Theories in Applied
Social Psychology


Useful Personality and Social Psychological
Psychometric Measurement of Abilities
Interests, Values, and Motives
Social Psychological Principles
Approach-Avoidance Conflict Foot in-the-Door and Door-in-the-Face Public
Theories of Social Influence
Learning Theories
Theories of Persuasion
Cognitive Dissonance Theory
Reactance Theory
Theories of Normative Influence
Theories of Social Cognition
Adaptation-Level Theory
Social Comparison Theory
Social Judgment Theory
Attribution Theory
Theories of Social Relations
Equity Theory
Role Theory
Group Process Theories
Theories of Organizational Behavior
Theories About Communities
Suggested Readings

There is nothing so practical as a good theory. —
Kurt Lewin (1944/1951, p. 169)

In this chapter we examine a variety of social psychological theories and principles. Recall that in the previous chapter, we defined applied social psychology as applications of social psychological methods, theories, principles, or research findings to understanding or solution of social problems. In that chapter we did not distinguish between the terms principle and theory, but here we need to do so. A psychological principle is a statement of an underlying cause for a psychological event. Psychological principles describe the basic processes by which humans think, feel, and act. In contrast, a theory is an integrated set of principles that describes, explains, and predicts observed events. Thus, principles are smaller in scope than theories. A principle describes some process that leads to certain types of behavior, whereas a theory integrates this process with other processes. This chapter presents a broad but by no means exhaustive overview of many of the key principles and theories of social psychology. In later chapters we will examine the methods and specific applications of social psychology, and also present more details about certain theories that have been used in particular areas of application.

This chapter frequently cites the ideas and work of Kurt Lewin and Jacobo Varela. Both of these men were pioneers in using the principles of social psychology to solve practical problems in their work as consultants to businesses, groups, and public agencies. Both Lewin and Varela stressed that valid theories can be useful in solving a wide range of social problems. And that is the purpose of this chapter—to suggest principles and theories that have been useful or should be useful in the work of applied social psychologists. We will not try to develop the concepts in detail, for that would take a whole volume (e.g., Higgins & Kruglanski, 1996; Shaw & Costanzo, 1982). Rather, we will start by describing a selective list of useful psychological constructs, and then we will present brief highlights of many theoretical approaches and indicate some ways in which they can be used in applied scientific work.

Psychometric Measurement of Abilities
One of the oldest and best established areas of psychology is psychometric measurement of various individual characteristics. The mental testing movement began in the early 1900s with various scales to measure intelligence. In the following decades it greatly improved these instruments and expanded in many other directions as well, developing scales of specialized aptitudes, vocational interest inventories, school achievement tests, personality inventories, and so on.
Many of these instruments can be used to good effect by applied social psychologists. Varela (1971) described his use of Thurstone's test of "primary mental abilities" (based on a factor analysis of different aspects of intelligence) to classify people's abilities and try to fit them to a job where their skills would be needed:
Salesmen, for example, had to be high in verbal comprehension and word fluency; whereas a cost accountant could be low in these abilities but should be high in numerical ability and speed of perception. Each can do an excellent job if he has the required abilities for the tasks he must perform. If, however, these two individuals were to exchange jobs, the results for both would probably be very poor. (p. 21)
In addition to intellectual abilities, many other kinds of competence are important in jobs and in personal life. A prime example is social skills in interacting with others. Slaby and Guerra (1988) showed that adolescents imprisoned for antisocial violence were much less skilled than typical high school students in solving social problems, and were higher in beliefs supporting aggression. Importantly, when given a cognitive intervention aimed at teaching social skills and decreasing aggressive beliefs, the violent youths displayed increased social problem-solving skills and less aggressive beliefs and behaviors (Guerra & Slaby, 1990).

Box 2-1
Jacobo Varela is a native of Uruguay who graduated from Princeton University with a degree in civil engineering. Returning to Uruguay, he worked on engineering problems in various industrial organizations. There he observed that most people seemed dissatisfied with their work and that many industrial problems stemmed from human interactions rather than from faulty engineering. Consequently he began to use psychological tests to match workers' characteristics and job assignments.
Reading further in social science, Varela eventually left engineering completely to work on solving problems of human relations. He found concepts such as positive reinforcement, approach-avoidance conflict, cognitive dissonance, and reactance motivation particularly relevant to human conflict situations. After years of using such concepts in his consulting work, he described his approach in a book titled Psychological Solutions to Social Problems: An Introduction to Social
Technology. During periods spent in the U.S. and Canada, he taught his approach to social technology at several universities, including Columbia and the University of-British Columbia. He has applied a systems approach, using principles derived from many different areas of social science research, to consulting in fields ranging from alcohol abuse, drug addiction, crime and recidivism, to family strife, strikes, and sports.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

There is plentiful evidence of the value of reliable and valid tests and measurement techniques in personnel selection and assessment. For example, one study showed that wiaespread adoption of a valid test for selecting computer programmers could result in increased productivity worth hundreds of millions of dollars to employers (Schmidt et al., 1979). We will examine the issue of personnel selection in more detail in Chapter 10.

Interests, Values, and Motives
Vocational Interests. An aspect of individual characteristics which has been thoroughly studied by psychologists is vocational interests. For instance, E. K.Strong, Jr. spent a lifetime doing research on the relation of interests to vocational choice and achievement, and the Strong Vocational Interest Blank has been widely used in vocational counseling and personnel selection (Hansen, 1990, 1994). Many studies have shown that people who are high in a given type of interest are more likely than others to go into a related occupational field, and also more likely to be successful once they have entered it (Landy, Shankster, & Kohler, 1994).
Values have been conceptualized as important lifegoals or desired societal conditions, which serve as guiding principles for one's life (Rokeach, 1973). Most values are broad abstract concepts such as freedom, equality, and happiness, but some are more concrete, such as wealth. In either case, they are central concepts in a person's system of beliefs and attitudes, and they are expected to influence a person's behavior (Olson & Zanna, 1993). Building on Rokeach's theory of values, Schwartz (1994) has conducted several large-scale cross-cultural studies and identified two bipolar value dimensions that he considers to be universal across all people. The first dimension is self-enhancement (values such as success, wealth, and social power) versus self-transcendence (values such as inner harmony, equality, and world peace). The second crosscutting dimension is openness (e.g., creativity, daringness, variety in life) versus conservation (e.g., conformity, traditionalism, security).
Human motives are usually conceptualized as an aspect of personality, and psychologists have devoted much attention to personality measurement. Two main measurement techniques have been used: self-report inventories and projective tests. Self-report personality inventories are easy to give and are objectively scored, but they suffer from the possibility that respondents can fake a particular personality pattern if they want to and are knowledgeable enough. Projective personality tests, such as the T.A.T. or Rorschach, are much less easily faked but harder to administer and score, and they generally have not demonstrated adequate validity or reliability in many of their applications (e.g., Wood, Nezworski, & Stejskal, 1996). Nevertheless, both types of personality measures have been widely used, and with proper precautions they may prove helpful in applied social psychology. Some of the most promising measures of personal motives are listed below, together with brief descriptions of their use in applied work.
Need for Approval. This motive was suggested as an important dimension by Crowne and Marlowe (1964), who developed and validated an inventory to measure the concept. Subsequent research has found that people high in the need for approval tend to be more compliant, easier to persuade, and more conforming in social situations than people low in need for approval (e.g., Grams & Rogers, 1990). Varela (1971) used this knowledge in designing persuasion situations that depend in part on the high-need-for-approval person's susceptibility to praise and to social pressure from others. Of course, such an approach is manipulative, and it raises ethical questions such as we discussed in Chapter 1 about the goals of the persuasion and the motives of the social scientists who use it.
Authoritarianism. Authoritarianism is another personality characteristic that has been widely studied ever since the classic research by Adorno et al. (1950).
A recent review of the topic by Stone (1993) noted the wide variety of approaches to authoritarianism taken by researchers since 1950, including varying emphases on psychodynamics, cognitive processes, and group processes. In recent years, Altemeyer's (1988) scale of right-wing authoritarianism has become one of the most widely used measures. A traditional description of an authoritarian person is:
a personality type characterized by very severe and punitive attitudes toward certain minorities, coupled with subservience to a higher authority. The authoritarian also tends to be intolerant of ambiguity . . . sees everything in terms of black and white, good or bad . . . sees relations among people more in terms of status and hierarchy than in terms of friendship . . . tends to be intolerant of other people's ideas . . . is often pathologically concerned with sexual matters but frequently represses such interests. (Varela, 1971, p. 289)
Varela has shown how a consultant can use an assessment of the degree of authoritarianism of target individuals in designing persuasion situations—for example, a rational presentation for a non authoritarian target person, and a high-status authority presentation for an authoritarian target. Again, the question of the social goal for which the persuasion is designed becomes an important ethical issue. However, in forming ethical judgments, one should realize that persuasive communicators will use techniques of shaping the message to fit the recipient with or without the benefit of social research findings.
Achievement Motivation. This concept was first studied 40 years ago with a projective measure and research done on college students, but since then it has expanded in many directions (Atkinson, 1977; McClelland & Franz, 1992; McClelland, Koestner, & Weinberger, 1989). Though early studies of the achievement motive investigated its effects on academic performance, McClelland later became convinced that it was most closely related to success in business enterprises. At the individual level, achievement motivation has been found to be a strong predictor of job success (McClelland, 1993). At the societal level, cross-cultural research has indicated that the typical levels of achievement motivation in a nation are predictive of its subsequent amount of economic development in the following generation (McClelland, 1961, 1971). These research findings have great importance for social scientists and policy makers, but even more intriguing to applied scientists have been attempts to use research-based understanding of human motivation to teach business and community leaders how to increase their levels of achievement motivation (McClelland & Winter, 1969). The lengthy history of this research program shows how theoretical, laboratory-based research can lead to many unexpected areas of application. McClelland (1978) summarized a wide variety of findings that show how advances in motivational technology have contributed to raising the standards of living for the poor, facilitated compensatory education, provided a means of assessing the contribution of higher education, helped control serious diseases, and made management of complex enterprises more effective. (p. 201)
Consistency Motives. Another useful motivational const_i -uct is the need for consistency. Social psychologists have long been interested in personal consistency,and many of their ideas about it are reflected in attribution theory, equity theory, and cognitive dissonance theory, which are discussed below. Recently, several instruments have been developed to measure individual differences in the degree to which people consider consistency between thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors to be important. Measures of personal need for structure (Neuberg & Newsom, 1993; Thompson, Naccarato, & Parker, 1989), preference for consistency (Cialdini, Trost, & Newsom, 1995), and certainty motivation (Sorrentino et al., 1988) are examples of this motive.
Other potentially useful personality variables include introversion-extroversion (Eysenck, 1990), internal versus external locus of control (Strickland, 1977), explanatory styles of optimism or pessimism (Peterson, Buchanan, & Seligman, 1995; Seligman 1991), and psychological differentiation or field independence (Karp, 1977).

There are many potentially useful social psychological principles which describe important social processes. For a thorough analysis of many social psychological principles, see Higgins and Kruglanski (1996). For our purposes here, we will focus on just a few of them.

Approach-Avoidance Conflict
First discussed by Lewin (1935), approach-avoidance conflict is defined as a situation where there are both positive and negative aspects about some goal object that a person is thinking of pursuing. For instance, if the goal were to get a date with a new acquaintance, positive aspects might include "I like her style," and "We seem to have mutual interests," while negative aspects might be "Maybe she's already going steady," and "Maybe she'll turn me down and I'll feel foolish and rejected." None of these considerations seem very major when the goal is far away (for instance, when you're out of town and just idly thinking about future plans). However, as you approach the goal (perhaps getting ready to phone and ask for a date), both the approach motivation and the avoidance motivation become stronger. If one is much stronger than the other, it will prevail, and there will be relatively little feeling of conflict and tension. If the two motives are roughly equal in strength, however, a strange thing often happens (see Figure 2-1).
Many research studies, with animals as well as people, have shown that as the goal is approached, the strength of the avoidance tendency increases faster than the strength of the approach tendency. Thus you may jump up from your chair with firm resolve, but as you pick up the phone book or begin to dial, second thoughts may suddenly stop you from carrying through ("Maybe it's too late to call tonight," or "She's probably busy with that term paper this week"). That's the classic case of approach-avoidance conflict leading to indecision, and it has probably happened to everyone at some time. When the approach gradient and the avoidance gradient are about equally strong, as shown in Figure 2-1, the normal outcome is that the person gets "hung up" near point A and oscillates there, neither completely reaching the goal nor completely retreating. Of course this state of conflict and tension doesn't last forever. Usually something happens to push one of the gradients up or down so that a decision is reached. (Perhaps you gather your courage and make the call, or you decide that it's too late to ask about a date for this weekend's dance, so you'll have to go out with the guys instead.)
One way in which this concept of conflict can be applied was suggested by Dollard and Miller (1950).
They pointed out that if the conflict is resolved by raising the approach gradient (e.g., by going without dates so many weekends that you get desperate), this solution nevertheless leads to increased tension and anxiety (indicated by the longer distance of point B from the baseline, the point of minimal tension). On the other hand, anxiety can be reduced by the kind of resolution that lowers the avoidance gradient to point C in the figure (for instance, by analyzing your fears and asking yourself why it would be so bad to have your request for a date turned down). This kind of intervention is often used in psychotherapy to reduce anxiety and encourage adaptive behavior, and similar methods come stronger. If either one is much stronger than the other, it will prevail, and there will be relatively little feeling of conflict and tension. If the two motives are roughly equal in strength, however, a strange thing often happens (see Figure 2-1).
Many research studies, with animals as well as people, have shown that as the goal is approached, the strength of the avoidance tendency increases faster than the strength of the approach tendency. Thus you may jump up from your chair with firm resolve, but as you pick up the phone book or begin to dial, second thoughts may suddenly stop you from carrying through ("Maybe it's too late to call tonight," or "She's probably busy with that term paper this week"). That's the classic case of approach-avoidance conflict leading to indecision, and it has probably happened to everyone at some time. When the approach gradient and the avoidance gradient are about equally strong, as shown in Figure 2-1, the normal outcome is that the person gets "hung up" near point A and oscillates there, neither completely reaching the goal nor completely retreating. Of course this state of conflict and tension doesn't last forever. Usually something happens to push one of the gradients up or down so that a decision is reached. (Perhaps you gather your courage and make the call, or you decide that it's too late to ask about a date for this weekend's dance, so you'll have to go out with the guys instead.)
One way in which this concept of conflict can be applied was suggested by Dollard and Miller (1950).
They pointed out that if the conflict is resolved by raising the approach gradient (e.g., by going without dates so many weekends that you get desperate), this solution nevertheless leads to increased tension and anxiety (indicated by the longer distance of point B from the baseline, the point of minimal tension). On the other hand, anxiety can be reduced by the kind of resolution that lowers the avoidance gradient to point C in the figure (for instance, by analyzing your fears and asking yourself why it would be so bad to have your request for a date turned down). This kind of intervention is often used in psychotherapy to reduce anxiety and encourage adaptive behavior, and similar methods have proved useful for social psychologists in handling conflict in organizational settings.
Approach-avoidance conflicts in work situations may lead to serious symptoms, including absenteeism, illness, drinking, and psychological defense mechanisms like rationalization or displacement of anger onto other individuals (cf. Chapter 10). Since such reactions can be disruptive to organizational functioning, it is essential for consultants to be able to recognize and deal with conflict situations (Varela, 1971). Of course, organizational problems such as absenteeism, drinking, and poor morale often stem largely from conditions within the organization, not just from individual conflicts and maladjustment; so it is also important for consultants to be able to diagnose and prescribe ways of correcting institutional disorders rather than mistakenly blaming the victims of those organizational conditions for their negative personal consequences.

Foot-in-the-Door and Door-in-the-Face
The foot-in-the-door technique is a procedure of making small initial requests to which almost everyone will agree (the "foot-in-the-door"), followed within a short period (one day to two weeks) by a large related request. Generally, many more people will comply with the large request if they have previously agreed to the small request than if they had not been asked to do so. In the classic study by Freedman and Fraser (1966), 76% of homeowners agreed to put a large, poorly lettered sign stating DRIVE CAREFULLY in their front yard, after having agreed two weeks earlier to display a small three-inch-square sign on their window. However, among homeowners who had not been asked to display the three-inch sign, only 17% agreed to put the large, unsightly sign in their front yard.
This technique has been used successfully to gain support for many social causes, such as charitable fund drives, campaigns for blood donations, or to recruit volunteers to help in political campaigns (Cialdini, 1993; Lipsitz et al., 1989). The principle has also been applied to marketing and sales, where a small initial commitment like returning a card for more information, listening to an investment presentation, or accepting a free gift can often lead to a large commitment later on (and big profits for the salesperson—Cialdini, 1993). The usual theoretical explanation of the phenomenon is a self-perception one: Persons who grant the small request come to view themselves as more helpful individuals and more involved in that particular cause (DeJong, 1979; Zuckerman, Lazzaro, & Waldgeir, 1979).
Nearly opposite to the foot-in-the-door approach is the less well-named door-in-the-face technique, which might better be called "rejection-then-retreat" (Cialdini et al., 1975; Cialdini, 1993). In it, a solicitor for a good cause makes a large initial request, which most people are expected to refuse, and the refusal is followed immediately by a moderate-sized request.
The usual result is that many more people comply with the moderate request than if they have not been first "softened up" by being exposed to the large request (e.g., Weyant, 1994). This technique is similar to procedures that frequently occur in bargaining and negotiation, and it depends on the theoretical principle of reciprocal concessions. Though it is often very successful, there are some limiting conditions which can negate it, such as initial requests that are perceived as illegitimate or completely unreasonable. When the technique does not work, it may even boomerang and produce less compliance (Schwarzwald, Raz, & Zvibel, 1979).

Public Commitment
Another very useful technique is public commitment, a procedure 'in which people are encouraged to make a public statement that they intend to take a particular action. Study of this concept again goes back to some of Lewin's early research (Bennett, 1955; Lewin, 1947), and commitment has also been spotlighted as a key variable in dissonance theory (Brehm & Cohen, 1962).
It has frequently been used in social psychology experiments to increase the amount of behavior change in persuasion situations. For example, Pallak and Cummings (1976) found that a public commitment condition where people expected to have their names listed in the city newspaper as participants in an energy conservation program produced greater energy savings than other experimental approaches (see Chapter 11).

People's expectations are important factors in determining their behavior. Our expectations (or expectancies) are personal predictions about how other people will behave and what will happen in specific social situations, and we usually have some expectations about any person or social situation. They are a subset of a broader category of beliefs called schemas, which organize our knowledge about people or events and thus help us to understand our social world and to interact with other people more smoothly. Our expectations come from a variety of sources: our own past experiences, second-hand information from others, and from stereotypes. Once we establish an expectation for another person's behavior, research shows that we often conduct a biased search for further information that will confirm our beliefs (e.g., Snyder & Swami, 1978).
Examples of expectancies that have had a great deal of research study are learned helplessness versus learned optimism about life (cf. Seligman, 1991) and self-efficacy—the belief that one has some control over life events and can achieve one's goals (cf. Bandura, 1997).
Sometimes our expectations can become self-fulfilling prophecies—situations in which our expectations about another person not only shape our own behavior, but also lead that person to behave in ways that confirm our initial beliefs (Jussim, 1986; Snyder, 1993). That is, we are likely to interact with others in ways that subtly produce the behaviors we expect to find. For example, imagine that you have the false belief that women who belong to sororities are flighty and unintelligent. You then meet one of the members of a sorority on your campus. During your conversation, you may ask simple, routine questions, keep the conversation focused on concrete topics, and converse humorously. Through these subtle means, you are likely to elicit responses from your new acquaintance that confirm your initial beliefs. As a result, you leave the conversation thinking "just like a sorority woman—flighty and unintelligent."
Expectations are central to many topics in this volume. For instance, in Chapter 4, experimenters' expectancies are shown to influence the behavior of research participants. Similarly, in Chapter 8 we will examine the effects of self-fulfilling prophecies on student achievement, an area where research indicates that students' academic performance is partially determined by teacher expectations.

We turn next to several types of social psychological theories that can be useful in applied work. Social psychology can be defined as the scientific study of relationships between people—that is, the ways in which people think, feel, act toward, and influence others. As we pointed out in the previous chapter, the field of social psychology has many theories with different degrees of scope and different levels of analysis, ranging from the individual level, through small groups, to organizations, and to whole communities. As applied social psychologists, we are interested in using these theories to help understand and solve social problems.
Theories are useful in applied work because they can help us understand why people act as they do. If we can understand the behavior that leads to or constitutes a social problem, we have a basis on which to develop interventions to change the behavior. For example, if we can understand the factors that lead children to begin using drugs, or the reasons that adults smoke cigarettes, or why ethnic discrimination occurs, then we can develop interventions to promote changes.
Our overview of social psychological theories will examine three broad types: theories of social influence, social cognition, and social relations. Social influence is the area of social psychology devoted to understanding the ways in which people affect or change the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of others. Useful theories of social influence include theories of learning, persuasion, cognitive dissonance, reactance, and normative influence.

Learning Theories
Historically, much of the scientific study of human behavior has centered on processes of learning. Though there are many varieties of learning theory, we do not need to be concerned here with their subtle differences (for a comparative treatment, see Domjan, 1993).
The principle of reinforcement is fundamental too much of modern learning theory. Simply stated, it says that behavior that is followed by positive reinforcement (reward) will tend to be strengthened and to occur more often in the future. Even before 1920 the famous behaviorist, John B. Watson, was already applying reinforcement principles to his work for a New York advertising agency. Ever since then, reinforcement theory has been one of the dominant orientations in U.S. psychology (though much less so in Europe), and learning principles have been incorporated in every conceivable field of applied psychology. They have obvious relevance in education, where some of their fruits can be seen in computerized learning programs. In psychotherapy, Dollard and Miller (1950) built a system around reinforcement principles, and suggested learning-theory underpinnings for many Freudian and Rogerian therapeutic practices. Much of consumer psychology is aimed at getting people to learn new information, attitudes, and behaviors toward advertised products.
In social psychology also, there have been many outgrowths of learning theory. Several different theorists have built on reinforcement principles to propose exchange theories, dealing with the exchange of rewards and costs in human social interaction (e.g., Kelley & Thibaut, 1978). Though Bandura's (1977) theory of social learning put less emphasis on reinforcement and more on vicarious observational learning (by imitation without the necessity of reinforcement), he still maintained an important place in the theory for reinforcement as a facilitator of performance.
On a practical level in social interaction situations, many authors have emphasized the importance of clearly and immediately reinforcing instances of the kind of behavior that you want a person to exhibit more often in the future. Conversely, punishment of instances of undesirable behavior, though it may temporarily reduce their frequency, usually produces no long-term improvement unless the punishment or threat of it is continued indefinitely; and punishment has the serious undesirable side effects of creating approach-avoidance conflict, dissonance, and reactance, which we will discuss presently. Bandura (1977) gave the example of helping a nursery school boy overcome his extreme withdrawal. Close analysis showed that the teachers were giving him much attention and consolation when he was off in a corner by himself, but were paying him no special attention when he happened to join other children.
When this pattern was realized, the teachers changed their behavior and took no notice when the boy remained alone, but whenever he interacted with other children a teacher reinforced his behavior by joining the group and giving them attention and support. The result was a speedy change in his behavior from 80% seclusiveness to 60% interactive play.
Much of human behavior is maintained by anticipated rewards rather than by immediate reinforcement. This is the case, for example, with the athlete practicing basic skills or the employee working toward a better job despite lack of appreciation from the boss.
In addition to the important role of reinforcement, new behavior patterns can also be learned through observation and imitation of others (termed social modeling), as in the process of learning to drive a car. In the course of such observation, one may see others receive rewards for certain behaviors and consequently may later tend to behave in similar ways oneself (the process of vicarious reinforcement). Another important process is learning norms of socially valued behavior that serve as standards for one's own self-reinforcement. In other words, people respond to their own actions in self-rewarding or self-punishing viTays (Bandura, 1977).
In giving reinforcement to others, a common principle is the use of successive approximations. To "shape up" a desired response, one does not wait for it to occur in a perfect form. Rather, one rewards responses that clearly move in the desired direction. Subsequent rewards are given for closer approximations of the ultimately desired response, and eventually rewards are given only for the complete response (e.g., Taub et al., 1994). This approach is extensively used to teach children new athletic or musical skills. Another useful principle is partial reinforcement, or rewarding the desired response only a small percentage of the time. After the child is performing the basic skill fairly well, a good coach would gradually decrease or "fade out" the frequency of rewards for that behavior, but continue to reinforce it occasionally, on a "variable schedule." Much research has shown that such partial reinforcement will make a desired response much stronger and more resistant to extinction than will continuous reinforcement every time the response occurs (Domjan, 1993; Skinner, 1957).
A final aspect of current learning theory is that it allows a major place for cognitive aspects of motivation, unlike the learning theory of the 1950s and 1960s. Social learning theorists like Bandura (1977, 1995) recognize that people think and plan and hope, and that these cognitive processes interact with external factors such as reward and punishment to determine their actions. One example is that people's intrinsic motivation for an activity (that is, their internal feeling that they enjoy doing it) can sometimes be reduced rather than increased by applying external reinforcements that are inappropriate, unnecessary, or overly large. For instance, paying children to play baseball when they already enjoy it may decrease their enjoyment and desire to play, particularly if the rewards are later discontinued (Deci & Ryan, 1980).

Theories of Persuasion
Learning theory has been a major ingredient in theories of persuasion, but they have also drawn principles from cognitive theory, psychoanalytic theory, and research on the communication process. The communication process is often summarized as "who says what to whom, how, and with what effect?" Put more formally, the key variables in communication are: the source of communication, the message, the medium by which the message is transmitted, the audience, and the effects. Essentially, this is a process of social interaction, and all the variables in the model have social psychological aspects.
Early research on persuasion was conducted during and after World War H by an influential group of investigators at Yale University headed by Carl Hovland.
Their analytical approach came to be known as the Yale model of persuasive communication (Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953). It posited that the process of persuasion has six major sequential steps: exposure to a persuasive message, attention to it, and comprehension of it, acceptance, retention, and finally, action relevant to the message. A more detailed description of this theory and some of its applications is presented in Chapter 14.
Another influential theory of persuasion is the theory of reasoned action, developed by Fishbein and
Ajzen (1975). As its name implies, it holds that people normally take actions that are reasonable in terms of their information and beliefs, though it does not imply that their reasoning is necessarily strictly logical. The theory proposes that the only important determinant of volitional behavior is one's intentions to take a particular action at a particular time. Two main components predict intentions: one's attitude toward the behavior, and one's subjective norm about what relevant other people think one should do. In turn, each of these components is a compound of one's salient beliefs and one's evaluations (e.g., about various specific consequences of acting in a particular way).
A later revision of the theory of reasoned action is Ajzen's (1991) theory of planned behavior. It adds one other element—perceived behavioral control—as a third factor that helps to determine whether individuals will act in accordance with their attitudes and subjective normative pressures. That is, if you don't think your behavior has a chance of accomplishing a desired goal, you are not likely even to try to reach it. More details about both the theory of reasoned action and the theory of planned behavior are also presented in Chapter 14.
One limitation of the above theories of persuasion is that the recipient is viewed as a passive target for the appeal. To counteract this assumption, Petty and Cacioppo (1986) developed a theory of persuasion that views the audience as an active processor of the persuasive appeal. Their theory is termed a cognitive response theory because it holds that the major determinant of persuasion is self-persuasion by the thoughts that one generates in response to a persuasive message.
Their elaboration likelihood model also proposes that persuasion can occur through two distinct processes—a central route or a peripheral route.
Central route processing involves thoughtful consideration of information—for example, the person receiving the persuasive appeal thinks about the information, elaborates on the message, and assimilates it with his or her current knowledge and beliefs. If the message fits with the person's beliefs and is accepted, then attitudes are changed toward consistency with the message. In contrast, peripheral route persuasion occurs without elaboration or analytical thinking. Instead, the listener relies on peripheral cues or heuristics that have little or nothing to do with the content of the message. For instance, the person may be influenced by the attractiveness or likability of the source, the way in which the message is stated, their own mood at the time of hearing the message, or other cues irrelevant to the message itself. More details concerning this theory are presented in Chapter 14.
One useful source for material on persuasion, attitude change, and social influence strategies is a readable book entitled Influence: Science and Practice (Cialdini, 1993). The book describes the "weapons of influence" that can be used by people who want to be effective agents of persuasion. It summarizes research on six key techniques commonly used to produce compliance: reciprocation, commitment, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. In addition, the book provides suggestions for resisting these influence strategies.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory
Most students of social psychology are familiar with cognitive dissonance theory, which was developed by Leon Festinger (1957) and became the most studied topic in social psychology during the 1960s. In essence, it states that cognitive dissonance is an unpleasant state of tension generated when a person has two or more cognitions that are inconsistent or do not "fit together." The theory holds that people will try to reduce dissonance by changing one or more of the inconsistent cognitions, by looking for additional evidence to bolster one side or the other, or by derogating the source of one of the cognitions. The greater the dissonance, the stronger the attempts to reduce it. From this brief description you can see that dissonance is oneexample of the popular group of theories dealing with the central concept of cognitive consistency.
One great virtue of cognitive dissonance theory is that it is stated in a broad and general way, which makes it applicable to many different situations in social life—particularly ones involving attitude change
or behavior change. For instance, it has been applied to understanding: (a) people's feelings of regret and changes of attitude after making a decision, (b) their patterns of exposing themselves to and searching for new information, (c) reasons that people seek social support for their beliefs, (d) attitude change in situations where a person has said or done something contrary to their customary beliefs or practice, and to numerous other topics.
Among the many applications of dissonance theory, Varela (1971) provided some stimulating illustrations.
For instance, if a persuasion situation is designed to move target individuals toward a new viewpoint or action in successive steps, it is important for these individuals to resolve their dissonance after every step of the process. This can be done in various ways: by stating reasons in support of the new attitude position, by public commitment through stating the new viewpoint to another person, by seeking out other people who share the new view, or by some other action in support of the new attitude. In order to avoid post decision regret, resulting in loss or reduction of the new viewpoint, Varela recommended over persuasion (getting the target person to make multiple commitments on several different aspects of the new attitude), or introducing weak arguments on the other side in order to inoculate the target against later counter persuasion, or having another meeting a day or two later to secure the person's recommitment to the new attitude.
As an unintended and unwanted organizational phenomenon, dissonance is often generated in employees by such mistakes as lack of recognition for work they have done, intentional or accidental exclusion of someone from a committee meeting, derogation of employees' importance, salary inequities, failure to provide expected benefits or perquisites, or layoffs and other unstable personnel practices. The usual reaction to such dissonance is to seek social support for one's diminished attitude toward the organization, and this can quickly develop into a wave of worker unrest, obstructionism, unreasonable demands, or employee resignations. In contrast, Varela (1971) has designed ways of using dissonance concepts to resolve conflicts within organizations by persuading major participants to be less rigid in their viewpoints and more cooperative in seeking solutions to organizational problems. When this is accomplished, individuals may accept a new proposal that differs from their earlier rigid position, and then dissonance reduction will cause them to seek social support from people in any faction and thus allow movement toward genuine agreement.
Dissonance theory has been applied to many other areas, including encouraging weight loss, reducing phobias, increasing assertiveness, and helping problem drinkers (Cialdini, Petty, & Cacioppo, 1981).

Box 2-2
Robert Cialdini did his undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin and earned his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina in 1970. After a year of postdoctoral study, he took a faculty position at Arizona State University, where he rose through the ranks and now holds the title of Regents' Professor. For variety, he has held visiting scholar positions at five other major universities from Ohio State to Stanford.
The author of nearly 100 articles, Cialdini is best known for his book Influence: Science and Practice, which has appeared in several editions and seven languages. Built on his own field research studying the influence techniques of cornpliance professionals such as car salesmen, it describes basic psychological principles which people use to gain compliance from others. Cialdini has also used his knowledge in community programs to help consumers resist unwanted compliance pressures, and to help organizations achieve worthwhile goals such as increasing blood donations and reducing public littering. In recognition of his research contributions, he has been named to many journal editorial boards and elected president of the APA Division of Personality and Social Psychology.

Box 2-3
Called "social psychology's Picasso" in an obituary in the American Psychologist, Leon Festinger was the preeminent experimentalist and theorist of his era in social psychology.
One of the many famous psychologists who studied under Kurt Lewin, he was born in New York in 1919, graduated from City College, and completed his Ph.D. with Lewin at the University of Iowa in 1942. After teaching briefly at the University of Rochester, he joined Lewin's new Research Center for Group Dynamics at M.I.T. Following Lewin's untimely death, he moved with the Center to the University of Michigan, until he was appointed a full professor by the University of Minnesota at the age of 32. In 1955 he moved to Stanford University, and in 1968 he returned to New York to teach at the New School for Social Research.
Festinger's 1957 book, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, became the most controversial topic of that era and stimulated a tremendous flow of creative research on attitude change. He also published widely cited theories of social communication and social comparison processes, and he was famous as a role model for many productive students. In addition to major theories and elegant laboratory research, his contributions include field and observational research studies and statistical writings. He received the APA's Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. In the early 1960s, he left social psychology to concentrate his research on the field of perception, but before his death in 1989 he wrote his retrospective thoughts about social psychology.
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Reactance Theory
In many ways a relative of dissonance theory, reactance theory was developed by Jack Brehm (1966). Its basic principle is that when people receive messagesthat seem to limit their freedom of action, reactance will motivate them to oppose the idea of the message.
For example, if you are told that you should be more prompt in coming to work, you will tend to defensively think of many arguments why that is difficult or unreasonable, and you are likely to continue or increase your tardiness. Even if you are pressured to do something you normally like to do (for example, "You should finish up this ice cream for dessert"), you will often tend to be resistant and feel that this time you'd rather do something different (such as having cake instead). If there is a threat of punishment involved in an order, such as a reprimand for being late to work, the reactance may take the form of substituting some other undesirable behavior or encouraging others to break the prohibition rather than running the risk of breaking it oneself. The unfortunate applications of this principle are all too clear in work situations, where reactanceprovoking orders are often given to subordinates.
Varela (1971) suggested positive ways in which reactance can be used to accomplish desired ends. One
point is not to issue orders or regulations from above
without genuine consultation with subordinates. Second, in group problem-solving and conflict-resolution situations, it is best to avoid or soften the statement of extreme views which other group members may be motivated to contradict. Any criticism of another person's ideas tends to produce a win-lose conflict, provoking that person to defend them even more vigorously than before. Third, in persuasion situations, pressures toward compliance produce reactance motivation, so target individuals must be given the feeling that they are voluntarily and freely reaching their own decision. If the persuader states that "It is obvious that. . . . " the target person will probably react, "Not to me, it isn't."

Theories of Normative Influence
Other people play an important role in determining how we act. Our beliefs about how other people act, or should act, often strongly determine our own behavior.
A norm is an unwritten social rule about the appropriate behavior in a given situation (Campbell & Fairey, 1989). Conformity to the normative pressures of a group often occurs because of our desire to be liked and accepted by others. Classic studies by Asch (1958) and Sherif (1936) demonstrated the power of groups in producing conformity. For instance, in Asch's study, an unsuspecting participant was faced with a group of individuals who all agreed on some judgmental decision.
In such situations, even though the target person may initially perceive the situation differently, he or she will frequently "go along" with the group consensus and then look for reasons to explain why the group was right (Bond & Smith, 1996). For example, when faced with a group unanimously stating an opinion that differs from one's own, one might generate cognitions like "they had a better angle to see the situation than I did" or "they had some prior information that I didn't have."
From an applied perspective, social norms provide an important target for interventions that are designed to change behavior. If we change a person's beliefs about what other people are doing, or beliefs about what other people should do, then we can change the behaviors that are associated with these beliefs. Consequently, social norms are one of the key elements in Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action.
We will examine interventions aimed at social norms in Chapters 7, 11, and 12. In contrast to normative influence, informational social influence occurs when persons change their behavior in response to information about reality. This type of change occurs, not because of our desire to be liked and accepted, but because of our desire to be accurate in our beliefs. We use information from various sources as a test for the validity of our own beliefs (Campbell & Fairey, 1989). Changing behavior through informational influence involves providing information. For example, if we wanted to reduce smoking among adolescents, a typical informational intervention would be to provide facts about the harmful effects of smoking—a technique which is not usually very effective, as we will see in Chapter 12.
Resisting Social Influence. If we can understand the forces that lead people to act in certain ways, then perhaps we can also develop techniques by which to block these effects if they are unwanted. Such techniques would be particularly useful in eliminating certain undesirable types of attitudes or behaviors or keeping them from forming. For example, some of the candidates for this type of intervention include preventing drug and alcohol use among adolescents, reducing smoking rates, producing safer sexual behaviors in order to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus, reducing violence and intergroup conflict, mitigating the potential effect of violent television on children, and preventing drunk driving. All of these are instances where we want to prevent an attitude or behavior from occurring. A variety of techniques have been developed to accomplish this goal, and they are discussed in chapters throughout this book.

Social cognition is the area of social psychology devoted to studying how people think about each other.
Among the topics included within social cognition are attitudes, stereotypes, adaptation level, social comparison, social judgment, and attribution. For a comprehensive overview of social cognition, see Wyer and Srull (1994).

The concept of attitudes is one of the oldest and most important in the field of social psychology. Attitudes are mental states of readiness for some type of behavior; they are "predisposition[s] to respond in a particular way to an attitude object" (Oskamp, 1991, p. 7).
One common view of attitudes is that they have a cognitive, an affective, and a behavioral component. The cognitive dimension of an attitude involves ideas and beliefs about the attitude object, which may be a person, a group, an object, or an abstract concept such as capital punishment. The affective dimension of an attitude refers to the feelings and emotions evoked by the attitude object. Finally, the behavioral component consists of readiness to respond in specific ways to the object. One of the central issues for attitude researchers is the relationship between attitudes and behaviors.
Most research on the issue indicates that general attitudes are related to behavior, though often rather weakly. A variety of situational and personal factors help to determine whether the relationship will be strong or weak (e.g., Schultz & Oskamp, 1996).
Among the most prominent theories about attitudes and their relationship to behavior are the theory of reasoned action, the theory of planned behavior, and the elaboration likelihood model, all of which were mentioned above and are described at greater length in Chapter 14.

Stereotypes are overgeneralized sets of beliefs about the characteristics or attributes of a group (Hilton & von Hipple, 1996; Stangor & Lange, 1994). These beliefs can be either positive or negative, although we most commonly think of stereotypes as being negative and prejudiced beliefs. Stereotypes are the result of the natural human tendency to categorize information, and in many ways they help us to organize and function effectively in a complex and information-loaded social world (Judd & Park, 1993). However, when our stereotypes contain biased or inaccurate negative beliefs, they become prejudice, and acting on these prejudiced beliefs is termed discrimination. Because both prejudice and discrimination can have many harmful effects, we have devoted Chapter 9 to an extensive discussion of the issues of gender and ethnic prejudice and discrimination.

Adaptation-Level Theory
A theory that is highly relevant to attitudes is adaptation-level theory (Helson, 1964). A person's adaptation level on any given dimension (e.g., temperature) is a level of stimulation that has become neutral through preceding exposure, and serves as a reference point for judgments on that dimension. For instance, if you leave a warm house to take a walk on a brisk day, your body will first feel the outside air as cool. But soon it will adapt so that the outside air feels normal, and when you return to the house, its air may feel too hot to you for awhile until your temperature receptors adapt again.
Nelson (1964) argued that all aspects of human thought and behavior—for example, our attitudes and expectations about social interaction—are influenced by the adaptation level produced by our prior experiences. In social judgment, we tend to view our own attitudes or behavior as moderate and use them as a reference point for evaluating others' positions as "reasonable" or "too extreme" in one direction or another.
However, repeated exposure to a person with a mark-ally different viewpoint may cause us to change our adaptation level toward that person's position. Our adaptation level on any given topic serves as a norm that has important implications for our social judgments, perceptions of equity and fairness, and expectations and emotions regarding social behavior (Kahneman & Miller, 1986).

Social Comparison Theory
Another closely related theory is social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954), which concerns how people evaluate their own beliefs, attitudes, and abilities. It postulates that people have a drive to make these selfevaluations and that they steadily seek out information for that purpose. Whenever possible they base their self-evaluations on objective criteria (e.g., number of seconds taken to run 100 yards). But what happens when there is no objective information, as in the case of attitudes and many beliefs? The theory proposes that in situations where there is no objective standard, we compare ourselves with the beliefs or behaviors of others. Moreover, we are most inclined to make such comparisons with others who are similar to ourselves on important dimensions, such as our friends or coworkers.

Adaptation-level theory, social comparison theory and social judgment theory (discussed next) are all examples of social evaluation theories, which hold that people evaluate themselves and other people largely on the basis of interpersonal comparisons (Pettigrew, 1967). This principle is also incorporated in the concept of relative deprivation, which is discussed below together with equity theory.

Social Judgment Theory
Another early social cognitive theory was Sherif and Hovland's (1961) social judgment theory. An especially useful aspect of the theory concerns the concepts of latitude of acceptance and latitude of rejection of attitude statements. To illustrate these concepts, consider attitudes toward capital punishment for certain crimes. If presented with a large number of attitude statements toward this topic, arranged along a favorable-tounfavorable continuum, almost everyone will find more than one of the positions acceptable, though one may be most acceptable; these positions are within the person's latitude of acceptance. Similarly, several of the positions will probably be unacceptable, and these are within the person's latitude of rejection.
These concepts mesh neatly with the learningtheory principle of successive approximation, mentioned above. Varela has developed the procedure of designing a persuasive argument in a series of small steps, each step so planned as to shift the target individual from rejecting to accepting a previously least-stronglyrejected position. After a series of such steps, the individual's overall attitude on the topic in question will have shifted from, let us say, moderately unfavorable to somewhat favorable. To fully appreciate the ingenuity of this approach, read Varela's (1971) original account of the procedure.

Attribution Theory
In the 1970s, attribution theory succeeded dissonance theory as the most popular research topic of social psychologists (Jones et al., 1989; Kelley & Michela, 1980). However, the term "theory" here is something of a misnomer, for even its main proponents admit that it is: "an amorphous collection of observations.
. . [without] a firm grasp of interrelated deductive principles" (Jones et al., 1971, p. x). In fact, it has several parallel and partly overlapping strands, each stemming from one of the individuals or groups that have made major research contributions, particularly Jones and Davis (1965) and Kelley (1967). Whatever its status as theory, its general subject matter is clear—it studies the process of attribution: how people make judgments about the reasons or causes behind social behavior (cf. Gilbert & Malone, 1995; Jones et al., 1989).
Attribution theorists see people as "naive scientists" who are trying to understand the reasons for the interpersonal events that they observe or experience. For instance, you might ask yourself, "I wonder why that person smiled at me?" Starting with such an observed event, people reason backward to the possible intentions behind it (friendliness? nervousness? scorn?) and beyond that to the personal dispositions indicated by such intentions and behavior (a friendly person?
An anxious person? a cruel person?). At each inferential step people look for clues to support one attributional conclusion over other possible ones. The results of such interpersonal detective work are obviously of great practical importance in our everyday lives, for most of us are constantly in the process of sizing up other people and their behavior.
Attributions can be either internal or external. Internal attributions ascribe the event in question to a personal disposition ("she succeeded because she is bright"), whereas external attributions ascribe it to a factor outside the person, that is, something in the situation ("he was just lucky," or "she succeeded because it was such an easy task"). One of the major research findings is that participants in interpersonal settings tend to attribute the reasons for their own behavior to situational factors (including the behavior of other participants), while outside observers tend to ascribe the same behavior to the personal characteristics of the participant. This tendency of observers to exaggerate the dispositional causes of behavior and underestimate its situational causes has been called the fundamental attributional error (Jones, 1979; Ross, 1977).
With its emphasis on everyday judgment about people and situations, attribution theory has countless potential applications, and some of them have been systematically explored. Attribution theory and findings have been applied to understanding help-giving situations, conflicts of young couples, parole decision processes, reactions to loneliness, behavior of battered wives, consumer responses to the quality of products, factors affecting physical and emotional health, and education and training programs (Amirkhan, 1990; Frieze, Bar-Tal, & Carroll, 1979; Metalsky et al., 1995; Weiner, 1990).

In discussing social psychological principles and theories so far, we have focused primarily on the level of the individual. Our next three sets of theories move from this infra-individual level to an interpersonal one, involving a progressively broader focus on groups, organizations, and communities.
Social relations is the area of social psychology devoted to how we interact with other people. Why are
we attracted to some people and not others? Why do we fall in love? What forces lead to satisfaction in our relationships? What leads to conflict in a relationship and how is it best handled? Three useful theories of social relations are equity theory, role theory, and group process theories.

Equity Theory
Equity theory has progressed toward becoming a general theory of social behavior by incorporating elements from other theoretical approaches, including reinforcement, exchange, cognitive consistency, and psychoanalytic theories. The central issue of equity theory is how people decide that they are being treated justly or unjustly and how they react to such treatment.
Equity in a relationship is defined as a situation where all participants' outcomes (rewards minus costs) are proportional to their inputs or contributions to the relationship (Hatfield et al., 1985; Walster, Berscheid, & Walster, 1973). Though individuals generally try to maximize their outcomes, groups typically try to maintain social stability by developing systems of equity for their members and rewarding members who treat others equitably. When individuals find themselves inequitably treated, they feel distress, and they try to restore equity—either actually, by modifying the participants' inputs or outcomes, or psychologically, by distorting their perception of the inputs or outcomes.
The feeling of resentment and injustice resulting from perceived inequity is often termed relative deprivation, and a substantial body of theory has been developed about the kind of groups with which people will choose to compare themselves and the circumstances under which they will feel relatively deprived (Crosby, 1976; Olson, Herman, & Zanna, 1986).
It is clear that equity theory is applicable to many areas of social life. Applications can be found in business interactions, helping relationships, and romantic and intimate relationships (e.g., Buunk & Van Yperen, 1991; Clark & Mills, 1993; Walster, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978). Research on equity principles has covered such potent topics as victimization, retaliation, restitution for harmful actions, exchange of gifts or favors, romantic love, and marital satisfaction.

Role Theory
Role theory has had surprisingly little attention within psychology, though it is a popular orientation among sociologists. Many different versions of role theory have been proposed by different authors, but "because role theory never generated an integrative theoretical statement, disagreement has appeared on the boundaries and assumptions of the field" (Biddle, 1979, pp. ix–x). Despite such disagreements, role theory is important because of the prominence of role concepts in group and organizational settings.
A role is a patterned set of behaviors that are generally expected of a particular category of people in a society—that is, people who share the same social position. Positions may be based on family relationships, occupations, recreational, political, or social characteristics. For instance, they include mother, husband, fanner, physician, quarterback, soprano, citizen, friend, and juvenile gang member. Each category of people is generally expected to display certain behaviors—their roles. All people occupy many positions during their lives, some of them at the same time (for example, mother, businesswoman, and club president). Thus arises the possibility of role conflict, when the expected behavior for one position is incompatible with that for another position (for example, going to your child's school play versus entertaining a business client).
Social groups and complex organizations often have organization charts that specify positions within the group and some of the expected role behaviors. In other cases role behaviors are not written down but nevertheless may be rigidly recognized and understood (for example: a mother should care for her children's needs, at least while the children are young). There may also be role confusion or controversy. (For instance, does "caring for her children's needs" mean that a mother of young children should not also hold a paid job?)
The above description illustrates how applicable role theory concepts are to many aspects of social life.
As Biddle has pointed out, they have been used in "studies of small groups, families, communities, classrooms, kinship systems, formal organizations, and counseling. . . . in education as well as in the clinical and helping professions" (1979, p. ix).

Group Process Theories
Group process theories are a heterogeneous collection, but all of them deal with the processes operating in groups when the members are in face-to-face interaction with each other. One major branch of these theories began with Kurt Lewin's concept of group dynamics. Out of this developed the laboratory training movement, also called T-groups or sensitivity training, and later the more freewheeling encounter group movement and its many variants (Back, 1972; Johnson, 1988). Many theories in this area are highly speculative because they are based on experiences in groups with atypical membership and activities (for instance, group therapy in mental hospitals, or nude marathon sessions).
Another outgrowth of Lewin's group dynamic movement has been empirical, relatively rigorous research on group processes, much of it conducted in academic or in business settings. Summaries of some of this work have been published in a volume edited by Wheelan, Pepitone, and Abt (1990).
One example of a practical and useful theory based on this kind of careful empirical research is Fiedler's (1967, 1993) contingency theory of leadership effectiveness (see Chapter 5). The common notion that leadership effectiveness is due to certain traits of the leader (such as intelligence, or "charisma," or supportiveness toward coworkers) has been generally discredited by empirical research. Instead, Fiedler posited that leader traits would interact with situational variables in producing successful or unsuccessful group performance.
The research evidence has largely supported this contingency concept, and the theory is relevant to all kinds of real-world group settings, from sports teams to army squads to executive committees (e.g., Fiedler & House, 1988, 1994).

In our progression toward ever broader theories, organizational theories represent another step upward in complexity. At the organizational level, one widely used approach is systems theory (Katz & Kahn, 1978).
A systems view of organizations starts with the postulate that an organization is an open system—that is, it is a set of interacting processes, which are influenced by the external environment and in turn influence the environment. Like all open systems, organizations have a cyclic nature in which inputs affect throughput activities, which produce outputs, which provide new sources of inputs. Systems aim to maintain a steady state or equilibrium, but to do so they have to import more energy than they export (a situation termed negative entropy). Finally, systems have information control mechanisms, which use feedback to modify their functioning, and they exhibit role differentiation and specialization, particularly as their size increases.
Thus, organizational theories typically include aspects of narrower or more fundamental theories, such as role theory, exchange theory, and group process theory. The systems viewpoint can be useful in analyzing business corporations or government bureaucracies, as well as smaller organizations like schools, social clubs, or civic groups.
Another systems approach is the socio-technical theory of organizations (Chems, 1987; Pasmore et al., 1982). Like Katz and Kahn's open system theory, socio-technical theory views organizations as dynamic and reactive. Its unique contribution is to study organizations in terms of the interrelationship between technology, social groups, and the organizational environment (e.g., Trist & Barnforth, 1951). Applied work in this area has examined how changing technology within an organization changes the way that people interact, or changes the social environment of the organization (Wall, Jackson, & Davids, 1992; Winterton, 1994). A key question from the socio technical perspective is how to optimize the fit between technological and social systems in the organizational setting (Wall et al., 1990). The level of optimization has been found to affect many aspects of organizational behavior, including productivity, costs, employee withdrawal, employee attitudes, safety, grievances, and perceptions about the quality of working life (Guzzo, Jette, & Katzell, 1985; Pasmore et al., 1982).

As a final level of generality we will consider viewpoints about communities. Psychology's interest in community life is a relatively new one, growing out of the mental health movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and there are as yet no full-fledged theories of community functioning and change (Heller, 1990). On one hand, organizational theories could be applied to communities, for communities certainly possess the characteristics of open systems. However, communities are usually more nebulous and more comprehensive than organizations, since they usually contain many organizations and parts of organizations. The new field of community psychology is divided between several different approaches to working with community problems: a quasi-clinical one dealing with mental health and related problems, a social-organizational one working with community organizations, and a social-action one attempting to modify community power structures (Goodstein & Sandler, 1978).
Several theorists from different camps have written about communities from their own particular perspectives. For instance, B. F. Skinner's (1948) novel,
Walden Two, described an ideal community as conceived of by a reinforcement theorist. In a different vein, Saul Alinsky's (1946) book, Reveille for Radicals, advocated community organization as a conflict oriented social action process (see Chapter 16).
The most thorough empirical study of communities by psychologists has been conducted by Roger Barker and his colleagues, using a broad-gauge ecological perspective (Barker, 1987, 1989; also see Chapter 11). For 40 years they carried on intensive study of one small town in Kansas, as well as briefer research in other communities. Wicker (1979, 1987) has written interesting accounts of the results of this research, summarizing some of the main conclusions as follows:

Behavior settings such as supermarkets, machine shops, psychology classes, basketball games, and bridge-club meetings should be thought of as active, organized, self regulating systems and not merely as passive backdrops where people carry out actions that they have freely chosen. According to the ecological viewpoint, people are but one component of the larger behavior-setting system, which restricts the range of their behavior by promoting and sometimes demanding certain actions and by discouraging or prohibiting others. (1979, p. 4)
Wicker also described applications of Barker's ecological theory to role behavior in large and small organizations, to understaffed or overstaffed settings, and to management of the effects of behavior settings on oneself and others.

This chapter has provided an overview of the different types and levels of theories and principles often used in applied social psychology. Lewin's dictum that theories are useful has been extended by Varela with his emphasis on social technology—combining theories, techniques, and findings from a wide variety of areas to accomplish a specific social goal. Among the psychological techniques that have proven useful are psychometric measurement of people's abilities, interests, and personal motives, such as authoritarianism and needs for approval, achievement, or consistency. Valuable social psychology principles include approach-avoidance conflicts, foot-in-the-door and door-in-the-face techniques, public commitment, and self-fulfilling prophecies.
Useful social psychological theories can be classified as dealing with social influence, social cognition,
or social relations. Learning theory's reinforcement principles are constantly used in applied work, including the procedures of successive approximation and partial reinforcement. Traditional learning theory has also given rise to related approaches such as exchange theory and social learning theory, including the principles of observational learning through modeling, vicarious reinforcement, and self-reinforcement. Another group of theories, concerning adaptation levels, social comparisons, and social judgment, all rely on the central principle that people evaluate themselves and other individuals by making interpersonal comparisons. The concepts of social judgment theory, such as latitudes of acceptance and rejection, and many principles from cognitive dissonance theory and reactance theory, can be combined in designing persuasion techniques. Theories of persuasion and of normative and informational influence can be used in interventions to change attitudes, stereotypes, or behavior, or to help people resist undesirable social pressures.
Attribution theory, the study of how people explain the reasons behind social behavior, has many applications in areas such as health care, the judicial system, education and consumer psychology. Both equity theory and role theory have clear applications in business settings, as well as in families and in helping relationships of many kinds. Theories of group processes have been used in group therapy and sensitivity training and, more scientifically, in studies of group leadership. Finally, theories of organizational behavior and community processes, based on a systems viewpoint, are the broadest theories that have been used in applied social psychology.

Cialdini, R. (1993). Influence: Science and practice (3rd ed.). New York: HarperCollins.—A very readable book containing a systematic summary of influence tactics used to get people to buy, say, sign, or do what the influence agents desire.
Graham, S.. & Folkes, V. S. (Eds.). (1990). Attribution theory: Applications to achievement, mental health, and interpersonal conflict. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.—An excellent collection of articles on applications of attribution theory.
Higgins, E. T., & Kruglanski, A. (Eds.) (1996). Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles. New York: Guilford.—An up-to-date reference work covering the concepts, theories, and research areas of social psychology.
Varela, J. A. (1977). Social technology. American Psychologist, 32. 914-923.—This brief paper gives some excellent examples of Varela's intriguing use of a wide variety of social psychological theories and concepts to solve social problems in creative and novel ways.


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