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Chapter 4

CH4 Textbook Notes

Course Code
Jennifer Fortune

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What We See in Others: Social Perception
Attribution Theories: Explaining Social Behaviour
- attributions: judgments about why an event occurred or why someone behaved in a
certain way, causal judgments
The Intuitive Scientist
- Harold Kelly suggested that people behave as intuitive scientists in testing everyday
causal questions
- make repeated observations and determine whether certain events or responses
reliably occur under certain conditions
- used when we have multiple observations of several individuals across several
- covariation model of attribution: we make causal judgments by determining whether a
particular behaviour correlated with a person, situation, or some combination of both
The False Consensus Effect
- tendency to assume that other people share our attitudes and behaviours to a greater
extent than is actually the case
- one reason for the bias is that we tend to interact with other people who agree with us
- they arent representative of the general population but we dont always recognize
this fact
- another reason is that we want to believe that others agree with us
- we are motivated to believe that our opinions are accurate and our actions
- also evidence that people sometimes underestimate consensus when it makes
them look good e.g. helping a stranded motorist
Discounting and Augmentation
- Kelley (1973) suggested that when we make attributions about a person based on just
one observation, we rely on our knowledge of plausible causes”
- we use our general knowledge to infer one or more causes that might explain the
behaviour and then look to see whether hose plausible causes were present
- plausible internal or dispositional clause, often non-observable e.g. poor driving skill
- plausible external or situational clause, normally observable e.g. bad road conditions
- discounting principle: the perceived role of one cause will be diminished if other
plausible causes are also present
- usually reducing the perceived role of an internal clause because an external
cause is known to be present
- augmentation principle: perceived role of a cause will be augmented if other factors are
present that would work against that behaviour
- behaviour occurring despite presence of difficult inhibitory external circumstances

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The Correspondence Bias: A Fundamental Attribution Error
- the tendency to assume that peoples actions and words reflect their personality,
attitudes, or some other internal factor, rather than external or situation al factors
- represents a failure to use the discounting principle
A Laboratory Demonstration of the Correspondence Bias
- Ross (1977) pairs of students randomly assigned to be the questioner” or contestant
- also group of uninvolved observers watching on videotape
- questioners thought of ten challenging but not impossible questions,
contestants on average answered 4/10
- when later asked to estimate the intelligence of the questioner and contestant,
contestants and uninvolved observers estimated the questioner was more
intelligent than the contestant
- questioners didnt show this bias, perhaps recognizing that everyone know some
relatively obscure knowledge and they appeared intelligent because of their role
Causes of the Correspondence Bias
- we may overlook/be unaware of situational factors influencing other peoples behaviour,
they are often subtle or non-obvious
- we may underestimate the power of situational factors
- the process of taking situational factors into account requires cognitive resources,
which may not always be available
- Daniel Gilbert and colleagues hypothesized that people first assume that the
behaviour reflects the individuals disposition but then adjust this initial assumption
if necessary, based on situational information
- first step is relatively automatic and spontaneous
- second step requires significant cognitive resources making it susceptible to
Culture and the Correspondence Bias
- possible that emphasis on individualism causes people from Western cultures to focus
on internal, personal variables when explaining behaviour
- most researchers found that Asian participants exhibited significantly weaker
correspondence bias than North American participants
The Appeal of Social Psychology?
- correspondence bias helps to explain why so many findings in social psychology are
surprising; people are surprised by the influence of situational factors
- e.g. Milgrams research on obedience, Latane and Darleys research on bystander
Beyond Words: Understanding Nonverbal Behaviour
- actions and cues that communicate meaning in ways other than direct verbal statement

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- include facial expressions, vocal qualities like pitch and intensity, interpersonal space,
eye gaze, gestures
Its Not Only What You Say, Its Also How You Say It
- research evidence suggests that when verbal and nonverbal cues directly conflict,
observers rely more on nonverbal cues in interpreting the messages meaning
- research shows that nonverbal information enhances our understanding of interactions
- useful in judging the emotion of speakers
- informative about true feelings because they arent completely under voluntary
Developmental Changes in the Weighting of Verbal and Nonverbal Cues
- Morton, Trehub (2001) asked children age4-10 and university students to judge whether
a speaker was feeling happy or sad
- 20 utterances were consistent in verbal and nonverbal cues, 20 werent
- more than 80% of youngest children relied on verbal content to judge emotion
- fell to approx 40% of children age 9,10 and 100% of adults relied exclusively on
nonverbal cues
- demonstrates that children must learn before they can judge appropriately
Facial Expressions
- Darwin (1872) proposed that facial expressions in humans are biologically based and
universal, evolved from more primitive behaviour, ability to recognize emotions in others
faces was adaptive
- hypothesis: people from different cultures should be able to recognize facial
expressions from other cultures relatively accurately
- studies show when participants asked to select which emotion was being expressed
out of a choice of six, all emotions were correctly identified by the majority of participants
from every culture
- but when participants had to generate their own labels, agreement dropped
substantially, especially for negative emotions
- study found that judgment of emotion expressed in a photo was influenced by the other
photos in the same set
- evidence shows there is some universality of emotion recognition
Gender and Cultural Differences in Nonverbal Behaviour
Gender Differences in Nonverbal Behaviour
- researchers have found that women are better judges than men of other peoples
- may reflect that women are more oriented toward interpersonal harmony than
men, less physical power thus more vulnerable than men
- secondly, womens facial expressions of emotions are generally easier to judge than
mens expressions
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