Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Self Defeating Behaviour
Different kinds of things that go on in your head when you make certain behaviour choices.
If the cost of a decision is far enough removed, we don’t seem to give them equal weight in
our decisions (eg: concert ticket example). So while we know that smoking is associated
with bad consequences, it is not today that you will have cardiovascular disease or lung
cancer. Important in health and mental health is that non-compliance with medication is
one of the biggest problems.
Usually there is a short term benefit for behaviour that has long term consequences. Our
minds do not weigh these long term benefits very much.
People are in such a state of internal pain that they just want to end it.
NEXT POWER POINT
Cognitive: computer-like, input and output functions, computer metaphor for what is
happening inside your head. Understanding the mechanics of cognition will help us
understand some of the social things.
How humans try to ascribe causes to behaviours they see in other people. If you make an
internal attribution for a negative event, you will feel worse than if you make an external
attribution for it. When we see someone acting in a certain way, we will ask if it is because
of something about them, or something about the situation.
When you see someone walk across the street and notice that someone dropped a glove and
returned it: you will not be aware that you did attributional processing (it is not always in
consciousness). Some would say that in order to understand the event, you had to have
made attributional inferences (asking yourself why they did it). You will think of it as a
helpful act only if you think of them as a helpful person; you can only do that if you did
attributional processing. Attribution gives the observation meaning, and without them
observations would have no meaning.
Negative or unexpected events: eg someone randomly breaking up with you. Typically,
when it is a positive outcome you won’t engage in as much attributional processing. Eg: if a
team comes in that just won a game; they just replay the event in stories. But if they lost,
then you will hear a lot of attributions being made.
Next Slide It is thought that in our heads we think about how much of a behaviour we attribute to a
person, and to what degree we will explain it by elements of the situation.
One of the things you ask is why the person did it. A courtroom situation is all about
attributional processing. You want the judge to make an attributional inference if you are
the prosecution, and you do not want this to happen if you are the defence (then you would
want situational information to be thought of).
Fritz Heider is a philosopher who in the 1950s put out a book where he put forward what
would become the foundation of the domain of social cognition. He was the first to
emphasize the importance of attributions and the inferences we make about the causes of
events. He said that this is something that we have to do, and without it there is no
coherence in social perception. He was pretty much suggesting that attributions were the
basic units of analysis in social psychology.
Interesting about the inferences that we will be making about other people’s behaviour is
that if we were going to be making the same behaviour in ourselves, we would not be
attributing the same causes at all. For yourself, you will be much more likely to appeal to
external causes for bad things. Even in a positive situation, you do not make internal
attributions as easily as you would when watching someone else (eg: giving spare change).
Slide with scale (1-7)
One of the things that Heider tells us is that when we can, we will favour dispositional
attributions for other’s behaviours, even when it does not make much sense. Eg: if we see a
person behaving in a way consistent with a certain dispositional inference, we will opt for it.
Why would we sometimes neglect other information that might be important in favour of a
dispositional inference? Whether they are accurate or not, it allows us to have a sense of
certainty about people’s behaviour in the future. Heider says that this gives us a sense of
predictability in the world. Without this, our world would be more chaotic.
One question raised: if they really our your building blocks in our sense of coherency in the
world, they really should be something automatic (without thinking). But it is hard to
measure something outside of consciousness (you cannot tell someone what is happening
below the level of consciousness in the mind).
Example: your brain keeps track of basic frequency information even if you were not paying
attention (last bullet); it is automatic. This is something that we are born with.
Next Slide Example: pretend you’re in a study, read the sentences. We are shown ~70, and then after
we are supposed to remember all of the sentences we heard.
Recall all the sentences
They give you different types of clues. The two groups are different types of cues. The top
ones are words in the sentences that were read, and the bottom ones are dispositional
inferences that we might have made about the person enacting the behaviour.
The dispositional inferences were better cues than the words in the actual sentences. Since
this is better for recall, this strongly suggests that when we stored the information about the
sentence, we also stored the dispositional inferences. This was not additional processing
that we had to do in understanding the sentence. This gives some insight on the degree of
automaticity. All studies suggest that in comprehending information, we are making
dispositional inferences that will be favoured over other ones.
People generally have a positive impression of psychotherapists.
They focus only on us for an entire hour. Because they l