Chapter 6: Attitude and Social Cognition

List of Questions and Answers

1.Define impression formation.

Ans:
When we meet people in public we start making conclusions about their personal qualities.This is called as impression formation.

2.Define attitude. Discuss the components of an attitude.

Ans:
Attitude is a state of the mind, a set of views, or thoughts, regarding some topic which has an evaluative feature (positive, negative or neutral quality).
Attitude is accompanied by A-B-C components and they are:
Affective Component : is an emotional component.
Behavioural Component:a tendency to act in a particular way with regard to the attitude object is categorised as behavioural component.
Cognitive Component:The thought component is referred to as the cognitive aspect.
Here is an example of a situation where we can categorise the A-B-C component.Consider your village is part of tree plantation campaign.
Your thought towards this campaign of tree plantation is positive (cognitive aspect). You feel happy when you see greenery and sad when the trees are cut (emotional ie affective component). If you happen to participate in this campaign your involvement is coming in behavioral component. In general, we expect all three components to be consistent with each other, that is, in the same direction. However, such consistency may not necessarily be found in all situations.

3.The cognitive component of attitudes which form the ground on which they stand is _______________ .
(a) Values (b) Beliefs (c) Prejudice (d) Stereotype

Ans: (b) Beliefs

4.Discuss how attitudes are learnt through exposure to information.

Ans:

  • In today’s world an individual is exposed to a lot of information with the help of media, so a negative or positive attitude is formed on the information provided.
  • By reading the biographies of self-actualised persons, an individual may develop a positive attitude towards hard work and other aspects for achieving success in life.

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5.Explain the influence of primacy, recency and halo effects on impression formation.

Ans:
The order or sequence in which information is presented affects the kind of impression formed.
There are three effects and they are :
Primacy effect: the information given at the start has a strong impact than the information given at the end. This is called a primary effect. It belvies first impression is the lasting impression.
Recency:If the perceiver pays attention to the information given till the last, than the last information given has a lasting effect and that is called as recency effect.
Halo:We have a tendency to think that a target person who has one set of positive qualities must also be having other specific positive qualities that are associated with the first set. This is known as the halo effect. For example if we know if an individual is tidy and punctual we are likely to think that the person will be hard working too.

6.Analyse the role of the following factors in determining pro-social behaviour :
a) Cultural factors
b) Diffusion of responsibility

Ans:
Cultural Factors:

  • Some cultures encourage people to help needy and distressed.
  • Culture that encourages independence, in this type you will see less less pro-social behaviour , as they will take care of themselves and will not let them depend on others.
  • Individuals in cultures suffering from a shortage of resources may not show a high level of pro-social behaviour.
Diffusion of responsibility
  • Pro-social behaviour can be reduced when the number of bystanders is more than one.
  • Consider for example an accident on road side where there are a lot of people gathered, each one will think it is not its responsibility to help the victim and someone else will help. This phenomenon is called diffusion of responsibility.
  • On the other hand, if there is only one bystander, this person is more likely to take the responsibility and actually help the victim.

7.Analyse the importance of the following in social facilitation :
a)Evaluation Apprehension
b)Nature of the task

Ans:
Evaluation Apprehension:

  • Better performance in the presence of others is because the person feels she or he is being evaluated. Cottrell called this idea evaluation apprehension.
  • The person will be praised if the performance is good (reward), or criticised if it is bad (punishment).
  • We wish to get praise and avoid criticism, therefore we try to perform well and avoid mistakes.
Nature of the task
  • The nature of the task to be performed also affects the performance in the presence of others.
  • For example, in the case of a simple task, the person is sure of performing well, and the eagerness to get praise or reward is stronger. So the individual performs better in the presence of others than s/he does when alone.
  • On the other hand, if there is only one bystander, this person is more likely to take the responsibility and actually help the victim.

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8.When the information presented first has a stronger effect than the information presented at the end, it is called ............................. .
(a) Halo effect
(b)Primacy effect
(c) Recency effect
(d) Secondary effect

Ans: (b) Primacy effect

9.Explain "Kernel of Truth" as a source of prejudice.

Ans:
Prejudices are examples of attitudes towards a particular group and which are mostly negative.
Sometimes people continue to hold stereotypes i.e ideas regarding the characteristics of a specific group and they think that, after all, there must be some truth, or ‘kernel of truth’ in what everyone says about the other group.
Even a few examples are sufficient to support the "kernel of truth" idea.

10.Discuss the three social norms of pro-social behaviour.

Ans:
Pro-social behaviour is expressed when the situation activates certain social norms that require helping others.
There are three norms:
Social responsibility: We should help anyone who needs help, without considering any other factor.
Reciprocity: We should help those persons who have helped us in the past.
Equity: We should help others whenever we find that it is fair to do so. For example, many of us may feel that it is more fair to help a person who has lost all belongings in a flood, than to help a person who has lost everything through gambling.

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11.Analyse the following processes of Attitude Formation:
(a) Learning attitudes by association
(b) Learning attitudes through modelling

Ans:
(a) Learning attitudes by association

  • You must have seen that students tend to like a particular subject because of the teacher. This is because they see many positive qualities in that teacher; these positive qualities get linked to the subject that s/he teaches, and ultimately get expressed in the form of liking for the subject.
  • In other words, a positive attitude towards the subject is learned through the positive association between a teacher and a student.
(b) Learning attitudes through modelling
Often it is not through association, or through reward and punishment, that we learn attitudes. Instead, we learn them by observing others being rewarded or punished for expressing thoughts, or showing behaviour of a particular kind towards the attitude object. For example, children may form a respectful attitude towards elders, by observing that their parents show respect for elders, and are appreciated for it.

12.When Mumbai was flooded, the community stepped forward to help the effected people with food , water and shelter. This is an instance of
(a)Pro-Social Behaviour
(b)Diffusion of Responsibility
(c)Social Facilitation
(d)Social Cognition

Ans: (a) Pro-Social Behaviour

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13. State any four factors influencing pro-social behaviour.

Ans:

  • Pro-social behaviour is based on an inborn, natural tendency in human beings to help other members of their own species. This inborn tendency facilitates survival of the species.
  • Pro-social behaviour is influenced by learning. Individuals who are brought up in a family environment that sets examples of helping others, shows more prosocial behaviour than individuals who are brought up in a family environment devoid of these features.
  • Cultural factors influence pro-social behaviour. Some cultures actively encourage people to help the needy and distressed.In cultures that encourage independence, individuals will show less pro-social behaviour, because people are expected to take care of themselves, and not to depend on help from others.
  • Pro-social behaviour is affected by the expected reactions of the person who is being helped. For example, people might be unwilling to give money to a needy person because they feel that the person might feel insulted, or may become dependent.

14. With the help of an example, explain how cognitive dissonance leads to attitude change.

Ans:
The concept of cognitive dissonance was proposed by Leon Festinger.
Here is an example of cognitive dissonance:
Think about the following ideas ("cognitions") :
Cognition I : Pan masala causes mouth cancer which is fatal.
Cognition II : I eat pan masala
Considering these two ideas or cognitions will make any individual feel that something is ‘out of tune’, or dissonant, in the attitude towards pan masala. Therefore, one of these ideas will have to be changed, so that consonance can be attained. In the example given above, in order to remove or reduce the dissonance, I will stop eating pan masala (change Cognition II). This would be the healthy, logical and sensible way of reducing dissonance.

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15. Explain social cognition with the help of suitable examples.

Ans:
"Social cognition" refers to all those psychological processes that deal with the gathering and processing of information related to social objects.It includes all the processes that help in understanding, explaining and interpreting social behaviour.

  • The processing of information related to social objects i.e particularly individuals, groups, people, relationships, social issues differs from the processing of information related to physical objects.
  • People as social objects may themselves change as the cognitive process takes place.
  • An example is a teacher who observes a student in school may draw conclusions about her/him that are quite different from the conclusions drawn by the student’s mother, who observes her/him at home. The student may show a difference in her/his behaviour, depending on who is watching her/him - the teacher or the mother.

16. What is social facilitation?

Ans:
One of the first observations made about social behaviour was that performance on specific tasks is influenced by the mere presence of others. This is called social facilitation.
For example, Reena is about to participate in a music contest. She is very talented, yet she is feeling very nervous about the event.

17. State any three strategies for handling prejudice.

Ans:
Knowing about the causes or sources would be the first step in handling prejudice.
Thus, the strategies for handling prejudice would be effective if they aim at :
(a) minimising opportunities for learning prejudices,
(b) changing such attitudes,
(c) de-emphasising a narrow social identity based on the ingroup, and
(d) discouraging the tendency towards self-fulfilling prophecy among the victims of prejudice.

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18. Explain the A-B-C components of an attitude.

Ans:
Attitude is a state of the mind, a set of views, or thoughts, regarding some topic which has an evaluative feature (positive, negative or neutral quality).
Attitude is accompanied by A-B-C components and they are:
Affective Component : is an emotional component.
Behavioural Component:a tendency to act in a particular way with regard to the attitude object is categorised as behavioural component.
Cognitive Component:The thought component is referred to as the cognitive aspect.
Here is an example of a situation where we can categorise the A-B-C component.Consider your village is part of tree plantation campaign.
Your thought towards this campaign of tree plantation is positive (cognitive aspect).
You feel happy when you see greenery and sad when the trees are cut (emotional ie affective component).
If you happen to participate in this campaign your involvement is coming in behavioral component.
In general, we expect all three components to be consistent with each other, that is, in the same direction.However, such consistency may not necessarily be found in all situations.

19.What is attitude? Discuss its nature.

Ans:
Attitude is a state of the mind, a set of views, or thoughts, regarding some topic (called the ‘attitude object’), which have an evaluative feature (positive, negative or neutral quality).
Attitude is accompanied by an emotional component, and a tendency to act in a particular way with regard to the attitude object. The thought component is referred to as the cognitive aspect, the emotional component is known as the affective aspect, and the tendency to act is called the behavioural aspect. Taken together, these three aspects have been referred to as the A-B-C components (Affective-Behavioural-Cognitive components) of attitude

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