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Lecture: Person Perceptions- Attributions and Errors

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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

Person Perception: Attributions and Errors Part 1: Attribution Theory- Perceiving the Causes of Behaviour A. Fritz Heider - how ordinary people make sense of other people’s behaviour - unterested in how we come to see stability in an unstable world - why is a chair always the same regardless of the direction that you look at it - how do you know that a ball will roll and a wooden block will not - if an intelligent student does poorly on an exam will you still see them as intelligent? 1. Heider’s Insights: a) we perceive stability by making attributions  Person Attributions: aka “dispositional” or internal attributions- they reflect stable properties of people. E.g. we might attribute friendly behaviour to friendly disposition. Environment Attribution: aka “situational” or external attributions- reflect stable properties of environments. E.g. if you see someone engage in friendly behaviour you might conclude that it’s because the situation demanded to them to behave that way b) we have a need to perceive stability  we cannot tolerate a world that changes from minute to minute  gives us a sense of understanding, prediction, and control over our world B. he was particularly interested in personal attributions 2. Person attributions depend on perceived intentions  equifinality: person’s behaviour is directed toward a single goal despite changes in circumstances ; conclude that a person intended the behaviour (sets the stage for person attributions) e.g. if you miss the exam without a reason, he moves toward the student to yell at him and gets past everything in his way (distractions which change the environment) to get to that student meaning that he always had the intention of getting to that student so his behaviour came from within him not from changes in the environment; directed towards a single goal - he published a book called “interpersonal relations” in 1958 - people didn’t pay much attention to him at the time that he published his book - Jones nad Davis in 1965 reserected Heider’s ideas and made a new theory Correspondant Inference Theory - how do we make dispositional attributions after obswrving othe rpeople’s behaviour? - Jones and Davis - How do we get from the preson’s acts to understanding their dispositions? - Their paper was called from acts to dispositions - Watch him driving and he swirves to not hit a cute kitten on the road. Is he a kind person? Can you make that dispositional attribution by observing his behaviour? (swirving) 1. A “two-step” process (NOT the same as pg179) - Step 1: Was the behaviour intended?  was the behaviour freely chosen? E.g. if there was a guy holding a gun to his head telling him to do it you would NOT conclude that this was an intentional behaviour  can the person foresee the concequences of their behaviour? E.g. if he couldn’t even see the kitten and was swirving to miss a pothole. Thus, he didn’t see the kitten and could not foresee the consequences  if NO the behaviour is perceived as Unintended- we then cannot infer anything about a person’s disposition  if YES- the behaviour is perceived as intended and we can now proceed to step 2 - Step 2: Make a dispositional attribution (or “correspondent inference”)  the inference is corresponded if the same label can be used to describe “behaviour” and the underlying disposition (e.g. FRIENDLY behaviour, thus FRIENDLY person- same label so you can intfer the correspondence)  How do we do this? 2 approaches: o analysis of non-common effects associated with the chosen action; for every action we choose to take, there are other actions that we choose not to take (chosen and non-chosen actions- e.g. CHOOSING to attend Western makes it the chosen act and other universities are the NON CHOSEN acts) o all actions (chosen and non chosen) have potential effects (consequences) o some will be common to both chosen and non-chosen actions o e.g. attending a hockey game and not attending the opera have leaving the house in common o some effects will be non-common (or unique) to the chosen action  e.g. opera you hear beautiful music in a relaxing environment,. And you do NOT see that at a hockey game (loud, fights. Adrenaline) - Correcpondant Inderences are most likely/easiest to make when chosen actions have a few non-common effects; single unique effect - Lisa married Ted ( not Dirk) Ted (chosen act) Dirk (non-chosen act) Effect Good looking Good looking Common effects Nice personality Nice personality “romantic” “romantic” Wants kids NO kids Non-common effect Santa Barbara NYC Too many non-common Wealthy Poor effects ** the one non-common effect will tell us something about lisa and why she chose to marry ted **she’s nurturing so she wants kid so she’ll marry ted cause he wants kids too **if we add more non-common effects it makes it harder to make an inference **becomes hard to draw the inferences b/c there are 2 many non common effects b. CI most likely when behaviour disconforms expectancies e.g. “category- based” expectancies (expectrations for a group of people) – when a member of a group goes against these expectations you make an inference; you wouldn’t be surprised to see a drunk student at a party and you woulodn’t learn anything about thme b/c it’s expected but if a prof did it you would infer conclusions about them cause you don’t expect that from them. E.g. a firefighter is not called heroic when they walk into a burning building b/c you expect it from them whereas if a nomrla person did it, it would be UNexpectged and thus you would infer something like heroism about that person thus, if a behaviour is unexpected it’s informative 2. Motivational Biases a. hedonic relevance: we’ll make CI’s when a person’s behaviour pleases or displeases US vs someone else EVEN if it’s unintended. (original theory says that a behaviuour has to be intentional) – if u park
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