Attitude And Social Cognition Chapter 6 Notes And Question Answers 2023

Attitude And Social Cognition

Explaining Social Behavior

Social Psychology:

> Social psychology is the scientific study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, beliefs, intentions and goals constructed within a social context by the actual or imagined interactions with others

> I, therefore, look at human behavior as influenced by other people and the conditions under which social behavior and feelings occur.

Baron, Byrne and Suls (1989) define Social Psychology as.

The scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and causes of individual behavior in social situations.

Topics examined in social psychology include: the self-concept, social cognition, attribution theory, social influence, group processes, prejudice and discrimination, interpersonal processes, aggression, attitudes and stereotypes.

Social Cognition:

> The combination of social processes like attitude, impression formation, attribution and pro social behavior is called social cognition. Social cognition refers to the mental activities and Function related to the gathering and interpretation of information about the social world.

> Social cognition of all individuals is affected by the social environment (Societal conditions in the society-peace, harmony, trust or aggression, frustration, disharmony and distrust towards individuals, groups, people, relationships and social issues.) and people Impression formation is when we make inferences about personal qualities of people we meet.

Attribution is when we assign causes to the behaviour shown in specific social situations

> Attitude: It is a state of mind, a set of views or thoughts, regarding some topics, which have an evaluative feature (positive, negative or neutral quality)

>The thought component is referred to as the cognitive aspect, the emotional component is known as the effective aspect and the tendency to act is called the behavioural (or conative) aspect. A-B-Components (Affective Behavioural-Cognitive components) of attitude.

> Bellet: Belief refers to the cognitive component of its and forms the ground on which attitudes stand, such as belief in God or belief in democracy as a political ideology

> Value: Values are attitudes or beliefs that contain a should or ‘ought aspect, such as moral or ethical values. One example of a value is hard work or honesty. Values are formed when a particular belief becomes an inseparable part of a person’s outlook on life.

Nature And Components of Attitudes

Features of Attitude:

● Valence (pensitivity or negativity).

● Extremeness indicates how positive or negative an attitude is

● Simplicity or Complexity (multiplexity) refers to how many attitudes there are within a broader it. An attitude system is said to be ‘simple if it contains only one or a few attitudes and complex if it is made up of many attitudes.

● Centrality: This refers to the role of a particular attitude in the system much more than non-central (or peripheral) attitudes would

Attitude Formation

In general, It is learned through one’s own experiences and interaction with others.

Process of Attitude Formation:

● Association, eg. a positive attitude towards a subject is learned through the positive association between a teacher and a student.

● Reward or punishment increases/decreases the further development of it.

● Modelling: Observing others being rewarded or punished for expressing thoughts, or showing behaviour of a particular kind towards the attitude object.

● Group or Cultural norms: Through the norms of our group or culture which may become part of our social cognition, in the form of attitude.

● Exposure to information, e.g., positive and negative attitudes are formed through the media.

Factors that Influence Attitude Formation:

● Family and school environment particularly in the early years of life.

● Reference Groups indicate the norms regarding acceptable behavior/ways of thinking, and reflect learning of it through cultural norms, noticeable during the beginning of adolescence.

● Personal Experiences (direct)

● Media-related Influences

● Technological advances have made audio-visual media, school level textbook and the Internet very powerful sources of information.

Attitude Change

Attitudes that are still in the formative stage and are more like opinions are much more likely to change compared to it that have become firmly established and have become a part of the individual’s values

1. Balance or P-O-X triangle (Fritz Heider) represents the relationships between three aspects or components of attitude.

  • P is the person whose attitude is being studied,
  • O is another person,
  • X is the topic towards which the attitude is being studied. It is also possible that all three are persons.

> The basic idea is that an attitude changes if there is a state of imbalance between the P-O attitude, O-X attitude and PX attitude. This is because imbalance is logically uncomfortable. Imbalance is found when all three sides are negative, or two sides are positive and one side is negative. 

Balance is found when all three sides are positive or two sides are negative and one side is positive.

2. Cognitive Dissonance (Leon Festinger) emphasises on the cognitive component. Cognitive components of constant (opposite of ‘dissonant), i.e., they should be logically in line with each other it an individual finds that two cognitions in an attitude are dissonant, then one of them will be changed in the direction of consonance.

Both balance and cognitive dissonance are examples of cognitive consistency which means that two components or elements of the attitude, must be in the same direction.

If this does not happen, then the person experiences a kind of mental discomfort, ie, the sense that something is not quite right in this system.

3. The Two-Step Concept (S.M. Mohsin): According to S.M. Mohsin, attitude change takes place in the form of two steps: 

(i) The target of change (person whose attitude is to be changed) identifies with the source (person through whose influence the attitude is to be changed). Identification means that the target and the source have a mutual regard and attraction. 

(ii) The source himself/herself shows its change, by actually changing his/her behaviour towards the attitude object. Observing the source’s changed attitude and behaviour, the target also shows change through behaviour. This is a kind of imitation or observational learning.

Factors that Influence Attitude Change:

Characteristics of the Existing Attitude: All four properties of attitudes mentioned earlier, namely, valence (positively or negatively), extremeness, simplicity or complexity (multiplexity) and centrality or significance, determine its change. Positive, less extreme, peripheral (less significant) and simpler attitudes are easier to change. 

In addition, one must also consider the direction and extent of attitude change.

Congruent (same direction of the existing attitude) or incongruent (opposite direction). 

Moreover, it may change in the direction of the information that is presented, or in a direction opposite to that of the information presented.

Source Characteristics: These are associated with source credibility and attractiveness. it is more likely to change when the message comes from a highly credible source rather than from a low-credible source

Message Characteristics: It will change when the amount of information that is given about the topic is just enough, neither too much nor too little. Whether the message contains a rational or an emotional appeal, also makes a difference. 

The motives activated by the message depend on the mode of spreading the message (face-to-face transmission is more effective than indirect transmission).

● Target Characteristics: Qualities of the target, such as persuasibility (open and flexible personality), strong prejudices, self-esteem, and more willing because they base on more information and thinking.

Attitude-Behaviour Relationship

Psychologists have found that there would be consistency between attitude and behavior when:

● The attitude is strong and occupies a central place in this system.

● The person is aware of his/her attitude.

● There is very little or no external pressure for the person to behave in a particular way.

Prejudice and Discrimination

Prejudices are usually negative attitudes against a particular group and in many cases, may be based on stereotypes (the cognitive component) about the specific group. A stereotype is a cluster of ideas regarding the characteristics of a specific group. The cognitive component of prejudice is frequently

> Sources of Prejudice: accompanied by dislike or hatred, the effective components of prejudice are more difficult to change.

Learning: Prejudice can also be learned through association, reward and punishment, observing others, group or cultural norms and exposure to information that encourages prejudice.

The family, reference groups, personal experiences and media may play a role in the learning of prejudices. People who learn prejudiced attitudes may develop a ‘prejudiced personality”.

A Strong Social Identity and in Group Bias: Individuals who have a strong sense of social identity and have a very positive attitude towards their own group boost this attitude by holding negative attitudes towards other groups.

Scapegoating: This is a phenomenon by which majority group places the blame on minority groups for its own social, economic or political problems. The minority is too weak or too small in number to defend itself against such accusations.

● Self fulfilling Prophecy: the group that is the target of prejudice is itself responsible for continuing the prejudice by behaving in ways that justify the prejudice of condemn the negative expectation,

Strategies for Handling Prejudice

The strategies for handling prejudice would be effective if they aim at:

• minimizing opportunities for learning prejudices,

• changing such attitudes

• de-emphasizing a narrow social identity based on the in group, and

• discouraging the tendency towards self-fulfilling prophecy among the victims of prejudice.

These goals can be accomplished through:

● Education and information dissemination, for correcting stereotypes related to specific target groups and tackling the problem of a strong in group blas.

●  Increasing intergroup contact that allows for direct communication, removal of mistrust between the groups, and discovery context, there is close interaction and they are not different in power or status.

● Highlighting individual identity rather than group identity, thus weakening the importance of group (both in-group and out-group) as a basis of evaluating the other person.

> Social Loafing: The larger the group, the less effort each member puts in. This phenomenon is based on diffusion of responsibility

NCERT Psychology Class 12 Textbook Question Answers

Q.1. Define attitude. Discuss the components of an attitude.

Ans. (a) It is a state of the mind, a set of views or thoughts, regarding some topic that has an evaluative feature (positive, negative or neutral quality). It is accompanied by an emotional component, and a tendency to act in a particular way concerning the its object.

(b)Its components are as mentioned below:

(i) The thought component is referred to as the cognitive aspect.

(ii) The emotional component is known as the affective aspect.

(iii) The tendency to act is called behavioural or cognitive aspect.

Taken together, these three aspects have been referred to as the A-B-C components i.e.. Affective-Behavioural-Cognitive components.

These are themselves not behavior, but they represent a tendency to behave or act in certain ways. They are part of cognition, along with an emotional component, and cannot be observed from outside.

Q.2. Are attitudes learnt ? Explain, how ?

Ans. In general, these are learned through one’s own experiences, and interaction with others. However, most psychologists have focused on the conditions which lead to the learning of it. These conditions are as mentioned below :

(i) Learning attitudes by association: A positive attitude towards the subject is learned through the positive association between a teacher and a student.

(ii) Learning it by being rewarded or punished: If an individual is praised for showing a particular attitude, he will develop that further. For example, if a girl does yoga asanas regularly. and wins a contest of ‘Good Health in the school, she would develop a positive attitude towards yoga.

Similarly, if a child falls ill due to eating junk food regularly, he would develop a negative attitude towards junk food.

(iii) Learning attitudes through modeling (observing others): We learn it by observing others being rewarded or punished for their actions and thoughts. For example, children may form a respectful attitude towards elders, by observing that their parents show respect for elders, and are appreciated it.

(iv) Learning attitudes through group or cultural norms: Norms are unwritten rules about behavior. These norms become part of our social cognition in the form of attitudes.

(v) Learning through exposure to information: Many attitudes are learned in a social context. For example , the media provides a huge amount of information, and both positive and negative attitudes are formed. great persons help in developing positive attitude towards hard work for achieving Biographies of success in life

Q.3. What are the factors that influence the formation of an attitude?

Ans. The factors that influence the formation are as mentioned below:

it(i) Family and school environment: Family members and the school environment play an important role in the formation of attitude. Here learning of attitudes usually takes place by association, through rewards and punishments, and modeling.

(ii) Reference groups: These groups indicate to an individual the norms regarding acceptable behavior and ways of thinking. Attitudes towards political, socia religious top developed through reference groups. Their influence is noticeable is especially during the beginning of adolescence.

(iii) Personal experiences: Many attitudes are formed through one’s personal experience. For example, if someone has cheated you in business, you may not like him. This will change him drastically.

(iv) Media-related influences: Technological advances such as internet, facebook etc. are important sources of information which influences attitude formation and change. The media and other sources can exert good and bad influences on attitudes.

Q.4. Is behavior always a reflection of one’s attitude ? Explain with a relevant example.

Ans. No, an individual’s attitudes may not always be exhibited through behavior. Likewise, one’s actual behavior may be contrary to one’s attitude towards a particular topic.

According to psychologists there would be consistency between attitudes and behavior in the mentioned below

(i) The attitude is strong, and occupies a central place in the attitude system.

(ii) The person is aware of his attitude cases

(iii) There is very little or no external pressure for the person to behave in a particular way.

(iv) The person’s behavior is not being watched or evaluated by others, and

(v) The person thinks that the behavior would have a positive consequence, and therefore, intends to engage in that behavior.

For example, in the days when Americans were said to be prejudiced against Chinese, Richard LaPiere, an American social psychologist asked a Chinese couple to visit the USA. They stayed in different hotels and only once they were refused service by one hotel. 

LaPiere sent a questionnaires to hotel managers if they would give accommodation to Chinese guests. A very large number refused. From this incident it is clear that attitudes may not always predict the actual pattern of one’s behavior.

Q.5. Highlight the importance of schemas in social cognition.

Ans. The importance of schemas social cognition is as follows

(i) A schema is a mental structure that provides a framework, set of rules or guidelines for processing information about any object.

(ii) Schemas reduce the time and mental effort required in cognition.

(iii) Schemas that function in the form of categories are called prototypes, that help us to define an object completely.

(iv) In social cognition, category-based schemas that are related to groups of people are called stereotypes. These are over generalized and are not directly verified and do not allow for exceptions.

(v) The stereotypes provide fertile ground for the growth of prejudices and biases against specific groups. But prejudices can also develop without stereotypes.

Q.6. Differentiate between prejudice and stereotype.

Ans. Differences between prejudice and stereotype are as mentioned below:

Attitude and social cognition
Attitude and social cognition

Q.7. Prejudice can exist without discrimination and vice versa. Comment.

Ans. (i) Prejudices can exist without being shown in the form of discrimination.

(ii) Similarly, discrimination can be shown without prejudice. together very often.

(iii) Yet, the two go and discrimination exist, conflicts are very likely to arise between groups

(iv) Wherever prejudice and society. For example, our society has witnessed many deplorable instances of within the same discrimination, with or without prejudice, based on gender, religion, community, caste, physical handicap, and illnesses such as AIDS.

(v) In many cases discriminatory behavior can be curbed by law. But the cognitive and emotional components of prejudice are more difficult to change.

Q.8. Describe the important factors that influence impression formation.

Ans. (a) Impression formation is a process through which we draw quick conclusions/inferences regarding others.

(b) Factors that influence the impression formation are as mentioned below:

(i) The nature of information available to the perceiver,

(ii) Social schemas in the perceiver (including stereotypes),

(iii) Personality characteristics of the perceiver and

(iv) Situational factors.

(v) Some specific qualities influence impression formation more than other traits do.

(vi) The order in which the information is presented affects the kind of impression formed because mostly the information presented first has a stronger effect than the information presented at the end. 

This is the primacy effect. But if the perceiver may be asked to pay attention to all the information, whatever information comes at the end may have stronger influence. This is known as the recency effect.

(vii) We also think that a target person having one set of qualities, must also be having other qualities that are associated with the first set. This is known as the halo effect. For example, if a person is ‘tidy’ and ‘punctual’ we think that the person must also be ‘hard working’.

Q.9. Explain how the attribution made by an ‘actor’ would be different from that of an ‘observer’.

Ans. There is a distinction between the attribution that a person makes for his own positive and negative experiences (actor role) and attribution made for another person’s positive and negative experiences (observer role). 

This is called the actor-observer effect. For example, if you get good marks you will attribute it to your hard work but if you get bad marks, you will attribute it to your bad luck. 

On the other hand, if your classmate gets good marks you will attribute it to good luck and if he gets bad marks, you will attribute that to low ability. The basic reason for the difference between the actor and an observer role is that people want to have a nice image of themselves, as compared to others.

Q.10. How does social facilitation take place?

Ans. (a) Social facilitation implies that performance on specific tasks is influenced by the mere presence of others.

(b) In 1897, Norman Triplett observed that individuals show better performance in the presence of others, than when they are performing the same task alone. For example cyclists racing with each other perform better than when they cycle alone. The factors for better performance are as mentioned below

(i) The person experiences arousal which makes the person react in a more intense manner.

(ii) The arousal is due to the fact the person feels he is being evaluated. Person knows that he will be praised for good performance and criticized for bad performance. As all of us wish to be praised, the a person tries his best to give the best performance.

(iii) The nature of the task also affects the performance in the presence of others because in case of a simple or familiar task, a person will perform better. 

On the other hand, if the task is complex or a new task, the person may be afraid of making mistakes and he will not be able to perform in a better way.

(iv) In a situation of co-action i.e., when others are also performing the same task, there is social comparison and competition. 

Performance will be better under co-action than when the person is alone.

Thus, task performance can be facilitated and improved or worsened by the presence of others.

Q.11. Explain the concept of pro-social behavior.

Ans. (i) Prosocial behavior means help those people who are in need. It implies that we should think about the welfare of others without any self-interest. Examples of prosocial behavior are sharing things, helping during natural calamities.

(ii) Characteristics of prosocial behavior:

(a) Aim to benefit or do good to another person.

(b) No expectation in return.

(c) To help willingly without any pressure.

(d) Involve some difficulty or ‘cost’ to the person giving help.

(iii) Factors influencing prosocial behavior:

(a) Prosocial behavior is based on an inborn, natural tendency in human beings to help others.

(b) Pro-social behavior is influenced by learning. For example, family environment sets the examples of helping others as a value and praises such actions.

(c) Cultural factors: Some cultures encourage people to help others particularly needy and distressed.

(d) Social norms: Some social norms as mentioned below also require pro-social behavior

(1) Social responsibility means that we should help the needy without considering any other factor.

(2) The norm of reciprocity means we should help those who had helped us in the past.

(3) The norm of equity implies that we should help others whenever we find that it is fair to do so.

(4) Pro-social behavior is affected by the expected reactions of the person who is being helped. As in some cases, a needy person might feel insulted, or may become dependent.

(5) Prosocial behavior is shown by the persons who have a high level of empathy as was in the case of Mother Teresa.

(6) Prosocial behavior may be affected by the factors as a bad mood or being busy with one’s own problems or feeling that the person is himself responsible for his condition.

(7) Another factor influencing the prosocial behavior is diffusion of responsibility i.e., a situation where there are many people but everyone thinks that it is not his responsibility alone to help the victim and that someone else may take the responsibility. Such situation arises in case of road accidents.

Q.12. Your friend eats too much junk food, how would you be able to bring about a change in her/his attitude towards food?

Ans. A change in his attitude towards junk food may be brought about as mentioned below:

(i) The modification in his attitude can be achieved through using rational and emotional appeal.

(ii) He would be informed that junk food is not good for health. It leads to obesity and other problems.

(iii) He would be told that there are many alternatives to junk food. For example he might bring a mid-day meal from his house and eat in the school.

(iv) He would be persuaded to eat more fruit or take juice that would help in maintaining his health.

(v) Examples of some persons around him in the family or friend circle who do not eat junk food, would be placed before him. He would be requested to follow them in the interest of his health.

(vi) All these steps would bring cognitive dissonance which might ultimately bring about an attitude change and he would stop eating junk foods.

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