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University of California - Santa Barbara
PSY 102
Quinn Major

CHAPTER 5 SOCIAL ATTRIBUTION INFLUENCING BEHAVIOR From Acts to Dispositions Inferring the Causes of Behavior Attribution Theory set of theoretical accounts of how people assign causes to the events around them and the effect these assessments have The Pervasiveness and Importance of Causal Attribution Causal Attribution central to social life speculation and decision making and influenced by it explains both their own and others behaviorCan change the outlook a person has on life as well as how healthy and successful they areExplanatory Style and Attribution Explanatory Style habitual way of explaining events assessed with three dimensions InternalExternal Internal something caused by inner traits External caused by something outside the self StableUnstable Unstable situation will get better Stable Situation will stay the same GlobalSpecific Global event will effect all areas of life Specific event will only effect one part of lifePeople can be trained to change their attributesSomeone who assesses things to be internal stable and global use a pessimistic explanatory styleWomen tend to attribute their failure to internal causes while men attribute it to external The Processes of Causal Attribution Only by knowing the cause of a given event can we grasp its meaning Our perception of events changes with cause internal vs external factors a persons control over the situationAttribution and Covariation Covariation Principle behavior should be attributed to potential causes that cooccur with behavior isolate the thing that is making the difference or tells us the most about the personThree types of covariation informationConsensus what most people do in a given situation whether most people would behave the same way or few or no other people would behave Distinctiveness what an individual does in different situations that is whether the behavior is unique to a particular situation or occurs in all situations is what their doing specialConsistency what an individual does in a given situation on different occasions that is whether next time under the same circumstances the person would behave the same or differentlyAttribution and Imagining Alternative Actors and Outcomes People sometimes make judgments based on what they imagine will happen not what has actually happened Discounting Principle the idea that people should assign reduced weight to a particular cause of behavior if other plausible causes might have produced it confidence in a belief may be strengthened or weakened depending on how many causes of behavior there are Augmentation Principle the idea that people should assign greater weight to a particular cause of behavior if othermore causes are present that normally would produce the opposite outcome If people act out of role during a certain situation extrovert in a subdued situation they are true to whatever trait they are showing Counterfactual Thoughts Thoughts of what might have could have or should have happened if something had been done differently Things that almost happen change our view of the cause of an event Emotional Amplification when our emotional reaction to an event tends to be more intense if it almost did not happenIf an action is routine people see it as less tragic if something bad happens if it was a randomexceptional action that caused something bad to happen it was more tragic because the person could have easily avoided itErrors and Biases in Attribution Casual attributions are occasionally subject to predictable errors and biasesThe SelfServing Attributional Bias the tendency to attribute failure and other bad events to external circumstances but to attribute success and other good events to oneself Even the most rational people are subject to this bias Not all selfserving attributes are badThe Fundamental Attribution Error People attribute actions by people as reflections of who they are as a person they do not consider the context or the situation there are invisible advantages and disadvantages in everyones lifeCauses of the Fundamental Attribution Error Motivational Influence and the belief in a Just World
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