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Unformatted text preview: Plous, S. (1993). The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making. (pp. 191- 204). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Publishing. Chapter 17 SOCIAL INFLUENCES Seeing ourselves as others see us would probably confirm our wont suspicions about them. —Franklin P. Jones (cited in Peter, 1977) As Chapter 16 showed, people frequently discount or ignore consensus information when making causal attributions. Does this mean, then, that decision makers are unconcerned with the behavior and attitudes of other people? Far from it. Even the most independent decision makers are strongly affected by social factors. Indeed, Philip Tetlock (1985b) has argued that social factors play a pivotal role in judgment and decision making. According to Tetlock (p. 325): "Experimental cognitive research on judgment and decision-making has adopted a misleadingly narrow focus on its subject matter and needs to be broadened to take into consideration the impact of social and organizational context." Tetlock has proposed that decision makers be regarded as "politicians" who are accountable to their "constituents" (e.g., friends, family members, and co-workers), and who are constantly concerned with questions such as "How will others react if I do this?" and "How can I justify my views to others if challenged?" The importance of outside evaluations—and their ability to influence how people behave—is one of the oldest findings in experimental social psychology. SOCIAL FACILITATION In his history of social psychology, Gordon Allpori (1954, p. 46) wrote that: "The first experimental problem—and indeed the only problem for the first three decades of experimental research—was formulated as follows: What change in an individual's normal solitary performance occurs when other people are present?" Although work on this question began in the latter part of the nineteenth century, it was not until 1965 that a comprehensive answer was given. In that year, Robert Zajonc made the case that the performance of simple, well-learned responses is usually enhanced by the presence of onlookers, but the performance of complex, unmastered skills tends lo be impaired by the presence of others. Zajonc speculated that this effect, known as "social facilitation," was at least partly due to arousal from the physical presence of others. Later research showed that this enhancement or impairment takes place even when the prospect of being evaluated by others does not involve their physical presence (Henchy & Glass, 1968). Although social facilitation has been found with a variety of verbal and mathematical tasks, one of the most straightforward demonstrations of the effect was conducted in a college pool hall (Michaels, Blommel, Brocato, Linkous, & Rowe, 1982). In this study, unobtrusive observers classified pool players as above or below average in ability, and they recorded the percentage of successful shots made by these players in the presence or absence of onlookers. As Figure 17.1 shows, the presence of an audience improved the performance of above-average players and hurt the performance of below-average players. Charles Bond and Linda Titus players and hurt the performance of below-average players....
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- Fall '08
- Social Psychology, Leon Festinger, Social comparison theory, Social Facilitation, Bibb Latané