Social Psychology Ninth Edition

Elliot Aronson

Timothy D. Wilson

Robin M. Akert

Samuel R. Sommers

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

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

the world a better place.


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


To my mentor, colleague, and friend, Dane Archer


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


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1 Introducing Social Psychology 1

2 Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research 23

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

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

5 The Self: Understanding Ourselves in a Social Context 119

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

7 Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings 188

8 Conformity: Influencing Behavior 226

9 Group Processes: Influence in Social Groups 269

10 Interpersonal Attraction: From First Impressions to Close Relationships 303

11 Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help? 344

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

13 Prejudice: Causes, Consequences, and Cures 413

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

Social Psychology in Action 2 Social Psychology and Health 476

Social Psychology in Action 3 Social Psychology and the Law 496

Brief Contents

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Preface xi About the Authors xvii Special Tips for Students xix

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

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

Try IT! Social Situations and Shyness 7

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

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


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

Summary  20 • Test Yourself  21

2 Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research 23

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

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

Research Designs 27

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

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

Try IT! Correlation and Causation: Knowing the Difference 33

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Try IT! reasoning Quiz 69

peRSonaliTY TeSTS and The RepReSenTaTiveneSS  hEuRiSTiC

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

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

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

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

Try IT! How Well Do you reason? 78

Watson Revisited 79 Summary  80 • Test Yourself  82

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

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

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

Culture and the Channels of Nonverbal Communication 90

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


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vi Contents

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

Try IT! Listen as People Make Attributions 98

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

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

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

Culture and Social Perception 109 Holistic versus Analytic Thinking 110


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

5 The Self: Understanding Ourselves in a Social Context 119

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

Try IT! A Measure of Independence and Interdependence 123

Functions of the Self 124

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

Try IT! Measure your Private Self- Consciousness 127

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

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

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

Self-Control: The Executive Function of the Self 144

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

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

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

The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance 158 When Cognitions Conflict 158

whY we oveReSTimaTe The pain of diSappoinTmenT

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

diSToRTing ouR likeS and diSlikeS  •  The peRmanence  of ThE DECiSioN

Try IT! The Advantage of Finality 165

cReaTing The illuSion of iRRevocaBiliTY  •  The deciSion To Behave immoRallY

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

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

Try IT! Justifying What you’ve Done 171

External versus Internal Justification 171

counTeRaTTiTudinal advocacY

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

The Hypocrisy Paradigm 176 Justifying Good Deeds and Harmful Acts 177

The Ben fRanklin effecT: JuSTifYing acTS of kindneSS

Try IT! The Internal Consequences of Doing Good 179

dehumanizing The enemY: JuSTifYing cRuelTY

Some Final Thoughts on Dissonance: Learning from Our Mistakes 181

poliTicS and Self-JuSTificaTion  •  ovERCoMiNg DiSSoNANCE

Summary  185 • Test Yourself  186

7 Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings 188

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

cogniTivelY BaSed aTTiTudeS  •  affecTivelY BaSed  ATTiTuDES

Try IT! Affective and Cognitive Bases of Attitudes 192

BehavioRallY BaSed aTTiTudeS

Explicit versus Implicit Attitudes 193

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

Specific aTTiTudeS  •  SuBJecTive noRmS  •  peRceived  bEhAvioRAL CoNTRoL

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

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

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

Attitude Change and the Body 209

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

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

Try IT! Consumer Brand Attitudes 215

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

Resisting Persuasive Messages 219

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

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

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

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

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

Normative Social Influence: The Need to Be Accepted 236

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

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

When Will People Conform to Normative Social Influence? 244

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

Minority Influence: When the Few Influence the Many 248

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

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

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

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

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

Summary  266 • Test Yourself  267

9 Group Processes: Influence in Social Groups 269

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

Social noRmS  •  Social RoleS  •  gRoup  coheSiveneSS  •  gRoup diveRSiTY

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

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

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

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

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

Process Loss: When Group Interactions Inhibit Good Problem Solving 284

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

Group Polarization: Going to Extremes 287 Leadership in Groups 289

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

Conflict and Cooperation 293 Social Dilemmas 293

Try IT! The Prisoner’s Dilemma 295


Using Threats to Resolve Conflict 296


Negotiation and Bargaining 298 Summary  300 • Test Yourself  301

Contents vii

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10 Interpersonal Attraction: From First Impressions to Close Relationships 303

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

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

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

Reciprocal Liking 310 Physical Attractiveness 311

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

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

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

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

Try IT! Passionate Love Scale 327

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

Social exchange TheoRY  •  equiTY TheoRY

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

11 Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help? 344

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

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

Try IT! The Dictator Game 347


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

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

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

Gender Differences in Prosocial Behavior 355

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

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

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

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

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

Effects of the Media: Video Games and Music Lyrics 366

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

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

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


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

Gender and Aggression 381 phYSical aggReSSion  •  RELATioNAL AggRESSioN

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

Learning to Behave Aggressively 383 Some Physiological Influences 385

The effecTS of alcohol  •  The effecTS  of pAiN AND hEAT

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

Try IT! Insults and Aggression 390

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

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

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

expeRimenTal STudieS  •  longiTudinal STudieS

The Problem of Determining Cause and Effect 397

viii Contents

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


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

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

Try IT! Controlling your Anger 404

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

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

13 Prejudice: Causes, Consequences, and Cures 413

Defining Prejudice 414 The Cognitive Component: Stereotypes 415

fRom caTegoRieS To STeReoTYpeS

Try IT! Stereotypes and Aggression 417

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

The Affective Component: Emotions 420

Try IT! Identifying your Prejudices 421

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

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

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

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

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

Realistic Conflict Theory 440 ECoNoMiC AND poLiTiCAL CoMpETiTioN

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


Cooperation and Interdependence: The Jigsaw Classroom 447

whY doeS JigSaw woRk?

Try IT! Jigsaw-Type Group Study 449


Summary  451 • Test Yourself  453

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

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

ASSESSiNg ThE EffECTivENESS of inTeRvenTionS  •  poTenTial RiSkS of Social  iNTERvENTioNS

Social Psychology to the Rescue 461

Using Social Psychology to Achieve a Sustainable Future 461

Conveying and Changing Social Norms 462

Try IT! reducing Littering with Descriptive Norms 463

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

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

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

Try IT! Applying the research to your Own Life 472

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

Social Psychology in Action 2 Social Psychology and Health 476

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

Try IT! The College Life Stress Inventory 480


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

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

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

Try IT! Social Support 488

Reframing: Finding Meaning in Traumatic Events 489

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

Contents ix

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Social Psychology in Action 3 Social Psychology and the Law 496

Eyewitness Testimony 498 Why Are Eyewitnesses Often Wrong? 498

acquiSiTion  •  SToRage  •  ReTRieval

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

Try IT! The Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony 506

The Recovered Memory Debate 506

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

Glossary 516

References 522

Credits 567

Name Index 573

Subject Index 588

Answer Key AK-1

x Contents

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