Mastering Social Psychology

Prentice Hall
Robert A. Baron / Donn R. Byrne / Nyla R. Branscombe
Dezember 2006
Related Titles


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Finally, a briefer version of one of the best-selling textbooks in the social psychology course for those who prefer less detail.  Baron and Byrne set the standard for the course with their original book, and new co-author Nyla Branscombe has brought freshness and new insights with her expertise in topics such as prejudice, the self, gender and group processes. The briefer version retains all the hallmarks of the original text: up-to-date coverage of the quickly evolving area of social psychology--balanced in its coverage of fundamentals with current research--and written in a lively, engaging style.


Q:  Do you wish that Social Psychology by Baron, Byrne, and Branscombe was available in a briefer, more concise version?

A:  Now this best-selling text is available in a briefer paperback format for those who prefer not to cover topics in as much detail.  The popular student-interest and helpful study features from the comprehensive version are also included in this new format:

  • "The Science of Social Psychology: Making Sense of Common Sense" boxes show how the findings of social psychology have reversed or refined common sense ideas. For example: Can we be scared into changing our attitudes? Do opposites attract?
  • "Ideas to Take with You - and Use!" boxes at the end of every chapter highlight important concepts that impact students' daily lives.
  • "Connections tables" at the end of every chapter help explain the relationship between certain topics within the field of social psychology. "Critical Thinking" questions follow the "Connections" tables.
  • "Key Points" at the end of every major section help students understand what they have read and key terms in bold help students look for definitions (both within the text and in the glossary at the end of the book). Chapter summaries, called "Summary and Review of Key Points" help students assess what they have read.

Table of Contents

1.  THE FIELD OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: How We Think about and Interact with Others 3

Social Psychology: A Working Definition 5

        Social Psychology Is Scientific in Nature 6

        Social Psychology Focuses on the Behavior of Individuals 8

        Social Psychology Seeks to Understand the Causes of Social Behavior and Social Thought 8

Social Psychology: Its Cutting Edge 12

        Cognition and Behavior: Two Sides of the Same Social Coin 12

        Social Neuroscience: Where Social Psychology and Neuroscience Meet 13

        The Role of Implicit (Nonconscious) Processes 14

        Taking Full Account of Social Diversity 15

Answering Questions about Social Behavior and Social Thought: Research Methods in Social Psychology 16

        Understanding Research Methods: What's in It for You 16

        Systematic Observation: Describing the World around Us 17

        Correlation: The Search for Relationships 17

        The Experimental Method: Knowledge through Systematic Intervention 19

        Interpreting Research Results: The Use of Statistics, and Social Psychologists as Perennial Skeptics 22

        The Role of Theory in Social Psychology 23

        The Quest for Knowledge and Rights of Individuals: Seeking an Appropriate Balance 25

Summary and Review of Key Points 26

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 27

Key Terms 27


2.  SOCIAL COGNITION: Thinking about the Social World 29

Schemas: Mental Frameworks for Organizing-and Using-Social Information 32

        The Impact of Schemas on Social Cognition: Attention, Encoding, Retrieval 32

        The Self-Confirming Nature of Schemas: When-and Why-Beliefs Shape Reality 34

Heuristics and Automatic Processing: How We Reduce Our Effort in Social Cognition 35

        Representativeness: Judging by Resemblance 35

        Availability: “If I Can Think of It, It Must Be Important.” 36

        Anchoring and Adjustment: Where You Begin Makes a Difference 37

        Automatic Processing in Social Thought: Saving Effort-But at a Cost! 38

        Controlled versus Automatic Processing in Evaluating the Social World: Evidence from Social Neuroscience 39

Potential Sources of Error in Social Cognition: Why Total Rationality Is Rarer Than You Think 41

        Negativity Bias: The Tendency to Pay Extra Attention to Negative Information 41

        The Optimistic Bias: Our Tendency to See the World through Rose-Colored Glasses 42

        Counterfactual Thinking: The Effects of Considering What Might Have Been 44

        Thought Suppression: Why Efforts to Avoid Thinking Certain Thoughts Sometimes Backfire 46

        Limits on Our Ability to Reason about the Social World: Magical Thinking and Ignoring Moderating Variables 47

        Social Cognition: Some Words of Optimism 48

Affect and Cognition: How Feelings Shape Thought and Thought Shapes Feelings 49

        The Influence of Affect on Cognition 50


        The Potential Downside of Feeling “Up” 51

        The Influence of Cognition on Affect 53

Summary and Review of Key Points 55

Connections 56

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 57

Key Terms 57


3.  SOCIAL PERCEPTION: Perceiving and Understanding Others 59

Nonverbal Communication: The Language of Expressions, Gazes, and Gestures 61

        Nonverbal Communication: The Basic Channels 62

        Recognizing Deception: The Role of Nonverbal Cues 64

THE SCIENCE OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: MAKING SENSE OF COMMON SENSE-Does “Women's Intuition” Exist? And If So, Is It Based on the Ability to Use and Interpret Nonverbal Cues? 66

Attribution: Understanding the Causes of Others' Behavior 68

        Theories of Attribution: Frameworks for Understanding How We Attempt to

        Make Sense of the Social World 68

        Attribution: Some Basic Sources of Error 72

        Applications of Attribution Theory: Insights and Interventions 77

Impression Formation and Impression Management: How We Integrate Social Information 79

        A True Classic in Social Psychology: Asch's Research on Central and Peripheral Traits 80

        Implicit Personality Theories: Schemas That Shape First Impressions 81

        Impression Formation: A Cognitive Perspective 82

        Other Aspects of Impression Formation: The Nature of First Impressions and Our Motives for Forming Them 83

        Impression Management: The Fine Art of Looking Good 84

Summary and Review of Key Points 87

Connections 88

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 88

Key Terms 89


4. ATTITUDES: Evaluating the Social World 91

Attitude Formation: How Attitudes Develop 94

Social Learning: Acquiring Attitudes from Others 94

        Classical Conditioning: Learning Based on Association 95

        Instrumental Conditioning: Rewards for the “Right” Views 96

        Observational Learning: Learning by Example 97

        Role of Social Comparison 97

Attitude Functions: Why We Form Attitudes in the First Place 99

        The Knowledge Function of Attitudes 99

        The Identity Function of Attitudes 99

        The Self-Esteem Function of Attitudes 100

        The Ego-Defensive Function of Attitudes 100

        The Impression Motivation Function of Attitudes 101

Role of the Social Context in the Link between Attitudes and Behavior 102

When and Why Do Attitudes Influence Behavior? 102

        Situational Constraints That Affect Attitude Expression 103

        Strength of Attitudes 103

        Attitude Extremity 103

        Role of Personal Experience 104

How Do Attitudes Guide Behavior? 105

        Attitudes Based on Reasoned Thought 105

        Attitudes and Spontaneous Behavioral Reactions 106

The Fine Art of Persuasion: How Attitudes Are Changed 107

        Persuasion: Communicators and Audiences 108


        The Cognitive Processes Underlying Persuasion 111

Resisting Persuasion Attempts 113

        Reactance: Protecting Our Personal Freedom 113

        Forewarning: Prior Knowledge of Persuasive Intent 113

        Selective Avoidance of Persuasion Attempts 114

        Actively Defending Our Attitudes: Counter arguing against the Competition 114

        Inoculation against “Bad Ideas” 115

Cognitive Dissonance: What It Is and How We Reduce It 116

        Is Dissonance Really Unpleasant? 117

        Is Dissonance a Universal Human Experience? 117

        Dissonance and Attitude Change: The Effects of Induced or Forced Compliance 118

        When Dissonance Is a Tool for Beneficial Changes in Behavior 119

Summary and Review of Key Points 121

Connections 122

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 123

Key Terms 123


5. THE SELF:  Understanding “Who Am I?” 125

Thinking about the Self: Personal versus Social Identity 127

        Who I Am Depends on the Situation 128

        Who I Am Depends on Others' Treatment 131

        Self-Awareness 132

        Possible Selves: The Self over Time 132

Self-Esteem: Attitudes toward the Self 134

        The Measurement of Self-Esteem 135

        Self-Serving Biases 136

        Is High Self-Esteem Always Positive? 137

        Do Women and Men Differ in Their Levels of Self-Esteem? 137

Social Comparison: Knowing the Self 138

        Self-Presentation and Self-Regulation 141


The Self as Target of Prejudice 144

        Emotional Consequences: How Well-Being Can Suffer 144

        Cognitive Consequences: Performance Deficits 147

        Behavioral Consequences: Stereotype Threat 147

Summary and Review of Key Points 149

Connections 150

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 151

Key Terms 151


6. PREJUDICE:  Its Causes, Effects, and Cures 153

The Nature and Origins of Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination 156

        Stereotyping: Beliefs about Social Groups 156

        Why Do People Form and Use Stereotypes? 161

THE SCIENCE OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: MAKING SENSE OF COMMON SENSE-Shifting Standards: Does No Difference in Evaluations Indicate No Difference in Meaning? 162

Prejudice and Discrimination: Feelings and Actions toward Social Groups 167

        The Origins of Prejudice: Contrasting Perspectives 170

        Discrimination: Prejudice in Action 175

        Consequences of Exposure to Others' Prejudice 177

Why Prejudice Is Not Inevitable: Techniques for Countering Its Effects 179

        On Learning Not to Hate 179

        The Potential Benefits of Contact 179

        Recategorization: Changing the Boundaries 180

        Can We Learn to “Just Say No” to Stereotypes? 180

        Social Influence as a Means of Reducing Prejudice 182

Summary and Review of Key Points 183

Connections 184

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 184

Key Terms 185


7.  INTERPERSONAL ATTRACTION:  Meeting, Liking, Becoming Acquainted 187

Internal Determinants of Attraction: The Need to Affiliate and the Basic Role of Affect 190

        The Importance of Affiliation for Human Existence 190

        Affect as a Basic Response System 191

        Affect and Attraction 192

External Determinants of Attraction: Proximity and Observable Characteristics 195

        The Power of Proximity: Unplanned Contacts 195

        Observable Characteristics: Instant Evaluations 197

        Physical Attractiveness: Judging Books by Their Covers 198

Interactive Determinants of Attraction: Similarity and Mutual Liking 203

        Similarity: Birds of a Feather Actually Do Flock Together 203


        Attraction: Progressing from Bits and Pieces to an Overall Picture 207

        Mutual Evaluations: Reciprocal Liking or Disliking 208

Summary and Review of Key Points 209

Connections 209

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 210

Key Terms 211


8. CLOSE RELATIONSHIPS: Family, Friends, Lovers, and Spouses 213

Interdependent Relationships with Family and Friends versus Loneliness 215

        Family: Where Relationships and Attachment Styles Begin 216

        Beyond the Family: Friendships 219

        Loneliness: Life without Close Relationships 220

Romantic Relationships and Falling in Love 223

        Romance: Moving beyond Friendship 223

        Selecting a Potential Mate: Different Criteria for Men and Women 225

THE SCIENCE OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: MAKING SENSE OF COMMON SENSE-Written in the Stars or We Met on the Internet? 226

        Love: Who Can Explain It? Who Can Tell You Why? Just Maybe, Social Psychologists 227

Marriage: Happily Ever After--and Otherwise 232

        Marital Success and Satisfaction: Similarity, Personality, and Sexuality 233

        Love and Marriage: Careers, Parenthood, and Family Composition 234

        When Relationships Fail: Causes, Preventives, and Consequences 236

Summary and Review of Key Points 240

Connections 241

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 242

Key Terms 243


9.  SOCIAL INFLUENCE: Changing Others' Behavior 245

Conformity: Group Influence in Action 247

        Asch's Research on Conformity: Social Pressure-The Irresistible Force? 248

        Factors Affecting Conformity: Variables That Determine the Extent to Which We “Go Along” 250

        Situational Norms: Automaticity in Normative Behavior 251

        The Bases of Conformity: Why We Often Choose to “Go Along” 252

        Resisting Pressures to Conform: Why, Sometimes, We Choose Not to “Go Along” 254

THE SCIENCE OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: MAKING SENSE OF COMMON SENSE-Do Women and Men Differ in the Tendency to Conform? 256

        Minority Influence: Does the Majority Always Rule? 257

Compliance: To Ask--Sometimes--Is to Receive 258

        Compliance: The Underlying Principles 258

        Tactics Based on Friendship or Liking: Ingratiation 259

        Tactics Based on Commitment or Consistency: The Foot-in-the-Door and the Lowball 259

        Tactics Based on Reciprocity: The Door-in-the-Face and the That's-Not-All Techniques 260

        Tactics Based on Scarcity: Playing Hard to Get and the Fast-Approaching-Deadline Technique 261

Symbolic Social Influence: How We Are Influenced by Others Even When They Are Not There 262

Obedience to Authority: Would You Harm an Innocent Stranger if Ordered to Do So? 264

        Obedience in the Laboratory 264

        Destructive Obedience: Why It Occurs 266

        Destructive Obedience: Resisting Its Effects 266

Social Influence Goes to Work: Influence Tactics in Work Settings 268

Summary and Review of Key Points 269

Connections 270

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 271

Key Terms 271


10.  PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR: Helping Others 273

Responding to an Emergency: Will Bystanders Help? 275

        When a Stranger Is Distressed: Heroism or Apathy? 275

        Five Crucial Steps Determine Helping versus Not Helping 276

THE SCIENCE OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: MAKING SENSE OF COMMON SENSE--Do More Witnesses to an Emergency Mean That More Help Is Given? 277

External and Internal Influences on Helping Behavior 281

        Situational Factors That Enhance or Inhibit Helping 282

        Emotions and Prosocial Behavior 284

        Empathy and Other Personality Dispositions Associated with Helping 286

Long-Term Commitment to Prosocial Action and the Effects of Being Helped 289

        Volunteering 289

        Self-Interest, Moral Integrity, and Moral Hypocrisy 290

        How Does It Feel to Be Helped? 291

The Basic Motivation for Engaging in Prosocial Acts 293

        Empathy-Altruism: It Feels Good to Help Others 294

        Negative-State Relief: Helping Makes You Feel Less Bad 295

        Empathic Joy: Helping as an Accomplishment 295

        Genetic Determinism: Helping as an Adaptive Response 295

Summary and Review of Key Points 297

Connections 298

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 299

Key Terms 299


11.  AGGRESSION: Its Nature, Causes, and Control 301

Theoretical Perspectives on Aggression: In Search of the Roots of Violence 303

        The Role of Biological Factors: From Instincts to the Evolutionary Perspective 303

        Drive Theories: The Motive to Harm Others 304

        Modern Theories of Aggression: The Social Learning Perspective and the General Aggression Model 305

Causes of Human Aggression: Social, Cultural, Personal, and Situational 307

        Social Causes of Aggression: Frustration, Provocation, and Heightened Arousal 307

        Exposure to Media Violence: The Effects of Witnessing Aggression 309

        Violent Pornography: When Sex and Aggression Mix--and Perhaps Explode 311

        Cultural Factors in Aggression: “Cultures of Honor” and Sexual Jealousy 312

        Personal Causes of Aggression: Type A, Narcissism, Sensation Seeking, and Gender Differences 314

        Situational Determinants of Aggression: The Effects of High Temperatures and Alcohol Consumption 317

Aggression in Long-Term Relationships: Bullying and Workplace Violence 320

        Bullying: Singling Out Others for Repeated Abuse 320

        Workplace Violence: Aggression on the Job 321

The Prevention and Control of Aggression: Some Useful Techniques 323

        Punishment: Just Desserts versus Deterrence 324

        Cognitive Interventions: Apologies and Overcoming Cognitive Deficits 325

THE SCIENCE OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: MAKING SENSE OF COMMON SENSE-Catharsis: Does “Getting It Out of Your System” Really Help? 326

        Forgiveness: Compassion Instead of Revenge 326

Summary and Review of Key Points 329

Connections 330

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 330

Key Terms 331


12.  GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS:  The Consequences of Belonging 333

Groups: Why We Join . . . and Why We Leave 335

        Groups: Some Basic Aspects 336

        The Benefits-and Costs-of Joining 338

Effects of the Presence of Others: From Task Performance to Behavior in Crowds 341

        Social Facilitation: Performing in the Presence of Others 341

        Social Loafing: Letting Others Do the Work 344

        Deindividuation: Submerged in the Crowd 344

Coordination in Groups: Cooperation or Conflict? 346

        Cooperation: Working with Others to Achieve Shared Goals 346

        Conflict: Its Nature, Causes, and Effects 349

        Resolving Conflicts: Some Useful Techniques 350

Perceived Fairness in Groups: Its Nature and Effects 352

        Basic Rules for Judging Fairness: Distributive, Procedural, and Transactional Justice 352

        Reactions to Perceived Unfairness: Tactics for Dealing with Injustice 353

Decision Making by Groups: How It Occurs and the Pitfalls It Faces 354

        The Decision-Making Process: How Groups Attain Consensus 355

THE SCIENCE OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: MAKING SENSE OF COMMON SENSE-Are Groups Really Less Likely Than Individuals to “Go over the Edge”? 355

        Potential Dangers of Group Decision Making: Groupthink, Biased Processing, and Restricted Sharing of Information 357

Summary and Review of Key Points 360

Connections 362

Ideas to Take with You-and Use! 362

Key Terms 363


**PLEASE NOTE: Module A: Social Psychology in Action; and Module B: Social Psychology Goes to Work, are available in the eBook located on MyPsychLab.**


Glossary G-1

References R-1

Name Index I-1

Subject Index

Back Cover

Robert Baron and Donn Byrne's text sets the standard for the social psychology course-and continues to offer the most up-to-date research and fresh insights to help students take social psychology out of the classroom and apply it to their lives.  Nyla Branscombe recently joined the renowned author team, bringing her expertise in areas such as prejudice, the self, group processes, and gender. 


Now this best-selling text is available in a briefer paperback format for those who prefer not to cover topics in as much detail.  The popular student-interest and helpful study features from the comprehensive version are also included in this new format.

  • The Science of Social Psychology: Making Sense of Common Sense sections show how the findings of social psychology have reversed or refined some common sense ideas.
  • Ideas to Take with You-and Use! sections at the end of every chapter highlight important concepts that are relevant to students' daily lives.
  • Connections tables at the end of every chapter help explain the relationships between topics in the field of social psychology.
  • Critical Thinking questions follow the “Connections” tables.
  • Key Points at the end of every major section help students review what they have read.
  • Key terms are bolded within the text to help students find definitions. 
  • Summary and Review of Key Points sections at the end of chapters help students assess what they have read.


Robert A. Baron is Professor of Psychology and Wellington Professor of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1968. Professor Baron has held faculty appointments at Purdue University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas, the University of South Carolina, and Princeton University. In 1982 he was a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University. From 1979 to 1981 he served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (Washington, DC). He has been a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and is also a Fellow of the American Psychological Society. In 2001, he was appointed an Invited Senior Research Fellow by the French government, and held this post at the Université des Sciences Sociales at Toulouse, France.

        Professor Baron has published more than one hundred articles in professional journals and thirty-five chapters in edited volumes. He is the author or coauthor of forty-two books, including Behavior in Organizations (8th ed.), Psychology: From Science to Practice, and Entrepreneurship: A Process Perspective. Professor Baron holds three U.S. patents based on his research, and served as president of his own company (Innovative Environmental Products, Inc.) from 1992 to 2000. Professor Baron's current research focuses mainly on the social and cognitive factors that influence entrepreneurs' success, and on various forms of workplace aggression.


Donn Byrne holds the rank of Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He received his Ph.D. in 1958 from Stanford University and has held academic positions at the California State University

at San Francisco, the University of Texas, and Purdue University, as well as visiting professorships at the University of Hawaii and Stanford University. He was elected president of the Midwestern Psychological Association and of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. He headed the personality program at Texas, the social-personality programs at Purdue and at Albany, and was chair of the psychology department at Albany. Professor Byrne is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a Charter Fellow of the American Psychological Society.

        During his career, Professor Byrne has published over 150 articles in professional journals, and twenty-nine of them have been republished in books of readings. He has authored or coauthored thirty-six chapters in edited volumes, and fourteen books, including Psychology: An Introduction to a Behavioral Science (four editions plus translations in Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese), An Introduction to Personality (three editions), The Attraction Paradigm, and Exploring Human Sexuality.

        He has served on the editorial boards of fourteen professional journals, and has directed the doctoral work of fifty-two Ph.D. students. He was invited to deliver a G. Stanley Hall lecture at the 1981 meeting of the American Psychological Association in Los Angeles and a state of the science address at the 1981 meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality in New York City. He was invited to testify at Attorney General Meese's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in Houston in 1986 and to participate in Surgeon General Koop's Workshop on Pornography and Health in 1986 in Arlington, Virginia. He received the Excellence in Research Award from the University at Albany in 1987 and the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality in 1989. In 2002, he participated in a Festschrift honoring his scientific contributions at the University of Connecticut organized by his graduate students (past and present) from Texas, Purdue, and Albany. He delivered the William Griffitt Memorial Lecture at Kansas State University in 2004. Professor Byrne's current research focuses on the determinants of interpersonal attraction, adult attachment styles, and sexually coercive behavior.


Nyla R. Branscombe is Professor of Psychology at University of Kansas. She received her B.A. from York University in Toronto in 1980, a M.A. from the University of Western Ontario in 1982, and her Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1986. Professor Branscombe held a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1987. In 1993 she was a Visiting Fellow at Free University of Amsterdam. She served as Associate Editor of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin for three years, and presently serves as Associate Editor of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

        Professor Branscombe has published more than eighty articles and chapters in professional journals and edited volumes. In 1999, she was a recipient of the Otto Kleinberg prize for research on Intercultural and International Relations from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. In 2004, she coedited the volume, Collective Guilt: International Perspectives. Professor Branscombe's current research focuses primarily on two main issues: the psychology of privileged groups, in particular when and why they may feel guilt about their advantages, and the psychology of disadvantaged groups, especially how they cope with prejudice and discrimination.

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