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|Chapter||6. Attitude And Social Cognition|
|Category||NCERT Solutions for Class 12|
Class 12 Psychology Chapter 6 Solutions covers the question and answer of the whole chapter. These solutions will help you to understand the concept of Attitude And Social Cognition chapter. If you are preparing for your exams then you should not miss this guide. These solutions are based on the curriculum of CBSE and will help you to ace your exams with excellent grades.
NCERT Solutions for Class 12 Psychology Chapter 6
Attitude And Social Cognition Solutions
Questions & Answers
Q1) Define attitude. Discuss the components of an attitude.
Answer) Attitude is the tendency to react positively or negatively to a person or circumstances and can be defined as state of the mind, a set of views, or thoughts, regarding some topic which have an evaluative feature (positive, negative or neutral quality).
Attitude have three components:
- The thought component is referred to as the cognitive aspect: It consists of belief, ideas, values and other information that a person may possess or has faith in. It makes little difference if the information is correct or incorrect.
- The emotional component is known as the affective aspect: It is related to person’s feelings about another person, which may be positive, negative or neutral.
- The tendency to act is called the behavioural (or conative) aspect: It is related to impact of various situations or objects that lead to individual’s behaviour based on cognitive and affective components. Only this components of attitude is visible.
Q2) Are attitudes learnt? Explain how?
Answer) Yes, attitudes are learnt through one’s own experience and through interaction with others. There are also some sort of inborn aspect of attitudes, but such genetic factors influence attitudes only indirectly, along with learning. The processes and conditions of learning may be different, resulting in varying attitudes among people.
- Learning attitudes by association: Some students often develop a liking for a particular subject because of the teacher. This is because they see many positive qualities in that teacher; these positive qualities get linked to the subject that s/he teaches, and ultimately get expressed in the form of liking for the subject. In other words, a positive attitude towards the subject is learned through the positive association between a teacher and a student.
- Learning attitudes by being rewarded or punished: If an individual is praised for showing a particular attitude, chances are high that s/he will develop that attitude further. For example, if a teenager does yogasanas regularly, and gets the honour of being ‘Miss Good Health’ in her school, she may develop a positive attitude towards yoga and health in general. Similarly, if a child constantly falls ill because s/he eats junk food instead of proper meals, then the child is likely to develop a negative attitude towards junk food, and also a positive attitude towards eating healthy food.
- Learning attitudes through modelling (observing others) : Often it is not through association, or through reward and punishment, that we learn attitudes. Instead, we learn them by observing others being rewarded or punished for expressing thoughts, or showing behaviour of a particular kind towards the attitude object. For example, children may form a respectful attitude towards elders, by observing that their parents show respect for elders, and are appreciated for it.
- Learning attitudes through group or cultural norms: Very often, we learn attitudes through the norms of our group or culture. Norms are unwritten rules about behaviour that everyone is supposed to show under specific circumstances. Over time, these norms may become part of our social cognition, in the form of attitudes. Learning attitudes through group or cultural norms may actually be an example of all three forms of learning i.e. learning through association, reward or punishment, and modelling.
- Learning through exposure to information: Many attitudes are learned in a social context, but not necessarily in the physical presence of others. Today, with the huge amount of information that is being provided through various media, both positive and negative attitudes are being formed. By reading the biographies of self-actualised persons, an individual may develop a positive attitude towards hard work and other aspects as the means of achieving success in life.
Q3)What are the factors that influence the formation of an attitude?
Answer) The following factors provide the context for the learning of attitude through various processes:
- Family and School Environment: parents and other family-members play a significant role in attitude formation. Learning of attitudes within the family and school usually takes place by association, through rewards and punishment and through modelling.
- Reference Groups: Attitudes towards political, religious and social groups, occupations, national and other issues are often developed through reference groups. Reference groups indicate to an individual the norms regarding acceptable behaviour and ways of thinking. Various institutions, religion, culture and communities are form of reference groups.
- Personal Experiences: Many attitudes are formed, not in the family environment or through reference groups, but through direct personal experiences which bring about a drastic change in our attitude towards people and our own life.
- Media Related Influences: Technological advances have made audio-visual media and internet as very powerful sources for attitude formation. School textbooks also influence attitude formation. The media can be used to create consumerist attitude. The media can exert both good and bad influences on attitudes.
Q4) Is behaviour always a reflection of one’s attitude? Explain with a relevant example.
Answer) An individual’s attitude may not always be exhibited through behaviour. Likewise one’s actual behaviour may be contrary to one’s attitude towards a particular topic. Psychologists have found that there would be consistency between attitude and behaviour when:
- The attitude is strong and occupies a central place in the attitude system.
- The person is aware of his/her attitudes.
- Person’s behaviour is not being watched or evaluated by others.
- Person thinks that the behaviour would have a positive consequences.
In the days when Americans were said to be prejudiced against the Chinese, Richard LaPiere, an American social psychologist, conducted the following study. He asked a Chinese couple to travel across the United States, and stay in different hotels. Only once during these occasions they were refused service by one of the hotels. Sometime later, LaPiere sent out questionnaires to managers of hotels and tourist homes in the same areas where the Chinese couple had travelled, asking them if they would give accommodation to Chinese guests. A very large percentage said that they would not do so. This response showed a negative attitude towards the Chinese, which was inconsistent with the positive behaviour that was actually shown towards the travelling Chinese couple. Thus, attitudes may not always predict actual pattern of one’s behaviour.
Q5) Highlight the importance of schemas in social cognition.
Answer) A schema is defined as a mental structure that provides a framework, set of rules or guidelines for processing information about any object. Schemas (or ‘schemata’) are the basic units stored in our memory, and function as shorthand ways of processing information, thus reducing the time and mental effort required in cognition.
- Social schemas (schemata) are mental structure.
- They function as a framework to process social information. These schemas lead to emergence of prototypes.
- Prototypes are concepts which have most of the defining features of a concept, class or family.
- These are best representatives of the population.
- Various stereotypes emerge from these schemas. In other words stereotypes are category-based schemas.
Q6) Differentiate between prejudice and stereotype.
Answer) Prejudices are examples of attitudes towards a particular group. They are usually negative, and in many cases, may be based on stereotypes (the cognitive component) about the specific group while stereotype is a cluster of ideas regarding the characteristics of a specific group.
Prejudice generally based on ethnicity, race, gender, caste and the like who mostly tend to show negative feelings towards people belonging to other groups while Stereotype described as classifying people based on their membership in a particular group, based on a certain preconceived belief which can be negative, positive or neutral and can be based on factors like gender, ethnicity, occupation etc.
Stereotypes consist of undesirable characteristics about the target group, and they lead to negative attitudes or prejudices towards members of specific groups. The cognitive component of prejudice is frequently accompanied by dislike or hatred, the affective component while Prejudice may also get translated into discrimination, the behavioural component, whereby people behave in a less positive way towards a particular target group compared to another group which they favour.
Prejudice is not based on a truth and usually originates from the lack of knowledge about a certain group of people while stereotype might be based on a truth. However, a stereotype can originate from prejudice.
Q7) Prejudice can exist without discrimination and vice versa. Comment.
Answer) Prejudices can exist without being shown in the form of discrimination. Similarly, discrimination can be shown without prejudice. Yet, the two go together very often. Wherever prejudice and discrimination exist, conflicts are very likely to arise between groups within the same society. Our own society has witnessed many deplorable instances of discrimination, with and without prejudice, based on gender, religion, community, caste, physical handicap, and illnesses such as AIDS. Moreover, in many cases discriminatory behaviour can be curbed by law. But, the cognitive and emotional components of prejudice are more difficult to change.
Q8) Describe the important factors that influence impression formation.
Answer) Impression formation is a process by which impression about others is converting into more or less induring cognitions or thoughts about them. In short, impression formation is a process through which we draw quick conclusion/ inferences regarding others.
Impression formation and attribution are influenced by:
- The nature of information available to the perceiver.
- Social schemas in the perceiver (including stereotypes).
- Personality characteristics of the perceiver.
- Situational factors.
The following aspects have been found in impression formation:
- (a) Selection: we take into account only some bits of information about the target person.
- (b) Organisation: the selected information is combined in a systematic way.
- (c) Inference: we draw a conclusion about what kind of person the target is.
Q9) Explain how the attribution made by an ‘actor’ would be different from that of an ‘observer’.
Answer) Actor observer phenomena refers to the tendency to attribute our own behaviour mainly to situational causes but the behaviour of others mainly to internal (dispositional) cause. A distinction is found between the attribution that a person makes for actorrole and observer-role. Person makes attribution for his/her own positive and negative experiences, it is actor role and the attribution made for another person’s positive and negative experience is observer-role.
For example, if we get good marks, we will attribute it to our own ability and hard work (actor-role, internal attribution for a positive experience). If we get bad marks, we will say we were unlucky or test was difficult (actor-role, external attribution for negative experience).
On the other hand, if our classmate gets good marks, we will attribute his/her success to good luck or easy test (observer-role, external attribution for positive experience). If same classmate gets bad marks, we are likely to feel that his/her failure was because of low ability or due to lack of effort (observer-role, internal attribution for a negative experience).
The reason for the difference between the actor and observer roles is that people want to have a nice image of themselves, as compared to others.
Q10) How does social facilitation take place?
Answer) One of the first observations made about social behaviour was that performance on specific tasks is influenced by the mere presence of others. This is called social facilitation.
For example, Reena is about to participate in a music contest. She is very talented, yet she is feeling very nervous about the event. If you were in Reena’s place, would you perform better in front of an audience, or when you are alone? As early as 1897, Norman Triplett observed that individuals show better performance in the presence of others, than when they are performing the same task alone. For instance, cyclists racing with each other perform better than when they cycle alone. With time more details came to be known about this phenomenon.
- Better performance in the presence of others is because the person experiences arousal, which makes the person react in a more intense manner. This explanation was given by Zajonc (this name is pronounced to rhyme with ‘science’).
- The arousal is because the person feels she or he is being evaluated. Cottrell called this idea evaluation apprehension. The person will be praised if the performance is good (reward), or criticised if it is bad (punishment). We wish to get praise and avoid criticism, therefore we try to perform well and avoid mistakes.
- The nature of the task to be performed also affects the performance in the presence of others. For example, in the case of a simple or familiar task, the person is more sure of performing well, and the eagerness to get praise or reward is stronger. So the individual performs better in the presence of others than s/he does when alone. But in the case of a complex or new task, the person may be afraid of making mistakes. The fear of criticism or punishment is stronger. So the individual performs worse in the presence of others than she/he does when alone.
- If the others present are also performing the same task, this is called a situation of co-action. In this situation, there is social comparison and competition. Once again, when the task is simple or a familiar one, performance is better under co-action than when the person is alone.
Q11) Explain the concept of pro-social behaviour.
Answer) Pro-social behaviour is any positively valued behaviour that does good to another person, is done without any pressure from outside and without any expectation of a reward or a return.
Humans are social beings. Most of their activities are organized with the help of others. We cannot live and grow unless there is support from others. We often engage in helping others. Such efforts are considered as pro-social behaviour. For any behaviour to be pro-social, it should fulfil the following conditions:
- There has to be an intention to benefit the other person. Any pro-social act, which one accomplishes by compulsion or as a requirement of a job, does not merit to be called ‘pro-social’.
- The behaviour should be considered socially desirable by the other members of the society. Obviously, helping a thief in stealing is not a pro-social behaviour.
- If an act intended to benefit others is also expect to benefit the helper, it cannot be termed as ‘pro-social’.
The other term which are used interchangeably with pro-social behaviour is altruism. The literal meaning of altruism is “doing things or acting for the interest of others without any ulterior motive.” It is a behaviour that reflects an unselfish concern for the welfare of others. All charitable, humanitarian, philanthropic activities, which people do without any self-interest, come under the category of altruism behaviour.
Determinants of Pro-social Behaviour: The pro-social behaviour depends on many factors.
- Pro-social behaviour is based on an inborn, natural tendency in human beings to help other members of their own species.
- Pro-social behaviour is influenced by learning through modelling and positive reinforcement in the family.
- Cultural factors influence pro-social behaviour. Some cultures actively encourage people to help the needy and distressed. Individuals in cultures suffering from a shortage of resources may not show a high level of pro-social behaviour.
- Pro-social behaviour is expressed when the situation activates certain ‘social norms’ that require helping others. Three norms have been mentioned in context of pro-social behaviour:
- The norms of social responsibility. We should help anyone who needs help without considering any other factors.
- The norms of reciprocity. We should help persons who have helped us in the past.
- The norms of equity. We should help others whenever we find that it is fair to do so.
- Pro-social behaviour is affected by the expected reactions of the person who is being helped. For example, people might be unwilling to give money to a needy person because they feel that the person might feel insulted, or may become dependent.
- Pro-social behaviour is more likely to be shown individuals who have a high level of empathy, that is, the capacity to feel the distress of the person who is to be helped, e.g., Mother Teresa.
Factors inhibiting Pro-social Behaviour:
- Diffusion of Responsibility: Pro-social behaviour may be reduced when the number of bystanders is more than one. On the other hand, if there is only one bystander, this person is more likely to take responsibility and actually help the victim. It happens because each person thinks that others will take the responsibility.
- Feeling State of the Individual: Person in a bad mood, being busy with one’s own problems or feeling that the person to be helped is responsible for his/her problem, may not help others.
Q12) Your friend eats too much junk food, how would you be able to bring about a change in his/her attitude towards food?
Answer) I would like to use the concept of cognitive dissonance proposed by Leon Festinger to bring about a change in her/his attitude towards food. The basic idea is that the cognitive components of an attitude must be ‘consonant’ (opposite of ‘dissonant’), i.e., they should be logically in line with each other. If an individual finds that two cognitions in an attitude are dissonant, then one of them will be changed in the direction of consonance.
Here the cognitions are:
- Junk food is bad for health.
- He/she eats too much junk food.
Holding these two ideas or cognitions will make him feel that something is ‘out of tune’, or dissonant, in the attitude towards junk food. Therefore, one of these ideas will have to be changed, so that consonance can be attained. In order to remove or reduce the dissonance, my friend must stop eating too much junk foods (change Cognition II). This would be the healthy, logical and sensible way of reducing dissonance.
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