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Chapter 4

PSYCH*2310 - Chapter 4

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PSYC 2310
Saba Safdar

Psych*2310 – Social 1 Chapter 4: Social Perception Social Perception Social perception: how people form impressions of and make inference about other people  We aren’t very accurate at assessing the attributions to a person’s behavior  Individualistic cultures sometimes focus too much on dispositional factors. While ignoring or minimizing the often considerable influence of the situation. A. Heider’s theory of naïve psychology Naïve psychology: Heider’s theory that people practice a form of untrained psychology as they use cause and effect analyses to understand their world and other people’s behavior  Heider’s idea is based on three principles: 1. People have the need to explain the cause of other people’s behavior in order to understand their motivation. 2. 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. 3. When people make causal attributions they make a distinction between internal and external causes of behavior. External Attributions: seeing the behavior as caused by something external to the person who performs the behavior Internal Attributions: refers to whether the person’s behavior is caused by personal factors, such as traits, ability, effort or personality. B. Jones and Davis’s theory of correspondent inference Correspondent inference theory: the theory that people infer whether a person’s behavior is caused by the person’s internal disposition by looking at various factors related to the person’s action  Proposes that there are three factors that influence the extent to which you attribute behavior to the person rather than situation: 1. Choice: if you know that the person was forced to engage in a given behavior, it is reasonable to assume that the action is due to the situation 2. Expected behavior: behavior that isn’t necessarily required, but expected in a situation, doesn’t say much about the person. 3. Intended Effects: what are the intended consequences of the behavior, if there is one intended effect, then you have a pretty good idea of why the person is motivated to engaged in the behavior. According to correspondent inference theory we are best able to make a dispositional attribution, and see people’s behavior as caused by their traits, when the behavior is freely chosen, is not a function of situational expectation, and has clear non-common effects. C. Kelley’s Covariation theory Covariation theory: the theory that people determine the causes of a person’s behavior by focusing on the factors that are present when a behavior occurs and absent when it doesn’t occur, with specific attention on the role of consensus, distinctiveness, and consistency.  Three main components of correspondent inference theory: 1. Consistency: information about whether a person’s behavior toward a given stimulus is the same across time E.g. if behavior is highly consistent over time more likely to attribute to disposition. 2. Consensus: it refers to whether other people generally agree or disagree with a given person E.g. if people agree with that person or behave in similar manner; we’re more like to make situational attribution. 3. Distinctiveness: refers to whether the person generally reacts in a similar way across different situations E.g. Low distinctiveness = dispositional attribution We make different attributions depend on the three main components of a person’s attitude/behavior. If consensus and distinctiveness are low and consistency is high, we make dispositional attribution vice versa for situational attribution. D. Weiner’s Attribution Theory  Framework of attribution based on achievement  People attribute their achievements in terms of three dimensions: 1. Locus: whether the location for the cause is internal or external to the person 2. Stability: whether the cause stays the same or can change 3. Controllability: whether the person can control the cause  People then to attribute their own success to internal factors and other’s success to external factors (e.g. luck)  Attribute own failure to external factors and others’ failure to internal factors. Theory based on assumption that people want to maintain a positive self-image, therefore people attribute success and failure to factors that enable them to feel good about themselves  A variation for the three dimensional model of attribution uses: 1. Stable/unstable Psych*2310 – Social 3 Chapter 4: Social Perception 2. Internal/external 3. Global/specific  Model was used in a theory addressing the cognitive aspect of depression, in other words, depressive thoughts E. Intergroup attribution Intergroup attribution: making attributions about one’s own and others’ behavior based on group membership  One characteristic of intergroup attribution is ethnocentrism Ethnocentrism: a tendency to attribute desirable characteristic to one’s own group and undesirable characteristics to out-groups Intergroup attributions are essentially attributions based on serotypes and they are often part of the broader subject of prejudice and discrimination, which are defined as making judgments about a person based on group membership rather than individual characteristics.  Studies suggest people make different attributions for men than women  Observers then to attribute men’s successes to ability and women’s to effort  Pattern reverses in the case of failure Types of Errors we make in Thinking A. Fundamental attribution error Fundamental attribution error (or correspondence bias): the tendency to overestimate the role of personal causes and underestimate the role of situation causes in explaining behavior.  Individualistic cultures have strong tendency to focus on the role of personal causes in explaining behavior while ignoring situational influences  People make error because: a) We believe that when people’s behavior is caused by the situation, they give obvious clues that reflect the external pressure b) Also believe that engaging in behavior that is in line with attitudes is easier  The attributions we make about people’s behavior can have negative consequences. E.g. (health connections) obese people suffer a number of social and psychological consequences due to people’s tendency to attribute obesity to dispositional factor (e.g. laziness etc.) B. Actor-Observer Effect Actor-observer effect: the tendency to see other people’s behaviors as caused by dispositional factors, but see our own behavior as caused by the situation  One exception to this general tendency to self-serving attribution is in the workplace.  Attributions made in a business context actually shows that making disserving attributions can sometimes be a good approach  Giving internal attributions for negative events reported greater increases in stock prices than those that gave external attributions Reasons for effect: 1. Access to internal thoughts and feelings  Observers can only see other people’s behavior as they don’t have access to others internal feelings or thoughts.  We may not know how others behave in other situations but we know how we do.  We’re less likely to make the actor-observer error with our clos friends than with strangers because we are more familiar with friend’s internal thoughts and feelings. 2. Desire to maintain a positive self-image  Motivational factors can also contribute to the effect  We’re highly motivated to see ourselves in positive ways  We also use di
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