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Lecture 10

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McGill University
PSYC 331
Donald Taylor

LECTURE 10 AFFIRMATIVE ACTION th February 6 , 2013 ATTRIBUTION THEORY  Fritz Heider o Mister balance theory  He wrote a paper about a guy rowing a boat across the river  It led to an explosion almost as big as for cognitive dissonance theory  He questioned: o What are the factors that might determine whether or not a guy will get across that river? o The point Heider was making is that there is a bunch of factors that determine how someone can get from one side of the river to the other  POINT: Heider was bringing BEHAVIOR in the equation of social judgment o HUGE! Understanding = Cause  When we make judgments about others and about ourselves, we try to understand the other person o That is the initial reason why we do judgment  Why do we want to understand another person then? o We want to understand other people to be better able to interact with them  By understanding, we know how to interact with that person  What is it about them that I want to understand? o Their BEHAVIOR o Bingo! o Now, we have behavior in the equation  The idea is that we can now simplify behavior and thus get a way to study it  Scientists ultimately want to understand the universe they live in o By understanding we mean knowing the cause of an event  Not describing o Understanding is translated to finding the causes  There is a small problem: o We spend our days trying to understand the behavior of everyone and of our own behavior as well o POINT: I simply don’t have enough time to analyze the behavior of everyone, all the time  So I make short-cuts ATTRIBUTING POSSIBLE CAUSES OF A BEHAVIOR  Every time we are confronted with a piece of behavior, we immediately think about the possible causes for such behavior  At some point, I will arrive at a decision about what cause the person’s behavior  If I am wrong, the interaction will go badly in many ways o The misunderstanding of the cause of the behavior is going to lead to different expectations and the gap between the 2 persons will increase A) Internal/external  I can take any behavior and of all the causes that I list, I can divide these causes into 2 categories: internal/external  This is a fundamental distinction  Internal o Inside the individual  Ex: The personality of the rower  External o No controllable by the individual  Ex: How much courant is in the river B) Stable/unstable  Is the cause of the behavior stable or unstable?  Stable o It is not going to change o You know that you will have to deal with it all the time  Ex: The guy rowing the boat is not very strong  Unstable o Something that changes all the time  Ex: How hard you try to row the boat is unstable as our motivation, our effort are unstable Only 4 categories possible to categorize a given behavior  Stable/exterior  Stable/interior  Unstable/exterior  Unstable/interior Example: Student meets professor to discuss failed exam  A student comes to Taylor’s office to discuss a failed exam  The key here is the professor since he is the one judging the behavior of the student and consequently adjusting his attitude toward him or her  Behavior: Student obtained 22% on the midterm  Taylor’s attitude toward the student is driven by his attribution of the behavior  As we can see, it is all about the causal attribution analysis Internal/Stable attribution  Internal o This is something about the student  Stable o It is not going to change tomorrow  Taylor’s attribution o The student is stupid o He cannot do better o He wants to understand the student and his understanding is that he is stupid o In this case, his attribution impacts his whole reaction  Consequence o He would be gentle Internal/Unstable attribution  Internal o This is something about the student  Unstable o He didn’t work hard enough for that exam  Taylor’s attribution o He is lazy  Consequence: o No mercy o The professor is not going to give him another chance External/Stable  External o Long-term illness that prevented the student from doing well on the exam  Stable: o She got sick, it is not going to change  Taylor’s attribution o He pities her  Consequence o He would change the academic setting so to accommodate the stud
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