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Chapter 4

Social Psychology: Chapter 4

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2310
Saba Safdar

PSYC 2310 Chapter 4 Summary Social Perception  Social Perception: how people form impressions of and make inferences about other people o North Americans and people from similarly individualistic cultures sometimes focus too much on the role of personal factors, while ignoring, or minimizing the often considerable influence of the situation  External attribution: seeing the behaviour as caused by something external to the person who performs the behaviour  Internal attribution: refers to whether the person’s behaviour is caused by personal factors, such as traits, ability, effort, or personality  There are four major theories that describe how we think about why people engage in particular types of behaviour o Heider’s Theory of Naive Psychology: people practice a form of untrained psychology as they use cause and effect analyses to understand their world and other people’s behaviour; everyone is a naive psychologist. This theory is based on three principles:  People have the need to explain the cause of other peoples’ behaviour in order to understand their motivation  People are motivated to try to figure out why a person acted in a given way so that they can predict how the person will act in the future  When people make casual attributions, they make a distinction between internal and external causes of behaviour o Jones and Davis’s Theory of Correspondent Inference: people infer whether a person’s behaviour is caused by the person’s internal disposition by looking at various factors related to the person’s actions. Proposes that there are three factors that influence the extent to which you attribute behaviour to the person rather than to the situation:  Does the person have the choice to engage in the action? If you know that the person was forced to engage in a given behaviour, it is reasonable to assume that the action is due to the situation and not the person  Is the behaviour expected based on the social role or circumstance? Behaviour that isn’t necessarily required, but is largely expected in a situation, doesn’t tell us much about the person  What are the intended effects or consequences of the person’s behaviour? If there is only one intended effect, then you have a pretty good idea of why the person is motivated to engage in the behaviour, but if there is multiple good effects, it’s more difficult to know what the attribute the behaviour to o Kelley’s Covariation Theory: people determine the causes of a person’s behaviour by focusing on the factors that are present when a behaviour occurs and absent when it doesn’t occur. There are three main components:  Consensus: refers to whether other people generally agree or disagree with a given person. If many people agree with that person or behave in a similar manner, we’re more likely to make a situation attribution than we would if few people agreed with the target individual  Distinctiveness: refers to whether the person generally reacts in a similar way across different situations. If the person’s behaviour matches their usual behaviour in that situation, we would most likely make a dispositional attribution  Consistency: information about whether a person’s behaviour toward a given stimulus is the same across time- the more consistent their behaviour is, the more likelihood of a dispositional attribution  See Figure 4.1 to further explain the Model of Covariation o Weiner’s Attribution Theory: people attribute their achievements (successes and failures) in terms of three dimensions  Locus: whether the location of the cause is internal or external to the person  Stability: whether the cause stays the same or can change  Controllability: whether the person can control the cause  This produces eight different types of explanation for achievement See Table 4.1  Intergroup attribution: making attributions about ones’ own and others’ behaviours based on group membership  Ethnocentrism: a tendency to attribute desirable characteristics to one’s own group and undesirable characteristics to outgroups  Observers tend to attribute men’s successes to ability and women’s successes to effort  There are two different errors that people make in attributing the causes of people’s behaviour o Fundamental attribution error (or correspondence bias): the tendency to overestimate the role of personal causes and underestimate the role of situational causes in explaining behaviour. We believe that when people’s behaviour is caused by the situation, they give obvious clues that reflect this external pressure o Actor Observer Effect: the tendency to see other people’s behaviour as caused by dispositional factors, but see our own behaviour as caused by the situation  May occur because observers can only see other people’s behaviour and don’t have access to others’ internal thoughts or feelings; thus we are less likely to use this error with friends than with strangers. It also occurs because we strive to see ourselves in a positive way  Belief in a just world: the phenomenon in which people believe that bad things happen to bad people and that good things happen to good people; lets us see ourselves as safe from harm  There are several explanations for why people can and do make errors when th
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