Psychology 2035A/B Lecture Notes - Dispositional Attribution, Social Perception, Fritz Heider

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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
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?
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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
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
- 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:
oanalysis 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)
oall actions (chosen and non chosen) have potential effects (consequences)
osome will be common to both chosen and non-chosen actions
oe.g. attending a hockey game and not attending the opera have leaving the house
in common
osome 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
** the one non-common effect will tell us something about lisa and why she chose to marry
**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
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