Q.1 Our beliefs may generate their own reality. Explain with suitable examples?
Books like The Secret and The Power have contributed to the increasing popularity of the idea that
wishes can be granted through visualization and positive thinking. This perspective has
received significant criticism for its reliance on unvalidated scientific claims, such as its invocation
of quantum physics to explain how the mind works, as well as its potential to promote victim-
blaming and false hope.
While the claim that beliefs single-handedly determine our physical health, financial status, and
chances at finding love is clearly misguided, the idea that beliefs have power does have some
scientific validity. It just works a little differently than books like The Secret suggest. Here are three
ways that beliefs really can shape your reality.
- Your beliefs influence your behavior.
One of the most basic ways that beliefs can shape reality is through their influence on behavior—
no quantum physics needed. For example, if you believe that you’re capable, competent, and
deserving of your dream job, you’re probably more likely to notice and seek out opportunities that
could help you get there. You’re also more likely to perform well in an interview. Contrary to the
common assumption that overconfidence can backfire, research suggests that it may actually be
beneficial: Overconfident people tend to appear more socially skilled and higher in social status,
even when those evaluating them have access to objective information about their actual ability.
Beliefs can also influence health behaviors. Research suggests that people are more likely to
engage in health-promoting behaviors like eating well and exercising if they have a greater sense
of self-efficacy—that is, if they believe that they are capable of effectively performing these
behaviors. But positive thinking has its limits: Research also shows that people take better care of
their health when they think negatively to some extent—when they believe that they are in fact
susceptible to serious illnesses. Without awareness of the reality of the risks they face, people may
lack the motivation to make healthy decisions.
Beliefs about your basic character—who you are as a person on a fundamental level—can be
especially powerful. Research suggests that while guilt (feeling that you did a bad thing) can
motivate self-improvement, shame (feeling like you are a bad person), tends to create a self-
fulfilling prophecy, reducing hope and undermining efforts to change. By the same token, some
evidence suggests that praising character as opposed to behavior is a more effective means of
promoting positive behaviors. For example, in one study, children who were told that they were
helpful people for doing something generous (donating some of their marbles to poor children)
later engaged in more altruistic behavior than did children whose behavior alone was praised or
who did not receive praise.
- Your beliefs influence other people’s behavior.
Your beliefs can shape your reality not only by influencing your own behavior, but also by
influencing other people’s behavior, from close relationship partners to complete strangers. In one
classic study, male participants were led to believe that a woman with whom they spoke on the
phone was either attractive or unattractive. Analysis of the recordings by outside observers showed
that throughout the conversation, women perceived as more attractive came to behave in a more
friendly and likeable way than those who were perceived as less attractive, suggesting that
participants’ expectations not only shaped their own perceptions of their conversation partner—
they also seemed to elicit behavior that confirmed their expectations. This phenomenon has been
demonstrated in a number of other contexts as well, including interactions between teachers and
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Your beliefs may also elicit corresponding behavior from romantic partners. Research suggests
that people who see their partners in a more idealized light than their partners see themselves
tend to become more satisfied with their relationships over time, experience less conflict, and are
more likely to stay together. Why might this be? One explanation is that idealizers
instill confidence in their partners and alleviate their partners’ insecurities about the relationship.
More secure partners are, in turn, more likely to behave in generous and constructive ways,
fostering greater relationship satisfaction. By contrast, those who over-perceive hostile intentions
in their partners during conflicts are more likely to behave in ways that elicit the very hostility and
rejection they fear.
- Your beliefs may impact your health.
Health and disease are influenced by multiple interacting factors, many of which are not fully
under your control, including genetics, exposure to environmental toxins, history of trauma, and
socioeconomic circumstances. But research suggests that beliefs matter too. In one study, middle-
aged adults who held more positive beliefs about aging lived an average of 7.6 years longer than
those who held more negative beliefs, even when controlling for current health and other risk
factors. In a number of other studies, optimistic people were found to be less likely to develop
heart disease, again controlling for other risk factors.
Research on the placebo effect also supports the link between beliefs and health. Remarkably, the
mere expectation that a treatment will be effective can sometimes make it so, even if that
treatment is just a sugar pill. Although the placebo effect tends to be strongest for subjective
reports of symptoms, sometimes in the absence of corresponding physical changes, there is
evidence for some objective, measurable effects: For example, placebos can alter patterns of brain
activation associated with processing pain, and in Parkinson’s disease, placebos have been shown
to elevate dopamine levels, which can temporarily improve symptoms.
How can you harness the power of belief to improve your life? For one, you can engage in
practices that change your habitual way of thinking, such as keeping a gratitude journal or
learning mindfulness meditation. These practices can help you notice and appreciate the good in
life and keep you from getting caught up in unconstructive, negative thoughts. Second, you can
set clear intentions for how you want to approach each day and make an effort to align your
behavior with those intentions. Even when things don’t go your way, you’ll know that you’re
moving in the right direction and using the leverage that you have.
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And finally, you can recognize that while beliefs may be powerful, they are certainly not all-
powerful, and life is full of suffering that we neither invite nor deserve. Recognizing the limitations
of belief can make us more compassionate towards those who find themselves in unfortunate
circumstances, including ourselves.
Q.2 Explain the concept of collective efficacy and self-efficacy in detail.
Albert Bandura’s writings use a large number of terms in very similar ways. I will try to clarify some
of the distinctions among them.
Bandura’s concept of collective efficacy builds on his concept of self-efficacy; both concepts
derived from social cognitive theory which focuses on the notion of human agency: a person’s
feeling of having the capacity to influence their situation. Social Cognitive Theory
“. . . approaches the enhancement of human agency, whether in individual or collective form, in
terms of enablement. Equipping people with a firm belief that they can produce valued effects by
their collective action and providing them with the means to do so are the key ingredients in an
enablement process.” (1, p477).
Self-efficacy refers to an individual person’s perception of ability to perform a behavior; collective
efficacy refers to a group’s shared belief in its capability to organize and execute actions required
to achieve goals (1). In effect, community members are willing to look out for each other and
intervene when necessary–a concept not unlike social capital (2).
Bandura proposed social cognitive theory to explain the cognitive component of his Social
Learning Theory (3). This broader theory states that behavior is determined by an interaction
among personal factors, environmental influences and the behavior itself; these three interact in a
dynamic and reciprocal manner. Behavior is controlled through cognitive processes, so behavioral
responses indicate the person’s expectations of outcomes; a core ingredient in these expectations
is self-reflection, or the person’s ability to analyze experiences and alter his or her thinking
accordingly. Self-efficacy is one of the most important products of self-reflection.
According to social cognitive theory, behavior is guided by the person’s perceptions of their ability
to act. ‘Self-efficacy’ refers to this perception of capability to perform a behavior (e.g., to control
eating behaviour). These perceptions guide behavior by determining what a person tries to
achieve, how much effort is exerted, and how much the outcome is valued. Positive expectations
from performing the behavior must exceed negative expectations: there must be a perceived
benefit. Self-efficacy builds with success and resulting feelings of mastery; it can also grow from
vicarious experiences provided by others’ successes and failures, from social persuasion, and from
one’s own stress reactions.
Collective efficacy complements and builds on the concept of self-efficacy. People do not live is
social isolation, and nor can they exercise control over health determinants entirely on their own.
Many challenges in life center on shared problems that require people to work together and to
speak with a collective voice to improve their lives. The strength of families, communities,
organizations, social institutions, or nations lies partly in people’s sense of collective efficacy that
they can solve the problems they face and improve their lives through unified effort (1, p477).
Bandura described this ‘enhancement of human agency’ in terms of enablement, a process which
equips people with the belief and means to produce effects through their collective action. Group
functioning creates emergent and synergistic effects, and although collective efficacy is rooted in
the self-efficacy of individuals, it exists as a group attribute. He cited examples such as group
performance in brainstorming sessions and success in political lobbying (1).
The idea of collective efficacy has been applied to discussions of the health and well-being of
neighborhoods, especially focusing on violent crime levels. Sampson and colleagues have
investigated the relationship between collective efficacy and health-related problems of
communities and neighborhoods (4; 5). Their premise is that community contexts need to be
treated as “important units of analysis in their own right,” and that new theoretical frameworks and
measurement strategies are needed which do not analyze neighborhoods based solely on
The impetus for this research was the recognition that health disparities vary systematically across
neighborhoods, in line with socioeconomic characteristics. Similar to the Alameda County Study
findings, Sampson found that there were “geographic hotspots for unhealthy outcomes” in
Chicago (5). He concluded that health risk factors such as violence, low birth weight, or child
maltreatment can be linked to environmental characteristics of communities such as poverty, racial
and ethnic segregation, family disruption, residential instability and poor quality housing. When
individual risk factors are controlled, these relationships remain. Sampson presented two concepts:
informal social control (residents’ willingness to intervene when trouble arises, especially on behalf
of the community’s youth); and social cohesion and trust (residents’ willingness to participate in
collective action for the common good) (4; 5). As with self-efficacy, collective efficacy doesn’t exist
in isolation, but is “embedded in structural contexts and a wider political economy that stratifies
place of residence by key social characteristics.” (4, p919). Of several neighborhood level variables,
collective efficacy was the strongest predictor of low violent crime rates.
An association between collective efficacy and youth obesity was suggested by Cohen et al. (2).
This study built on the work of Sampson (4,5) and others (6,7) on neighborhood influences on
health, and on collective efficacy and neighborhood clustering of health outcomes. Cohen
hypothesized that collective efficacy potentially works through pathways such as social interaction
and collective conformity, and collective political power. They suggested that while collective
efficacy does not directly relate to diet and physical activity, it may indirectly affect obesity-related
factors that are also related to social control and influence. It may be that allostatic load and
resulting stress play a role. Stress is associated with cortisol production and excess weight gain. If
people in low collective efficacy neighborhoods experience more stress, they may also be more
susceptible to obesity. Collective efficacy may also influence obesity through physical activity, if
low collective efficacy neighborhoods are also unsafe, discouraging regular physical activity.
Other studies of collective efficacy suggest that community-based interventions should include
multidisciplinary partnerships to help neighborhoods advocate for changes in their social and
physical environments, the development and support of local organizations and clubs that may
foster collective efficacy (6), and integrated community prevention efforts that focus on changing
environments rather than people (5).
A final perspective links the sense of coherence with collective efficacy to explain youth health
behaviors and the influence of the community. For example, Nash built on ecological-
developmental and social disorganization theories to investigate the relationship among
neighborhood collective efficacy, students’ sense of school coherence, (8) and educational
behavior (9). He suggested that adolescents from high collective efficacy neighborhoods may be
more likely to see their neighborhoods as comprehensible and manageable environments and, as
a result, may be more likely to have a strong sense of coherence that they bring to school as well
as other settings.
The study found that neighborhood informal social control, an aspect of collective efficacy, was the
most important variable associated with sense of school coherence for at risk middle and high
school students. As a result, Nash recommended that broader interventions that assess and target
neighborhood characteristics be used in efforts to promote school success. Neighborhood
collective efficacy, by developing assets that foster and support youth development, is seen to
indirectly influence school performance through its direct effect on sense of school coherence.
Thus this study found a link between the two paradigms, sense of coherence and collective efficacy. This is an interesting finding, and not completely unexpected. It supports the possibility that an integrated investigation of collective efficacy and sense of coherence in the context of youth health might produce new and fruitful insights for a population health approach to youth
overweight and obesity. While this study investigated school outcomes, not health outcomes, the findings are important for youth development and community influences, factors that are both relevant to the study of causation and remedy of youth overweight and obesity.
Q.3 Does behavior determine attitudes? Explain with suitable examples?
Attitudes have three main components: cognitive, (which is about our beliefs) affective, (which is
about our feelings) and behavioural (how we act towards the attitude object). Getting attitude to
change behaviour is really difficult because we intellectualise, post-rationalise, make excuses –
anything rather than accept the logic. However by effecting changes in behaviour we often find
that attitude follows suit. So why is that? We call it ‘cognitive dissonance,’ which argues that
people prefer their beliefs and feelings to be consistent with each other and with their behaviour
so when inconsistencies occur people become uncomfortable and have to adapt; but how do they
adapt? Think about someone whose cognition is ‘I smoke’, who is bombarded with messages
‘smoking kills.’ The obvious corollary to this is that they give up smoking; but they don’t do they?
They either discount the evidence or adopt the irrational belief that smoking won’t harm them
personally or promise themselves that they will give up on Monday – or the end of the month, or
after the summer holidays; anything rather than give up.
So back to our architectural ironmongery organisation; what did we do? Well what we did was
initiate a policy, (not a policy, oh yeah a ‘policy.’) Every single senior manager, including all board
members, had to personally (personally mind) handle four customer complaints a month, including
personal follow-up with the customer. Thus the CEO had to show up at a DIY store in Glasgow and
get a ‘severe telling off,’ (as they say in Glasgow) from the store owner; that is truly the sharp end
of ‘customer experience.’ And do you know, all of a sudden, customer service really did become
important to the organisation and the senior team suddenly became its strongest advocates. Why?
Because, like Patton said (perhaps a little more coarsely), having had a direct experience, their
behaviour determined their attitude.
Self-perception theory is counterintuitive. Common knowledge would have us assume that a
person’s personality and attitudes drive their actions; however, self-perception theory shows that
this is not always the case. In simple terms, it illustrates that “we are what we do.” According to
self-perception theory, we interpret our own actions the way we interpret others’ actions, and our
actions are often socially influenced and not produced out of our own free will, as we might
Daryl Bem, the originator of the theory, conducted an original experiment that involved subjects
who listened to a recording of a man describing a peg-turning task enthusiastically. One group
was told that the man was paid $1 for his testimonial, while the other group was told he was paid
$20 for it. The $1 group believed that he enjoyed the task more than how much the $20 group
believed he enjoyed it. The two groups’ conclusions correlated to the feelings that the actors
themselves expressed. Because the participants were able to correctly guess how the actors felt, it
was concluded that the actors must have arrived at the way they felt from observing their own
behavior as well.
A number of studies since have confirmed that self-perception theory exists, and furthermore,
influences us in many unexpected contexts. Tiffany Ito and colleagues conducted a study in 2006
to see if facial changes could trigger shifts in racial bias among participants. Participants were
asked to hold a pencil with their mouths (thus inducing them to smile) while looking at
photographs of anonymous black and white male subjects. The results showed that those who had
been made to smile while looking at the black subjects showed less implicit prejudice towards
black men after the fact than those made to smile while looking only at white subjects.
Jeremy N. Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab,
reports on one study involving participants who are immersed in a virtual environment via a head-
mounted display. Some participants watched a virtual doppelgänger identical to them exercise,
some watched someone else’s virtual doppelgänger exercise, and some watched their own
doppelgänger stand still. Those who watched their “selves” exercise reported a higher belief that
they could exercise successfully, and later reported in a follow-up questionnaire that they had
worked out for almost one hour more than the other two participant groups. Furthermore, in a
follow-up study, the self-efficacy group of participants was asked to exercise while watching their
virtual avatar visibly lose weight for every minute they exercised. When told that they were
allowed to use the exercise room for the next half hour, they exercised 10 minutes longer than
participants in other control situations.
Self-perception theory lends itself to be useful in therapy or persuasion-related contexts.
Traditional therapeutical approaches might consider maladjusted behaviors and actions to be
motivated by inner psychological issues. By employing self-perception theory, therapists can take
the approach of starting with the behavior first to result in a change of attitudes, and ultimately a
more lasting change in behavior. In one example, this approach has been used to have teens
perform community service, which positively alters their self-image. They are thus less likely to
experience teenage pregnancies and to engage in other risky behaviors.
In the marketing and persuasion industry, self-perception theory has led to a variety of tactics
based on acquiring a small commitment from a person that will lead to a greater possibility that
the person will agree to larger requests from the seller/marketer. This is the basis behind the foot-
in-the-door tactic, in which a salesperson might ask a person for something relatively small, such
as filling out a questionnaire, which would make it easier to ask the person for a larger
commitment, since the act of fulfilling the small request would likely lead to the person altering
their self-image to explain their decision (i.e. I filled out the survey, therefore I must be the kind of
person who likes their products).
Q.4 Write a detailed note on culture and social diversity?
Cultural diversity exists in many countries around the world, but it can be challenging and, at
times, problematic. Through this lesson, you will learn how to define cultural diversity and explore
some of the ways in which it influences society.
If you were to grab a collection of take-out menus for the restaurants in your area, what would you
find? There are probably a few pizza places, maybe a Chinese or Japanese restaurant, and likely a
sandwich shop or two. Although you’ve likely never given it much thought, these restaurants are
usually the product of cultural diversity.
Cultural diversity is the term used to describe many different cultures co-existing within one
larger culture. For instance, the fact that we have access to so many different types of cuisine in the
United States is because people from other countries have immigrated to the US and brought
aspects of their own cultures with them. This means that under the umbrella of American culture
there are actually many different ethnic traditions being practiced in communities around the
Culture is the lens with which we evaluate everything around us; we evaluate what is proper or
improper, normal or abnormal, through our culture. If we are immersed in a culture that is unlike
our own we may experience culture shock and become disoriented when we come into contact
with a fundamentally different culture. People naturally use their own culture as the standard to
judge other cultures; however, passing judgment could reach a level where people begin to
discriminate against others whose “ways of being” are different than their own—essentially, we
tend to fear that which we do not understand.
Cultural diversity is important because our country, workplaces, and schools increasingly consist of
various cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. We can learn from one another, but first we must have a
level of understanding about each other in order to facilitate collaboration and cooperation.
Learning about other cultures helps us understand different perspectives within the world in which
we live, and helps dispel negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups.
In addition, cultural diversity helps us recognize and respect “ways of being” that are not
necessarily our own, so that as we interact with others we can build bridges to trust, respect, and
understanding across cultures. Furthermore, this diversity makes our country a more interesting
place to live, as people from diverse cultures contribute language skills, new ways of thinking, new
knowledge, and different experiences.
How can you support cultural diversity?
• Increase your level of understanding about other cultures by interacting with people
outside of your own culture—meaningful relationships may never develop simply due to a
lack of understanding.
• Avoid imposing values on others that may conflict or be inconsistent with cultures other
than your own.
• When interacting with others who may not be proficient in English, recognize that their
limitations in English proficiency in no way reflects their level of intellectual functioning.
• Recognize and understand that concepts within the helping profession, such as family,
gender roles, spirituality, and emotional well-being, vary significantly among cultures and
• Within the workplace, educational setting, and/or clinical setting, advocate for the use of
materials that are representative of the various cultural groups within the local community
and the society in general.
• Intervene in an appropriate manner when you observe others engaging in behaviors that
show cultural insensitivity, bias, or prejudice.
• Be proactive in listening, accepting, and welcoming people and ideas that are different from
Cultural diversity supports the idea that every person can make a unique and positive contribution
to the larger society because of, rather than in spite of, their differences. Imagine a place where
diversity is recognized and respected; various cultural ideas are acknowledged and valued;
contributions from all groups are encouraged; people are empowered to achieve their full
potential; and differences are celebrated.
Q.5 Critically discuss why do actions affect attitudes?.
In psychology, an attitude refers to a set of emotions, beliefs, and behaviors toward a particular
object, person, thing, or event. Attitudes are often the result of experience or upbringing, and they
can have a powerful influence over behavior. While attitudes are enduring, they can also change.
What’s your opinion on the death penalty? Which political party does a better job of running the
country? Should prayer be allowed in schools? Should violence on television be regulated?
Chances are that you probably have fairly strong opinions on these and similar questions. You’ve
developed attitudes about such issues, and these attitudes influence your beliefs as well as your
behavior. Attitudes are an important topic of study within the field of social psychology. But what
exactly is an attitude? How does it develop?
How Psychologists Define Attitudes
Psychologists define attitudes as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. This can
include evaluations of people, issues, objects, or events. Such evaluations are often positive or
negative, but they can also be uncertain at times. For example, you might have mixed feelings
about a particular person or issue.
Researchers also suggest that there are several different components that make up attitudes.1
The components of attitudes are sometimes referred to as CAB or the ABC’s of attitude.
• Cognitive Component: your thoughts and beliefs about the subject.
• Affective Component: how the object, person, issue, or event makes you feel.
• Behavioral Component: how the attitude influences your behavior.
Attitudes can also be explicit and implicit. Explicit attitudes are those that we are consciously aware
of and that clearly influence our behaviors and beliefs. Implicit attitudes are unconscious but still
have an effect on our beliefs and behaviors.
There are a number of factors that can influence how and why attitudes form.
Attitudes form directly as a result of experience. They may emerge due to direct personal
experience, or they may result from observation.
Social roles and social norms can have a strong influence on attitudes. Social roles relate to how
people are expected to behave in a particular role or context. Social norms involve society’s rules
for what behaviors are considered appropriate.
Attitudes can be learned in a variety of ways. Consider how advertisers use classical conditioning to
influence your attitude toward a particular product. In a television commercial, you see young,
beautiful people having fun on a tropical beach while enjoying a sports drink. This attractive and
appealing imagery causes you to develop a positive association with this particular beverage.
Operant conditioning can also be used to influence how attitudes develop. Imagine a young man
who has just started smoking. Whenever he lights up a cigarette, people complain, chastise him,
and ask him to leave their vicinity. This negative feedback from those around him eventually
causes him to develop an unfavorable opinion of smoking and he decides to give up the habit.
Finally, people also learn attitudes by observing the people around them. When someone you
admire greatly espouses a particular attitude, you are more likely to develop the same beliefs. For
example, children spend a great deal of time observing the attitudes of their parents and usually
begin to demonstrate similar outlooks.
Attitudes and Behavior
We tend to assume that people behave according to their attitudes. However, social psychologists
have found that attitudes and actual behavior are not always perfectly aligned.2
After all, plenty of
people support a particular candidate or political party and yet fail to go out and vote.
Factors that Influence Attitude Strength
People are more likely to behave according to their attitudes under certain conditions:
• When your attitudes are the result of personal experience.
• When you are an expert on the subject.
• When you expect a favorable outcome.
• When the attitudes are repeatedly expressed.
• When you stand to win or lose something due to the issue.
Attitudes Can Change to Match Behavior
In some cases, people may actually alter their attitudes in order to better align them with their
behavior. Cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon in which a person experiences psychological
distress due to conflicting thoughts or beliefs.3
In order to reduce this tension, people may change
their attitudes to reflect their other beliefs or actual behaviors.
Cognitive Dissonance and Ways to Resolve It
An Example of Changing an Attitude Due to Cognitive Dissonance
Imagine the following situation: You’ve always placed a high value on financial security, but you
start dating someone who is very financially unstable. In order to reduce the tension caused by the
conflicting beliefs and behavior, you have two options.
You can end the relationship and seek out a partner who is more financially secure, or you can de-
emphasize fiscal stability importance. In order to minimize the dissonance between your
conflicting attitude and behavior, you either have to change the attitude or change your actions.
While attitudes can have a powerful effect on behavior, they are not set in stone. The same
influences that lead to attitude formation can also create attitude change.4
• Learning Theory of Attitude Change: Classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and
observational learning can be used to bring about attitude change. Classical conditioning
can be used to create positive emotional reactions to an object, person, or event by
associating positive feelings with the target object. Operant conditioning can be used to
strengthen desirable attitudes and weaken undesirable ones. People can also change their
attitudes after observing the behavior of others.
• Elaboration Likelihood Theory of Attitude Change: This theory of persuasion suggests
that people can alter their attitudes in two ways. First, they can be motivated to listen and
think about the message, thus leading to an attitude shift. Or, they might be influenced by
characteristics of the speaker, leading to a temporary or surface shift in attitude. Messages
that are thought-provoking and that appeal to logic are more likely to lead to permanent
changes in attitudes.
• Dissonance Theory of Attitude Change: As mentioned earlier, people can also change
their attitudes when they have conflicting beliefs about a topic. In order to reduce the
tension created by these incompatible beliefs, people often shift their attitudes.