SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: EXAM ONE
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.
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.
Refers to the story of how people understand the causes of events.
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
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
o Example: recipes in a hard font are assumed to be harder to cook, a
clear image is easy to process.
“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
Brewer and Treyens (1981)
Assessed graduate students on schemas for contents of a graduate student’s
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
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!)
People more reliably, readily and vigorously seek out information that would
support their proposition rather than seek out information that would be
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.
Research that does not involve random assignments for different situations and
that psychologists conduct just to see whether there is a relationship between the
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.
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
The idea that behavior should be attributed to potential causes that co-occur with
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
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
Dweck on attribution
Personality is changeable (and more so of characteristics of interdependent
people than of independent people).
Randomly assigns people to different conditions and that enables researchers to
make strong inferences about how these different conditions affect people’s
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
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.
Refers to a person’s habitual way of explaining events and is assessed along thee
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