Glossary of EPPP - Social Psychology

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Actor-Observer Effect
Tendency for an observer to overestimate the effects of dispositional factors when making attributions about the cause another's behavior, but to overestimate situational factors when making self-attributions.
Androgyny (Psychological)
Having characteristics of both sexes. According to Bem, androgynous individuals are better adjusted than people who adhere to rigid sex stereotypes.
Approach-Approach Conflict
A tension caused when a person has to choose between two positively-valanced goal objects. When the person moves toward one of the goals, the other seems less attractive.
Approach-Avoidance Conflict
A condition in which a person is both drawn to and repelled by a situation at the same time. The result will likely be vacillation until the conflict reaches a stable equilibrium, in which the person maintains a comfortable compromise between approaching
Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict
As identified by Lewin's field theory, a conflict in which an individual is faced with two equally unattractive alternatives. When faced with such a conflict, the individual is likely to try to "leave the field"; if this is not possible, he or she will va
Balance Theory
Heider's theory of attitude change that proposes that people seek consistency in their attitudes. According to balance theory, we seek a balance between who we like and what we think -- we are in balance if we agree with those whom we like and disagree wi
Belief In A Just World
A tendency to seek rational explanations to observed phenomena. An ill-fated occurrence is explained away to preserve our belief that such terrible things won't happen to us without cause.
Buffering Hypothesis
The notion that perceived social support protects individuals to some extent against the negative effects of stressful life events such as the death of a loved one.
Bystander Apathy
Tendency of individuals not to intervene in emergency situations in the presence of others. Has been explained by a diffusion of individual responsibility, social influence (each person looks to others for behavioral cues), and potential response costs (i
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
The idea that once a person commits himself or herself to a belief or action that is inconsistent with his or her other beliefs or actions, the person will resolve the conflict by changing the cognitions (e.g., modifying the original belief).
A sense of loss of individual responsibility and increased anonymity, within a group, leading individuals to behave in socially less acceptable ways.
Field Theory
Lewin's framework for explaining a person's response to forces acting on his or her life space (all possible events which influence someone). The tension created by these forces will cause a person to move away from objects with negative valence and towar
Foot-in-the-Door Technique
Method of increasing compliance by first getting someone to agree to a small request, proceeding from there to a larger request.
Fundamental Attribution Error
The tendency to attribute the causes of others' behavior to internal personality characteristics rather than to situational determinants.
Group Polarization
The phenomenon which occurs when group members become more "polarized" as a result of the group's discussion about an issue; that is, when group members are willing to endorse an even more extreme position than their initial position.
A phenomenon related to closed groups with authoritarian leadership in which contrary opinions are stifled and everyone becomes agreeable and acquiescent. Characterized by blind allegiance and irrational decisions.
Idiosyncrasy Credits
A result of conforming to a group''s norms until established as a competent insider. Like "brownie points" these can be used to occasionally gain acceptance of ideas which deviate from the majority''s views.
Inoculation Theory
A theory which holds that presenting weak arguments in favor of a position and supplying counterarguments can help turn people against that position. The analogy is to medical inoculations, in which weak doses of a germ are injected so that people build u
Leader Power
According to French and Raven, there are five bases for leader power: reward, coercive, reference, legitimate, and expert. Subordinates respond to leaders because of one or more of these bases.
Locus Of Control
A continuum consisting of internal locus of control on one end and external locus of control on the other. Individuals with an internal locus of control believe they have control over their own fate, whereas those with an external locus believe that their
Obedience To Authority
Milgram's classic series of studies, which showed that people will tend to conform more than they believe they do. Conformity increases with the presence of the authority, when the authority appears to be more legitimate, and when the appearance of author
Reactance Theory
Proposes that social pressure to conform will produce the opposite effect (rebellion against conformity), because of one's perception that freedom of choice is being threatened.
Rosenhan's Pseudopatient Study
Research in which experimental confederates admitted themselves into a mental hospital and were viewed by hospital staff as psychotic, even though they exhibited no abnormal behaviors. Only the other patients were able to recognize that the "pseudopatient
Self-Perception Theory
Theory that individuals make attributions about their own behaviors and attitudes by observing their own behavior.
Social Comparison Theory
Theory that individuals use other people as sources of comparison in order to evaluate their own attitudes and behaviors.
Social Facilitation
A phenomenon in which the presence of others improves performance of dominant (easy) behaviors and impairs performance of non-dominant (difficult) behaviors.
Social Loafing
The phenomenon which occurs on group tasks when people work less hard than they would have while working alone. One way to reduce social loafing is to make sure that each person''s contribution to the group is identified.
Superordinate Goals
Goals that can be achieved only when members of two groups work cooperatively; introducing superordinate goals has been shown to help reduce conflict between groups.
Zeigarnik Effect
Refers to the fact that unfinished tasks are better remembered than completed tasks.
Zimbardo's Prison Study
Refers to the famous study by Zimbardo in which college students were asked to play roles of either prisoners or guards. The study was called off because the students became too involved in their roles. Supports a role theory of behavior -- we tend to beh

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