CHAPTER 3 – Social Beliefs and judgements
· Describe the fundamental attribution error and understand why it occurs
· Distinguish between internal and external attribution
· Define and apply the concepts of consensus, distinctiveness, and consistency
· Compare and contrast the numerous intuitive social judgements in terms of
their origins and the cognitive errors that result
Misinformation Effect – incorporating “misinformation” into one’s memory of the
event, after witnessing an event and receiving misinformation about it
Priming – activating particular associations in memory
Overconfidence Phenomenon – the tendency to be more confident than correct
(to overestimate the accuracy of one’s beliefs)
Confirmation Bias – a tendency to search for information that confirms one’s
Heuristics – a thinking strategy that enables quick, efficient judgements
Representativeness Heuristic – the tendency to presume, sometimes despite
contrary odds that someone or something belongs to a particular group if
resembling (or representing) a typical member
Availability Heuristic – a cognitive rule that judges the likelihood of things in
terms of their availability in memory; if instances of something come readily to
mind, we presume it to be commonplace
Illusory Correlation – perception of a relationship where none exists, or perception
of a stronger relationship than actually exists
Misattribution – mistakenly attributing a behaviour to the wrong cause
Attribution Theory – the theory of how people explain other’s behaviour - for
example, by attributing it to either internal dispositions (enduring traits, motives,
and attitudes) or to external situations
Dispositional Theory – attributing behaviour to the person’s disposition and traits
Situational Attribution – attributing behaviour to the environment
Fundamental Attribution Error – the tendency for observers to underestimate
situational influences and overestimate dispositional influences on others’
behaviour Note: The fundamental attribution error involves making attribution about others,
not about your self
Behavioural Confirmation – a type of self-fulfilling prophecy whereby people’s
social expectations lead them to act in ways that cause others to confirm their
The Actor/Observer difference
What is the Actor/Observer difference?
The actor/observer difference is the tendency to see other people’s behaviour as
dispositionally caused, but our own behaviour as situationally caused.
Why do we get the actor/observer effect?
One reason is the phenomenon of perceptual salience. Actors notice the situations
around them that influence them to act (i.e., that is what is salient to them); this
leads to an external attribution, while observers notice the actors (i.e., salient for
them) leading to an internal attribution.
Another reason is that actors have more information about themselves than do
observers, for example, actors know whether their present behaviour is indicative of
the way they always act or not, observers don’t.
Thus, actors self-attributions often reflect situational factors, because they know
more about how their behaviour varies from one situation to the next than do most
observers, who see them in a limited context.
Implicit Personality Theory
What is the Implicit Personality Theory?
- IPC is a type of schema people use to group various kinds of personality traits
together; for example, many people believe that if someone is kind, he or she
is generous as well. We use schemas to help fill in the blanks when we are
unsure of a situation, or don’t know relevant information. When we use a
small bit of information to generalize to a big picture about someone, this is
the implicit personality theory.
You meet Sarah, who is attractive and therefore, you also assume that she is also
intelligent. Or you meet Stephanie who is very helpful, and you assume that she
must therefore also be sincere? If you meet James, who is overweight, then what
do you also assume about James?
Consistency, Distinctiveness, and Consensus
The Covariation Model states that in order to form an attribution about what caused
a person’s behavior, we systematically note the pattern between the presence (or
absence) of possibly causal factors and whether or not the behavior occurs. When
we are in the process of forming an attribution, we gather information that will help
us reach a judgment. The data we use are how a person’s behaviour covaries across
time, place, different actors, and different targets of the behaviour. By discovering
covariations in people’s behaviour (eg, your friend reuses to lend you his car; but he
agrees to lend it to others