• People form impressions about others through the process of person perception.
  • People’s physical appearance strongly influences the way they are perceived by others.
  • People are particularly influenced by physical attractiveness and baby-faced features.
  • Social schemas affect how people perceive events and other people.

Stereotypes and Prejudice

  • Stereotypes are beliefs about people based on their membership in a particular group.
  • Stereotypes tend to be difficult to change.
  • Stereotyping has some important functions, but it can also distort reality in dangerous ways.
  • Evolutionary psychologists believe that people evolved the tendency to stereotype because it gave their ancestors an adaptive advantage.
  • A prejudice is a negative belief or feeling about a particular group of individuals.
  • Prejudice is pervasive because it serves many social and psychological functions.
  • Researchers find it difficult to measure prejudice. They often measure implicit rather than explicit prejudice.
  • People who identify strongly with their ingroup are more likely to be prejudiced against people in outgroups.
  • Research shows that there are effective ways to reduce prejudice.


  • Attributions are inferences people make about the causes of events and behavior.
  • Attributions can be classified along two dimensions: internal vs. external and stable vs. unstable.
  • People often make incorrect attributions because of the fundamental attribution error, the self-serving bias, and the just world hypothesis.
  • Cultural values and norms affect the way people make attributions.


  • Attitudes are evaluations people make about objects, ideas, events, or other people. They can be explicit or implicit and can include beliefs, emotions, and behavior.
  • Attitudes vary according to strength, accessibility, and ambivalence.
  • Attitudes do not always affect behavior.
  • The foot-in-the-door phenomenon and the prison study show that behavior can affect attitudes.
  • Theories that account for attitude change are learning theory, dissonance theory, and the elaboration likelihood model.

Social Influence

  • Some common social influence strategies are the foot-in-the-door technique, the lowball technique, manipulation of the reciprocity norm, and feigning scarcity.
  • Persuasion involves a source, a receiver, a message, and a channel.
  • Credible, likable sources are more likely to be persuasive.
  • Many features of the source, receiver, and message influence persuasion.
  • Coercive persuasion involves limiting freedom to choose and preventing clear reasoning.


  • Interpersonal attraction refers to positive feelings about another person.
  • Physical attractiveness, proximity, similarity, and reciprocity influence attraction.
  • Romantic love includes passionate and compassionate love.
  • Compassionate love includes intimacy and commitment.
  • Infant attachment styles tend to be reproduced in adult relationships.
  • There are both similarities and differences among cultures in romantic attraction.
  • Evolutionary psychologists speculate that the tendency to be attracted to physically attractive people is adaptive.

Obedience and Authority

  • Obedience is compliance with commands given by an authority figure.
  • Stanley Milgram’s obedience study showed that people have a strong tendency to comply with authority figures.
  • The degree of obedience depends on many situational factors.
  • People sometimes carry obedience to extremes.


  • A group is a social unit composed of two or more people who interact and depend on each other in some way.
  • Groups tend to have distinct norms, roles, communication structures, and power structures.
  • Conformity is the process of giving in to real or imagined pressure from a group.
  • Solomon Asch did a famous study that showed that people often conform and that social roles influence behavior.
  • Factors that influence conformity include group size and unanimity, level of competence, liking for the group, and group observation of the behavior.
  • People conform because of normative social influence, because of informational social influence, because they want to gain rewards, and because they identify with the group.
  • Insufficient coordination and social loafing contribute to lowered productivity in groups.
  • Social facilitation may occur in some group situations.
  • Groupthink, group polarization, and minority influence affect decision-making in groups.
  • Deindividuation sometimes occurs in large, anonymous, arousing groups.

Helping Behavior

  • People are less likely to offer help in the presence of other people.
  • Bystanders are more likely to help people in some circumstances than others.
  • Explanations for helping behavior include social exchange theory, the social responsibility norm, and the reciprocity norm.
  • A social trap is a situation in which acting in one’s own self-interest can harm both the actor and others.

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