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Social psychology Cheat Sheet by

Cross-cultural research, Self Concept, Self esteem, and Self-presentation, Attitude Formation, Social Comparison, Personal and Social identity, Social Cognition-Schemas and Heuristics, Attribution Formation, Bystander Effect, Social Influence- Conformity, Compliance and Obedience, Aggression Causes, Social loafing and social facilitation

Social influence

Ways in which indivi­duals are influenced by the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of others
Types of social influence:
Adjusting one's thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors to align with those of a group or social norm
may conform due to a desire to fit in, be accepted, or avoid social rejection
can be explicit (overtly agreei­ng/­ado­pting the group's behavior) or implicit (adjusting behavior w/o overt response)

Sherif's Research on the Autoki­netic Phenom­enon:Muzafer Sherif (1937)
invest­igated (1)how norms emerge and (2)their influence on behavior in a social group
In this study, partic­ipants were indivi­dually shown a small dot of light in a dark room and asked to estimate its movement. When partic­ipants were later placed in groups and asked to make their estimates together, they gradually converged on a common estimate, demons­trating the emergence of a group norm. Sherif's study highli­ghted the role of inform­ational social influence, where indivi­duals rely on others' judgments and conform to establish a shared understanding.
Autoki­netic phenomenon- when placed in a completely dark room and exposed to a single, stationary point of light, most people perceive the light as moving about - in the dark room, there are no clear cues to distance or location, this perceived movement is known as the autoki­netic phenomenon

Asch's Research on Confor­mity:focused on unders­tanding conformity in the context of perceptual judgment
Partic­ipants were shown a line and then asked to match it with one of several comparison lines. There were 9 confed­erates (indiv­iduals working with the resear­cher) and 1 partic­ipant in each case, the confed­erate delibe­rately gave incorrect answers. Asch found that partic­ipants often conformed to the incorrect majority answer, even when it was clear that the majority was wrong. This experiment demons­trated the power of normative social influence, where indivi­duals conform to fit in and avoid social disapproval.

Social Founda­tions of Confor­mity:
Normative social influence-confo­rmity driven by the desire to gain social approval, be liked, or avoid social rejection - to 'fit in' and maintain +ve rxns, we alter our behavior to meet others’ expectations
Inform­ational social influence- conform because they believe that others have accurate inform­ation and can provide valuable guidance - based on the desire to possess accurate percep­tions of the social world

Factors Affecting Confor­mity:
Cohesi­veness-degree of attraction and closeness among group members, high levels can increase conformity
Conformity and group size- as group size inc, so does confor­mity. but if the group size is too large, dec in conformity
Descri­ptive norms- reflect what people typically do in a given situation (what most do)
Injunctive norms- reflect what is socially approv­ed/­dis­app­roved (expected behavior)
Normative focus theory- norms will have an influence on behavior only when they are prominent in the minds of the indivi­duals involved at the time of the behavior (norm should be focal/imp thought in their minds)

Why we don't conform:
Power- people with high power/­status conform less
Sexual motives- women find non-co­nfo­rming traits (asser­tive, desicive etc) attractive on men
Desire to be unique- desire to stand out and be distinct- resist conformity
adjusting one's behavior in response to a direct request or demand from another person or group
done due to influence of social norms, expect­ations, or the desire to gain rewards or avoid punishment

6 underlying factors:
1. Friend­shi­p/l­iking- more likely to comply with requests from those they like or have a positive relati­onship with/admire
Ingrat­iation- seek to gain compliance or favor by using flattery, compli­ments etc, to create a positive image and establish rapport with the target person
self-p­rom­otion- showcasing their accomp­lis­hments, creden­tials, or skills to establish credib­ility and convince others of their competence to increase compliance
Incidental similarity- creation of similarity between oneself and others, even when the similarity is unrelated to the request itself, it can influence compliance due to a sense of connection/identification
2. Authority- natural tendency to obey and respect authority figures, leading to increased compliance
3. Social validation-indiv­iduals use the behavior or opinions of others as a cue for how they should behave, due to desire to conform to social norms or to gain social acceptance
4. Commit­men­t/c­ons­istency- desire for consis­tency or commitment towards particular belief­/be­hav­ior­/task etc can lead to increased compliance
The Foot-i­n-t­he-Door- involves making a small initial request and then following it up with a larger request - feel sense of consistency
The Lowball-prese­nting an attractive initial offer, but after the person agrees, additional hidden costs or conditions are revealed - feel sense of commitment
5. Recipr­ocity- people feel obliged to give back or repay others for what they have received, so they comply.
The Door-i­n-the Face- making an initial large and unreas­onable request that is likely to be rejected, followed up with a more reasonable and smaller request
That’s­-No­t-All- making an initial offer or request, but before the person responds, additional incentives or benefits are added to make the deal more attractive
6. Scarcity-When indivi­duals perceive that an opport­unity or resource is scarce, they are more motivated to comply with requests to obtain it.
Playing Hard to Get- creating the perception of scarci­ty/high demand by initially showing disint­erest or reluct­ance, increasing the perceived value of the person­/object and may motivate others to comply with the request or desire for attention
The Fast-A­ppr­oac­hin­g-D­eadline Technique- creating a sense of urgency and time pressure, compelling indivi­duals to act quickly and comply to avoid missing out on the opportunity
act of following the orders, instru­ctions, or commands of an authority figure
can involve actions that may go against an indivi­dual's personal beliefs

Zimbardo's Prison Study (Stanford Prison Experi­ment): Conducted by psycho­logist Philip Zimbardo in 1971
invest­igated the psycho­logical effects of perceived power in a simulated prison environment
Partic­ipants were randomly assigned to play the roles of either prisoners or guards. The study had to be terminated early due to the extreme behavioral changes observed in both groups. The study demons­trated the powerful influence of the social role and the potential for indivi­duals to engage in abusive and dehuma­nizing behaviors when placed in positions of authority.
important conclusion- just because there are social norms and structures in place that create inequality doesn't mean that people automa­tically accept or agree with those inequa­lities - it depends on how muchh they identify with those roles (if they dont, they might resist and fight against the system)

Stanley Milgram's obedience experiment (1960s):aimed to study indivi­duals' willin­gness to obey authority figures, even if it meant causing harm to others
Partic­ipants were instructed to administer electric shocks to a person (actually an actor) in another room when they answered questions incorr­ectly. The experiment revealed that a signif­icant proportion of partic­ipants were willing to administer potent­ially lethal shocks when directed by an authority figure, highli­ghting the power of obedience to authority - pressure to obey in this situation was difficult to resist.

Destru­ctive Obedience:obedience that leads to harmful or unethical behaviors
occurs when indivi­duals prioritize obedience to authority over their own moral judgment or empathy towards others

Contri­buting factors:
1. Perceived Legitimacy of Authority - when indivi­duals perceive the authority figure as legitimate and credible - more likely to obey
2. Gradual Commitment - can escalate gradually, with small initial requests leading to larger and more extreme actions - become progre­ssively desens­itized to the harmful nature of their actions
3. Diffusion of Respon­sib­ility - bcz they don't feel respon­sible for their actions - easy to obey
4. Conformity to Group Norms: others within a group obey, they also obey
5. Fast paced events - less time to consider options, more likely to obey

Factors to reduce destru­ctive obedience: to be aware and remind others of-
1. Assume shared respon­sib­ility for actions
2. Beyond a point, obedience is inappropriate
3. Question authority motives
4. Spread awareness to public on this topic


Social psychology
a scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and cause of an indivi­dual's thoughts, feelings, and actions in social situat­ions.

Research methods in social psych

Systematic observ­ation
observe only desired variable
Survey methods
census, questi­onn­aire, interview
Correl­ational method
observing 2 or more variables to determine if changes in one accomp­anies changes in the other
testing if IV influences DV
Cross cultural research

self presen­tation

self promotion
convey positive info about one's behavior or accomp­lis­hment to others
self verifi­cation
emphas­izing a part of yourself that you want others to see and underplay other traits
flattery - 3 types: acquis­itive (to obtain smth), protective (to prevent negative conseq­uence), signif­icance (to gain reapec­t/a­ppr­oval)
modest­y/self deprec­ation
underr­epr­ese­nting positive traits to be humbler
strategy a person uses to make other people regard them as highly moral and virtuous
produces fear and gains power by convincing others they are powerful and/ or dangerous
self handic­apping
creating an obstacle to his or her own perfor­mance - 2types: self reported (compl­aints), behavi­oural (drugs, alcohol)
advertise weakness hoping for solicit help for sympathy out of a sense of social obligation

Attitude - behavior theories

Theory of reasoned action
decision to engage in a particular behavior = alternate options + conseq­uences - leads to behavioral intentions - influences overt behavior
Theory of planned behavior
Theory of reasoned action + one's ability to perform that behavior
Intentions are determined by 3 factors (Ajzen­,1991) - Attitudes toward the behavior, Subjective norms, Perceived behavioral control
Attitu­de-­to-­beh­avior process model (Fazio, 1990)
attitude + stored knowledge of approp­ria­teness in given situation - influences overt behavior

Social comparison theory

Festinger (1954) suggested that people compare themselves to others because they want to evaluate themselves in terms of opinions, values, capabi­lities, achiev­ements etc
compare ourselves with those who we believe are better than us
compare ourselves to others who appear to be worse off than us
comparing with one's peers for the purpose of self-e­nha­ncement and emotional well-being

Attitude - behavior theories

Theory of reasoned action
decision to engage in a particular behavior = alternate options + conseq­uences - leads to behavioral intentions - influences overt behavior
Theory of planned behavior
Theory of reasoned action + one's ability to perform that behavior


intent­ional use of power or dominance to harm, intimi­date, or control others
form of aggressive behavior
typically occurs in a social context where there is an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim
verbal (spoke­n/w­ritten threats)
physical (beating, kicking etc)
relati­ona­l/s­ocial (to harm reputation - rumors, exclusion)
cyber (digia­l/s­ocial media)
sexual (inapp­rop­riate touching, jokes etc)
Why do people bully
Power and Control
Insecurity and Low Self-esteem
Desire for Attention or Popularity
Modeling Behavior
Charac­ter­stics of bullies
lower in self-e­steem, aggress against others to build up their self-image
believe that others are not to be trusted
low tolerance for change­/di­versity
bad at managing -ve emotions
Charac­ter­istics of victims
may be physically or socially weaker
lack of assert­iveness
display signs of fear, anxiety
no social support
history of bullying
How to deal with bullying
author­ities (parents, superv­isors, teachers etc) must pay attention and stand against it
victims must be told exactly what to do and whom to inform

Social perception

process by which indivi­duals interpret, analyze, and make sense of social inform­ation
Nonverbal Commun­ication
facial expres­sions, gestures (body moveme­nts), posture, eye contact, proxemics, touch
negative facial expres­sions are easier and quicker to notice than neutral or smiling faces
extent a person’s neutral facial expression resembles an actual emotion is interp­reted as them showing that emotion
Facial Feedback Hypothesis William James (1894)- facial expres­sions are not only external signs of internal states, they can also trigger or influence internal emotional experi­ences

Sources of error in social cognition

Optimistic bias
tendency to overlook risks and expect things to turn out well - can lead to unreal­istic expect­ations and poor decisi­on-­making
Overco­nfi­dence barrier
tendency for indivi­duals to be overly confident in their own abilities and judgments
Caputo & Dunning (2005) - we may be over confident because:
1. We lack critical info (we don't know enough to know what we have missed)
2. Error of omission (we don't do something that must be done)
Planning fallacy
tendency to undere­stimate the time, resources, and effort required to complete a task
more focus on getting task done than the steps to do it
prediction and motivation - key aspects
Counte­rfa­ctual thinking
imagine altern­ative outcomes to past events (what ifs)
Magical thinking
belief that some conseq­uences are beyond one's control - external locus of control (eg: supers­tition, karma),
Terror management
ways in which indivi­duals cope with the awareness of their own mortality (they will die) - leads to increased preference to shared beliefs, engaging in risky behavior (yolo)

Social cognition

How we think abt the social world, our attempts to understand it, how we gain info from it and our place in it.
mental framework we use to organise info, process info wrt context and guide our actions
mental shortcuts (simple rules used to make complex decisions or draw inferences in a rapid and efficient manner)

Social psych is influenced by

Cognitive process
what we know and how our behavior changes
Biological factors
influence of inherited traits in social situations
Other people
their actions and characters
enviro­nmental variables
tepera­ture, transport, social conflicts etc

Cross cultural research

Psycho­logical method validation
checking applic­ability and genera­liz­ability of the test
Indigenous cultural studies
study of minority ethnic groups in their native location
Cross-­cul­tural compar­isons
comparing findings of two or more cultures

Importance of cross cultural research

maximises variables
increases inter culture awareness
helps separate variables
reduce bias in research
searate behavior from context
apply theories in different norms
check genera­liz­ability
identify influence of culture on behavior
determine if measurable tests and tools are applicable to other countries


privately contem­plating 'who we are'
From Other's standpoint
seeing ourselves from an observer’s perspe­ctive


consious, contro­llable, easy to notice and report
uncons­cious evaluation towards objects or self

Influence of attitudes on behaviors

Attitude extremity
how much the situation effects or interests you (vested intere­st)/how strong ur emotional reaction is
Attitude certainity
2 types - attitude correc­tness and attitude clarity
Attitude correc­tness
extent to which an attitude aligns with objective reality or with the views of others
Attitude clarity
clear and consistent unders­tanding of one's attitude, including its strength, import­ance, and the reasons behind it
Personal experience
Attitudes formed on the basis of direct experience are likely to be stronger
Situat­ional constrains and Consis­tency
we continue to have same attitudes for a long period of time

Social identity theory

aims to predict the circum­stances under which indivi­duals think of themselves as indivi­duals or as group
Social catego­riz­ation
process by which people group others into categories based on shared charac­ter­istics
Social comparison
process by which people evaluate themselves and their social identities by comparing themselves to others in their in-group or out-group
Social identi­fic­ation
process by which an individual associates themselves with a particular social group and adopts the norms, values, and beliefs of that group as part of their self- concept
Social compet­ition
rivalry that exists between indivi­duals or groups competing for social status, resources, or recogn­ition
Social creativity
ability of indivi­duals or groups to generate new and innovative ideas, solutions, or products that are valued by society
Individual mobility
allows people to pursue individual position improv­ement irresp­ective of the group


We use heuristics when there is:
Info overload
when our ability to process info is exceeded
Conditions of uncert­ainity
when it takes lot of effort and time to understand a situat­ion­/pr­oblem
Types of heuris­tics:
Repres­ent­ati­veness heuristic
judging the likelihood of an event based on how well it fits with our prototype and stereotype

Can cause error due to ignoring base rates leads to base rate fallacy (actual frequency or probab­ility of an event based on statis­tical inform­ation)
Availa­bility heuristic
estimating the likelihood of an event based on how easily we can recall or retrieve examples of it from memory - ease of retrieval
Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristic
involves using an initial starting point (the "­anc­hor­") and then adjusting our estimate based on additional inform­ation
Status Quo Heuristic:
belief that the current situation is the norm, and any change from that norm may be risky or uncertain - hesitant to make changes

Social facili­tation

indivi­duals' perfor­mance on a task is influenced by the presence of others
can lead to improved perfor­mance on simple / well-p­rac­ticed tasks (facil­itation effect) and decreased perfor­mance on complex/ novel tasks (inhib­ition effect)
Drive Theory of Social Facili­tation
the presence of others increases physio­logical arousal and this streng­thens the tendency to perform dominant responses
If the dominant response is a well-l­earned or automatic behavior, such as a simple task, the presence of others will facilitate perfor­mance and improve outcomes. However, if the dominant response is more complex or unfami­liar, the presence of others can lead to heightened anxiety and hinder perfor­mance.
Evaluation appreh­ension theory
presence of others enhances perfor­mance because indivi­duals are concerned about being evaluated or judged- motivated to perform well to avoid negative evalua­tions and gain social approval
Distra­ction Conflict Theory
presence of others creates a conflict between attending to the task at hand and attending to the social stimuli - attent­ional focus is divided between the task and the social context, leading to increased arousal and decreased performace (for complex tasks)

Social loafing

refers to the tendency for indivi­duals to exert less effort or contribute less to a group task when working collec­tively compared to when working indivi­dually
occurs when indivi­duals feel that their individual efforts will be less notice­abl­e/i­mpo­rtant in a group, leading to a dec in motivation and produc­tivity
additive tasks
tasks in which the contri­butions of individual group members can be combined to create an overall group perfor­mance (group projects, brains­torming sessions etc)
Tips to reduce social loafing-
1. Clearly Define Individual Roles - so that output and effort is readily identifiable
2. Establish Group Identity and Cohesion - built group identity by commun­ica­ting, collab­orating etc
3. Enhance Task Signif­icance - Emphasize the importance and meanin­gfu­lness of the task
4. Give a standard for the performance

Influence of affect on cognition

Positive mood
view everything (situa­tion, people, ideas) in +ve terms, more likely to judge info as true, increases confidence in our unders­tanding of the world and actions of people, can result in less accuracy
Mood congruence effects
more likely to store or remember positive inform­ation when in a positive mood and vice versa
Mood dependent memory
what we remember while in a given mood may be determined by what we learned when previously in that mood
+ve mood activates wider range of ideas, associ­ations - increasing creativity
+ve mood = more likely to engage in heuristics to deal with current issues
Unders­tanding motives of people
Positive affect tends to promote attrib­utions of positive motives and vice versa

Scope of social psych

Psychology of person­ality
Applied psychology
Psycho­logical cognition
Political science
Intern­ational relations
Commun­ication science
Leadership science
Health sciences

Social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986)

we can perceive ourselves differ­ently at any given moment in time, depending on where we are on the person­al-­ver­sus­-social identity continuum
personal identity
compar­isons with others in the same group (intra­group compar­isons)
social identity
comparing our group with other groups (inter­group compar­isons)

Self aspect

diff person­alities in diff situations
if you're a minority, you represent your entire population
important to the self
personal traits more than social traits
more adjectives to explain personal identity

Self esteem

overall attitude people hold toward themselves
Key elements:
Sense of belonging
Feelings of security
Feeling of competence
realistic personal expect­ations
Good expression of needs

Low self esteem

sensit­ivity to Criticism
social Withdrawal
hostility - defense mech
excessive Preocc­upation with Personal Problems
physical Symptoms
alcohol abuse, drug use
mental issues
depres­sion, anxiety, and anorexia

Factors affecting self esteem


Attitude formation

Social learning
learning through social intera­ction -acquire new inform­ation, forms of behavior, or attitudes from other people
Observ­ational learning
learning by observing others' behavior, without necess­arily intera­cting with them
Social comparison
comparing ourselves to others to evaluate our social reality
Reference groups
people with whom we identify and whose opinions we value
Classical Condit­ioning
Learning Based on Associ­ation
Subliminal condit­ioning
Classical condit­ioning of attitudes by exposure to stimuli that are below indivi­duals’ threshold of conscious awareness
Mere exposure effect
people tend to develop a preference for things simply because they are familiar with them
Illusion of truth effect
tendency of people to believe something to be true simply because they have heard it before
Instru­mental condit­ioning
Attitudes that are followed by positive outcomes tend to be streng­thened and negative weakened


indivi­dual’s sense of self, defined by a set of unique physical, psycho­log­ical, and interp­ersonal charac­ter­istics
same over time
same in diff situations (school, home)

Macia's identity theory

expansion on erikson's theory
identity formation during adoles­cence involves both explor­ation and commitment with respect to ideologies and occupa­tions
high exp - HE
low exp - LE
high com - HC
low com - LC
identity diffusion
LC,LE - identity crisis
identity forecl­osure
HC,LE - peer/p­arental pressure
Identity moratorium
LC,HE - precursor to identity achiev­ement
Identity achiev­ement
HC,HE - stable self-d­efi­nition


Influence of schemas on 3 basic processes - consistent and strongly incons­istent schemas receive more attention, encoding and retrieval
refers to what info we notice and what enters our consciousness

more frequently used when there's cognitive overload (trying to handle lot of info)
process through which info we notice gets stored in memory
Info sharply incons­istent with our schemas get stored in a separate memory location
how we recover inform­ation from memory
Concepts related to schemas:
when one stimulus triggers retrieval of another similar schema
how previous schema is deacti­vated or supressed in memory - when contra­dicted or through passage of time
Persev­erance effect
tendency for beliefs and schemas to remain unchanged even in the face of contra­dictory info - as schemas bias attention, memory etc
Automatic processing
performing task with rapid, effort­less, and uncons­cious manner after extensive experience - allows indivi­duals to quickly categorize and make judgments but can also cause bias

Influence of cognition on affect

Two-factor theory of emotion (Schac­hter, 1964) - we infer the nature of our feelings and attitudes from the external world (cognitive appraisal)
Activate schemas containing strong affective component (eg: how we feel with in-grp id diff from our feelings to out-grp)
Affective forecasts - Predic­tions about how we would feel about events we have not actually experi­enced can influence affect


efforts to understand the causes behind ones' and others’ behavior

Causes of agression

frustr­ation agression hypothesis
frustr­ation is a very powerful determ­inant of aggression
excitation transfer theory
arousal from one situation can cause intense reactions in a later, unrelated event
TASS model
Traits as Situat­ional Sensit­ivities (TASS)
person­ality traits (like agression) only influence behavior when specific situations activate/ evoke them
biological factors
genetic predis­pos­itions, hormonal influences (such as testos­ter­one), brain abnorm­alities or imbala­nces, and neurol­ogical conditions
condes­cension (showing aggrog­anc­e/d­isdain to others), mocking, harsh and unjust­ified criticism, teasing
some cultures find agression acceptable in response to insult of honor
sexual jealousy
indivi­duals perceive a threat to their relati­onship or when they experience feelings of inadequacy or betrayal
biological factors
genetic predis­pos­itions, hormonal influences (such as testos­ter­one), brain abnorm­alities or imbala­nces, and neurol­ogical conditions
gender differ­ences
men show more physical agression, women show relational agression (social exclus­ions, rumors)
agression can be a defence when their manhood is challenged or they feel inadequate
tradit­ional mascul­inity expects men to be more agressive in nature
narcis­sists show agression if their ego or self-image is threatened
substance abuse
under the influence
men show more physical agression, women show relational agression (social exclus­ions, rumors)
sexual jealousy
indivi­duals perceive a threat to their relati­onship or when they experience feelings of inadequacy or betrayal
agression can be a defence when their manhood is challenged or they feel inadequate
tradit­ional mascul­inity expects men to be more agressive in nature
hotter temp is linked to more agression
failures, inconv­eni­ences'
invali­dation, injustice, betrayal, disrespect
hostile agression
prime objective is to inflict harm on victim
instru­mental agression
primary goal is to attain some other goal—eg, access to valued resources


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