Fundamental Attribution Error
We make this error even when we are given the correct facts:Williams College study:
A women was paid and told to act friendly to some students, unfriendly to others.The
students felt that her behaviour was part of her disposition, even when they were told
that she was just obeying instructions.
Self vs. Other/Actors and Observers
• When we explain our OWN behaviour, we party reverse the fundamental attribution
error: we tend to blame the situation for our failures (although we take personal
credit for successes).
• This happens not just out of selﬁshness: it happens whenever we take the
perspective of the actor in a situation, which is easiest to do for ourselves and people
we know well.
People in collectivist cultures (those which emphasize group unity, allegiance, and
purpose over the wishes of the individual), do not make the same kinds of attributions:
1. The behaviour of others is attributed more to the situation; also,
2. Credit for successes is given more to others,
3. Blame for failures is taken on oneself.
▯ Political Effects of Attribution
When we see someone who is in dirty clothes and is asking for money, what do we
assume is the cause of the person’s behaviour?
1. Too lazy or incompetent to get a job?
2. Lost home due to medical bills and now unable to get in a condition to compete
for scarce jobs?
Would your assumptions What solutions and policies
change if the person were make sense if you make the
drunk? Or spoke articulately? ﬁrst attributions?The second?
Attitudes and Actions
Attitude: Feelings,ideas,and beliefs that affect how we approach and react to other people,
Attitudes, by deﬁnition, affect our actions;
We shall see late that our actions can also inﬂuence our attitudes.
Central Route Persuasion: Going directly through the rational mind, inﬂuencing
attitudes with evidence and logic. (“My product has been proven more effective”)
Peripheral Route Persuasion: Changing attitudes by going around the rational mind
and appealing to fears, desires, associations. (“People who buy my product are happy,
▯ Attitudes affect our actions when:
1. External inﬂuences are minimal
2. The attitude is stable
3. The attitude is speciﬁc to the behaviour
4. The attitude is easily recalled.
“I feel like [attitude] eating at McD’s, and I will [action];”
1. There are no nutritionists here telling me not to,
2. I’ve enjoyed their food for quite a while,
3. It’s so easy to get the food when I have a craving,
4. It’s easy to remember how good it is when I drive by that big sign every day.
Actions affect attitudes:
If attitudes direct our actions, can it work the other way around? How can it happen
that we can take an action which in turn shifts our attitude about that action?
Through three social-cognitive mechanisms:
• The foot in the Door Phenomenon
• The Effects of Playing a Role, and
• Cognitive Dissonance
Small Compliance —> Large Compliance
A political campaigner asks if you would open the door just enough to pass a
clipboard through. [Or a foot]
You agree to this.
Then you agree to sign a petition.
Then you agree to make a
small contribution. By check.
What happened here? Small Compliance —> Large Compliance
The Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon: the tendency to be more likely to agree to a large
request after agreeing to a small one.
Effect on attitudes: People adjust their attitudes along with their actions, liking the
people they agree to help, disliking the people they agreed to harm.
Role Playing Affects Attitudes
“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the
multitude, without ﬁnally getting bewildered as to which may be true [face].
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
“Fake it till you make it.”
- Alcoholics Anonymous slogan
When we play a role, even if we know it is just pretending, we eventually tend to adopt
the attitudes that go with the role, and become the role.
• In arranged marriages,people often come to have a deep love for the person they marry.
• Actors say they“lose themselves”in roles.
• they were randomly assigned to;ison Study ended up adopting the attitudes of whatever roles
-“guards”had demeaning views of“prisoners”
-“prisoners”had rebellious dislike of the“guards”
Cognitive Dissonance:When our actions are not in harmony with our attitudes.
Cognitive DissonanceTheory: the observation that we tend to resolve this dissonance
by changing our attitudes to ﬁt our actions.
▯ Social Inﬂuence
Social situations have many ways of inﬂuencing our behaviour, attitudes, beliefs, and
decisions.This social inﬂuence can take many forms, including:
• Group situations and group behaviour, which leads to
• social facilitation
• social loaﬁng
Conformity: Mimicry and more
Conformity refers to adjusting our behaviour or thinking to ﬁt in with a group
The power of Conformity has many components and forms, including:
• Automatic Mimicry affecting behaviour
• Social Norms affecting our thinking
• Normative and informational Social inﬂuence
Some of our mimicry of other people is not by choice, but automatic:
• ContagiousYawning, as well as contagious arm folding, hand wringing, face
• Adopting regional accents, grammar, and vocabulary
• Empathetic shifts in mood that ﬁt the mood of the people around us
• Adopting coping styles of parents or peers, including violence, yelling, withdrawal
▯ The Chameleon Effect: Unconscious Mimicry
In an experiment, a confederate/collaborator of the experimenter intentionally rubbed
his/her face or shook a foot; this seemed to lead to a greater likelihood of the study
participant doing the same behaviour.
Responding to Social Norms
When we are with other people and perceive a social norm (a “correct” or “normal”
way to behave or think in this group), our behaviour may follow the norm rather than
following our own judgment
• Asch Conformity studies:About one third of people will agree with obvious
mistruths to go along with the group.
What makes you more likely to conform?
• You are not ﬁrmly committed to one set of beliefs or style of behaviour
• The group is medium sized and unanimous.
• You admire or are attracted to the group.
The group tries to make you feel incompetent, insecure, and closely watched.
• Your culture encourages respect for norms.
Two types of social inﬂuence
Normative Social Inﬂuence:
Example:Going along with others in pursuit of social approval or belonging (and to
avoid disapproval/rejection) ;The Asch conformity studies; clothing choices.
Informational Social Inﬂuence:
Example:Going along with others because their ideas and behaviour make sense, the
evidence in our social environment changes our minds. ; Deciding which side of the
road to drive on. Obedience: Response to Commands
Milgram wanted to study the inﬂuence of direct commands on behaviour.
The question: Under what social conditions are people more likely to obey
The experiment: An authority ﬁgure tells participants to administer shocks to a
“learner” (who was actually a confederate of the researcher) when the learner gives
Voltages increased; how high would people go?
Compliance in Milgram’s study
• In surveys, most people predict that in such a situation they would stop
administering shocks when the “learner” expressed pain.
• But in reality, even when the learner complained of a heart condition, most people
complied with the experiment’s directions:
•“You must continue”
•“The experiment requires that you continue”
How factors Increase Obedience?
• When orders were given by:
Someone with legitimate authority
• Someone associated