Exam One Study Guide

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Psychology & Brain Sciences
John Bickford

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: EXAM ONE Actor-observer difference Tendency to attribute other’s behaviors mainly to dispositional factors but one’s own behavior mainly to situational factors. Reasons for this: perceptual salience (“Dean Scream”) and availability of information.  “Actor” – we are more interested in determining what kind of situation we are dealing with.  “Observer” – we are often interested in determining what kind of person we are dealing with. *Actors are more likely to make situational attributions for a particular behavior. Attributions Causal attribution,  An assumption about why a person acted the way they did. Two major kinds of attribution, 1. Dispositional something about the person himself or herself made them act that way. 2. Situational something about the situation made the person act that way. Attribution theory Refers to the story of how people understand the causes of events. Availability heuristics Used when we judge the frequency of some event by how readily pertinent events come to mind. Means basing a judgment on the case with which examples comes to mind.  The overestimation of a person’s own contributions holds for both positive and negative situations.  Fluency refers to the ease of difficulty associated with information processing. o Example: recipes in a hard font are assumed to be harder to cook, a clear image is easy to process. Bottom-up processing “Data driven” – forms conclusions based on the stimuli encountered through experience. Does not require a lot of thinking.  Examples: text on a page, gestures in an interaction, sound patterns at a cocktail party. Brewer and Treyens (1981) Assessed graduate students on schemas for contents of a graduate student’s office.  Any set of students “waited” for the start of the experiment in the office for thirty-five seconds.  Taken to a new room and asked to recall what was in the office they were just in o 29/30 recalled a desk and chair o 8/30 recalled a bulletin board o 9/30 recalled books on shelves that were not actually there. (books are part of the office schema!) Confirmation bias People more reliably, readily and vigorously seek out information that would support their proposition rather than seek out information that would be contradictory.  Can be dangerous since we can find information to fit any proposition. It is better to seek out evidence against the proposition as well.  Seeing what you want to see. Conscious (systematic) thought/processing Occurs after unconscious thought, and is based on careful, rational thinking.  Processes are too slow and can only handle one thing at a time. Correlational research Research that does not involve random assignments for different situations and that psychologists conduct just to see whether there is a relationship between the variables.  Cannot prove a causal relationship because of self-selection, a problem that arises when the participant, rather than the investigator, selects his or her level on each variable, bringing with this value unnown other properties that make causal interpretations of a relationship difficult.  They do not tell us about the direction of causality and they do not tell us whether some third variable is driving the association between the two variables of interest. Counterfactual thoughts Thoughts counter to facts // Thoughts of what might have, could have or should have happened “if only” something else had happened.  Silver medalists grimace because they should have done better/should have gotten the gold. Bronze medalists smile because at least they got a medal. Covariation principle The idea that behavior should be attributed to potential causes that co-occur with the behavior.  Three types of covariation, 1. Consensus what most people would do in a given situation. 2. Distinctiveness what an individual does in different situations. Is a behavior unique to one situation or does it occur in many situations? 3. Consistency what an individual dies in a given situation on different occasions. Debriefing Preliminary versions of the experiment, asking participants questions if they understand instructions, or whether or not the experiment is reasonably setup. Discusses the true nature of the experiment and is distributed after the experiments completion. Dweck on attribution Personality is changeable (and more so of characteristics of interdependent people than of independent people). Experimental research Randomly assigns people to different conditions and that enables researchers to make strong inferences about how these different conditions affect people’s behavior.  Involves an independent variable, or the variable that is manipulated or the cause of a particular outcome. Also involves a dependent variable, or the variable that is measured or affected by the manipulation of the independent variable.  Random assignment involves assigning participants to different groups randomly such that they are as likely to be assigned to one condition as to another (rules out self-selection).  Control condition lacks the one ingredient hypothesized to produce the expected effect on the dependent measure.  When experiments have poor external validity the experiment has little resemblance to any real-life situation. Explanatory style Refers to a person’s habitual way of explaining events and is assessed along thee dimensions: 1. Internal (self) / external (not self) 2. Stable (unchanging) / unstable (changing) 3. Global (many areas of life) / specific (one thing) Fundamental attribution error theory The tendency to attribute people’s behavior to elements of their character or personality, even when powerful situational forces are acting to produce the behavior. And the failure to recognize the importance of situational influences on behavior, together with
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