Chapter 16 Social Cognition and Relationships

Download 84.63 Kb.
Size84.63 Kb.



Social Cognition and Relationships


On completion of this chapter, students should be able to

  1. explain how the environment or social factors help determine how individuals think, feel, and

  1. describe and discuss the processes of conformity;

  2. discuss the importance of attributions and describe the fundamental attribution error;

  3. describe the concepts and processes involved with persuasion and attitude change;

  1. describe social expectancy theory, self-fulfilling prophecies, and the process of behavioral

  1. demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of cognitive dissonance;

  2. describe how advertising techniques capitalize on human compliance;

  1. explain the significance of Sherif s "robber's cave" experiment in terms of competition, group
    dynamics, and motives for prosocial behavior;

  2. discuss the concept of "stereotype threat" and explain how it relates to both prejudice and
    performance by minority group members;

  1. explain how interpersonal attraction might relate to prejudice.


I. Constructing Social Reality

A. Social Reality

  1. Two individuals, observing the same event, may interpret it in very different
    ways. Each constructs social reality in a unique way, by selectively
    encoding what is happening in terms of what they expect and want to see.

  2. There is no objective social reality; there are only the individual's
    construction and interpretation of it.

  3. Social Perception is the process by which people come to understand and
    categorize the behaviors of others.

B. The Origins of Attribution Theory

1. Attribution theory is a general approach to describe the ways the social

perceiver uses information to generate causal explanations.

  1. Heider suggested people are intuitive psychologists, trying to
    discern what people are like and what causes their behavior.

  2. Heider suggested that questions dominating most attributional
    analyses are whether the cause of the behavior is dispositional
    (internal) or situational (external).

2. Kelley observed that people most often make causal attributions for events
under conditions of uncertainty using the covariation principle.

  1. Covariation principle is seen when people attribute behavior to a
    causal factor if that factor was present when the behavior occurred,
    but was absent whenever the behavior didn't occur.

  2. Covariation is assessed using three information dimensions

(i) Distinctiveness refers to whether the behavior is specific

to a particular situation; (ii) Consistency refers to whether the behavior occurs

repeatedly in response to this situation; and (iii) Consensus refers to whether other people also produce the

same behavior in the same situation.

C. The Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE)

  1. The FAE represents the dual tendency for people to overestimate
    dispositional factors and to underestimate situational ones when searching
    for the cause of some behavior or outcome.

  2. The FAE may be due, in part, to cultural sources.

D. Self-serving bias leads people to take credit for their successes while denying
responsibility for their failures, a phenomenon that is good for short-term self-esteem.

E. Expectations and Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

  1. Self-fulfilling prophecies are predictions made about some future behavior
    or event that modifies interactions to produce what is expected.

  2. Expectations are powerful and self-fulfilling prophecies are most likely to
    occur when the individual has not had an opportunity to develop accurate
    expectations before judgments must be made.

F. Behaviors that Confirm Expectations

  1. Behavioral confirmation is the process by which someone's expectations
    about another person actually influence the second person to behave in
    ways that confirm the original hypothesis.

  2. Behavioral confirmation depends on the availability of accurate information
    from the environment.

  3. Expectations have their greatest effect when the actual state of the world is

II. Attitudes, Attitude Change, and Action

A. A ttitudes and Beha viors

  1. Attitudes are evaluations of people, objects, or ideas.

  2. Cognitive, affective, and behavioral experiences influence attitudes.

  3. Accessibility is one property of attitudes that predicts behavior.

  1. It is the strength of the association between an attitude object and a
    person's evaluation of that object.

  2. Attitudes are more accessible when based on direct experience.

4. Attitudes are more predictive of behavior when the attitudes and behaviors
are measured at the same level of specificity

B. Processes of Persuasion

1. Persuasion refers to deliberate efforts change another's attitude.

The elaboration likelihood model suggests two routes to persuasion:

  1. The central route represents circumstances in which people think
    carefully about persuasive communication. Attitude change
    depends on the logical strength of the arguments. Central route
    arguments depend on facts, features, and objective qualities.

  2. The peripheral route represents circumstances in which people do
    not focus critically on the message, but respond to superficial cues
    in the situation. Peripheral route messages rely on subjective
    qualities (e.g., sex appeal, image, prestige).

  3. The route that people take depends on their motivation to process
    and critically analyze the message.

C. Persuasion by Your Own Actions 1. Dissonance Theory

a) Cognitive dissonance is the state of conflict someone experiences

after making a decision, taking an action, or being exposed to
information that is contrary to prior beliefs, feelings, or values.

(i) Dissonance-reducing activities modify the unpleasant state and achieve consonance among cognitions.

(ii) Dissonance has motivational force and impels the individual to act to reduce the unpleasant feeling.

(iii) The greater the dissonance, the greater the motivation to reduce it.

  1. Under conditions of high dissonance, the individual acts to justify
    his or her behavior after the fact, engages in self-persuasion, and
    often becomes a convincing communicator.

  2. Recently, researchers have questioned whether the effects of
    dissonance generalize to cultures in which individuals have an
    interdependent conception of self, such as in Japan.

Self-Perception theory

a) In Western culture, people are quick to make dispositional

attributions about others' behavior, thus, they typically have the
same bias toward themselves.

(i) Internal states are inferred by perceiving how one is acting now and recalling how one was active in a given situation in the past.

(ii) Self-knowledge allows the individual to reason backward to the most likely causes or determinants of behavior.

b) Self-perception theory lacks the motivational components of

dissonance theory.

D. Compliance

  1. Often people want to change not only your attitudes, but also your behavior
    so that you comply with their requests. Compliance techniques include the

  2. Reciprocity

  1. The reciprocity norm refers to the expectation that favors will be

  2. The door-in-the-face technique works because when people say
    "no" to a large request, they will often say "yes" to a more
    moderate request; it arises from the reciprocity norm.

c) That's-not-all staging works, in part, because it is difficult to say "no" to an offer when it appears the seller has given you something in their offer.

3. Commitment

  1. The commitment principle states that small commitments are likely
    to lead to larger commitments in the future.

  2. Use of the commitment strategy in compliance attempts is often
    called the foot-in-the-door technique.

4. Scarcity

  1. The scarcity principle states that people dislike feeling that they
    can't have something (people want scare objects more).

  2. The countdown timer on home shopping networks is a good
    example of the scarcity principle in action.

5. Modeling

  1. People can bring about compliance and behavior change by
    modeling the desired behavior.

  2. This technique draws on the principle of conformity.

III. Prejudice

A. Origins of Prejudice

1. Social categorization is the process by which people categorize themselves
and others within a particular social environment. The process develops
from "me versus not me," to "us versus them."

  1. In-groups are those with which one identifies.

  2. Out-groups are those with which one does not identify.

  1. In-group bias is one basis of prejudice. It is an evaluation of one's group as
    better than others (where people show favoritism to one's own group and
    bias against another).

  2. People tend to become attracted to people with whom they are in close
    proximity, by virtue of mere exposure.

B. Effects of Stereotypes.

  1. Stereotypes are generalizations about groups of people whereby the same
    characteristics are assigned to all members of the group.

  2. They can influence people to construct their own social reality based on the
    expectations that stereotypes generate.

  3. Behavioral confirmation of stereotypes can occur when one looks for
    behavioral support of a stereotype, and discounts behaviors inconsistent
    with the stereotype.

  4. Stereotype threats occur when one is placed in a situations that reinforces
    negative aspects of a particular stereotype.

C. Reversing prejudice

1. The "robbers cave" experiment supported the contact hypothesis, which


a) efforts to reduce prejudice must foster personal interaction in the pursuit of a common goal; and

b) basic contact between hostile groups is not sufficient to impact prejudice.

2. The jigsaw technique, used during desegregation, required students to work together to learn required class work. Performance is evaluated at the team level.

IV. Social Relationships

A. Liking

  1. People tend to become attracted to people with whom they are in close
    proximity, by virtue of mere exposure.

  1. Physical attractiveness often influences development of friendships.

  1. Individuals similar to oneself provide personal validation, because a similar
    individual makes one feel that one's attitudes are the right ones.
    Conversely, dissimilarity often leads to strong repulsion.

  2. Reciprocity is involved in liking because we tend to like other individuals
    who like us.

B. Loving

  1. In most cases, we first liked the person we come to love.

  2. The Experience of Love

a) Conceptualizations of love cluster into three dimensions:

(i) passion: sexual passion and desire;

(ii) intimacy: honesty and understanding; and

(iii) commitment: devotion and sacrifice

b) People's ability to sustain loving relationships also depends on
adult attachment style. People's attachment styles are broken
down into

(i) secure attachment (55 percent);

(ii) avoidant attachment (25 percent); and

(iii) anxious-ambivalent attachment (20 percent).

c) Distinctions between types of love in relationships as they evolve
over time include

(i) passionate love (a period of great intensity and

absorption); and (ii) compassionate love (a migration toward a state of lesser

intensity, but greater intimacy).

3. Factors that Allow a Relationship to Last

  1. One theory suggests that having a feeling that the "other" is
    included in one's "self helps relationships last.

  2. Interdependence Theory suggests that likelihood to remain
    together is based on a series of judgments:

(i) the degree to which intimacy, sex, emotional involvement, companionship, and intellectual involvement are important in the individual's relationship;

(ii) the degree to which each of those needs is satisfied in the relationship;

(iii) whether there is anyone other than the current partner with whom the individual has an important relationship; and

(iv) the degree to which each need is satisfied by the alternative relationship


  1. While colleges have historically been thought of as centers of divergent thought and intellectual
    freedom, many political conservatives feel that in recent years many colleges and universities have
    become centers of "political correctness" and liberal intellectual rigidity. While these people may be
    overstating the case somewhat, certainly there are many pressures on college students to conform to
    certain "norms" that exist on every college campus. These norms may be more social than political, but
    they still exist. You might explore with your students what pressures they have felt to conform while in
    college, in terms of political thought, dress norms, social mores, and social attitudes. Depending on
    where your class is taught, this could turn into a very interesting discussion. (From Koss)

  2. In discussing Milgram's studies with your class, you might want to discuss the sociological
    implications. Do students believe that people's willingness to obey an authority figure in Milgram's
    studies is linked to why national populations will sometimes willingly follow tyrants like Adolf Hitler?
    Are the factors that led to Milgram's results the same ones that lead to phenomena such as groupthink
    and risky shift? Does the fact that most Americans believe an Adolf Hitler could never do here what he
    did in Germany actually make us more vulnerable to a Hitler-type if he should ever come along? What
    are some ways that people might inoculate themselves from these effects?

3 An elderly man suffered a severe viral infection. Manifestations of the infection included large blisters on his back, severe muscle and joint pain, and a concomitant depressive episode. After three months, the man recovered completely. During his final visit to his physician, as he was being given a clean bill of health, the physician remarked that his recovery was "remarkable for a man your age." The physician went on to say that because of the severity of the virus, "some people just never get over the symptoms." Before this visit, the man had been free of pain, his depression was lifting, and he was gradually resuming his usual level of activity. Within two weeks, the man slipped back into his sick-role behavior of sitting in his chair all day in front of the television. He began telling everyone he met how ill he was, and became convinced that he would "never get any better." Discuss with the class the psychological mechanisms at work with this man's "illness" and the comments made by his physician on that last visit.

  1. What would be the consequences of a race of people who were not "social animals," who were shy and
    fearful of all people and preferred to be in isolation?

  2. Should parents of seventh and eighth graders try to help their children resist the norms of a peer-group
    drug culture? If so, how? What other adolescent, and adult, behaviors are subject to peer influence?
    Is this influence harmful or not?

  3. What activities would you arrange for your children if you wanted them to be very social, outgoing
    extroverts, or the opposite, social introverts?

  4. Ask the class how they might use the cognitive dissonance principle that "changing behavior changes
    attitudes" to design programs for

  • increasing a person's low self-esteem;

  • modifying a deprecatory attitude toward student protesters; and

  • decreasing a racial prejudice in schoolchildren

Now reverse the process and design new programs using the principle that "changing attitudes changes behaviors" for the same problems. Which principle do you think the class will be more successful using? Why?


Cognitive Dissonance

A high school girl believed the use of drugs to be physically harmful and morally wrong. She was invited to a party given by a group from her class that she admired. Other people at the party were using cocaine and drinking wine and, because she wanted to be accepted by the group, she decided she should do what the others were doing. The next day she was tense and uncomfortable because she had done something that she believed to be wrong. She was suffering from cognitive dissonance.

The theory of cognitive dissonance was proposed in the 1950s by psychologist Leon Festinger. It is a very simple theory, but one applicable to an enormous range of situations. Cognitive dissonance is defined as a state of tension that exists when two (or more) cognitions are psychologically inconsistent, with that inconsistency creating tension. Festinger considered tension motivating because when tension occurs, there is a motive to reduce or eliminate it. Cognition is a broad term that includes perception, reasoning, beliefs, values, and attitudes, or any form of knowledge or knowing. "Psychologically inconsistent" means that the individual possessing the cognitions perceives them to be incompatible or in conflict. This is the Achilles heel of the theory, because psychological inconsistency is subjective; it cannot be directly observed and measured.

Dissonance sometimes occurs after making a decision that is irrevocable, or that would be very difficult to reverse. Suppose a high school senior has narrowed his choice of colleges to two, both equally attractive. He has to make a decision and choose one of the schools. When he chooses one, he has to give up the things he likes about the other. What are the dissonant cognitions? I chose school A, therefore I have to give up all things I liked about school B. What does he do to reduce the dissonance? He accentuates the positive aspects of school A and the negative aspects of school B. He may decide that the things he liked about school B are not really important.

Two students have identical new cars. One student's car was a gift from her parents while the other student had saved for several years to buy her car, doing without things she would like to have in order to accumulate the money for the car. A well-known automotive magazine assigns the car its "lemon of the year award," claiming that the car is unsafe and undependable, and that it is poorly engineered and designed. Which student is likely to feel more uncomfortable about the magazine's negative evaluation of the car? Obviously, the student who had to save money to buy it. What are her dissonant cognitions? "I spent my savings for this car. The car is a lemon." What can she do to reduce the dissonance? She can discredit the magazine and the database that was used for the evaluation. She can also remind herself of the things she likes about the car.

For most of us, there are things we would like to have that we cannot. When the desire for something that is very important to us, we may have dissonant cognitions that make us tense and unhappy. For example, suppose you are in love with a person who does not love you. What are the dissonant cognitions? I would like to have a serious relationship with Lucy. Lucy doesn't love me." What do people do to reduce the dissonance in this type of situation? One method is the "sour grapes" approach. "Lucy isn't so great after all. She is bowlegged and chews with her mouth open." The expensive sweater is not practical and the sports car that is so appealing is the type of car driven by people who are too status-conscious. The group that did not ask you to join is composed of snobs that you would not want to associate with anyway.

Jenny and Jack are both in danger of failing a course. The instructor gives a take-home exam that students must sign, declaring that they did not receive help from another person. Both Jenny and Jack have friends who took the course and made good grades, and who could help them, and both feel that cheating is wrong. Jenny gives in to temptation and gets help from her friend, gets a good grade on the final, passes the course, but now she suffers from cognitive dissonance. What are Jenny's dissonant cognitions? "I think it is wrong to cheat. I cheated." How will she reduce the dissonance? She will probably not feel as strongly about cheating. She may also belittle the amount of help she got from the friend, telling herself that she did most of the work, and that she would have passed the course without the help of the friend.

Jack did not succumb to the temptation of getting his friend to help him. He made a poor grade on the final and failed the course. He may have some dissonance, too. What are Jack's dissonant cognitions? "If I had cheated I would have passed the course. I didn't cheat." What will he do to reduce his dissonance? Jack is

likely to become more strongly opposed to cheating than before. He may feel badly about failing, but will feel good about his integrity and strength of his convictions.

These next applications are similar to dissonance due to the investment of time, money, or effort, but in these cases, the person gets little or nothing in exchange for the investment. If we give money to a charity, we convince ourselves that it is a worthy cause. If we work for a political candidate, we convince ourselves that the candidate is a good and competent person. If we paint our room, we convince ourselves that we have made a big improvement. If we gave money to a charity we didn't trust, worked for a candidate who is a scoundrel, or made the room dingy by painting it, our time, money, or effort would have been wasted, and our self-esteem would suffer because we did something stupid, so we seek to justify our behavior by convincing ourselves that our time, money, or effort served a good cause.

In 1978, nine hundred members of the People's Temple in Guyana fed a poisonous drink to their children, drank it themselves, and lay down on the ground to die. People were attracted to the Temple's charismatic leader, Jun Jones, and were initially drawn to his meetings in San Francisco by Jones' emotional message of love and hope. Small demands were made on new members, like giving one percent of their incomes and giving one night a week to a cause. At this point, dissonance due to inadequate justification could occur. The dissonant cognitions were, "I'm giving of my time and money. Why am I doing this?" Was giving time and money justified based on belief in the cause? As the commitment to the cause increased, Jones began to ask for more money and more time, until the members had given all they owned to the Temple and were neglecting family and other responsibilities to serve the Temple.

Once individuals were thoroughly committed to Jones and the People's Temple, another aspect of cognitive dissonance was likely to become evident, that due to inconsistency between commitment and information. Before the People's Temple moved from San Francisco to an isolated area in Guyana, criticism of Jones and his group began to appear in the media. Suppose you were a committed member of his group, and you heard criticism of the group or its leader. You may have had the dissonant cognitions: "I have given all I have to the Temple. The media claim that our leader is an insincere, evil person." The first cognition is irrevocable, and leaving the group would be economically and psychologically difficult. The easiest way to reduce the dissonance would be to deny the adverse information and to denigrate the source. Little by little the people of the People's Temple were firmly entrapped.

The account of the recruitment, commitment, and death of the followers of the People's Temple provides a powerful example of some of the concepts of social psychology, such as persuasion, conformity, and obedience, as well as cognitive dissonance. The account could also be analyzed in terms of the failure in critical thinking made by the people whose faulty reasoning paved the way for their death in the jungles of Guyana.

Establishing Trust

One of the essential elements in a long-term relationship is the development of a sense of trust between partners. This confident belief in the integrity and reliability of the other person is often achieved through a process of reciprocal self-disclosure of personal information. At the beginning of any relationship, there is little self-revelation and, thus, no basis for trust. The term social penetration refers to "overt interpersonal behaviors that occur in social interaction, as well as internal subjective processes that precede, accompany, and follow overt exchange" (Shaw & Costanzo, 1982, p. 153). Social penetration theory consists of three basic divisions of analysis;

  • Altman and Taylor (1973) outlined their assumptions about the structure of personality,
    deeming it necessary to describe their assumptions, because the process of social penetration
    involves an overlap in exploration of the personalities involved in social relationships. This
    overlap is the beginning of trust.

  • The second category of the theory details how costs and rewards influence the process of
    social penetration, and specifies the forces that underlie the growth of interpersonal

  • The last category describes the particular aspects of the social penetration process. This may
    be the most significant part of the theory, as it deals with such factors as movement into the
    intimate regions of a relationship, involving the blending of interactions in both established
    and new areas of exploration.

The theory of social penetration proposes that trust begins when one person initiates self-disclosure. If the other person responds in kind, it indicates that trust has been accepted, and the basis for a closer relationship has been established. The partners continue to trade self-disclosures, gradually moving through deeper levels of intimacy, so long as each level is mutually satisfying. The final level of intimacy that is achieved will depend on the needs and interpersonal skills of the two people involved. In some cases, the relationship will stop at a more superficial level. In others, it will continue to grow and deepen.

According to Jourard (1964), there is an optimal level of self-disclosure for any healthy, well-adjusted individual. A person who never discloses will not be able to have close, meaningful relationships with other individuals. Conversely, a person who goes too far by disclosing everything to anyone who will listen is viewed as maladjusted and excessively self-centered. Ideally (according to Jourard), one should disclose a moderate amount of personal information to most acquaintances and reveal a lot about oneself to a very few close friends.

Trust, as displayed through disclosure, is a major dimension in human fears of rejection, ridicule, and betrayal that haunt relationships. Trust washes away the fears of rejection, ridicule, and betrayal that haunt the existence of many. Trust paves the road to friendship and intimacy; it is at the core of love for another person and the acceptance of oneself.

A climate of trust can be established by doing the following:

  • Make it acceptable for other people to talk openly about themselves.

  • Reciprocate with your own openness.

  • Express support and unconditional acceptance of your loved ones, although you may
    disapprove of some of their specific behaviors (make them aware of this difference).

  • Be consistent but not rigid in your standards, values, and behavior.

  • Be available to listen, express warmth, and empathize, even when you do not have an answer
    or a solution.

  • Do not make promises you do not intend to keep or cannot deliver.

You Only Get One Chance to Make a First Impression

First impressions can have a lasting effect on how we see others and on how they see us. Some researchers claim that first impressions are typically formed within the first eight to ten seconds of first seeing someone, often before they ever actually speak to us or shake our hand. In those first few seconds, we appear to size up the person according to their physical appearance, their eye contact, their facial expressions, their manner of dress, their body language, and their overall demeanor. Then we compare our perceptions of the person to our previous experiences with others of similar demeanor, and develop a thumbnail sketch of what type of person we believe this person is. Much of this is done unconsciously and automatically. But once formed, it can be difficult to change. Because of our tendency to selectively perceive only the aspects of the person's behavior that fit our first impression, the person will have to behave in a manner that is pervasively and enduringly inconsistent with our impression before we will change it. Additionally, since the way we behave toward the person can affect the way he or she behaves toward us, our first impression may cause us to behave in ways that almost guarantee a response that fits our first impression. This results in a self-fulfilling prophecy, which makes it unlikely that we will ever significantly change our impression of the person.

It is for these reasons that making a good first impression, or at least a neutral first impression, can be so important. In a situation such as a job interview, in which you may have only twenty or thirty minutes to interact with the interviewer, there is usually not enough time to overcome a negative first impression. Recruiters have told me that something as simple as the way an interviewee shakes his or her hands can sometimes leave a lasting impression that positively or negatively affects the remainder of the interview.

After reviewing the power of first impressions, you might want to have students generate ways they can pursue self-enhancement and other enhancement strategies in order to try and create as positive a first impression as possible.


Solomon Asch (1907 -1996)

Solomon Asch obtained his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1932. He subsequently taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City and at Rutgers University. Asch's research and conceptual orientation in social psychology were influenced strongly by the Gestalt school, particularly as represented in the writings of his close friend, Max Wertheimer. Asch is best known for his pioneering research on conformity and the effects of group pressure on the behavior of the individual. Among his major works is the classic text Social Psychology, published in 1952.

Leon Festinger (b. 1919)

Born in New York City, Festinger obtained both his M.A. and Ph.D. at the State University of Iowa. He taught at various schools, including Iowa, Rochester, MIT, the University of Minnesota, and Stanford University. In 1968, he joined the New School for Social Research in New York City.

Believing that humans are thinking animals desiring to bring order to life, Festinger argued that people often make special efforts to reduce cognitive inconsistencies. His theory of cognitive dissonance, proposed in 1957, was of immense influence in social psychology, inspiring volumes of research during the 1950s and 1960s.

Kurt Lewin (1890 - 1947)

Kurt Lewin grew up in prewar Germany in an era that produced a number of prominent and revolutionary psychologists. Best known for attempting to explain human behavior in terms of the interrelations of environmental and psychological elements acting on the individual, Lewin had a great impact on such disciplines as social psychology, industrial psychology, and personality theory. He was born in a small village in the Prussian province of Posen in 1890, then moved to Berlin in 1905, where he completed his secondary education. Lewin entered the University of Freiburg before transferring to the University of Munich and then back to Berlin, where he took his basic degree in psychology. During graduate school there, Lewin came under the tutelage of Professor Carl Stumpf, a prominent experimental psychologist.

Lewin completed his Ph.D. in 1914, Lewin was conscripted into the German army as an infantryman. He served in the military for the next four years. At the close of the war, Lewin returned to the University of Berlin as both instructor and research assistant in the Psychological Institute. Of particular importance to the development of Lewin's thought at this time was the alliance he formed with two of his colleagues at the university, Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Kohler. These two had participated in the founding of Gestalt psychology and, while Lewin never became a Gestalt psychologist, the connection between that approach and Lewin's field theory approach is immediately apparent. As Lewin's prominence in the German academic world continued to grow, so too did the power of the Nazi Party. Lewin moved to America during the war and worked here until his death.

His career in America was varied and productive. He taught child psychology at Cornell University from 1933 to 1935, then accepted an appointment to the State University of Iowa as professor of psychology in the Child Welfare Station. Lewin's last academic position was as professor and director of the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Concurrently, he acted as director of the Commission of Interrelations of the American Jewish Congress, which engaged in research on community problems. While the influence of Lewin's work has spread widely over the last three decades, the work in group dynamics carried on by the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the University of Michigan most closely follows the theories Lewin proposed.


Year Event


William McDougall published An Introduction to Social Psychology, one of the earliest books on the subject.


World War I was fought.


Floyd Allport published Social Psychology, the first college text for this area of psychology.


The Great Depression began in America.


Muzafer Sherif conducted his important autokinetic studies involving social influence.


World War II was fought.


Kurt Lewin established the Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT.


The Korean War was fought.


Leon Festinger published the theory of cognitive dissonance.


The stabbing of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York, resulted in public outrage at the perceived apathy of the bystanders.


Harold Kelley's analysis started researchers working on attributional analyses of social behavior.


Bibb Latane and John Darley published their research on the bystander effect.


The first human landing on the moon occurred.


Philip Zimbardo, Craig Haney, and Curt Banks conducted the Stanford prison study, in which college students were randomly assigned to play the roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison.


Stanley Milgram published Obedience to Authority, outlining the methods, findings, and significance of his obedience research.


E. 0. Wilson published Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, describing the application of genetics to the study of social behavior.


Aronson, E. (1994). The Social Animal, 7th Ed. New York: W. H. Freeman. A narrative approach to social psychology. This classic presents theory and research in an interesting and very relevant manner. Topics covered include prejudice, propaganda, war, alienation, aggression, unrest, and political upheaval.

Carkenord, D. M. & Bullington, J. (1993). Bringing Cognitive Dissonance to the Classroom. Teaching of Psychology, 20 (1), 41 - 43. Provides a sample handout for use during lectures on cognitive dissonance; the handout enables students to see the areas of dissonance in their own lives.

Cialdini, R. B. (1988). Influence: Science and Practice, 2nd Ed. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman. A lively account of theory and research in the area of social influence; contains many real-world illustrations.

Cialdini, R., & Trost, M. (1998). Social Influence, Social Norms, Conformity and Compliance. In The Handbook of Social Psychology, Vol. 2, 4th Ed., 151 - 192. A comprehensive review of research on

social norms, conformity, and compliance organized around three goals of behavior. The goals are to behave effectively, to build and maintain relationships and to manage self-concept.

Deaux, K., & Wrightsman, L. (1988). Social Psychology, 5th Ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole. A basic text with wide coverage. Research-oriented, with emphasis on applications of social psychology.

Evans, R. (1980). The Making of Social Psychology Discussions with Creative Contributors. New York: Gardner Press. A collection of Evans' discussions with nineteen significant contributors to the field of social psychology, and is an excellent reference for both biographical and historical material.

Festinger, L. (1957). A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson. A classic text in social psychology. Explores the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and shows that inconsistent cognitions can lead to changes in attitudes and behavior.

Lewin, K. (1951). Field Theory in Social Science: Selected Theoretical Papers. Edited by Dorwin

Cartwright. New York: Harpers. A classic text by the founder of the discipline of social psychology.

Reber, A. S. (1985). The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology. London: The Penguin Group. A concise, cogent dictionary of even the most obscure psychological terms.

Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1968). Pygmalion in the Classroom: Teacher Expectations and Intellectual Development. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Classic study of the self-fulfilling prophecy process and its application in the classroom.

Ross, L., & Nisbett, R. (1991). The Person and the Situation: Perspectives of Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill. An excellent summary and review of the field of social psychology by two leading researchers. Presents the complex and often contradictory findings of social psychology in a manner easily understood by all.

Tesser, A. (1995). Advanced Social Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill. An excellent introduction to the field of social psychology. Individual chapters are written by leading researchers in different areas of social psychology.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page