PSYCH101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Fundamental Attribution Error, Fritz Heider, Trailer Park

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14 Aug 2016
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Psychology Notes: Week 11: Social Psychology II
Definitions:
Notes:
- The Perceiver Shapes Reality
oFundamental Attribution Error, attempts to answer, why do people do what they
do,
Origin: Fritz Heider, fleeing from Nazi Germany- brought with them
strong Gestalt traditions, if the whole is not equal to the sum of its part is
more relevant when we come to understand what another person is like,
person perception was a natural extension from perception of objects.
When you perceive somebody, how do you decide what type of person
they are?
He focused on why did they do it.
Dispositional Attribution- attributing the behaviour to the person,
Situational attribution- the behaviour has been influenced by the
situation,
What do people do when they see someone engage in a particular
behaviour?
Jones and Harris Essay Study (1967)
oHad subjects read essays that were either pro-Castro or
anti-Castro
oThe situation was that either the individual had chosen to
write the essay or they were given no choice.
oDoes the behaviour reflect their attitudes, the type of person
they are, or the reflection of the situation,
Fundamental Attribution Error: Assume that the person is doing
the behaviour because that’s the kind of person they are
Ross, Amabile, and Steimetz Game Show Study:
oOne person was the game show host, the other was the
contestant,
oThe questioner got to pick any 10 things that they thought
they knew, and that somebody else would be unlikely to
know.
oThe observers watching the game show,
oThere should be no inference of one being smarter than the
other,
oResult:
Contestants rated that the questioner would be
smarter than the contestant,
Observers’ rating believed that questioners would
be way smarter than the contestant!
Heider: Behaviour engulfs the field,
oBehaviour stands out (figure) and the situation is ground,
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oSince the focus is on the behaviour, and is therefore
attributed to the person.
If this were the case, the Fundamental Attribution Error would be
basic perceptual processing,
oIt would be the same everywhere in the world,
oCulture plays a big role- teaching what is the typical reason
that someone behaves the way that they do.
oWestern cultures emphasize independence, autonomy of
the individuals, and that people can and should make their
own choice- more likely to make person attributions.
oEastern cultures emphasize that people need to live in
harmony with one another, the need to fit into society, and
need to honour one’s responsibility- highlight situational
pressure they have to face, more sensitive,
oStereotyping,
Based on a certain characterization of what members of a specific group is
like,
Can lead to a certain expectation of what we think people are going to be
like, and we are going to tend to read into their behaviour,
Suggests that a particular content will be read into this behaviour, even
when its not there.
Study by Darley and Gross (1983)
Subjects were to watch Hannah takes a test, and try to figure out
what kind of student she is,
The standardized test is half verbal, half math.
Hannah’s performance is baffling so that it is not easy to tell how
intelligent she really is,
Set a stereotype to see if she would affect how smart the subjects
thought she was,
Part of the subjects would see Hannah was picked up in front of a
huge mansion, the others would see Hannah being picked up out of
a trailer park.
Half the subjects were to judge how smart she was based solely on
where she lived, the other half watched her actually engage in their
standardized test
When the performance isn’t viewed, they may think that she’s only
a little smarter, pretty even.
When the performance is viewed, the people thought that she was a
lot smarter when coming when she came from the mansion
Automatic activation of stereotypes affect evaluations – Devine (1989)
There are times people rely on and use stereotypes without being
conscious that they are,
Devine wanted to see if she activated a stereotype about blacks,
without people being aware of it, could affect the evaluation of a
person whose race was totally unknown.
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Subliminally primed half the subjects with words related to the
stereotypes of blacks by quickly flashing words on a screen in
other unrelated words,
They then read a story about Donald, who was really just a jackass.
Was able to show that when the subjects were primed with black
stereotypes, they found Donald to be aggressive,
Moreover, she was able to show that a persons’ level of prejudice
didn’t make any differences,
Presumably, it would also affect their evaluation of someone that
they met who is black.
It can affect our evaluations of people, even if we’re not aware,
Can also use stereotypes to achieve our own desired conclusions,
UW study by Sinclair & Kunda (1999)
Subjects gave an oral presentation in which they were to make a
pitch about why they should get a job,
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