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Important Questions & Answers: Attitude & Social Cognition - Notes | Study Psychology Class 12 - Humanities/Arts

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Very Short Answer Questions

Q.1. Define attitude.

An attitude is a set of views or opinions which have an evaluative feature (positive, negative or neutral quality) and is accompanied by ABC components namely affective, behavioural and cognitive components. For example, a positive attitude of students towards teachers and parents.


Q.2. What is halo effect?

During formation of impression, we have a tendency to think that a target person who has one set of positive qualities must have other positive qualities. This is known as halo effect. For example, if we are told that a person is ‘tidy’ and ‘punctual’, we are likely to think that the person must also be ‘hardworking’.


Q.3. What is schema?

Schemas that function in the form of categories are called prototypes. They are the entire set of features or qualities that help us to define an object clearly.


Q.4. What is cognition?

Cognition refers to all those mental processes that deal with obtaining and processing of information.


Q.5. Explain social cognition with the help of examples.

Social cognition refers to all those psychological processes that deal with the gathering and processing of information related to social objects. For example, a teacher’s conclusions regarding a student’s behavior in school are quite different from his mother’s conclusion who observes him at home.


Short Answer Questions

Q.6. What are the characteristics of pro-social behaviour?

The characteristics of pro-social behavior are
(i) Aim to benefit or do good to others without expecting anything in return.
(ii) Helpign others without expecting anything in return.
(iii) To willingly benefit others without any kind of pressure.
(iv) Provide help without any difficulty or any cost.


Q.7. Describe the concept of balance in the process of attitude change?

The concept of balance proposed by Fritz Heider is described in the form of P-O-X triangle. Attitude changes if there is a state of imbalance between P-O attitude and O-X attitude and P-X attitude.
For example, in the study of attitude towards dowry(X), a person (P) has a positive attitude towards dowry (P-X positive). P is planning to get his son married to the daughter of some person (O) who has a negative attitude towards dowry (O-X negative). Here P-X is positive, O-P is positive but O-X is negative. That is, there are 2 positives and 1 negative in the triangle. This is a situation of imbalance.
Imbalance on POX triangle is found when
(i) All three sides of the POX triangle are negative or
(ii) Two sides are positive and one side negative.
Balance is found when
(i) All three sides are positive or
(ii) Two sides are negative and one side is positive.


Q.8. Discuss the concept of impression formation with the help of examples.

Ans. When we meet people, we make inferences about their personal qualities. This is impression formation. For example, if a person is good looking we form impressions that the person would be sincere and hard-working.
The person who forms the impression is called the perceiver. The individual about whom the impression is formed is called the target. Impression formation consists of the following sub-processes:
(i) Selection: Information is collected about target person.
(ii) Organisation: Information is combined in a systematic way.
(iii) Inference: A conclusion is drawn about the kind of person the target is.


Q.9. Elaborate the ABC component of attitude.

The emotional component of an attitude is the affective aspect, the behavioural component is the tendency to act while the cognitive component is the thought component of an attitude. For example, the cognitive component of prejudice, i.e.,stereotype is accompanied by dislike or hatred, the affective component which may get translated into discrimination, the behavioural component.


Q.10. Discuss two-step theory of attitude change.

The 2-step concept of attitude change was proposed by an Indian psychologist, S. M. Mohsin.
Step 1: The target changes his attitude by identifying with the source.
Step 2: The source shows an attitude change towards the attitude object. The target also shows an attitude change. This is a kind of imitation or observational learning.
For example,
Step 1: Preeti reads in newspaper that a particular soft drink she enjoys is harmful. But she imitates the sports person with whom she identifies.
Step 2: The sports person having positive feelings towards his fans may change his habit of consuming the soft drink by substituting it with a health drink. Now, Preeti will also change her attitude and stop consuming the harmful soft drink.


Q.11. State the factors that influence attitude change.

The factors that influence attitude change are as follows:
(i) Characteristics of the existing attitude: All four properties of attitudes namely,valence (positivity or negativity), extremeness, simplicity or complexity (multiplexity) and centrality determine attitude change. Positive attitudes are easier to change than negative attitudes. Extreme attitudes and central attitudes are more difficult to change than the less extreme and peripheral (less significant) attitudes. Simple attitudes are easier to change than multiple attitudes. Attitude change may be congruent if it changes in the same direction as the existing attitude. For example, a positive attitude may become more positive or a negative attitude may become more negative. An attitude change may be incongruent if it changes in a direction opposite to the existing attitude. For example, a positive attitude may become less positive or negative or a negative attitude may become less negative or positive.
(ii) Source characteristics: Attitudes are more likely to change when the message comes from a highly credible source than from a low credible source. For example, adults who are planning to buy a laptop are more convinced by a computer engineer advertising the laptop while when the buyers are themselves school children they are more convinced by a school child advertising the laptop.
(iii) Message characteristics: The message for attitude change contains a rational appeal or an emotional appeal makes a difference. For example, an advertisement for cooking food in a pressure cooker may point out that this saves cooking gas (rational appeal) or preserves nutrition (emotional appeal).
The motives activated by the message also determine attitude change. For example drinking milk makes a person healthy, good-looking, more energetic and more successful in one’s job.The mode of spreading the message plays a significant role. Face-to-face transmission of the message is usually more effective than indirect transmission. As for instance, through letters and pamphlets or even through mass media.
(iv) Target characteristics: People with strong prejudices, people with low self-esteem and low intelligence change their attitudes easily. People with more open and flexible personalities change more easily. Advertisers benefit most from such people.


Long Answer Questions

Q.12. Is behaviour always a reflection of one’s attitude? Explain with a relevant example.

There is consistency between Attitudes and Behaviour when
(i) The attitude is strong, and occupies a central place in the attitude system.
(ii) The person is aware of his attitude, there is no external pressure for the person to behave in a particular way. For example, there is no group pressure to follow the norm.
(iii) The person’s behaviour is not being watched or evaluated by others.
(iv) The person thinks that the behaviour would have a positive consequence.
In the days when Americans were said to be prejudiced against the Chinese, Richard LaPiere, an American social psychologist, conducted the following study. He asked a Chinese couple to travel across the United States, and stay in different hotels. Only once during these occasions they were refused service by one of the hotels. Sometime later, LaPiere sent out questionnaires to managers of hotels and tourist homes in the same areas where the Chinese couple had travelled, asking them if they would give accommodation to Chinese guests. A very large percentage said that they would not do so. This response showed a negative attitude towards the Chinese, which was inconsistent with the positive behaviour that was actually shown towards the travelling Chinese couple. Thus, attitudes may not always predict actual pattern of one’s behaviour.

Sometimes it is behaviour that decides the attitude.
In the experiment by Festinger and Carlsmith, students who got only one dollar for telling others that the experiment was interesting, discovered that they liked the experiment. That is, on the basis of their behaviour (telling others that the experiment was interesting, for only a small amount of money), they concluded that their attitude towards the experiment was positive (“I would not have told a lie for this small amount of money, which means that the experiment was actually interesting”).


Q.13. Highlight the importance of schemas in social cognition.

Social cognition refers to all those psychological processes that deal with the gathering and processing of information related to social objects. These include all the processes that help in understanding, explaining and interpreting social behaviour. The processing of information related to social objects (particularly individuals, groups, people, relationships, social issues, and the like) differs from the processing of information related to physical objects. People as social objects may themselves change as the cognitive process takes place. For instance, 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. Social cognition is guided by mental units called schemas.

Schemas and Stereotypes
A schema is defined as a mental structure that provides a framework, set of rules or guidelines for processing information about any object. Schemas (or ‘schemata’) are the basic units stored in our memory, and function as shorthand ways of processing information, thus reducing the time and mental effort required in cognition. In the case of social cognition, the basic units are social schemas. Some attitudes may also function like social schemas. We use many different schemas, and come to know about them through analysis and examples.


Q.14. Explain social cognition. Discuss with examples the role of schemas in social cognition

Social cognition refers to all those psychological processes that deal with the gathering and processing of information related to social objects. For example, a teacher’s conclusions regarding a student’s behavior in school are quite different from his mother’s conclusion who observes him at home.
Attitudes, impression formation and attribution are such processes which involve mental activities related to gathering and processing of information about the social world. Collectively this is called social cognition.
Schemas guide social cognition. A schema is defined as a mental structure that provides a framework, set of rules or guidelines for processing information about any object.Schemas are the basic units stored in our memory and in case of social cognition; the basic units are social schemas. Most of the schemas are in the form of categories or classes.

  • Schemas that function in the form of categories are called prototypes.
  • Schemas reduce time and mental effort required in cognition.

A stereotype is a cluster of ideas regarding the characteristics of a specific group. They are category-based schemas about a group of people. For example, a stereotype that Americans are hard-working. If you hear positive things about a group, the social schema about the group would be positive while when you hear negative things about the group, your social schema about the group would be in the form of negative stereotype.
The effects of stereotypes are that they give rise to prejudices and biases about specific groups.


Q.15. Your friend eats too much junk food, how would you be able to bring about a change in her/his attitude towards food?

Learning attitudes by being rewarded or punished: If a child constantly falls ill because he/she eats junk food instead of proper meal, then the child is likely to develop a negative attitude towards junk food, and also a positive attitude towards eating healthy food.


Q.16. How does social facilitation take place?

Improvement in performance in the presence of others is called social facilitation. For example, cyclists racing with each other perform better than when they cycle alone.


Q.17. Discuss factors influencing impression formation. Explain actor-observer effect in attribution. 

Impression formation is influenced by:
(i) Nature of information available to the perceiver.
(ii) Social schemas in the perceiver (including stereotypes).
(iii) Personality characteristics of the perceiver.

(iv) Situational factors
The process of impression formation is influenced by the above factors which are in turn influenced by

  • Primacy effect
  • Recency effect
  • Halo effect

We assign causes to the behavior shown in specific social situations. This process is called attribution. A distinction is made between the attribution that a person makes for his/her positive and negative experiences (actor-role) than the attribution made by another person’s positive and negative experiences (observer-role). This is called actor-observer effect.

When a individual attributes his/her own success, he/she emphasizes on internal factors but for failures to external factors; whereas when he/she attributes success of others he gives emphasis to external factors and for failures to internal factors.
Important Questions & Answers: Attitude & Social Cognition - Notes | Study Psychology Class 12 - Humanities/Arts

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