Social Behavior

  1. Social behavior is a mandatory part of an individual’s life. Social psychology deals with all behavior that occurs in the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. 
  2. Our social environment plays a major role in influencing our thoughts, emotions and behavior in complex manners. Social psychologists study about different forms of social behavior and try to find out and explain their basis or causes.

Different types of behavioral tendencies:

  1. Impression formation- when we come in contact or meet new people, we make inferences about their personal and social qualities. This is known as impression formation.
  2. Attribution- we are always curious to find out the reasons that why people behave in the ways they do. In other words, we assign causes to the behavior exhibited in social situations. This is referred to as attribution.
  3. Social cognition- attitudes are influenced by impression formation and attribution. These 3 processes are good examples of mental activities which are related to the acquisition and interpretation of information about the social world. This is collectively known as social cognition.
  4. Social cognition is activated by cognitive units known as schemas. Cognitive processes are to be understood on the basis of externally shown behavior because they cannot be directly seen.


  1. Attitudes can be defined as the states of the mind, thoughts or ideas regarding a topic or a situation (known as the attitude object) which contains a cognitiveaffective and behavioural component.
  2.  It also has an evaluative feature of positive, negative or neutral quality.
  3.  It also has an emotional component and a tendency to act in a specific manner with regards to the attitude object.
  4. The thought component is known as the cognitive aspect, the emotional component is known as the affective component and the tendency to act is referred to as the behavioural or conative component. Altogether these are known as the A-B-C or the Affective-Behavioral-Cognitive components. 

Values and Beliefs

Attitudes have to be differentiated from two very closely related topics. They are values and beliefs

  • Beliefs
  1. It refers to the cognitive component of attitudes and it also establishes the ground on which attitudes stand.
  2. Beliefs are lesser in intensity and they are not as rigid as values. They may or may not change.
  3. Examples include belief in God, belief in democracy etc.
  • Values
  1. It refers to attitudes as well as beliefs which include a ‘should’ or ‘ought’ component such as moral and ethical values.
  2. Values form when a specific belief or attitude becomes an inoperable component or part of an individual’s outlook or perspective of life.
  3. Values are more rigid and intense and are hard to change.
  4. Examples include values like honesty, truthfulness, hard-work etc.

Features of Attitudes:

  • Valence (positivity or negativity):
  1. It tells us whether the attitude is positive or negative towards the attitude object.
  2. For example if an attitude towards usage of bio weapons has to be depicted on a 5 point scale which has a range from 1-very bad, 2-bad,3-neutral,4-good and 5-very good. If a person likes the idea he/she may give a rating of 4 or 5, this shows a positive attitude (positive valence). If a person doesn’t like the idea the rating may be 1 or 2, this shows a negative attitude (negative valence). If a person thinks that it is neither good nor bad he/she will give a rating of 3 this shows a neutral attitude (neutral valence).
  • Extremeness or intensity:
  1. It tells how positive or negative the attitude is.
  2. If we take the bio weapon example given above, then we may see that the rating of 1 is as extreme as a rating of 5 but in opposite directions. However, a rating of 2 and 4 are less extreme but in opposite directions. A rating of 3 shows a neutral attitude which is the lowest on extremeness.
  • Simplicity or Complexity:
  1. This refers to how many attitudes are present within a broader attitude system.
  2. An attitude system is simple if it includes only one or a few attitudes.
  3.  For example, the attitude towards a person is likely to include only one attitude.
  4. An attitude system is considered as complex if it includes many member attitudes.
  5.  For example, the attitude towards success in life may include many member attitudes like one’s view regarding financial and material success, concepts about satisfaction and happiness in life, concepts about hard work and patience and beliefs about how one can achieve one’s goals and hence be successful.
  • Centrality:
  1. It tells us about the role of a specific attitude in the attitude system.
  2. An attitude which has greater centrality will have a greater impact on the other attitudes in the attitude system than peripheral or non-central attitudes.
  3. For example, in the attitude towards good health, a negative attitude would be present towards expenditure and consumption of junk foods and other health-hazardous things. This is a central attitude which has impacts on the other attitudes in the multiple attitude system.

Social behavior and attitude are concepts from the branch of Social Psychology. This branch of psychology investigates and studies that how individual behavior is affected by others as well as the social environment. It simply deals with the social component of our behavior