PSYCH 1X03 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Fundamental Attribution Error, Psych, Representativeness Heuristic

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Web Module 11: Forming Impressions
Psych 1X03
November 17, 2014
Social Psychology
oExperiences of social events and interactions have taught
people to quickly form impressions of others around them
oAutomatic judgements
oCategorizes the personality and behavior of others
oInfluence on how you judge your own actions and beliefs
Social Perceptions: influence how you interpret your behavior and
the behaviors of individuals and groups
For every observed behavior, there are many possible motivating
Attribution Theories
Information can be collected by simple observation
The ultimate interpretation of the behavior leads to the formation of
an impression, which may or may not be accurate
oCorrespondant inference theory: actively analyze a
person’s behavior to make inferences based on three
variables: degree of choice, expectation and the intended
consequences of the behavior
Degree of choice: role that may have be chosen or
given-did they personally choose to act in the observed
Expectation: how expected a particular behavior is;
uncommon behavior provides more information than
common information-typical behacior provides less
information for inferring an underlying cause
Intention of the behavior: the motivation behind the
behavior, typically towards a specific goal
oCovariation Theory: predicts how you can determine if a
given behavior is due to an individual’s personal disposition
OR the situation and circumstances-also based on three
variables: consistency, distinctiveness and consensus
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Consistency: does the individual usually behave this
way in this situation?
YES continue seeking explanation
Distinctiveness: does the individual behave differently in
different situations?
YES situational
NO dispositional
Consensus: do others behave similarly in this situation?
YES situational
NO dispositional
The Fundamental Attribution Error
Fundamental Attribution Error: tendency to over-value dispositional
factors for the observed behaviors of others while under-valuing
situational factors
oEx: driving, other people are “bad drivers” rather than just
being stuck in traffic
oCoined by psychologist Ross
oPsychologist Jones: overly provocative and somewhat
isleading, but most importantly angry that he didn’t think of it
oActor-observer Effect: the difference in how you perceive your
behavior and that of others
Yours: situational > dispositional
Theirs: situational < dispositional
Cultural Differences
oThe fundamental attribution error is most widely observed in
Western society
oAttributions are made as a function of age
American adults tend to attribute behaviors to personal
factors more often than situational factors
8-11 children: both factors are equal
Indian adults tend to attribute behaviors to situational
factors more often
oFundamental attribution error is diminished in collectivist
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Less focus on individualist behavior, but on relationships
and roles in the society
oObservational studies in Olympics: American gold winners
attribute winning to determination and talent, Japanese gold
winenrs attribute performance to coaching team and
Self-serving bias
oYour tendency to perceive yourself favourably
oCombination of actor-pbserver effect and fundamental
attribution error
oAbove Average Effect: you identify dispositional causes for
your successes and situational causes for your failures
Contributes to an exaggerated view of abilities
Positive events:
Actors: dispositional explanations
Ex: I am brilliant
Observers: situational explanations
Ex: the test was pretty easy
Negative events:
Actors: situational explanations
Ex: the test was impossibly hard
Observers: dispositional explanations
Ex: not smart enough for the course
Cognitive Heuristics
Social situations= complex of information to consider, but limited
attention to put towards a task
Heuristics shape the processing speed of social perceptions to
automatically make quick decisions about incoming information
from the environment
oShort cuts
oCan lead to biases, as they are not necessarily representative
of reality
Representativeness heuristic: classify people by considering how
well their behavior fits with a certain prototype
oEx: the description given was more representative of a type
of person
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