Social Psychology: Goals in Interaction

Douglas Kenrick / Steven L. Neuberg / Robert B. Cialdini  
Total pages
November 2013
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Social Psychology: Goals in Interaction
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  • The Mystery. Each chapter begins with a real-life puzzle. For example, why would an American man who had been working part-time and hanging out in a California rock gym suddenly decide to risk his life to build schools for poor people in the terrorist-infested mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan? Each mystery is designed to raise the questions that guide the research students will read about in the chapter that follows.
  • The Goals. Next, the reader is asked to ponder the motives underlying the behavior covered in the chapter, by asking “What purpose does this behavior (aggression, helping, discrimination) serve?” The authors consider factors in the person, the situation, and in their interaction that lead to the achievement of those goals.
  • Investigations. This marginal feature offers periodic critical-thinking prompts connected to chapter content. For example, in Chapter 1, students are asked to think of someone whose behavior has been prominent in the recent news, and to contemplate how that behavior would be explained differently from the sociocultural, evolutionary, and social learning perspectives.
  • Person, Situation and Interaction icons. Placed in the margin of the book, these graphic elements alert students to text coverage of these three key themes throughout each chapter.
  • Bridging Theory and Application. To emphasize the text's integrative framework, this feature examines how research findings relate to and influence real-world issues. For instance, in Chapter 5, KNC describes how persuasion science has been used to turn tobacco companies’ own advertising tactics against themselves.
  • Bridging Method and Evidence. To further emphasize the text's integrative framework, this feature introduces the investigative tools social psychologists use to solve their mysteries. In Chapter 11, the book explores how new social neuroscience methods have been used to better understand the mental underpinnings of prejudice.
  • Bridging Function and Dysfunction. Also to emphasize the text's integrative framework, this feature capitalizes on students' fascination with disorder to show how normally healthy social behaviors can produce unhealthy consequences when taken too far. In Chapter 8, KNC explores how normal processes of romantic attachment can lead to obsessive relationships.
  • Revisiting the Mystery. At the end of the chapter, the student sees the concepts of each chapter applied to solve the opening mystery. We opened Chapter 1 with the example of an American risking his life to build schools in Pakistan. Why? Early-life experiences with parents helping strangers in Africa suggest that social learning provides part of the answer.

New to this Edition

  • NEW OPENING MYSTERIES. There are new chapter-opening mysteries in Chapters 1 and 8. In Chapter 1, the mystery explores American Greg Mortensen’s work in Pakistan, asking: “Why would an American man who had been working part-time and hanging out in a California rock gym suddenly decide to risk his life to build schools for poor people in the terrorist-infested mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan?” Mortensen’s has been kidnapped by Taliban, and had his life threatened by Americans and Pakistanis –yet he persists in his work. Why? In Chapter 8, the new mystery explores the tumultuous romance between artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Why did Frida fall for the much older and less attractive Diego, and then tolerate his numerous extramarital affairs?
  • HUNDREDS OF NEW CUTTING EDGE REFERENCES. Several hundred new references have been added to the fifth edition, many of which come from research papers published in 2007 or later.
  • “QUICK QUIZ” STUDENT SELF-TESTS. A new “Quick Quiz” self-test feature appears at the end of each A-head section in the chapter, encouraging students to check their understanding of the content before moving ahead with their reading.
  • SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY AS THE “ULTIMATE BRIDGE DISCIPLINE”. New to this fifth edition is an increased emphasis on social psychology’s unique position as a “bridge discipline” – that is, one that fosters connections between different areas of psychology (such as neuroscience, developmental, and clinical psychology) and between different behavioral sciences (such as anthropology, economics, political science, and zoology). These connections are explicitly discussed in the “Revisiting...” sections at the end of each chapter, and the in-chapter features have been renamed “Bridging Function and Dysfunction,” “Bridging Method and Evidence,” “Bridging Theory and Application” to further emphasize the discipline’s integrative impact.

o Musical styles popular in different regions and among different social classes within the United States emphasize local cultural values: Country-Western lyrics emphasize adapting yourself to the world’s challenges, being resilient, and maintaining your integrity; Rock lyrics stress doing your own thing, going against the grain, and changing the world (chapter 1)

o Whether or not a society emphasizes collectivism versus individualism, and whether or not the people in a country have personality traits linked to sociability, have been linked to local prevalence of contagious diseases (chapter 1).

o Fluctuations in bodily hormones such as testosterone and estradiol have recently been linked to who we find attractive on any given day, and whether we are inclined to engage in financially risky behaviors (chapters 1 and 8)

o People think they would be happier if they spend money on themselves, but recent findings suggest that they are actually happier if they give it to others (chapters 1 and 9)

o Symbols from one culture can prime styles of thinking among members of other cultures. Subtly exposing European Americans to the yin-yang symbol led them to think less like European Americans and more like East Asians (chapter 2)

o Seeing yourself as holding a different opinion than your group activates the brain regions associated with physical pain (chapter 5)

o New brain research indicates how attitudes can be learned without conscious awareness (chapter 5)

o Healthy behaviors like quitting smoking and conserving energy can sweep though groups in a contagious fas

Table of Contents


1: Introduction to Social Psychology  

2: The Person and the Situation  

3: Social Cognition: Understanding Ourselves and Others  

4: Presenting the Self  

5: Attitudes and Persuasion  

6: Social Influence: Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience  

7: Affiliation and Friendship  

8: Love and Romantic Relationships  

9: Prosocial Behavior  

10: Aggression  

11: Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination  

12: Groups  








The Mysteries of Social Life


What Is Social Psychology?

Social Psychology Is an Interdisciplinary Bridge


Major Theoretical Perspectives of Social Psychology

The Sociocultural Perspective

The Evolutionary Perspective

The Social Learning Perspective

The Social Cognitive Perspective

Combining Perspectives


Basic Principles of Social Behavior

Social Behavior Is Goal Oriented

The Interaction between the Person and the Situation


How Psychologists Study Social Behavior

BRIDGING METHOD AND EVIDENCE: Why Good Theories Need Good Data

Descriptive Methods

Correlation and Causation

Experimental Methods

Why Social Psychologists Combine Different Methods

Ethical Issues in Social Psychological Research


Social Psychology’s Bridges with Other Areas of Knowledge

Social Psychology and Other Areas of Psychology

Social Psychology and Other Disciplines


Revisiting the Mysteries of Social Life








The Enigma of an Ordinary and Extraordinary Man


The Person

Motivation: What Drives Us

Knowledge: Our View of the World

Feelings: Attitudes, Emotions, and Moods


Introducing the Self


The Situation

Persons as Situations: Mere Presence, Affordances, and Descriptive Norms

BRIDGING FUNCTION AND DYSFUNCTION: Descriptive Norms, Pluralistic Ignorance, and Binge Drinking on Campus

Rules: Injunctive Norms and Scripted Situations

Strong versus Weak Situations



The Person and the Situation Interact

Different Persons Respond Differently to the Same Situation

BRIDGING THEORY AND APPLICATION: Person-Situation Fit in the Workplace

Situations Choose the Person

Persons Choose Their Situations

Different Situations Prime Different Parts of the Person

Persons Change the Situation

Situations Change the Person


Revisiting the Enigma of an Ordinary and Extraordinary Man








Portraits of Hillary Rodham Clinton  


The Social Thinker  

Four Core Processes of Social Cognition  

The Goals of Social Cognition  


Conserving Mental Effort  



Dispositional Inferences  

Other Cogn