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Social Psychology / Edition 9

Social Psychology / Edition 9


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780133936544
Publisher: Pearson
Publication date: 07/14/2015
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 113,082
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 10.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Elliot Aronson is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Santa Cruz and one of the most renowned social psychologists in the world. In 2002, he was chosen as one of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the twentieth century. Dr. Aronson is the only person in the 120-year history of the American Psychological Association to have received all three of its major awards: for distinguished writing, distinguished teaching, and distinguished research. Many other professional societies have honored his research and teaching as well. These include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which gave him its highest honor, the Distinguished Scientific Research award; the American Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, which named him Professor of the Year of 1989; the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, which awarded him the Gordon Allport prize for his contributions to the reduction of prejudice among racial and ethnic groups; and the William James Award from the Association for Psychological Science. In 1992, he was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A collection of papers and tributes by his former students and colleagues, The Scientist and the Humanist, celebrates his contributions to social psychological theory and its application to real-world problems. Dr. Aronson’s own recent books for general audiences include Mistakes Were Made (but not by ME), with Carol Tavris, and a memoir, Not by Chance Alone: My Life as a Social Psychologist.

Tim Wilson
did his undergraduate work at Williams College and Hampshire College and received his PhD from the University of Michigan. Currently Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, he has published numerous articles in the areas of introspection, attitude change, self-knowledge, and affective forecasting, as well as a recent book, Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change. His research has received the support of the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Mental Health. He has been elected twice to the Executive Board of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology and is a Fellow in the American Psychological Society and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. In 2009, he was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2015 he received the William James Fellows Award from the Association for Psychological Science. Wilson has taught the Introduction to Social Psychology course at the University of Virginia for more than 30 years. In 2001 he was awarded the University of Virginia All-University Outstanding Teaching Award, and in 2010 was awarded the University of Virginia Distinguished Scientist Award.

Robin Akert graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she majored in psychology and sociology. She received her PhD in experimental social psychology from Princeton University. She is currently a Professor of Psychology at Wellesley College, where she was awarded the Pinanski Prize for Excellence in Teaching early in her career. She publishes primarily in the area of nonverbal communication, and recently received the AAUW American Fellowship in support of her research. She has taught the social psychology course at Wellesley College for nearly 30 years.

Sam Sommers earned his B.A. from Williams College and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Since 2003 he has been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. His research examines issues related to stereotyping, prejudice, and group diversity, with a particular interest in how these processes play out in the legal domain. He has won multiple teaching awards at Tufts, including the Lerman-Neubauer Prize for Outstanding Teaching and Advising and the Gerald R. Gill Professor of the Year Award. He was also inducted into the Tufts Hall of Diversity for his efforts to promote an inclusive climate on campus for all students. He has testified as an expert witness on issues related to racial bias, jury decision-making, and eyewitness memory in criminal trial proceedings in seven states. His first general audience book on social psychology was published in 2011, titled Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World. His next book, titled Your Brain on Sports, is co-authored with L. Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated and will be published in early 2016.

Table of Contents

1. Introducing Social Psychology
2. Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research
3. Social Cognition: How We Think About the Social World
4. Social Perception: How We Come to Understand Other People
5. The Self: Understanding Ourselves in a Social Context
6. The Need to Justify Our Actions: The Costs and Benefits of Dissonance Reduction
7. Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings
8. Conformity: Influencing Behavior
9. Group Processes: Influence in Social Groups
10. Interpersonal Attraction: From First Impressions to Close Relationships
11. Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help?
12. Aggression: Why Do We Hurt Other People? Can We Prevent It?
13. Prejudice: Causes, Consequences, and Cures
SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY IN ACTION 1 — Making a Difference with Social Psychology: Attaining a Sustainable Future
SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY IN ACTION 2 — Social Psychology and Health
SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY IN ACTION 3 — Social Psychology and the Law

What People are Saying About This

Eric Cooley

I find the story-telling approach to be one of the strengths of this text. The stories seem to be consistently and intrinsically interesting and engaging. The stories are also very effective in promoting questions about the chapter material. The timeliness of the stories and their relevance to the college student reader increases the effectiveness in generating genuine interest in the material.
— Eric Cooley, Western Oregon University

Connie Schick

I think you have a winner here. I find the book very readable, and the inclusion of up-to-date and cross-cultural research and the use of questions to keep the reader engaged are sure to hold the students' interest to the very end of the chapter.
—, Connie Schick, Bloomsburg University

Vicky Hegelson

The inclusion of cross-cultural research in these chapters is a major strength of the text.... Students are constantly asking, 'Does this apply to other cultures?' It will be nice to have data in hand!
— Vicky S. Helgeson, Carnegie Mellon University


When we began writing this book, our overriding goal was to capture the excitement of social .,, psychology. We have been pleased to hear, in many kind letters and e-mail messages from professors and students, that we succeeded. One of our favorites was from a student who said that the book was so interesting that she always saved it for last, to reward herself for finishing her other work. With that one student, at least, we succeeded in making our book an enjoyable, fascinating story, not a dry report of facts and figures.

There is always room for improvement, however, and our goal in this, the fourth edition, is to make the field of social psychology an even better read. When we teach the course, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the sleepy students in the back row sit up with interest and say, "Wow, I didn't know that! Now that's interesting." We hope that students who read our book will have that very same reaction.

Social psychology comes alive for students when they understand the whole context of the field: how theories inspire research, why research is performed as it is, how further research triggers yet new avenues of study. We have tried to convey our own fascination with the research process in a down-to-earth, meaningful way and have presented the results of the scientific process in terms of the everyday experience of the reader. However, we did not want to "water down" our presentation of the field. In a world where human behavior can be endlessly surprising and where research results can be quite counterintuitive, it is important to prepare students by providing a firm foundation on which to build their understanding ofthis challenging discipline. Here, in more detail, is how we present a rigorous, scientific approach to social psychology in a way that, we hope, engages and fascinates most students.

A Storytelling Approach

Social psychology is full of good stories, such as how the Kitty Genovese murder prompted research on bystander intervention, how the Holocaust inspired investigations into obedience to authority, and how reactions to the marriage of the crown prince of Japan to Masako Owada, a career diplomat, illustrates cultural differences in the self-concept. By placing research in a real-world context, we make the material more familiar, understandable, and memorable.

Opening Vignettes

Each chapter begins with a real-life vignette that epitomizes the concepts to come. We refer to this event at several points in the chapter to illustrate to students the relevance of the material they are learning. Examples of the opening vignettes include the tragic death of Amadou Diallo in New York, who was shot forty-one times by four white police officers as he reached for his wallet in the vestibule of his apartment building (Chapter 3, "Social Cognition: How We Think about the Social World"); the possible use of subliminal messages in one of George W Bush's campaign ads, in which the word rats was flashed on the screen for a thirtieth of a second while an announcer discussed Al Gore's prescription drug plan (Chapter 7, "Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings"); the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 in Washington, D.C., in which survivors were rescued by complete strangers (Chapter 11, "Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help?"); and a murder trial in which an innocent man was sentenced to death because of faulty eyewitness testimony (Social Psychology in Action 3, "Social Psychology and the Law"). To illustrate more specifically the way in which the opening vignettes are tied to social psychological principles, here are a couple of examples in more detail:

  • In 1994, after ending an office romance, a woman threw a bag of her lover's letters, cards, and poems into a dumpster. A homeless man, searching through the dumpster for something to sell, stopped to read the letters and became quite curious as to how two people who had been so in love could now be apart. He found the phone number of the woman's lover on a piece of stationery and decided to give him a call and find out. "I would have called you sooner," he told the former boyfriend, "but this was the first quarter I was given today." (De Marco, 1994). What would possess a man who was down on his luck—no home, no money, no food—to spend his only quarter on a phone call to a complete stranger? As we note at the beginning of Chapter 4, on social perception, we all share a certain fascination about why people do what they do, and that observation leads nicely into a discussion of research on social perception and attribution.
  • Chapter 6, on self-justification and the need to maintain self-esteem, begins with an intriguing tale from the mass suicide of the Heaven's Gate cult in California not long ago. The members of this cult believed that in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet was a large spaceship that would carry them off to a new incarnation. Several weeks before the mass suicide, a few members of the cult purchased a high-powered telescope so that they could glimpse the spaceship that was to be their salvation. They had no trouble finding the comet but were disappointed when they did not see a spaceship in its wake. How did they deal with the dissonance this must have caused? We answer this question with a discussion of dissonance theory and other modern approaches to self-esteem maintenance. (In case you are wondering what happened, the members of the cult did not reduce dissonance by abandoning their beliefs about existence of the spaceship; they had invested too much time, energy, and commitment for that. Rather, they assumed that the telescope must be defective and demanded their money back.)

"Mini-Stories" in Each Chapter

Our storytelling approach is not limited to these opening vignettes. There are several "mini-stories" woven into each chapter that illustrate specific concepts and make the material come alive. They each follow a similar format: First, we describe an example of a real-life phenomenon that is designed to pique students' interest. These stories are taken from current events, literature, and our own lives. Second, we describe an experiment that attempts to explain the phenomenon. This experiment is typically described in some detail, because we believe that students. should not only learn the major theories in social psychology but also understand and appreciate the methods used to test those theories. We often invite the students to pretend that they were participants in the experiment, to give them a better feel for what it was like and what was found. Here are a few examples of our "mini-stories" (if you thumb through the book, you will come across many others):

  • In Chapter 4, on social perception, we introduce the concept of the fundamental attribution error by discussing public reaction to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Immediately after Diana's death, Queen Elizabeth was openly and strongly criticized by the British people and the media for her lack of grief and for remaining in Scotland at Balmoral Castle during the week preceding the funeral. The public and the media made a dispositional attribution about the queen's behavior—namely, that she was uncaring and unmoved about Diana's death. The queen offered a different explanation: that staying in seclusion in Scotland was the best thing for her grieving grandsons.
  • In Chapter 8, on conformity, we discuss normative social influence and the effect that it has had recently in Japanese public schools. Bullying, in which a class (or even the whole student body) alternates between harassing and shunning one student because he or she is different in some way, has become a problem. The result of this treatment in a highly cohesive, group-oriented culture is profound: Twelve teenage victims of bullying killed themselves in one year.
  • In Chapter 9, on group processes, we introduce the topic of deindividuation with a description of a scene from Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In this scene, we see a potential lynch mob through the eyes of the novel's protagonist, 8-year-old Scout. The mob has gathered to lynch Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape. The mob meets many of the conditions identified by social psychological research for deindividuation: It is dark, the men are dressed alike, and they have hats pulled over their ears. Then Scout unwittingly performs a brilliant social psychological intervention by singling out one of the men she recognizes, calling him by name, and asking after his son, who is her classmate. She succeeded in turning a faceless mob into a collection of individual citizens, thereby defusing a very dangerous situation.
  • In Chapter 12, on aggression, we present an interesting historical observation: For hundreds of years, the Iroquois lived a peaceful existence, rarely, if ever, engaging in aggressive behavior. All of this changed in the seventeenth century when the newly arrived Europeans brought the Iroquois into direct competition with their neighbors, the Hurons. Within a short time, the Iroquois developed into fierce warriors. What does this say about the causes of aggression and its roots in culture? This story leads into a discussion of research on the cultural and economic roots of violence.

Social Psychological Methods: Another Good Story

It might seem that a storytelling approach would obscure the scientific basis of social psychology. On the contrary, we believe that part of what makes the story so interesting is explaining to students how to test hypotheses scientifically. In recent years, the trend has been for textbooks to include only short sections on research methodology and to provide only brief descriptions of the findings of individual studies. In this book, we integrate the science and methodology of the field into our story, in a variety of ways.

Separate Chapter on Methodology

Unlike virtually all other texts, we devote an entire chapter to methodology (Chapter 2). "But wait," you might say, "how can you maintain students' interest and attention with an entire chapter on such dry material?" The answer is by integrating this material into our storytelling approach. Even the "dry" topic of methodology can come alive by telling it like a story. We begin by presenting two pressing real-world problems related to violence and aggression: Does pornography promote violence against women? Why don't bystanders intervene more to help victims of violence? We then use actual research studies on these questions to illustrate the three major scientific methods (observational research, correlational research, and experimental research). Rather than a dry recitation of methodological principles, the scientific method unfolds like a story with a "hook" (What are the causes of real-world aggression and apathy toward violence?) and a moral (Such interesting, real-world questions can be addressed scientifically). We have been pleased by the reactions7to this chapter in the previous editions.

Detailed Descriptions of Individual Studies

We describe prototypical studies in more detail than most texts. We discuss how a study was set up, what the research participants perceived and did, how the research design derives from theoretical issues, and the ways in which the findings support the initial hypotheses. We often ask readers to pretend that they were participants in order to understand the study from the participants' point of view. Whenever pertinent, we've also included anecdotal information about how a study was done or came to be; these brief stories allow readers insights into the heretofore hidden world of creating research. See, for example, the description of how Nisbett and Wilson (1977) designed one of their experiments on the accuracy of people's causal inferences on page 150 and the description of the origins of Aronson's jigsaw puzzle technique on pages 498-499.

Emphasis on Both Classic and Modern Research

As you will see from flipping through the book, we include a large number of charts and graphs detailing the results of individual experiments. The field of social psychology is expanding rapidly, and exciting new work is being done in all areas of the discipline. In this fourth edition, we have added a great deal of new material, describing dozens of major studies done within the past few years. We have added hundreds of new references, more from the past few years. Thus the book provides thorough coverage of up-to-date, cutting-edge research.

In emphasizing what is new, many texts have a tendency to ignore what is old. We have striven to strike a balance between the latest research findings and classic research in social psychology. Some older studies (e.g., early work in dissonance, conformity, and attribution) deserve their status as classics and are important cornerstones of the discipline. For example, unlike several other current texts, we present detailed descriptions of the Schachter and Singer (1962) study on misattribution of emotion (Chapter 5), the Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) dissonance study (Chapter 6), and the Asch (1956) conformity studies (Chapter 8). We then bring the older theories up to date, following our discussions of the classics with modern approaches to the same topics, including culture, gender, self, and emotion (e.g., Cross, Bacon, & Morris, 2000; Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, & Nisbett, 1998) in Chapter 5; self-esteem maintenance (e.g., Steele's self-affirmation theory and Higgins's self-discrepancy theory) in Chapter 6; the process of dissonance reduction in different cultures (e.g., Sakai, 1998; Stone, Wiegand, Cooper, & Aronson, 1997; Viswesvaran & Deshpande, 1996) in Chapter 6; and minority influence (e.g., Wood, Lundgren, Ouellette, Busceme, & Blackstone, 1994) in Chapter 8. This allows students to experience the continuity and depth of the field, rather than regarding it as a collection of studies published in the past few years.

Significant Changes to the Fourth Edition

To illustrate more concretely how the fourth edition has been updated, here is a sampling of new research that is covered:

  • Chapter 3, "Social Cognition: How We Think about the Social World": This chapter has been reorganized and updated to reflect the growing emphasis on automatic (nonconscious, involuntary, unintentional, and effortless) thinking versus controlled (conscious, voluntary, intentional, and effortful) thinking. The automatic versus controlled application of stereotypes is used as an illustration of these two modes of thinking, including a new opening vignette that discusses the case of Amadou Diallo, who was shot forty-one times by four white police officers as he reached for his wallet in the vestibule of his apartment building. This possible case of automatic stereotyping is contrasted to cases in which people apply stereotypes more consciously and deliberately, as in the case of racial profiling. More than forty new references have been added, including the work of Bargh and Chartrand (1999), Chen and Andersen (1999), Devine and Monteith (1999), and Mussweiler and Strack (2000).
  • Chapter 4, "Social Perception: How We Come to Understand Other People": This chapter includes more than seventy new references, with updated discussions on the relationship of culture to such matters as nonverbal communication, the fundamental attribution error, and other attributional biases.
  • Chapter 5, "Self-Knowledge: How We Come to Understand Ourselves": We have added dozens of new references to this chapter, most from the past few years. There are updated discussions of such issues as culture, gender, and the self and the effects of rewards on intrinsic motivation. As before, there is a balance between detailed discussions of classic findings (e.g., Schachter and Singer's work on emotion, Lepper's work on intrinsic motivation) and modern, cutting edge approaches to these topics.
  • Chapter 6, "Self-Justification and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem": In addition to being brought completely up to date, one of the major additions to Chapter 6 is a discussion of the underlying reasons why people experience dissonance as painful. Highlighted in this discussion is the recent work of Greenberg, Solomon, Pyszczynski, and their colleagues (1997, 1999, 2001) on terror management, self esteem, and the fear of death.
  • Chapter 7, "Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings": This chapter has been updated with a discussion of recent research on topics such as the affective and cognitive bases of attitudes and persuasion, attitude accessibility, the theory of planned behavior, and the effects of advertising. It begins with a new opening vignette on the possible use of subliminal messages in one of George W Bush's campaign ads.
  • Chapter 8, "Conformity: Influencing Behavior": As before, this chapter contains detailed descriptions of some of social psychology's most famous and enduring research studies, such as the Sherif, Asch, and Milgram studies. It also discusses modern research on conformity and social norms, including a new section on using injunctive and descriptive norms to promote beneficial social behavior (e.g., a reduction in littering).
  • Chapter 9, "Group Processes: Influence in Social Groups": This chapter has undergone a significant reorganization. It begins with a discussion of the nature of groups, why people join them, and issues of group dynamics such as social norms, social roles, and group cohesiveness. This is followed by a section on how groups influence the behavior of individuals, including the classic topics of social facilitation, social loafing, and deindividuation. The topic of group decision making comes next, followed by a section on conflict and cooperation. There are more than fifty new references, most of them from the past few years. Chapter 10, "Interpersonal Attraction: From First Impressions to Close Relationships": This chapter has been updated substantially with the addition of over sixty new references.
  • Chapter 11, "Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help?": We have updated this chapter considerably, providing additional coverage of culture and prosocial behavior, including a study by Levine, Norenzayan, and Philbrick (2000) that examined helping behavior in twenty-three countries. We present a thorough, balanced description of the evolutionary approach to prosocial behavior and an updated account of the question of whether there is any such thing as pure empathy.
  • Chapter 12, "Aggression: Why We Hurt Other People": This chapter has a new opening vignette, a discussion of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, the reasons behind it, and how such tragedies can be avoided in the future (Aronson, 2000). Many other new research findings are discussed, such as the effects of violent video games on aggressive thoughts and feelings (Anderson & Dill, 2000); a broader discussion of domestic violence (Eisenstat & Bancroft, 1999); an expanded discussion of chemical and biochemical antecedents of violent behavior—including alcohol, testosterone, and serotonin (e.g., Dabbs, 2000; Lipsey, Wilson, Cohen, & Derzon, 1997); more on gender differences (e.g., Bettencourt & Miller, 1996); and more on discomfort leading to aggression (Anderson, Bushman, & Groom, 1997).
  • Chapter 13, "Prejudice: Causes and Cures": This chapter now includes a discussion of the "racial divide" in America as exemplified by the differing reactions of black and white citizens to the verdict in the O. J. Simpson murder trial (e.g., Dershowitz, 1997), the most recent work on the distinction between subtle and blatant prejudice in the United States and Europe (e.g., Pettigrew, 1998), and an updating of the effect of cooperative learning on prejudice reduction (e.g., Johnson, & Johnson, 2000; Slavin & Cooper, 1999; Walker & Crogan, 1998).
  • Social Psychology in Action 1: "Social Psychology and Health": We updated and expanded this module. There is a new section on gender differences in coping with stress, including a discussion of Taylor, Klein, Lewis, Gruenewald, Gurung, and Updegraff's (2000) work on "tending and befriending." Other topics have been updated, including research on the relationship between social support and health and on perceived control, and all told, more than forty new references to recent work have been added.
  • Social Psychology in Action 2: "Social Psychology and the Environment": Research on both the effects of the environment as a source of stress (e.g., crowding, noise) and the effects of people on the environment (e.g., water and energy conservation, littering) has been updated considerably.
  • Social Psychology in Action 3: "Social Psychology and the Law": We have updated and expanded this module considerably, including a new section on the debate over the accuracy and validity of recovered memories. More than thirty new references are included.

Integrated Coverage of Culture and Gender

To understand behavior in a social context, we must consider such influences as culture and gender. Rather than adding a chapter on these important topics, we discuss them in every chapter, as they apply to the topic at hand. In many places, we discuss the wonderful diversity of humankind by presenting research on the differences between people of different cultures, races, or genders. We also discuss the commonalties people share by illustrating the applicability of many phenomena across culture, race, and gender. Here are examples:

  • Chapter 1, "Introduction to Social Psychology": The issue of universality versus the cultural relativity of social psychological principles is introduced.
  • Chapter 2, "Methodology: How Social Psychologists Do Research": The issue of how to generalize the results of studies across different types of people is discussed in the section on external validity. In addition, we include a section on cross-cultural research methods.
  • Chapter 3, "Social Cognition: How We Think about the Social World": This chapter discusses gender differences and achievement in middle-school and high school, raising the question of whether these differences are due to the expectations about gender held by teachers and parents. There is also a section on the cultural determinants of schemas that discusses classic work by Bartlett.
  • Chapter 4, "Social Perception: How We Come to Understand Other People": This chapter includes a good deal of material on culture and gender, including a discussion of the universality of facial expressions of emotion; cultural differences in other channels of nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, gaze, and personal space; gender differences in nonverbal communication (including a discussion of Eagly's social role theory); cultural variation in implicit personality theories; and cultural differences in attribution processes.
  • Chapter 5, "Self-Knowledge: How We Come to Understand Ourselves": This chapter includes a major section on cultural differences in the definition of self that discusses research by Markus, Kitayama, Triandis, and others. There are major sections on gender differences in the definition of the self, discussing research by Cross and Madson (1997) and Gabriel and Gardner (1999). We also discuss cultural differences in impression management.
  • Chapter 6, "Self-Justification and the Need to Maintain Self-Esteem": This chapter includes a section on cultural differences in dissonance and dissonance reduction that discusses recent research in non-Western cultures.
  • Chapter 7, "Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing Thoughts and Feelings": This chapter includes a section on culture and the basis of attitudes, including discussion of an experiment by Han and Shavitt (1994) that examined the effectiveness of different kinds of advertisements in Korea and the United States. In the context of a discussion of the effects of advertising, we discuss the ways in which the media can transmit cultural stereotypes about race and gender.
  • Chapter 8, "Conformity: Influencing Behavior": This chapter includes a discussion of the role of normative social influence in creating and maintaining cultural standards of beauty. We also discuss gender and cultural differences in conformity and a meta-analysis by Bond and Smith (1996) comparing conformity on the Asch line task in seventeen countries.
  • Chapter 9, "Group Processes: Influence in Social Groups": We discuss research on gender and culture at several points in this chapter, including gender and cultural differences in social loafing, gender differences in leadership styles, and Brown's culture-value theory of group polarization. In addition, we discuss social roles and gender and include an exercise in which students are asked to deliberately violate a gender role and keep a journal of people's responses to them.
  • Chapter 10, "Interpersonal Attraction: From First Impressions to Close Relationships": The role of culture comes up at several points in this chapter, including sections on cultural standards of beauty, cultural differences in the "what is beautiful is good" stereotype (Wheeler & Kim, 1997), and cultural differences in close relationships. We also discuss gender differences in the effects of physical attractiveness on liking and in reactions to the dissolution of relationships.
  • Chapter 11, "Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help?": This chapter features a section on gender differences in prosocial behavior, including a discussion of meta-analyses by Eagly and Crowley (1986) and more recent work by McGuire (1994). It also contains a section on cultural differences in prosocial behavior.
  • Chapter 12, "Aggression: Why We Hurt Other People": A major portion of this chapter is devoted to cultural differences in aggression, including a discussion of recent research by Richard Nisbett and Dov Cohen, and to differences in homicide rates in different countries. We also discuss research on gender differences in aggression and the effects of violent pornography on violence against women.
  • Chapter 13, "Prejudice: Causes and Cures": An integral part of any discussion of prejudice is sex-role stereotyping. We have expanded our discussion of gender stereotypes, including a discussion of work by Alice Eagly, Kay Deaux, and Janet Swim. Issues about ingroups and outgroups and ways of reducing prejudice are also an integral part of this chapter.
  • Social Psychology in Action modules on health, the environment, and the law: These modules include numerous sections relevant to culture and gender, such as a discussion of research on stereotype threat by Claude Steele and his colleagues, including studies on achievement in minority groups and men versus women. We also include a discussion of research on cultural differences in social support and in the Type A personality, a new discussion of the relationship between racism and stress, and a discussion of cultural differences in how density and crowding are perceived.

The Evolutionary Approach

In recent years, social psychologists have become increasingly interested in an evolutionary perspective on many aspects of social behavior. Once again, our approach is to integrate this perspective into the parts of chapters where it is relevant, rather than devoting a separate chapter to this topic. We present what we believe is a balanced approach, discussing evolutionary psychology as well as alternatives to it. Here are examples of places in which we discuss the evolutionary approach:

  • Chapter 4, "Social Perception: How We Come to Understand Other People": We discuss the question of whether some facial expressions are universal, including Darwin's view that they are.
  • Chapter 10, "Interpersonal Attraction: From First Impressions to Close Relationships": We present the evolutionary perspective on gender differences in romantic attraction and on why people fall in love.
  • Chapter 11, "Prosocial Behavior: Why Do People Help?": Evolutionary psychology is presented as one of the major theories of why humans engage in prosocial behavior. We present evidence for and against this perspective and contrast it to other approaches, such as social exchange theory.
  • Chapter 12, "Aggression: Why We Hurt Other People": We include a section on whether aggression is inborn or learned, including a discussion of an evolutionary explanation of aggressive behavior.
  • Chapter 13, "Prejudice: Causes and Cures": This chapter includes a discussion of research by David Buss on gender differences in nurturance.

The Applied Side of Social Psychology

One of the best ways to capture students' interest is to point out the real-world significance of the material they are studying. From the vignette that opens each chapter and runs throughout it to the discussions of historical events, current affairs, and our own lives that are embedded in the story line, the narrative is highlighted by real, familiar examples. Applications are an integral part of social psychology, however, and deserve their own treatment. In addition to an integrated coverage of applied topics in the body of the text, we include additional coverage in two ways.

Try It! Student Exercises

Interspersed throughout the fourth edition are Try It! exercises in which students are invited to apply the concepts they are learning to their everyday life. There are three such exercises in each chapter. They include detailed instructions about how to attempt to replicate actual social psychological experiments, such as Milgram's (1963) lost letter technique in Chapter 11 and Reno and colleagues' (1993) study on norms and littering in the second Social Psychology in Action module, "Social Psychology and the Environment." Other Try It! exercises reproduce self-report scales and invite the students to fill them out to see where they stand on these measures. Examples include Singelis's (1994) measure of people's interdependent and independent views of themselves in Chapter 5 and the Need for Cognition Scale in Chapter 7. Still others are quizzes that illustrate social psychological concepts, such as a Reasoning Quiz in Chapter 3 that illustrates judgmental heuristics, or demonstrations that explain how to use a particular concept in a student's everyday life, such as an exercise in Chapter 9 that instructs students to violate a sex-role norm and observe the consequences. Each exercise varies in format and time required. Additional Try It! exercises can be found on our companion Web site The Try It! exercises are certain to generate a lot of student interest and make social psychological concepts more memorable and engaging.

Social Psychology in Action Modules

Following Chapter 13 are three "modules" devoted to applied topics in social psychology—one on health, one on the environment, and one on the law—under the umbrella of "Social Psychology in Action." You might wonder why these modules use a different naming and numbering system than the other chapters. The reason is that they are designed to be free-floating units that can be assigned at virtually any point in the text. Although we do occasionally refer to numbered chapters in these modules, they are constructed as much as possible to stand as independent units that could be relevant at many different points in a social psychology course.

In talking with many professors who teach social psychology, we have been struck by how differently they present applied material. Some prefer to assign this material at the end of the course, after they have covered the major concepts, theories, and research findings. Others prefer to integrate it with the more theoretical material when relevant. Our applied modules are designed to be used in either way. In fact, there are several ways in which the chapters in our book could be assigned. The box above presents two sample outlines that instructors have used successfully with our book. Surely there are others; we present these to illustrate the flexibility of the order in which the chapters and applied modules can be assigned.

Ancillary Package

A really good textbook should become part of the classroom experience, supporting and augmenting the professor's vision for the class. Social Psychology offers a number of supplements that will enrich both the professor's presentation of social psychology and the students' understanding of it.

Instructor's Supplements

  • Video. A video is available that contains a series of clips that can be used as lecture openers or discussion lead-ins. Some of these clips are from classic psychology films. Others are from documentaries that are excellent illustrations of social psychological concepts. In still other clips, each of the authors of the text discusses some of his or her research. The Instructor's Manual includes notes that discuss the principles covered in each clip, providing discussion questions for students, and listing relevant references.
  • PowerPoints. PowerPoints provide an active format for presenting concepts from each chapter. The PowerPoints files can be downloaded from the Social Psychology Web site at or
  • Color Transparencies. Color transparencies of figures and tables from the text are available and can also be downloaded from the Social Psychology Web site.
  • Instructor's Resource Manual. Written by Elissa Wurf of Lafayette College, the Instructor's Manual includes lecture ideas, teaching tips, suggested readings, chapter outlines, student projects and research assignments, Try It! exercises, critical thinking topics and discussion questions, and a media resource guide.
  • Test Bank. Each of the two thousand questions in this test bank, compiled by Elissa Wurf of Lafayette College, is page-referenced to the text and categorized by topic and skill level. The test bank is also available to adopters in Windows and Macintosh computerized format.
  • Prentice Hall Test Manager. One of the best-selling test-generating software programs on the market, Test Manager is available in Windows and Macintosh formats and contains a gradebook, online network testing, and many tools to help instructors edit and create tests.
  • On-Line Course Management. For professors interested in using the Internet and on-line course management in their courses, Prentice Hall offers fully customizable on-line courses in WebCT, BlackBoard, and Course Compass to accompany this textbook. Contact your local Prentice Hall representative or visit for more information.

Student Supplements

  • Student Study Guide. The Student Study Guide, by Kathy Demitrakis of the Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute, contains chapter overviews, learning objectives and outlines, study questions, key terms, and practice tests.
  • Companion Web Site. The Web site, set up and maintained by Bryan Gibson of Central Michigan University, includes additional Try It! exercises, updates on current events that are relevant to social psychological concepts, practice tests for each chapter, downloadable PowerPoint slides, and links to other sites.
  • Psychology Is Social. The reader Psychology Is Social: Readings and Conversations in Social Psychology, edited by Edward Krupat of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences, now in its fourth edition, exposes students to a wide spectrum of research and opinion, including articles by and interviews with highly acclaimed social psychologists. The selections, edited to maximize student comprehension, range from new to classic, popular to technical, and single-study to review and provide a glimpse into the minds of the thinkers who have shaped key areas of study in the field of social psychology.


Elliot Aronson is delighted to acknowledge the general contributions of his best friend (who also happens to be his wife), Vera Aronson. Vera, as usual, provided a great deal of inspiration for his ideas and acted as the sounding board for and supportive critic of many of his semi-formed notions, helping to mold them into more sensible analyses. He would also like to thank his son, Joshua Aronson, a brilliant young social psychologist in his own right, for the many stimulating conversations that contributed mightily to the final version of this book. For this, the fourth edition, Linda Tropp provided valuable specific research assistance.

Tim Wilson would like to thank his graduate mentor, Richard E. Nisbett, who nurtured his interest in the field and showed him the continuity between social psychological research and everyday life. He thanks his graduate students, Sara Algoe, David Centerbar, Elizabeth Dunn, Debby Kermer, Jaime Kurtz, Jay Meyers, and Thalia Wheatley, who helped keep him a well-balanced professor—a researcher as well as a teacher and author. He thanks his parents, Elizabeth and Geoffrey Wilson, for their overall support. Most of all, he thanks his wife, Deirdre Smith, and his children, Christopher and Leigh, for their love, patience, and understanding, even when the hour was late and the computer was still on.

Robin Akert would like to thank her students and colleagues at Wellesley College for their support and encouragement. In particular, she is beholden to Patricia Berman, Jonathan Cheek, Regan Bernhard, and Alison Bibbins. Their advice, feedback, and senses of humor were vastly appreciated. She is deeply grateful to her family, Michaela and Wayne Akert, and Linda and Jerry Wuichet; their inexhaustible enthusiasm and boundless support have sustained her on this project as on all the ones before it. Once again she thanks C. Issak for authorial inspiration. Finally, no words can express her gratitude and indebtedness to Dane Archer, mentor, colleague, and friend, who opened the world of social psychology to her and who has been her guide ever since.

No book can be written and published without the help of a great many people working with the authors behind the scenes, and our book is no exception. We would like to thank the many colleagues who read one or more chapters of this edition and of previous editions of the book.

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