual over those of society.

    Induced compliance – cognitive dissonance arises when people are forced to comply with a modest goal.

    Information integration theory – attitudes are constructed in response to information we have about objects, so attitudes are formed by evaluating and averaging information that is collected and stored about a given object.

    Informational social influence – people will yield to the majority social influence because they want to be accepted and therefore feel the need to be right/display the correct answer or behaviour in order to gain such acceptance.

    Informed consent – according to the BPS ethical guidelines, all participants are required to give consent to take part in scientific research (or in the case of children or other vulnerable groups, this must be given on their behalf) and this entails informing them of the demands, objectives and possible effects of the study. It is believed that only after gaining such information can a participant make an informed decision concerning their willingness to participate.

    Innate – factors that are a result of nature/genes. These are characteristics one is born with.

    Instinct – a genetically determined, innate drive/impulse/behaviour.

    Inter-attitudinal structure – looks at the relationship between different attitudinal objects. Links to explanations such as balance theory.

    Internal attribution – one believes they have control over behaviour.

    Internalisation – views of the social group are internalised and the behaviour/attitudes of the majority are consistent both publicly and privately.

    Interpersonal attraction – looks at relationships, their beginning, processes, maintenance and dissolution/breakdown.

    Intra-attitudinal structure – looks at how the relationship between single attitudinal components and how consistent they are. Fishbein (1996) believes that an attitude towards an object is simply the “sum of expectancy × the value” of products, where only relevant features are attended to by the person. Within this there can also be attitudinal ambivalence where favourable and unfavourable beliefs exist together.

    Just world hypothesis – according to Lerner & Miller (1978), people get what they deserve and therefore help will only be offered if one feels this is not the case, such that help is offered to try to remove a perceived injustice.

    Laboratory experiment – the researcher deliberately manipulates variables using standardised procedures (the same method each time).

    Learning/reinforcement – learning through the process of rewards or punishment or no reinforcement.

    Likert scale (1932) – attitudes are indicated by selecting a response ranging from strongly agree (5), agree (4), unsure (3), disagree (2), strongly disagree (1), usually designed such that the statements are divided between representing a positive or negative attitude. This helps control for the acquiescence response set (the tendency blindly to agree or disagree consistently with the statements).

    Majority social influence – people change their behaviour so that they adopt that of the majority. People are most likely to conform because they have a desire to be liked and a desire to be right (normative and informational social influence) and so publicly (although not necessarily privately) display the attitudes and behaviours of the dominant group.

    Message learning approach – a message that is credible, repeated, induces feelings, focuses on the mode of presentation and tries to change attitudes will be more persuasive.

    Methodological approach – a scientific approach using replicable/repeatable methods to test a theory or idea.

    Methodological influence – the way in which psychologists' methods of working and their research studies influenced the development and thinking about social psychology.

    Minimal group paradigm – when divided into artificial (minimal) groups, prejudice results simply from the awareness that there is an “outgroup” (the other group).

    Minority social influence – when a minority presents a consistent argument, they may be able to influence the attitudes and behaviour of the majority.

    Mood-as-information hypothesis – individuals base their attitudes on evaluations they make about their mood, so use mood to provide information and evaluation of an object.

    Mundane realism – is a term often associated with social influence studies as it reflects the extent to which the studies carried out in the laboratories can be said truly to reflect the processes of conformity and obedience in real life.

    Naïve psychology – (Heider, 1946, 1958) people inevitably construct theories about themselves and the world, so are “naïve psychologists”. We do this because we like to believe behaviour is motivated and is predictable/controllable. This involves making internal and external attributions, that is, distinguishing between personal and environmental factors.

    Normative fit – occurs when typical associations and categorisation of group members fit together to explain behaviour such that the categorisation is psychologically salient.

    Normative social influence – people have the desire to be liked by the social group and therefore conform to the behaviour and attitudes displayed by the majority.

    Obedience – as part of the socialisation process, obedience is a process whereby people behave as they are told to, usually by a figure they perceive to have some authority over them. It is a public display of behaviour rather than a reflection of private beliefs.

    Objective – an individual has not placed their own views, preconceived ideas or prejudices on an argument or data collection. It is “value free”.

    Observation – looks at the behaviour of participants in various situations and sees “a relatively unconstrained segment of a persons freely chosen behaviour as it occurs” (Coolican, 1990). These can be structured or unstructured, but can be carried out in the participant's natural environment.

    Person-based social identity – where personal identity is based on factors internalised from group membership.

    Person memory – focuses on a propositional model of memory; the idea is that we store propositions and ideas that are linked by associations, with some of these being stronger than others. This is enhanced by rehearsal. Recall involves the use of these links and more is remembered when there is inconsistent information as this involves more thoughts/the use of more links. Person memory is therefore made up of traits and is organised into a range of socially desirable and competent traits. Behaviour is organised according to goals and appearance is based on observation. Impression can then be organised according to the person or group.

    Personal identity – where the self is seen as a result of personal relationships and traits.

    Persuasion – the characteristics of the person presenting the message, its content and the characteristics of the receiver influence the persausibility and possibility of attitude change. According to Hovland et al. (1953), three general variables (the communication source, message and audience) are involved in persuasion and there are four steps in the process of attitude change: attention, comprehension, acceptance and retention. A source that has credibility and a message that is repeated, induces feelings not just facts, focuses on mode of presentation and is trying to induce attitude change will inevitably be more persuasive (the message learning approach). Gender, self-esteem and individual differences amongst audience members also have an effect. The dual process models of persuasion detailed above (the elaboration likelihood model and heuristic systematic model) suggest that attitude change results from the mode of information processing used by an individual in relation to a message, this being dependent on processing motivation and ability.

    Philosophical influence – the way that ideas and beliefs impact on thinking about social psychology.

    Physical attractiveness – we are drawn to people who are physically and psychologically attractive. Stereotypes dictate that we believe that those who look physically attractive are also psychologically attractive/have attractive personalities.

    Pluralistic ignorance – other bystanders' behaviour is used as a reference for defining the situation as an emergency, so if one person does define it as an emergency and offers help, then this guides further prosocial behaviour. A decision on intervention is therefore made by using others as a guide.

    Prejudice – an attitude (usually negative) displayed towards a particular social group/its members.

    Privacy regulation theory (PRT) – (Altman, 1975, 1993) people have different needs for company, which they regulate themselves according to their need for privacy. This can operate between dialectic and optimisation principles, so can vary between times or match desired and actual levels.

    Prosocial behaviour – any actions that benefit another regardless of the benefits or self sacrifices of the actor (Wispe, 1972).

    Protection of participants from harm – according to the BPS ethical guidelines, during the course of research participants should not be subject to any risk of harm beyond that they would normally expect from their lifestyle. Psychologists must prioritise the safety and physical/psychological wellbeing of their participants above all else.

    Prototype – a typical association that leads to a perceived difference between groups. Sometimes these prototypes and categorisation of the average group member fit together (structural fit) and explains behaviour (normative fit), in which case the categorisation used is said to be psychologically salient.

    Proximity – physical or geographical closeness may determine the probability of attraction (the “field of availables” – Kerckhoff, 1974). This is important as those who live near are more likely to share beliefs, social class and so on, and also incur familiarity, a further factor in the formation of relationships.

    Psychodynamic self – the self can only be discovered by psychoanalysis where repressed thoughts are brought into the open. The self tries to maintain a balance between infantile desires (the id) and moral reasoning (the superego), to achieve a state of balance (ego).

    Questionnaires – use various types of questions to make a quick and efficient assessment of people's attitudes and which contains fixed or open-ended questions (or both).

    Racism – this is prejudice and discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or race. New racism suggests that negative attitudes and behaviours express themselves more subtly than was previously the case, but nonetheless exist as aversive, symbolic, modern, ambivalent or regressive racism. All of these still represent negative attitudes or behaviours towards a racial outgroup.

    Realistic conflict – prejudice arises from conflict between groups, especially in the presence of competition. Sherif's robber's cave experiment (Sherif et al., 1961) showed that groups of unknown boys went through three stages when placed in summer camp: group formation (they divided themselves into two distinct groups); intergroup competition; and conflict reduction. Most critically in terms of research on prejudice, it was found that when a tournament took place there was an apparent conflict of interests as both groups aimed to win, and since this was not possible hostility emerged. Thus prejudice and discrimination could result from such a conflict in the environment.

    Reciprocal liking – the reciprocity principle suggests that we like those who like us, and vice versa for those whom we dislike. We are therefore most attracted to those who like us; however, there are individual differences in this and our need to feel secure and our self-esteem needs. This is due to the reward–cost model, that is, we are attracted to those who reciprocate and reward us rather than involving ourselves in personal relationships where there may be personal costs. Alternatively, the gain–loss theory (Aronson & Under, 1965) may explain this, where we are actually attracted more to people who start off by disliking us before changing their minds, as here we gain liking. In contrast, we dislike those whom initially like us and then change their minds (and hence we lose reciprocal liking).

    Relation self – the self is seen in terms of relationships with others.

    Relational social identity – the self is defined from interactions with specific others.

    Relative deprivation – linked to Dollard et al.'s ideas on frustration-aggression (1939), this claims that relative deprivation accounts for prejudice. That is, people experience relative deprivation either of a fraternalistic nature (comparison between groups) or an egoistic nature (comparison between individuals) and this leads to frustration/aggression and subsequent prejudice as people feel they are not getting what they are entitled to.

    Representiveness heuristic – if an event/behaviour is probable, then this is used to make a social judgement.

    Reverse discrimination – discrimination which favours a minority group. This may have short-term benefits.

    Ringelmann effect (1913) – individual effort on a task decreases as group size increases, due to co-ordination and motivation loss.

    Role of media – in aggression the role of media may be important due to social learning and desensitisation.

    Role of norms – according to the norm of reciprocity, aggression may simply result from the fact that someone who is the victim of aggression feels that it is therefore the norm to reciprocate this and therefore behaves in a similar way. If such behaviour is the norm, it is also the case that behaviour is more likely to be labelled as aggressive.

    Roles – like norms, roles are patterns of behaviour, but between those within the group. They exist for the benefit of the group and can be formal or informal. People can also be assigned task or socio-emotional orientated roles. Roles emerge to ensure that there is a division of labour, to set goals and advice on relationships between members and to give them a place within the group.

    Scapegoating – Dollard et al. (1939) proposed that frustration always leads to aggression and that aggression is always caused by frustration. When frustration cannot therefore be directly expressed, then it is displaced indirectly onto others (hence one finds a scapegoat!). In this way, prejudice is cathartic as it allows the release of emotional energy.

    Schema – a building block of knowledge about a concept, including its attributes.

    Scientific – because behaviour can be observed, hypotheses about the possible interaction between factors can be tested and the results/data can be collected and analysed, which gives this area of psychology credibility.

    Selective exposure hypothesis – selectively attending to information which supports one of our beliefs but ignores others.

    Self-awareness – “a state where you are aware of yourself” (Duval & Wicklund, 1972).

    Self-categorisation theory – (Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher & Wetherall, 1987) knowledge of the self may be derived from group membership, which produces a sense of social identity. Group membership encourages behaviour to be attributed to the self and “ingroup”.

    Self-disclosure – attraction depends on self-disclosure/sharing of intimate feelings with another person; this is therefore important in developing and maintaining relationships, as we tend to disclose information to those we like and those who disclose information to us.

    Self-enhancing triad – is where people overestimate their good points and their control of events and are unrealistically optimistic.

    Self-esteem – is based on the feelings one has about themselves and the evaluations they make. It is closely linked to social identity as identification with a group, and its societal connotations impacts on self-concept.

    Self-fulfilling prophecy – prejudicial expectations influence social interaction such that the behaviour of others may be changed so that it conforms to that set expectation. Thus the self fulfils the prophecy or expectation.

    Self-maintenance model – (Tesser, 1988) since making upward social comparisons can decrease self-concept (not feeling good enough), then people may try to ignore their similarity to another person or withdraw from a relationship to maintain a positive self-evaluation.

    Self motives – motives which are important because they aid self-knowledge, including validity, consistency and favourability.

    Self-perception theory – (Bem, 1967, 1972) this proposes that we derive knowledge about the self from the attributions we make about our own behaviour. It can also be derived from imagining ourselves behaving in a given way. This concept of the self is important in motivating behaviour because performance will be impaired if there is an obviously external cause for it, otherwise an over-justification effect occurs whereby motivation increases as behaviour is, instead, seen as a result of internal factors such as commitment.

    Self presentation – impression management can be used to ensure that one creates a good impression.

    Self-serving bias – errors are made to ensure that our self-esteem is protected and therefore in order to “serve ourselves” a bias operates whereby we take credit for our successes (so view them internally), but not for failure (so see failure as due to external factors). In part this maintains a sense of control and also a belief in a just world.

    Semantic differential scale – (Osgood et al., 1957) this method asks respondents to indicate their response from a list of opposite word pairs (good/bad), and this semantic differential (the difference between meaning) is then used to assess attitude.

    Sexism – this is prejudice and discrimination on the basis of a person's gender. Usually this focuses on discrimination against women.

    Similarity – attraction occurs because of the similarity of looks, beliefs, attitudes and values. The matching hypothesis is related to similarity as it suggests that people are most likely to show romantic investment if they are matched in their ability to reward each other, including a basis of physical attraction and similarity. People may also become more similar over time.

    Similarity heuristic – if events/behaviour can be imagined, then it forms a social judgement as already “simulated”.

    Social affiliation model – people need to regulate their social contact to achieve a balance (like homeostasis).

    Social cognition – looks at the reciprocal interaction between the social world and mental/cognitive processes.

    Social cohesion/interpersonal interdependence model – (Hogg, 1993) according to this model, cohesiveness occurs because individuals cannot achieve a goal alone so get together with others such that there is already some interdependence and co-operative interaction. This leads them all to feel goal satisfaction and a mutual sense of reward with interpersonal attraction.

    Social comparison theory – (Festinger, 1954) the self is derived from social comparisons where our feelings, thoughts and behaviours are compared to (often similar) others such that a social identity and sense of self emerges.

    Social compensation – sometimes when we believe that others will decrease their efforts in a group, we compensate for this by working harder. It is therefore possible that groups work collectively harder than the sum of its individuals.

    Social encoding – the social world is processed by the individual and involves: preattentive analysis (the unconscious taking in of information); focusing of attention (considering the identification and categorising of information); comprehension (give it a meaning); and elaborative reasoning (the linking together and elaboration of information). Information may be better socially encoded when it is vivid (information that is emotionally interesting, provokes images and is environmentally close and therefore more salient) and more accessible or easily recalled (primed).

    Social exchange theory – relationships are simply social exchange, which depends on profits gained, thus are based on behaviourist principles. There is a cost–reward ratio involved, for example, a calculation of what costs are involved in receiving rewards from others, therefore social exchanges form the basis of relationships for the benefits they provide relative to the input required as a joint process by both parties, with the aim of averaging mutual benefit/profits with minimal costs (minimax strategy). This will be judged partly by using a comparison level/standard for assessing profitability. Attraction is most likely to occur if an exchange is seen to be a positive.

    Social facilitation – (Allport, 1924) the presence of others (the social group) can facilitate certain behaviour. It was found that an audience would improve an actor's performance in well-learned/easy tasks, but lead to a decrease in performance on newly learned/difficult tasks due to social inhibition.

    Social identity – the self is seen in terms of group membership.

    Social identity approach – looks at the relationship between the self and group membership.

    Social identity theory – states that individuals need to maintain a positive sense of personal and social identity and this is partly achieved by emphasising the desirability of one's own group, focusing on distinctions between other “lesser” groups. Prejudice occurs directly as a result.

    Social impact – the fact that we are part of a social group impacts on our behaviour and attitudes. Group size is especially influential, with our sense of responsibility more diffused the greater the group size.

    Social inference – we use social assumptions to make judgements and form impressions of others. This can involve two processes: top-down, which generally rely on schemas and stereotype, and bottom-up, which focuses on specific events and information.

    Social influence – is where people are influenced by others such that they try to display the attitude or behaviour of the social group either by obeying or conforming to the majority or the minority. Social influence occurs because of the desire to be liked and the desire to be right (normative and informational social influence).

    Social information processing – both the situation and cognitive processes explain aggression because norms and schemas (a building block of existing knowledge) mean that information about the situation is processed and decisions made. This typically involves perceiving cues in the situation, interpreting them, examining one's own goals and responses and behaving appropriately. If a cue appears and is interpreted as aggressive, this information will be processed and produce subsequent aggressive responses.

    Social interactionalist theory of coercive action – aggression is the result of trying to achieve social power to either control others, restore justice or assert/protect identities. This may involve harm or injury.

    Social learning theory of aggression – aggression is simply the result of reinforcement, observation and imitation where aggressive behaviour is therefore acquired through direct, or indirect, modelling. Previous experiences of aggression and the likelihood of it being rewarded or punished are key factors in determining whether or not it is displayed and maintained.

    Social loafing – is where individual effort decreases (therefore one loafes!) when working in a group rather than alone, or with another. This is related to the free rider effect, where the member takes advantage of the benefits of being part of a group and exploits this without making any meaningful contribution.

    Social norms – look at how individuals behave according to the rules of society.

    Social psychology – the scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and causes of individual behaviour in social situations.

    Social representations – the belief systems that simplify the social world by introducing a shared social reality, guiding social action.

    Socio-centred approach – the study of behaviour that emphasises the function and structure of the social context.

    Sociocognitive model of attitudes – focuses on the idea of a single component and looks specifically at the evaluation given to an object which they believe is represented by a label, evaluative summary and knowledge structure.

    Sociology – differs from social psychology because it focuses on how groups behave – for example, females, juveniles – and emphasises actions of a collective group rather than looking at the individual psychology of the people who make up that group.

    Sociometry – (Moreno, 1953) interpersonal attitudes are assessed whereby group members indicate a preferred partner for an activity, and this is used to chart these interrelationships.

    Status – a commonly agreed view that is held concerning the value that certain roles, occupants of that role, or indeed whole groups may have. Higher status roles tend to be viewed commonly as valuable and are ones that encourage initiation of ideas that are then adopted by the whole group. Status hierarchies do, however, vary between contexts and times, although some are institutionalised. Status can derive from specific status characteristics that relate directly to ability to perform the group task, and diffuse status characteristics that are more focused on the values they hold within society.

    Stereotype threat – we feel threatened by the fact that we think we will be treated stereotypically and judged according to negative stereotypes, and as a result behave accordingly.

    Stereotypes – are used to categorise people, are slow to change, are acquired at an early age, evident in situations of conflict and help make sense of the world.

    Stigma – individuals are seen only in terms of some negative characteristic (within the social context) that they are believed to posses. These may be visible such as race or “controllable” such as smoking.

    Stimulus-value-role model – (Murstein, 1976, 1986, 1987) initially attraction is based on a stimulus stage (external attraction/factors), then on the similarity of values and finally a role stage based on the successful performance of relationship roles.

    Structural fit – occurs when typical associations and categorisation of the average group member fit together.

    Symbolic interactionalist self – self emerges as a result of social interaction and the shared meanings and methods of communication (verbal and non-verbal) that result from this. According to Mead's “looking glass self” (1934), our own concept of the self is also derived from seeing ourselves as others see us. Therefore the self emerges as a reflection of society.

    Task taxonomy – in deciding whether a group performs better than an individual, there is a need to classify the task according to whether it is divisible or unitary, maximising or optimising, an additive task, a disjunctive task or conjunctive.

    Theory of group cohesiveness – (Festinger et al., 1950) proposes that attraction to a group and its members, along with the social interaction and interdependence provided by trying to achieve goals, leads an individual to feel a sense of cohesion towards a group. This feeling of cohesiveness then encourages continuity of membership towards that group and the following of the required norms.

    Theory of planned behaviour – emphasises the role of violation and suggested that predictable behaviour is easier if people believe they have control.

    Theory of reasoned action – the key factor linking attitudes and behaviour is the predictability of behaviour by intention. This involves subjective norms (perception of others' beliefs), attitudes towards the behaviour, intention and actual behaviour. Behaviour will result if an attitude and social norms are favourable and perceived behaviour control is increased.

    Three-factor theory of love – variables that underlie love include: a culture that acknowledges the concept of love; a love object; and emotional arousal.

    Thurstone's equal appearing interval scale (1928) − 100 statements assessing extreme negative to positive attitude towards an object are collated and then evaluated, by judges, on an equal interval, 11-point scale until there are 22 statements (11 positive, 11 negative). The average position of each statement is then taken and the statements given to participants who select those with which they agree. Their attitude is then measured by taking an average score of these responses.

    Tokenism – a small effort is made to give the impression that help is being offered to the minority group in order to avoid accusations of prejudice/discrimination.

    Volkerpsychologie – an area of psychology that looked at the collective mind and emphasised the notion that personality develops because of cultural and community influences, especially through language which is both a social product of the community and a means of particular social thought in the individual.

    Weapons effect – there is an increase in violence following the presence of weapons. In a study by Berkowitz & LePage (1967), it was found that the number of electric shocks given to a confederate was greater when the student had themselves received shocks in the presence of nearby guns, thus precipitating violent schemas and increasing the incident of subsequent aggression.

    Withdrawal – according to the BPS ethical guidelines, before commencing any research the investigator must assure participants that they may leave the study at any time should they wish to do so, and there is a duty to ensure that the environment permits this. Withdrawal is permitted even if participants have of group norms and expectations.


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