Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 16. A Person in the World of People: Self and Other, Part I

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Professor Paul Bloom: This is going to begin a

two-lecture sequence on social psychology on how we think about

ourselves, how we think about other people,

how we think about other groups of people.

We've talked a lot about the capacities of the human mind and

some of these capacities involve adapting and dealing with the

material world. So, we have to choose foods,

we have to navigate around the world, we have to recognize

objects, we have to be able to

understand physical interactions.

But probably the most interesting aspect of our

evolved minds is our capacity to understand and deal with other

people. We are intensely interested in

how other people work. The story that was a dominant

news story in 2005 was this. And some of you--this--for

those of you who aren't seeing the screen, is the separation of

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. I remember where I was when I

first heard about this. [laughter]

And it's an interesting sight. Just remember--stepping back.

As psychologists we have to question the natural.

We have to take things that are commonsense and explore them.

And one thing which just happens is, we're fascinated by

this stuff. We're fascinated by the lives

of celebrities. We're fascinated by the social

lives of other people. And it's an interesting

question to ask why. And this is one of the

questions which I'm going to deal with in the next couple of

lectures but before I get to the theory of social psychology I

want to talk about an individual difference.

So, we devoted a lecture early on--of a couple of weeks ago,

to individual differences across people in intelligence

and personality. I want to talk a little bit

about an individual difference in our social natures and then I

want people to do a test that will explore where you stand on

a continuum. That test is the piece of paper

you have in front of you. Anybody who doesn't have it

please raise your hand and one of the teaching fellows will

bring it to you. You don't know what to do yet

with it so don't worry. The test was developed actually

by Malcolm Gladwell who is a science writer--in his wonderful

book The Tipping Point. And as he introduces the test,

Gladwell recounts another experiment done by Stanley

Milgram, of course famous for his obedience work but he did a

lot of interesting things. And one classic study he did

was he gave a package to 160 people randomly chosen in Omaha,

Nebraska and he asked these people to get the package

somehowand this was many years ago before the internet,

before e-mailto get the package to a stockbroker who

worked in Boston but lived in Sharon,

Massachusetts. What he found was that most

people were able to do it. Nobody, of course,

knew this man but they knew people who might know people who

would know this man. So, most people succeeded.

Most people were able to get the packages to this man and it

took at maximum six degrees of separation,

which is where the famous phrase comes about that we're

all separated from another person by six degrees of

separation. This is not true in general.

This was a very--a single experiment done within the

United States, but the idea is appealing,

that people are connected to one another via chains of

people. But what Milgram found that was

particularly interesting was that in about half of the cases

these packages went through two people.

That is, if you plot the relationships between people--We

can take each person in this room,

find everybody you know and who knows you and draw a line,

but if we were to do this you wouldn't find an even mesh of

wires. Rather, you'd find that some

people are clusters. Some people are what Gladwell

calls "connectors." It's like air traffic.

Air traffic used to be everything flew to places local

to it but now there's a system of hubs,

Chicago O'Hare for instance or Newark where planes fly through.

Some people are hubs. Some people are the sort of

people who know a lot of people. Some people in this room might

be hubs, and it is not impossible to find out.

The piece of paper you have here is 250 names chosen

randomly from a Manhattan phone book.

They capture a range of ethnicities, different parts of

the world, different national origins.

Here's what I'd like you to do. And I'll give about five

minutes for this. Go through these names and

circle how many people you know. Now, the rules of this are,

to know somebody you have to--they have to know you back.

So, if it's a celebrity--Well, here--one of the names here is

Johnson. Now, I've heard of Magic

Johnson but Magic Johnson has never heard of me,

so I cannot circle it. On the other hand,

our department chair is Marcia Johnson.

She has heard of me, so I could circle it.

Go through and circle it. Circle all the people you know

who know you. Those are the people you're

connected to. If you know more than one

person with the same last name, circle it twice.

If you don't have this piece of paper and you want to

participate, please raise your hand and one of the teaching

fellows will bring it to you.

I'm going to talk a little bit more about this while people go

through this. The issue of connections

between people is intellectually interesting for many reasons and

might allow us to develop some generalizations about how people

interact. The game of Six Degrees of

Separation has, of course, turned into a famous

movie trivia thing revolving around the actor Kevin Bacon,

I think chosen just because it rhymes with "separation."

And the game of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" is played by taking

any actor and computing how many steps it would take to get to

Kevin Bacon. And some computer scientists

have developed this. They've gone through each of

the quarter million actors and actresses on the international

movie database and computed their "Bacon number."

And the Bacon number is the number of steps it takes for

them to get to Kevin Bacon. So for instance,

Ed Asner was in the movie Change of--;"JFK" with Kevin

Bacon. So, Ed Asner has a Bacon number

of one. Elvis Presley was in the movie

"Change of Habit" with Ed Asner and that's his closest

connection to Kevin Bacon. So, Elvis Presley has a Bacon

number of two. It turns out that if you look

at the 2.5--sorry, the quarter million people on

the movie database and compute their Bacon number,

the average Bacon number is 2.8. That's how many steps your

average person is away from Kevin Bacon.

You could then, for any actor or actress,

compute the most connected one. So, the most connected one

would be the one for whom the quarter million are,

on average, the most connected to.

And the answer of the most connected actor or actress is

reasonably surprising. Does anybody want to guess?

I'll start you off with the wrong answer and this,

by the way, can be found on this web site.

It's not John Wayne. John Wayne has been in many

movies, 180 movies, in fact, over sixty years,

but he isn't well connected at all because mostly he was in

westerns so we saw the same people over and over again.

Meryl Streep also isn't it because Meryl Streep has the

misfortune of playing only in good movies.

[laughter] So, she has no connection with

people like Adam Sandler and John-Claude Van Damme.

[laughter] Guess. Any guesses?

Student: Christopher Walken

Student: Nicholas Cage Professor Paul

Bloom: Christopher Walken is a good one.

We could look it up. I only know a few names here.

Christopher Walken is not a finalist.

Nicolas Cage is an interesting case.

Has Nicolas Cage been in good movies?

I don't want to get--I'm going to get more controversial than I

want to. Student:

A guy who is one step above an extra.

He's like a B-list actor at best.

The most connected guy, and I think this shows that

you're right, is Rod Steiger.

He's the most connected actor in the history of acting because

it isn't that he's been in more movies than everybody else.

Michael Caine has probably been in the most movies of any person

on earth, but he's been in all sorts of movies.

He was in "On the Waterfront," "In the Heat of the Night," and

really bad movies like "Carpool."

He's been in dramas and crime serials, thrillers,

westerns, horror movies, science fiction,

musicals. Now, some people are like Rod

Steiger. So, some people in their

day-to-day lives have many interactions and I think one of

the things we know from interacting with people is we

can distinguish them from other people.

How many people have finished their things right now?

Okay. I know one person in the

department who is one of the most connected people I know on

earth. If I wanted--If I really had to

talk to Rumsfeld, I'd go to this person and say,

"Can you get me in touch with Rumsfeld?"

If I wanted to get somebody whacked, I'd ask this guy.

[laughter] Then I know someone else in the

department and, as best I know,

I'm the only person she knows. [laughter]

So, how many people scores below ten on this?

How many between ten and twenty? Between twenty and thirty?

Thirty and forty? Between forty and fifty?

Fifty and sixty? How many people scored above

sixty? Anybody above sixty?

Gladwell has done this in a lot of places.

The average is twenty-one among a college crowd.

Some people score as high as over 100.

The older you are, the more--the higher you tend

to score, maybe obviously, not--the longer you've been in

the country the higher you tend to score.

Journalists tend to score reasonably high,

academics not so high, and--but what Gladwell points

out is some people have the gift.

Some people are more social than others and this connects in

all sorts of interesting ways. The issue of connection has

social factors and it's one answer that sociologists give

for why it's good to go to Yale. So, one answer is,

well, because of the great intellectual benefits.

Put that aside. Let's be more cynical here.

Another answer is that you develop powerful friends.

And that's closer, but the interesting answer

sociologists come to is it's not so much you develop powerful

friends; rather, you develop powerful

acquaintances. Through Yale you know a lot of

people and they don't have to be close friends but they are

acquaintances. And sociologists point out that

for a lot of aspects of your life, like getting a job,

acquaintances matter, connections matter,

and the connections you establish by going to a place

like Yale hold you in good stead for the rest of your life,

above and beyond any intellectual qualities that this

place may offer.

Here's what we're going to do for the next lecture and a half,

two lectures. We're first going to talk about

the self. Then we're going to talk about

the self and other; basically, differences between

how we think of ourselves and how we think about other people.

Then we're going to talk exclusively about how we think

about other people and then we'll talk about how we think

about groups like Harvard students or gay people or black


I'll start with my favorite finding of all time and this is

about the self. And this is about the spotlight

effect. So, my mornings are often

rushed because I have two kids. So, I get up and sometimes I

don't set the alarm and I get up late;

I stagger out of bed; I wake the kids;

I greet the servants; I get ready;

[laughter] I make breakfast. I run out of the house and then

usually around 3 o'clock somebody points out,

in one case a homeless man, that I have a big glob of

shaving cream in my ear or--because I neglected to

actually look in the mirror while I shaved.

Or I have once been to a party and I found my shirt was

misaligned, seriously misaligned,

not one button but--Anyway, [laughter]

so--and so I feel when this happens I'm very immature.

And I basically feel this is the end of the world,

this is humiliating and everybody notices.

And so the question is, how many people notice when

something happens? And the spotlight effect--Well,

before talking about my favorite experiment ever,

there is an episode of "The Simpsons" that provides a

beautiful illustration of the spotlight effect.

And then it has a beautiful illustration of psychological

testing, so I'll give you them quickly one after the other.

So, Tom Gilovich, a social psychologist,

was interested in the question of the spotlight effect,

which is when we wear a pink shirt to work,

shaving cream in our ear or whatever,

do we systematically overestimate how much other

people notice? He did a series of experiments.

And in one experiment what he did was he got in the subjects

standard Intro Psych drilland said,

"I want you to wear a T-shirt for the next day and I want it

to have a picture on it," and he got them to wear

T-shirts that had pictures on it that were the most embarrassing

pictures that they could have on it.

It turns out that if you ask people what's the worst picture

to have on the T-shirt that you are wearing,

the number one answer is Hitler tied with Barry Manilow.

[laughter] The best pictures to have on

your T-shirt are Martin Luther King Jr.

and Jerry Seinfeld. It turns out that people--And

then he had them go about their day and asked them,

"How many people noticed your T-shirt?"

And then the psychologists went around and they asked the

people, "How many of you noticed this person's T-shirt?"

And it turned out they got it wrong by a factor of about two.

They thought, say, 100 noticed,

but fifty people noticed. And across study after study

after study Gilovich and his colleagues have found support

for the spotlight effect, which is that you believe that

people are noticing you all the time but they aren't.

They're busy noticing themselves.

And this is actually a useful thing to know.

Gilovich got interested in this because he's interested in the

psychology of regret. And it turns out that if you

actually ask dying people, or really old people basically,

"What do you regret from your life?"

they regret the things as a rule that they didn't try.

But when you asked them why they didn't try it the answers

tended to be "I would look silly."

And it turns out, interesting to know,

that people just don't care as much as other people think you

are. You could take that as good

news or bad news but the spotlight is not on us as much

as we think it is. There's a second effect

Gilovich discovers called "the transparency effect."

And the transparency effect is quite interesting.

The transparency effect is that we believe that we're more

transparent than we are. I need somebody up here who

thinks that he or she is a bad liar.

Just--I just need you to say three sentences.

I'll even tell you what it is ahead of time.

I'm going to ask you three questions: "Have you been in

London? Do you have a younger sibling?"

and "Do you like sushi?" I want you to answer with one

of those answers there. I want you to lie about one of

them. The task will be for everybody

else to recognize and guess which one you're lying about.

Do you want to go up? Yeah.

And I will even write down which one you should lie on.

So, I want you to lie as to that number.


Have you ever been in London? Student:

No, I have not been in London. Professor Paul Bloom:

Do you have a younger sibling? Student:

Yes, I have a younger sibling. Professor Paul Bloom:

Do you like sushi? Student:

No, I do not like sushi. Professor Paul Bloom:

Okay. Let's have a vote.

She was lying about one of them. Who votes for one?

Who votes for two? Who votes for three?

Pretty much of a tie between two and three.

You could say which one you were lying.

Student: Three. Professor Paul Bloom:

The effect--there are two aspects of the effect.

One aspect is people are actually quite good at lying.

It is a rare person who couldn't stand up there and

everybody would figure out what they're lying about,

but the transparency effect is we don't feel that way.

We often feel like things bleed out of us and so people will

systematically overestimate the extent to which other people

notice their secrets. And this is actually,

in general, why it's sometimes difficult to teach or to tell

stories because we constantly overestimate how much other

people know. We think of ourselves as more

transparent than we are. A second social psychological

phenomena is you think you're terrific.

If I asked people, "How well are you doing in

Intro Psych this semester?" and I asked you to give

yourself a percentage rating relative to the rest of the

class, then if everybody was accurate,

or at least not systematically biased, the number should add up

to 50%. Roughly half of you are doing

better than average and roughly half of you are doing worse than

average. It turns out though that people

will systematically and dramatically view themselves as

better than average. They will view themselves as

better than average when asked how good they are as a student,

as a teacher, as a lover, and particularly,

as a driver. [laughter]

Everybody who drives thinks that he or she is a wonderful

driver. This has been called the "Lake

Wobegon effect" based on Garrison Keillor's story about a

place where all the children are above average.

And the Lake Wobegon effect in psychology involves a systematic

bias to see ourselves as better than average.

What psychologists don't really know is why the Lake Wobegon

effect exists, and there are a couple of

proposals. One is the nature of the

feedback we get. So, for a lot of aspects of

your life you only get feedback when you're good,

when you do something good. In a normal,

productive, healthy, happy environment,

people don't scream at you about how bad you're doing but

they compliment how good you are and that could lead to an

inflated self-esteem on the part of people in certain domains.

Another possibility is there's different criteria for goodness.

For a driver, for instance,

when I ask you to rank how good you are as a driver,

what people often do is they think--they say,

"I'm better than average," but what they do is they focus on

one aspect of their driving. So, some of you might say,

"Hey, I'm just a great parallel parker so I'm a great driver."

Others might say, "I'm very careful,

great driver." Others might say,

"I take chances no one else will--great driver," [laughter]

but above and beyond that there does seem to be a psychological

effect manifested here and manifested elsewhere,

which is a motivation to feel good about yourself.

You think you're important, which is why the spotlight

effect exists. You think your thoughts bleed

out, which is why the transparency effect exists.

But above and beyond that, in a normal,

healthy mind you think you're terrific.

And so, this shows up in all sorts of ways.

It shows up as well in what's been called "the self-serving

bias." Half of you did above average

on the Midterm; half of you did below average

on the Midterm, but if I went up and asked each

of you why the answers would not be symmetrical.

People who did well in the Midterm would describe it in

terms of their capacities or abilities.

They'd say, "It's because I'm smart, hardworking,

brilliant." People who did poorly would

say, "The Midterm was unfair. I was busy.

I have better things to do with my time."

Professors as well--When people get papers accepted it is

because the papers are brilliant.

When they got them rejected it's because there's a

conspiracy against them by jealous editors and reviewers.

There is this asymmetry all the time.

The asymmetry has been found in athletes, in CEOs and in

accident reports. And again, this is sort of a

positive enhancement technique. You think that you're terrific

and because you're terrific the good things that happen to you

are due to your terrific-ness; the bad things are due to

accident and misfortune.

The final aspect of self that I want to talk about is the idea

that what you do makes sense. And this is one of the more

interesting sub domains of social psychology.

The idea was developed by the social psychologist Leon

Festinger and it's called "Cognitive Dissonance Theory."

And what Festinger was interested in was the idea that

what happens when people experience an inconsistency in

their heads. And he claimed it causes an

unpleasant emotional state, what he described as

"dissonance." And he argued that we act so as

to reduce dissonance. When there's a contradiction in

our heads we're not happy and will take steps to make the

contradiction go away. This all sounds very general

but there are some striking demonstrations of this and how

it could work in everyday life. So, this very simple example is

that--is the confirmation bias. Some of you are politically

right wing. Some of you are politically

left wing. If I asked you what magazines

you read, it turns out people who are right wing read right

wing magazines, people who are left wing read

left wing magazines, because people don't as a rule

enjoy getting information that disconfirms what they believe

in. They want to have information

that confirms what they believe in and that supports it.

If you support Bush you're going to be looking for good

news about Bush, if you don't support him you'll

be looking for bad news. And this manifests itself in

all sorts of interesting ways. I'll tell you about a very

simple experiment. I'll--It was done by Louisa

Egan here at Yale and it illustrates a point which is

going to--which--and then I'll talk about real world

implications of this. Very simple.

You have three M&Ms. You pretest to make sure that

the person doesn't like any M&M more than the other.

And there are three M&Ms. Who cares?

But then you ask them to choose between two of them.

So, suppose they choose the red one.

You've got to choose one. So, they get to eat the red one.

Now, they're offered--You take the red one away and now they're

offered a choice between the two remaining ones.

It turns out, to a tremendous degree,

and you could imagine yourself in that situation,

they choose this one, the one that wasn't the one

they turned down. And the claim is that when you

choose this, in order to justify your decision,

you denigrate the one you didn't choose.

And so this one you didn't choose is then tainted and you

turn and then when compared to a third one you favor that third

one. What's particularly interesting

is you get this effect easily with undergraduates but you also

get it with four-year-olds and with monkeys.

So, the same denigration tends to be more general.

Well, that's a laboratory effect but there are some more

interesting manifestations of cognitive dissonance.

One is the insufficient justification effect,

which is so famous it had a cartoon based on it.

The guys says, "Why should I hire you as my

consultant?" The dog--Some dog says,

"I use my special--the special process of cognitive dissonance

to improve employee morale." "How does it work?"

"Well, when people are in an absurd situation their minds

rationalize it by inventing a comfortable illusion."

Not quite right. When people are--have an

internal conflict, when there's something

uncomfortable--Well, that's right.

So says to this person, "Isn't it strange you have this

dead-end job when you're twice as smart as your boss?

The hours are long, the pay is mediocre,

nobody respects your contribution,

yet you freely choose to work here.

It's absurd. No.

Wait. There must be a reason.

I must work here because I love this work, I love this job."

[laughter] This actually works. Here is the classic experiment

by Festinger. Gave two groups of people a

really boring task, paid one of them twenty

dollars, which back when this study was

done was real money, gave another group of subjects

one dollar, which was insultingly small,

then asked them later, "What do you think of the

task?" It turns out that the group

that had--were paid a dollar rated the task as much more fun

than the group given twenty dollars.

So, think about that for a moment.

You might have predicted it the other way around,

the twenty dollars, "wow, well,

twenty dollars, I must have enjoyed it because

I got twenty dollars," but in fact,

the logic here is the people with twenty dollars when asked,

"What do you think of the task?"

could say, "It was boring. I did it for twenty dollars."

The people paid one dollar were like the character in the

Dilbert cartoon. When paid a dollar they said,

"Well, I don't want to be a donkey.

I don't want to be some guy who does this boring thing for a

dollar. It wasn't that bad really,

it was kind of interesting, I learnt a lot," to justify

what they did. This has a lot of real world

implications. Festinger did a wonderful study

with people--a group of people, and he wrote this up in a book

called When Prophesy Fails, who were convinced that

the world was going to end so they went on a mountain and they

waited for the world to end. They had a certain time and

date when the world was going to end.

He hung out with them and then the time passed and the world

didn't end. What people then said,

and this is what he was interested in--;So,

people's predictions were totally proven wrong and they

left their families, they gave away their houses,

they gave away all their possessions, they lost all their

money, but what Festinger found was

they didn't say, "God, I'm such a moron."

Rather, they said, "This is fantastic.

This is exactly--This shows that us going to the mountain

has delayed the ending of the world and this shows that we're

doing exactly the right things. I couldn't have been smarter."

And in general, when people devote a lot of

energy or money or expense to something, they are

extraordinarily resistant to having it proven wrong.

Now, people have manipulated cognitive dissonance in all

sorts of ways and, for instance,

hazing. Hazing is cognitive dissonance

at work. Fraternities and med schools

and other organizations haze people.

What they do is when people enter the group they humiliate

them, they cause them pain, they cause them various forms

of torture and unpleasantness. Why?

Well, because it's very successful at getting somebody

to like the group. If I join a fraternity--it is

also by the way illegal sobut if I were to join a

fraternity and they say, "Welcome to the fraternity,

Dr. Bloom.

Here. Have a mint," and then we have

a good time and everything. I'm thinking "okay,

sounds like a fun idea." But if I join a fraternity and

they pour cow poop on my head and make me stand in the rain

for a month wearing pantyhose while they throw rocks at me

[laughter] I then think--after it I think

"God, I went through a lot of stuff

to get into this fraternity. It must be really good."

And in fact, hazing through cognitive

dissonance draws the inference that this is really,

really valuable and this is why it exists.

If you are a political--If you are running for office,

you will tend to have volunteers and not necessarily

pay people. One reason for this is obvious;

it's cheaper not to pay people, but the other reason is more

interesting. If you don't pay people,

they are more committed to the cause.

Again, it's cognitive dissonance.

If you pay me ten thousand dollars a month to work for you,

I'll work for you and I'll think "I'm doing it for ten

thousand dollars a month, that makes a lot of sense," but

if I do it for nothing then I have to ask myself,

"Why am I doing it?" And I will conclude I must

think very highly of you. Therapy for free tends to be

useless therapy. This is one-- [laughs]

Therapists ask for money for all sorts of reasons,

including they like money. But one reason why they ask for

money is if you don't pay for therapy you don't think it has

any value. You have to give up something.

So, cognitive dissonance will lead you then to think that what

you are giving it up for has some value and then you

establish a liking for it.

Finally, cognitive dissonance shows up with children.

One of the most robust and replicated findings in education

or developmental psychology is very simple.

You take two groups of kids and you ask them to do something

like draw pictures. Half of the kids you reward.

Maybe you give them a sticker or a toy.

The other half you don't reward. Now, according to sort of a

simple-minded view of operant conditioning in behaviorist

psychology, the children you reward should do it more.

That's how operative conditioning works.

In fact though, the children who you reward

later on think that this activity has less value and they

are less likely to do it when there's no reward present.

And the idea, again, is the kids who don't

get rewarded say to themselves, "Well,

I just spent time doing it, it must have an intrinsic

value," while the children who get rewarded say,

"I did it for the sticker. I did it for the toy.

I don't care much for this." And so, rewarding children has

a danger, which is if you give them too much reward and too

much a value for what they're doing they will denigrate the

activity. Now, we need to be careful here

about what's going on. It's not simple inconsistency.

So, go back to this insufficient justification

effect. So, the dollar group rated a

task as more fun than the twenty dollar group.

And it's true; each group needed a

justification for lying about the task.

Each group needed a justification for saying how

interesting the task was, but they each had a

justification. They were each doing it for

money after all. So, cognitive dissonance is a

little bit more subtle. It's not just that there's a

clash. Rather, we adjust our beliefs

to make ourselves look more moral and rational than we are.

Go back to hazing. There's a perfectly good reason

why I let them do all those things to me.

I'm the sort of person who will let people do those things to

me. The problem is that's not an

answer I could live with. So, cognitive dissonance

motivates me to create an answer that's more comfortable for me,

an answer such as "This must be a really wonderful group with a

wonderful bunch of people." And in other words,

we are biased to believe that we are terrific.

So, to sum up, there are three main findings

about you that come out in social psychology.

One is you believe everybody notices you even when they

don't. You're the hero of your story.

The second one is, you're terrific,

you are better than average in every possible way,

each one of you. And finally,

what you do makes sense. If it doesn't make sense,

you'll--If it doesn't make sense or, more to the point,

if it's something that you do that's foolish or makes you look

manipulative or cheap, you'll distort it in your head

so that it does make sense. I want to move now to how we

think about self and other, how we think about ourselves

relative to how we think about other people.

And this brings us to the notion of attribution.

So, an attribution is a claim about the cause of somebody's

behavior and Heider--;Now, there's all sorts of reasons

for somebody's behavior. Suppose you insult me or

suppose you're very kind to me. I could say you're a kind

person or you're a rude person. I could say "this must be a

great day for you" or "you must be a lot of--under a lot of

stress or you must want something."

There's different sorts of attributions we could make to

people but Heider's insight is we tend to attribute other

people's actions to their personality characteristics,

to long-standing aspects of what they are.

And this is known as a person bias.

And more generally, people tend to give too much

weight to the person and not enough weight to the situation.

This is also sometimes known as the fundamental attribution

error. The fundamental attribution

error, which is one of the core ideas in psychology,

is that we tend to over-attribute things to a

person's personality or desires or nature and not enough to the

situation or the context. There's a lot of demonstrations

of this. A lot of the demonstrations

have to do with intelligence so, for example,

there's actually been studies showing that people tend to

overestimate the intelligence of professors.

Why? Because I stand up here and I

talk about the one or more than one thing I know about and so

it's easy to infer that I must know a lot but in fact by the

time this semester ends I will have tell you--told you

everything I know. [laughter]

And if you stood up and started talking about everything you

knew you'd look really smart too.

The best study to show this is a quiz show study,

which is you take two people and you flip a coin.

And one of them is the quiz master and the quiz master gets

to ask questions, any question he or she wants.

And the other person has to answer the questions.

And if they play seriously, the quiz master's going to

destroy the other person. "What was my dog's name?"

[laughter] "Well, I don't know." "What's the capital of the city

in which I was born?" "Well, I don't know."

And then you'd expect a third person watching this to say,

"Who cares? It's just--They're just doing

this because of the coin they flipped."

But in fact, when the person watching this

has to assess their intelligence they give the quiz asker a

higher intelligence rating than the other person.

After all, "He seemed to know a lot of answers.

The other person didn't get much right."

We tend to fail to discount the situation.

If you were giving a job talk--and this is for people in

graduate school particularly--If you were giving a job talk and

the slide projector breaks, you're screwed.

Nobody is going to say to themselves, "Oh,

well, it's not such a good talk because the slide projector

broke." They'll say,

"It's not such a good talk because of the person."

Somebody could give a talk and we could throw smarties at them

the whole time and then you could--then the other people

would say, "The person looked kind of

upset during the whole talk. [laughter]

I wonder--They seemed like a nervous type."

[laughter] This can be taken to extremes

and the biggest extreme is the case of actors,

which is if there's ever a case--Anybody know who this is,

the actor? [laughter]

Have none of you been alive in 1950?

[laughter] This is Robert Young. Does anybody know the part he

plays? He played an--He played a

doctor called Marcus Welby in this famous show "Marcus Welby,

M.D.," and Marcus Welby was a wonderful doctor.

He was compassionate and kind, he made house calls,

he saved lives, he counseled people,

and it turned out that Robert Young was then deluged with

mail, thousands of pieces of mail,

by people asking for his advice on health matters.

[laughter] And he then,

in a twist, exploited the fundamental attribution

error--people confusing the actor for the role--exploited

this by going on TV and espousing the benefits of Sanka

decaffeinated coffee where he produced the famous line "I am

not a doctor but I play one on TV,"

[laughter] whereupon people heard this and

said, "Well, he must have some authority then about medical

matters." [laughter]

It turns out that the confusion between actors and their roles

is extremely common. Many people,

for instance, view Sylvester Stallone as

either an actual hero during the Vietnam War or sort of a hero

during the Vietnam War given all his Rambo stuff but in fact,

of course, he played--he was in a Swiss boarding school teaching

girls age twelve through fifteen during the Vietnam War.

But it doesn't seem that way because the role infects how we

think about the person. When this movie came out twenty

years ago they needed a character to play a gay man.

According to IMDb, where I get all my information,

they hit up all the big stars, Harrison Ford,

Michael Douglas, and Richard Gere,

and they all turned it down because they didn't want to play

a gay man because people would think that they were gay.

Finally, they got Harry Hamlin to do it, who was kind of a

B-list sort of guy. The biggest extreme of the

fundamental attribution error, confusing the actor for his

role, is Leonard Nimoy who,

because he played the emotionless Vulcan,

Spock, on Star Trek, was then repeatedly viewed by

people who saw him on the street as if he was an actual Vulcan.

[laughter] He got sufficiently upset about

this to write a book called I Am Not Spock where he

described all the ways in which he was not a Vulcan.

[laughter] His career, where he attempted

many times to play roles that were different from his Vulcan

nature, stalled until finally many

years later he gave up and wrote another book called I Am

Spock [laughter] where he finally conceded to

the fundamental attribution error.

[laughter] If I gave this lecture ten

years ago, I would say that the fundamental attribution error is

a human universal, something that we're born with,

a fundamental aspect of human nature.

This is not entirely true though and we know that through

some very interesting cross-cultural research that

compares these biases across different countries,

in this study between the United States and India.

And it turns out that for whatever reason,

and it would take another course to talk about the

different explanations, but people start off at,

say, age eight not committing the fundamental attribution

error but in Western cultures, where there's an ideology

perhaps that people are in charge of their own destiny,

the error occurs and people over-attribute the role to the

person. In some Eastern cultures

there's more of a view about faith and more attributions to

situation. And this has been shown in many

ways. For instance,

if you look at newspaper reports about murders,

in cultures like the United States the report tends to

emphasize the personal characteristics of the person

accused of the murder. In countries like India,

the reports tend to emphasize, to a greater degree,

the situation that the person found himself in that might have

driven him to commit a murder. So, this is an important

reminder that just because we find something in our culture

and just because it might well be pervasive doesn't mean

necessarily that it's universal.

So, to summarize so far, and we're going to look at this

a little bit more for the rest of this lecture,

we've talked about two morals in social psychology.

One is enhancement of the self but the other is what you can

call "oversimplification of the other."

So, we know ourselves that our behavior is due to a complicated

cluster of the situation and our personal natures.

When things go badly, in fact, we'll blame the

situation. When things go well,

the self-serving attribution bias, we'll credit ourselves.

We don't do this for other people.

For other people we're a lot less forgiving.

You do something stupid, that's--you're a stupid person.

I do something stupid, it's an off day.

And so, you have this difference between how we think

about ourselves and how we think about other people.

Let's talk a little bit about what we think about other people

and start by talking about why we like other people.

And here I'm going to some extent to go over material that

was raised earlier in the course in Peter Salovey's wonderful

lecture. So, some of this,

our liking of other people, is obvious and we talked about

it in Dean Salovey's lecture, we talked about it when we

talked about sexual attractiveness.

We like people who are honest, who are kind,

who are smart, who are funny,

but study after study finds more fundamental processes are

also at work and here is a list of three of them.

One is proximity. We tend to like people who

we're close to physically, who we are physically and

spatially close to, who we spend a lot of time

with. In one study they looked at a

housing project in Manhattan and they asked people where their

best friend was and 90% of them said,

"My best friend is in the same building as me," and 50% of them

says the same floor. Ask yourself who is your best

friend at Yale. For how many of you is it

somebody in your same college? Okay.

How many in a different college? So, call it a tie but then

there's a lot more colleges that aren't yours than the one--How

many of you would you--say your best friend is somebody

your--currently on your same floor?

Yeah. If you were going to marry

somebody from this class, it is the person you are

sitting next to? [laughter]

Now, in some sense this is an--a rather trivial finding.

Of course you're going to get more involved in people you

encounter frequently. How else is it going to work?

But it's actually more than that.

The more you see something the more you like it and this is

sometimes known as "the mere exposure effect."

The mere exposure effect is simply seeing something makes it

likable perhaps because it becomes comfortable and safe.

In one study by James Cutting, Cutting taught an Introduction

to Psychology course and before each lecture he'd flash pictures

on the screen. He'd have a screen saver

showing pictures on the screen, paintings, and didn't say

anything about them. People would sit down,

look at them while they prepared their notes.

At the end of the semester he then asked people to rate

different pictures as to how much they liked them,

and even though people had no memory of seeing one or--versus

the other they tend to like the pictures more that they had seen

before. They were somehow familiar and

somehow more likable. If I showed you a picture of

yourself versus a mirror image of yourself and asked which one

you'd like more, the answer is very strong.

You'd like your mirror image more because the mirror image is

what you tend to see from day to day.

If I showed your best friend a picture of you versus a mirror

image picture of you, your best friend would say he

or she likes the picture more because that corresponds to what

he or she sees each day. Familiarity is itself a desire

for liking, a force for liking.

Similarity--we like people who are similar to us.

Friends tend to be highly similar to one another.

So do husbands and wives. Now, to some extent,

similarity is hard to pull apart from proximity.

So, the fact that you are similar to your friends at Yale

might just be because you are close to your friends at Yale

and people who are at Yale tend to be fairly similar to one

another. But there's a lot of evidence

that similarity, above and beyond proximity,

has an effect on attractiveness and on liking.

Similarity predicts the success of a marriage and through a

phenomena people aren't exactly sure about,

couples become more and more similar over the course of a

relationship. Finally, people like

good-looking people. People like attractive people.

Physically attractive people are thought to be smarter,

more competent, more social and nicer.

Now, some of you who are very cynical and/or very good looking

might wonder "yes, but good-looking people like me

actually are smarter, more competent,

more social and morally better."

This is not a crazy response. It is--it could be,

for instance, that the advantages of being

good looking make your life run a lot easier.

Teachers are more responsive to you, people treat you better,

you have more opportunities to make your way through the world,

you make more money, you have more access to things,

and that could, in turn,

cause you to improve your life. This would be what's known in

the Bible as a "Matthew effect." A Matthew effect is a

developmental psychology phrase for the sort of thing where,

well, as Jesus said, "For unto everyone that hath

shall be given and he shall have abundance."

That means if you're good looking you'll also be smart but

from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he

hath. It's a long version of the rich

get richer and the poor even lose what they hath.

So, there's a variety of studies suggesting that teachers

rate attractive children as smarter and higher achieving.

Adults think that when an ugly kid misbehaves it's because they

have an ugly soul [laughter] while the attractive kid,

"oh, that little scamp, somebody must have been

bothering him." When I was in the University of

Arizona and we lived next--and all I remember of my

neighborhood is we lived next to this little boy and his name was

Adonis. [laughter]

Cute kid, but come on. [laughter]

Also in mock trials judges give longer prison sentences to ugly

people. [laughter]

That's the Matthew effect, those who hath little get even

that taken away and thrown into prison.

There is a recent study, which I'll tell you about but I

am not comfortable with it as an experiment.

The study observed people in a shopping--in a parking lot of a

supermarket and found that parents were a lot rougher to

the kids if their kids are ugly than if their kids are good

looking. And they attribute it to the

fact that, for all sorts of reasons, the ugly kid just

matters less to the parent. I was watching a poker game

once on TV and somebody who lost said, and I quote,

"They beat me like an ugly stepchild" [laughter]

and the fate of the ugly stepchild is,

in fact, not a very good fate but this is not a good study.

For one thing, and I don't know how to phrase

this in a politically correct way,

but the parents of ugly kids are likely to themselves be ugly

people [laughter] and maybe what they're finding

is just ugly people are more violent than good-looking

people. [laughter]

This is an excellent time to stop the lecture [laughter]

so I'm going to stop the lecture and we're going to

continue social psychology on Wednesday.

The Description of 16. A Person in the World of People: Self and Other, Part I