Main Terms in Social Psychology:

Affect: A person’s emotional state or mood.

Attitude: A person’s evaluation of a object, person, or issue.

Behavior: The actions that a person takes.

Cognition: The mental processes that people use to acquire knowledge.

Conformity: Adjusting one’s behavior to match the norms of a group.

Emotion: A feeling that is expressed in a person’s demeanor and can be caused by either internal or external stimuli.

Group: Two or more people who interact with each other and influence each other’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

Individualism: The belief that people are primarily responsible for their own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Interaction: The process of people influencing each other.

Joint Attention: The ability to focus on the same thing at the same time as another person.

Just-World Bias: The belief that people get what they deserve and deserve what they get.

Kinship: The relationship between people who are related by blood or marriage.

Leader: A person who exerts influence over a group.

Leadership: The process of influence that a leader exerts over a group.

Majority Influence: When the majority of people in a group influence the attitudes or behaviors of the minority.

Minorities: Groups that are smaller in number than the majority.

Norms: The expectations that people have about the behavior of others.

Obedience: Following orders or instructions from an authority figure.

Out-group: A group to which a person does not belong.

Personality: The combination of characteristics that makes a person unique.

Prejudice: A negative attitude toward a group or its members.

Prosocial Behavior: Actions that are intended to help or benefit other people.

Social Cognition: The study of how people think about, influence, and relate to other people.

Social Facilitation: The tendency for people to perform better on simple tasks when they are in the presence of others.

Social Influence: The pressure that people feel from others to conform or change their behavior.

Social Loafing: The tendency for people to reduce their effort when working in a group.

Social Norms: The expectations that society has about the behavior of its members.

Stereotype: A fixed, overgeneralized belief about a group or its members.

Subjective Well-Being: A person’s overall satisfaction with life.

Superordinate Goal: A goal that can only be achieved by people working together.

Symbolic Interactionism: The theory that people interact with each other based on the meanings that they assign to objects, events, and experiences.

Theory: A testable idea that attempts to explain how or why something happens.

Value: A beliefs that a person has about what is good, desirable, or proper.

Worldview: A person’s basic orientation toward the world and their place in it.

Achievement Motivation: The need to accomplish goals and attain success.

Altruism: Helping others without any expectation of reward.

Anomie: A lack of social norms or a feeling of disconnection from society.

Authority Figure: A person who is respected and obeyed because of their position or rank.

Autonomy: The ability to make one’s own choices and decisions.

Bandura, Albert: A Canadian-American psychologist best known for his work on social learning theory.

Cognitive Dissonance: The psychological stress that comes from holding two conflicting beliefs.

Collectivism: The belief that people are primarily responsible for the welfare of the group to which they belong.

Deindividuation: A loss of self-awareness and self-restraint that can occur when people are in a group.

Discrimination: treating people differently based on their membership in a group.

Egocentrism: The inability to take another person’s perspective.

Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.

Extinction: The process of learned behavior disappearing when it is no longer reinforced.

Fads: Popular behaviors or ideas that spread quickly and then disappear just as quickly.

Folkways: Norms that are not strictly enforced and are considered to be more flexible.

Group Cohesiveness: The degree to which members of a group are attracted to each other and motivated to stay in the group.

Group Dynamics: The study of the ways in which people interact with each other in groups.

Groupthink: A mode of thinking that occurs when people are more concerned with being accepted by the group than with critically evaluating ideas.

In-group: A group to which a person belongs.

Ingratiation: Acting in a way that is pleasing or agreeable to others in order to gain their favor.

Institutional Discrimination: unequal treatment that results from the policies or practices of an organization or institution.

Latane, Bibb: An American psychologist best known for his work on social diffusion of responsibility.

Leader: A person who influences the behavior of other group members.

Leader Emergence: The process by which a leader emerges from a group.

Leader Effectiveness: The degree to which a leader is able to achieve the goals of the group.

Leadership Styles: The different ways in which leaders interact with and motivate their followers.

Liking: A positive attitude toward another person.

Majority Influence: The pressure that people feel from others to conform or change their behavior.

Minority Influence: When a minority group is able to persuade the majority to change its beliefs or behaviors.

Norms: expectations about how people should behave in a given social context.

Obedience: Acting in accordance with an authority figure’s instructions or requests.

Opinion Leadership: The process by which opinion leaders influence the attitudes and behaviors of others.

Out-group: A group to which a person does not belong.

Pluralistic Ignorance: When people mistakenly believe that their own attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors are more common than they actually are.

Prejudice: An unfavorable attitude toward a particular group, based on stereotypes.

Prosocial Behavior: Any action that is intended to help or benefit another person.

Realistic Conflict Theory: The theory that conflict arises from competition over limited resources.

Social Comparison Theory: The theory that people evaluate their own ability and worth by comparing themselves to others.

Social Identity Theory: The theory that people’s sense of self is shaped by their membership in social groups.


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