GRE Subject Test: Psychology : Attitudes & Behavior

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Subject Test: Psychology

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Attitudes & Behavior

It has been observed that, over time, the persuasive power of a highly credible source (i.e. a physicist) decreases, while the persuasive power of a low-credibility source (i.e. a supermarket tabloid) increases. Which of the following identifies the term used by social psychologists to describe this odd phenomenon?

Possible Answers:

Sleeper effect

Low credibility effect

Social learning

Delayed-persuasion effect

Social loafing

Correct answer:

Sleeper effect

Explanation:

The sleeper effect is a term coined by Hovland and Weiss (1952), two psychologists who prepared several articles on controversial topics, such as the feasibility of an atomic-powered submarine. American subjects read the articles, and Hovland and Weiss measured their opinions on the subject. They found that communications by high-credibility sources (such as the acclaimed physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer) were more persuasive, but over time its power decreased while the persuasive power of the low-credibility source increased. 

Example Question #2 : Attitudes & Behavior

People tend to believe that shark attacks kill more people than asthma, even though the reverse is true. Which of the following social-psychological concepts could help to explain this phenomenon?

Possible Answers:

The availability heuristic

Social facilitation

Group polarization

The representativeness heuristic

Correct answer:

The availability heuristic

Explanation:

When individuals make decisions based on how easy it is to imagine similar instances, they're using what is known as the availability heuristic. Shark attacks are far more likely to be covered by news sources than asthma-related deaths; thus, stories of shark-related deaths are more available in one's memory.

Example Question #3 : Attitudes & Behavior

Cindy pledges to join a sorority and goes through a series of difficult and challenging events, until she is finally accepted into the sorority. According to Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory, what will happen to Cindy's beliefs about the sorority?

Possible Answers:

She will like the sorority less.

She will like the sorority more. 

Her beliefs will not change. 

She will quit the sorority. 

Correct answer:

She will like the sorority more. 

Explanation:

According to cognitive dissonance theory, Cindy will feel conflicted over her desire to join the sorority and need to complete difficult challenges. After she is a part of the sorority, she will attempt to manage this conflict by liking the sorority more; therefore, justifying her actions. 

Example Question #4 : Attitudes & Behavior

Gary passes an accident on the road while driving. He sees that one car has hit another. If he is committing the fundamental attribution error, then he would be most likely to say which of the following?

Possible Answers:

I'm a much safer driver

The driver must have been inattentive

The driver has bad luck

Everyone makes mistakes

The bad weather is responsible for the accident

Correct answer:

The driver must have been inattentive

Explanation:

The fundamental attribution error is the tendency to attribute other people's behaviors to internal or dispositional factors. A person who passes a car accident and commits the fundamental attribution error would attribute blame for the accident to the person. The fundamental attribution error does not say anything about how we make attributions about our own behavior; however, the actor-observer bias says that we tend to make dispositional attributions for the behavior of others and situational attributions for our own behaviors. 

Example Question #5 : Attitudes & Behavior

According to the bystander effect, a person would be most likely to receive help during a medical emergency under which of the following circumstances?

Possible Answers:

He is in a large crowd

He is elderly

There is only one or two other people present

The medical emergency is common

He is a doctor

Correct answer:

There is only one or two other people present

Explanation:

The bystander effect is related to diffusion of responsibility, and states that bystanders are less likely to help a victim if other bystanders are present. For example, if a person is having a medical emergency, he will be less likely to be helped if he is in a large crowd. The bystander effect says he would be most likely to be helped if only one or two other people are present, since the bystanders are more likely to feel responsible for helping. 

Example Question #6 : Attitudes & Behavior

Consider the following scenario: Nancy shows up to school wearing a brand new outfit that she really likes. When she arrives at school, Nancy notices that Susan (who Nancy has disliked for a long time) is wearing the exact same outfit as Nancy. Nancy decides that Susan isn't so bad after all.

 This scenario best reflects which social psychological construct?

Possible Answers:
Diffusion of responsibility

 

Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory

 

Fundamental attribution error

Gain-Loss principle

Correct answer:
Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory

 

Explanation:
Cognitive dissonance is the conflict that you feel when your attitudes are not in synch with your behaviors. In order to resolve the dissonance, the theory suggests that individuals either change their attitudes (in this case, deciding that Susan was okay) OR change their behavior (would have occurred if Nancy had stopped wearing the outfit). The fundamental attribution error is the tendency to attribute someone else's negative outcome to their individual character or personality while attributing our own negative outcomes to our circumstances. The gain-loss principle suggests that an evaluation that changes over time has more of an impact than an evaluation that remains constant over time. Diffusion of responsibility occurs when an individual assumes less personal responsibility in a given situation when there are other people present.

Example Question #7 : Attitudes & Behavior

Consider the following scenario: Jake failed a math test last Friday. His schoolmates accuse him of being dumb and unintelligent, and Jake responds by stating that he had slept very poorly and not been able to study as much as he had wanted. 

This scenario best reflects which social psychological construct?

Possible Answers:

Gain-loss principle

Diffusion of responsibility

Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory

Fundamental attribution error

Correct answer:

Fundamental attribution error

Explanation:

The fundamental attribution error is the tendency to people to attribute a negative outcome to individual characteristics when it refers to someone else (Jake being dumb) and attribute a negative outcome to the context of the situation when it refers to themselves (Jake citing his lack of sleep and studying). Cognitive dissonance is the conflict that you feel when your attitudes are not in synch with your behaviors. The gain-loss principle suggests that an evaluation that changes over time has more of an impact than an evaluation that remains constant over time. Diffusion of responsibility occurs when an individual assumes less personal responsibility in a given situation when there are other people present.

Example Question #8 : Attitudes & Behavior

A worker receives evaluations from her supervisor every four months. According to Aronson's gain-loss principle, which of the following scenarios would result in the worker having the strongest attraction toward the supervisor at the end of the year?

Possible Answers:

Positive evaluation, positive evaluation, and negative evaluation

Negative evaluation, negative evaluation, and positive evaluation

Positive evaluation, negative evaluation, and negative evaluation

Positive evaluation, positive evaluation, and positive evaluation

Correct answer:

Negative evaluation, negative evaluation, and positive evaluation

Explanation:
Aronson's gain-loss principle states that an evaluation that changes will have more of an impact than an evaluation that remains constant. Therefore, the worker would like the manager most if their evaluation had become more positive (e.g. shown a gain) over time compared to the manager who has consistently given the worker a positive evaluation or the manager who had shown a loss (e.g. received a negative evaluation after a positive evaluation).

Example Question #9 : Attitudes & Behavior

Tony used to believe that studying for exams was a waste of time, but now that he is using Varsity Tutors and other online resources, he is beginning to think they have value. Tony is most likely experiencing...

Possible Answers:

Role playing

Social Loafing

Cognitive dissonance

Foot in the door phenomenon

Social judgement theory

Correct answer:

Cognitive dissonance

Explanation:

Cognitive dissonance is the theory that your attitudes and actions will eventually align; if they are not congruent, either your attitudes or your actions will change. In this case, Tony's attitude is changing to align with his actions (using online testing resources). 

Example Question #10 : Attitudes & Behavior

Which social psychologist is not correctly matched with his/her most famous finding?

Possible Answers:

Festinger: cognitive dissonance

Milgram: obedience

Ashe: door in the face

Zimbardo: role playing

Sheriff: social judgement

Correct answer:

Ashe: door in the face

Explanation:

Solomon Ashe was most famous for his conformity study, the line test. The social psychologist most widely recognized for door in the face is Robert Cialdini. 

All GRE Subject Test: Psychology Resources

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