Chapter Nine: Behavior in Social and Cultural Context
Identity, Attributions, and Attitudes
Social cognition examines how the social influences affect our thoughts, beliefs, memories, and other cognitive processes.
Social identities are important to our self-concept, but they sometimes collide in multicultural societies.
KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED
- Personal identity is based on our unique traits and history.
- Social identity is an aspect of our self-concept which is based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, or social roles.
- Gives us a feeling of place and position in the world.
- Collision of social identities occurs when balancing ethnic identity with acculturation.
Outcomes When Acculturation and Ethnic Identity Collide
Ethnic Identity is
- Bicultural - Strong ties to both ethnicity and the larger culture.
- "Proud of my heritage, and proud to be an American."
- Assimilation - Weak feelings of ethnicity, but strong acculturation.
- "I am an American, PERIOD."
- Ethnic Separatist - Strong ethnic identity, weak acculturation.
- "________, and proud of it!"
- Marginal - Not connected to either ethnicity or larger culture.
- "I'm an individual,PERIOD."
- "I'm lost."
- There is disagreement about how acculturation and ethnic identity should be balanced.
social cognition social identity ethnic identity acculturation
LINKS About Acculturation and Ethnic Identity
- www link: Ethnic Identity and Multiculturalism in Canada.
- www link: Annotated bibliography on acculturation issues (Canada).
- www link: Southeast Asian adolescents: Identity and adjustment.
- www link: An interesting case study on the Garifuna.
- www link: More on the Garifuna.
- www link: Hmong Adaptation to Life in the United States.
We are constantly creating explanations about our own behavior and the behavior of others.
KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED
- Attribution theory suggests that there are two types of explanations we make about behavior.
- Situational attribution - The cause of the behavior is due to something in the environment.
- Dispositional attribution - The cause of the behavior is due to a trait or motive in the person.
- Fundamental Attribution Error
- When we try to explain other people's behavior, we overestimate dispositional causes (personality of the other), and underestimate the effects of the situation.
- "Jane was abusive to her child last Tuesday because she has an aggressive personality" overlooks the situational influences of a recent divorce, threatening calls from her ex-husband, working three jobs to make ends meet, and two other children home for the week with chicken pox."
- More prevalent in Western nations which emphasize individual responsibility.
- Self-Serving Bias
- When it comes to explaining our own behavior, its not my fault when I fail, and am a a great person when I do good.
- Take credit for good behavior (dispositional attribution).
- Blame the environment for bad behavior (situational attribution).
- Is more common in some cultures than others.
- Just-World Hypothesis
- Based on our need to believe the world is fair allows us to make sense out of senseless or threatening events.
- Blaming the victim - it is reassuring to believe that the victim somehow deserved or caused their misfortune.
attribution theory fundamental attribution error self-serving bias just-world hypothesis
LINKS About Attributions
- www.link: Excuses for being late.
An attitude is a relatively stable opinion which is composed of cognitive and emotional elements.
KEY CONCEPTS EXPLAINED
...Where Do Attitudes Come From?
- Attitudes come from lots of places, few of them the result of reasoned conclusions.
- Cohort Effect - Between 16-24 years of age, people in each generation develop opinions about the world that are characteristic of their generation.
- The "Chicken or Egg" Dilemma with attitudes: Which comes first, the attitude or the behavior?
Repeated exposure, endorsements, and "good feeling" associations are ways of changing your attitudes.
- Repeated Exposure: The Big Lie/The Validity Effect
- Mere repetition increases the perception that statements or unverified opinions are in fact true.
- Models, sports, heroes, and "experts"
- Have the argument presented by someone who is admired or attractive.
- Good Feeling Persuasion
- The "Big" Backfire Campaigns - Fear Doesn't Work Very Well
- Fear tactics can cause people to resist arguments that are actually in their own best interest.
- If the message is too terrifying and people don't believe they can do anything to avoid the threat, they deny the danger.
- Fear can work, however, if people are made only moderately anxious and the message provides information about how to avoid the danger.
...Coercive Persuasion - Brainwashing
- Brainwashing used to describe the techniques used by the Communist Chinese in the Korean War to endorse anti-American propaganda.
- Coercive Persuasion describes methods that are not as mysterious and unusual as the term "brainwashing" suggests.
- Processes Common to Coercive Persuasion:
- Person under physical or emotional distress.
- The person's problems are defined simplistically, and simple answers are offered repeatedly.
- The leader offers unconditional love, acceptance, and attention.
- A new identity is created.
- The person is subjected to entrapment. rewind to entrapment discussion.
- The person's access to information is controlled.
- The research on coercive persuasion indicates that you don't have to be evil, stupid, or crazy to do evil, stupid, and crazy things. These techniques are powerful enough to overwhelm just about everyone.
LINKS About Attitudes and Coercive Persuasion
- www link: Cohort effect: Are you a member of the Net-Generation.
- www link: Cohort effect over the years.
- www link: Heaven's Gate and the social psychology of cults.
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