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Chapter 3: SPOILERs ahead, so read the chapter before reading this question! For this week’s discussion, I want you to focus on the alien I asked you to draw at the beginning of the powerpoint presentation. If you can, try to upload an image of your alien for your other group members to see. If you can’t upload an image, describe it to your group. Then answer the following questions: 1). Did it conform to the typical alien (big head, antennae, skinny arms and legs) or did it diverge from this typical schema. 2). Why do you think your alien conformed / did not conform to this typical image? In your discussion, draw on at least TWO concepts talked about in your powerpoint presentations, like priming, controlled or automatic processing, or heuristics (other concepts are okay to discuss as well, but you must talk about TWO concepts – you must define them before discussing how they apply)

Chapter 3

Social Beliefs & Judgments

Part 5 (After the Decision is Made)

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Part Five

After the Decision

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After the Decision is Made

Counterfactual thinking involves thoughts we have about what may have happened had we made a different decision or done something differently

It is seemingly automatic, though it has an element of effortful work. Let me explain …

Think about all those times you thought to yourself, “Things would have turned out so much better (or so much worse) if only I had _____________”.

This is a counterfactual thought, and it can have a big impact on emotions …

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After the Decision is Made

Counterfactual thinking can have a big influence on emotions

After a loved one’s tragic death, a person may experience a great deal of distress if they have lots of counterfactual thoughts. Fill in the following blank:

If I had just ____________ he wouldn’t be dead.

“If I had called the paramedics earlier”; “if I knew CPR”; “if I had paid more attention”; “if I got to him earlier”; etc.

If the thinker was able to fill in the blank with lots of possible “fixes”, he or she may experience very negative thoughts, because the death might be seen as easily preventable

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Who’s happier – Gold, Silver, or Bronze?

Medvec, Madly, and Golovich (1995) asked this question

Although gold medalists were happiest, bronze medalists were happier than silver medalists.

Why?

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Counterfactual Thinking

Upward counterfactuals compare the current outcome to more favorable outcomes (this is similar to upward comparisons!)

May lead to dissatisfaction: “I could have done better if only …”

Silver medalists probably do this and envy the gold medalist

Downward counterfactuals compare current outcome to less favorable outcomes (this is similar to downward comparisons!)

May lead to satisfaction: “I could have done worse if only …”

The bronze medalist likely experiences relief in even getting a medal, because it is possible he could have come in 4th!

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Counterfactual Thinking

Counterfactual thinking: The good news about counterfactuals is that if we can imagine a bad outcome as inevitable, we won’t feel bad about it

Imagine you are rushing to the airport and miss your flight. Are you going to feel worse if you missed it by:

5 minutes OR 60 minutes

5 minutes! There are so many things you could have done to get there 5 minutes earlier, making you feel very depressed. But if you missed it by 60 minutes, it was probably inevitable that you would have missed it

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A Look Ahead

This ends Chapter 3 on Social Beliefs and Judgments

Ahead, we will focus on another dimension of beliefs, namely the attitudes we hold and how they develop

We will also focus on something called cognitive dissonance, or what happens when you hold an attitude that is inconsistent with your either your behavior or another attitude you hold

I want to remind you that your Attribution Assignment #1 will be due soon, so use what you learned in this chapter to complete that assignment. I will see you in chapter 4!

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Chapter 3

Social Beliefs & Judgments

Part 3 (Priming Mechanisms in Social Judgments)

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Part Three

Priming Mechanisms In Social Thinking

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What Would Her Father Think?

A 16-year-old girl utters the following line:

“I can hardly wait for tonight – I’m so excited. I’ve never played with Tommy before. I love his technique. If he tries hard, I know he can go all the way. Tommy has wonderful stuff.”

What would her father think!

Come on, she’s obviously talking about a baseball game!

This is a double entendre, a priming technique often used in sitcoms. But what, exactly, is priming?

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Context and Priming in Social Cognition

Priming

We often interpret our world based on what we are currently thinking about (such as topics and ideas we’ve recently heard or discussed), as well as the beliefs and categories that we use to make sense of things

Such thoughts color out interpretations of new information

On the next slide, I want you to keep this phrase in mind … “Behold the Ravages of Old Age”

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Priming

Priming

“Behold The Ravages Of Old Age!”

Did you see the old woman in this profile, or a picture of a young lady?

Actually, both young and old woman can be seen!

Since I primed you with the “ravages of old age” sentence, you may have been primed to first see the old woman first!

Still don’t see both? Okay!

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The young woman, looking away

Her ear

Her nose

The old woman

Her eye

Her mouth

Chin

Chin

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Priming

Priming

Imagine you are in a study by Bargh

On the next slide, unscramble the words according to your birth date (born on an odd date versus born on an even date)

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Born on an Odd Date (9/7) – Unscramble :

isburdt

wopre

ptrertinu

nedruti

Born on an Even Date (9/8) – Unscramble :

llopwsi

wopre

mpcotreu

pstaerl

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Born on an Odd Date (9/7) – Unscrambled :

isburdt = disturb

wopre = power

ptrertinu = interrupt

nedruti = intrude

Born on an Even Date (9/8) – Unscrambled :

llopwsi = pillows

wopre = power

mpcotreu = computer

pstaerl = stapler

Now for the Answers – Do you get them right?

If you completed the top four words (odd date),

then you might have been primed to be a rude person!

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Priming Studies

Priming – Bargh (1996)

Participants unscrambled words on a survey

Two word categories …

Rude words (intrude, etc.)

Neutral words (pillows, etc.)

They were told to inform the experimenter as soon as they finished their, but when they went to tell him, the researcher was busy talking to someone else

Results: Those primed with the rude words were much more likely to interrupt the experimenter’s conversation!

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Priming Studies

Priming – Another Bargh study …

In another study, participants primed with “elderly stereotype words” (Florida, retirement) walked away from the experiment at a slower pace than participants given “neutral words” (like pillow) to unscramble.

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Priming Studies

Priming

Heath (1991)

Medical personnel primed to think about HIV risks at work subsequently felt they were more at risk.

Iyengar, Peters, and Kinder (1987)

Edited the news so that participants received a big dose of one specific topic (weakness of the US defenses, pollution concerns, inflation/economic concerns).

Participants later said the most important issue facing the country was the topic with which they’d been primed

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As you can see, we are influenced by a variety of factors that can alter how we respond to social stimuli

For a very interesting, funny, and required video on priming where a psychologist turns the tables on advertisers involving taxidermy, make sure to look at the supplemental materials

In our next section (Part 4), we are going to focus on judgments that we make using automatic processes. That is, we look at …

Heuristics

Our Next Section

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Chapter 3

Social Beliefs & Judgments

Part 2 (Attribution)

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Part Two

Attribution

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Attribution: Understanding Others

Attribution is our effort to understand the causes behind others’ behavior and, on occasion, the causes behind our own behavior

Think about the strange case of Thomas Junta: a hockey dad convicted of beating a referee to death during a pee-wee little league hockey game.

Imagine you were an attorney in this case. When talking to the jury and trying to explain Junta’s behavior, what would you tell the jurors? Why did Junta do it?

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Attribution: Understanding Others

Attribution is our effort to understand the causes behind others’ behavior and, on occasion, the causes behind our own behavior

Think about the strange case of Thomas Junta: a hockey dad convicted of beating a referee to death during a pee-wee little league hockey game.

Imagine you were an attorney in this case. When talking to the jury and trying to explain Junta’s behavior, what would you tell the jurors? Why did Junta do it?

Of course, you are probably wondering which attorney you are: a prosecutor or a defense attorney. That makes a difference …

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Attribution: Understanding Others

Attribution and Junta

From a prosecutor’s point of view, Junta was a violent man with a long history of violence. Thus Junta had an internal, personality-oriented violent response. He is a violent person!

From the defense attorney’s point of view, there was legal provocation. The case was self-defense oriented, and thus based on external factors (the referee helped create the situation that led to the beating)

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Theories of Attribution

Humans often use others’ behavior as a guide to understanding that person. In the next few slides, we will cover several theories of attribution, including …

1). Jones’ Correspondent Inference Theory

2). Kelley’s Theory of Causal Attributions

3). The Fundamental Attribution Error

This is also called the Correspondence Bias

4). Additional elements of attribution

5). The Actor/Observer Effect

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Correspondent Inference Theory

1). Jones’ Correspondent Inference Theory posits that we use others’ behavior as a basis for inferring their stable traits

During this attribution process, we often fail to acknowledge the situation that brought about a behavior. In other words …

Sam spilled red wine on the carpet because he is a clumsy person (internal cause), not because he was momentarily distracted (external cause)

Wanda spanked her child because she’s a terrible mother (internal cause), not because the child ran out in front of a car and she was scared (external cause)

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Correspondent Inference Theory

1). Correspondent Inference Theory – Informative information

When trying to figure out why someone behaved the way they did, we focus on information that seems most informative

A. Was the behavior freely chosen

Jones had participants write essays favoring Castro’s Cuban regime. When the student chose to write a pro-Castro essay, those reading the essay thought that the writer actually had a pro-Castro opinion

This is pretty good reasoning, right? Why else would he choose to write a pro-Castro essay if he didn’t hold a pro-Castro opinion? (We’ll return to this study later!)

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Correspondent Inference Theory

1). Correspondent Inference Theory – Informative information

When trying to figure out why someone behaved the way they did, we focus on information that seems most informative

B. We also focus on non-common effects, or effects that are caused by only one specific factor, not others

Think about John, who loves his job, gets great pay, and lives two blocks away. Why does he work there?

There are lots of good reasons to work there, and no single one gives you an answer as to his behavior

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Correspondent Inference Theory

1). Correspondent Inference Theory – Informative information

When trying to figure out why someone behaved the way they did, we focus on information that seems most informative

B. We also focus on non-common effects, or effects that are caused by only one specific factor, not others

Think about Anthony, who hates his job, gets lousy pay, and lives two blocks away. Why does he work there?

Easy answer now: Location! Location! Location!

He works two blocks away!

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Correspondent Inference Theory

1). Correspondent Inference Theory – Informative information

When trying to figure out why someone behaved the way they did, we focus on information that seems most informative

C. We pay close attention to social desirability issues, often thinking that we know more about another person when his actions are counter to the culture at large

What impression would you form if you saw a student on campus wearing a t-shirt and jeans?

You’d probably just think he was an ordinary student

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Correspondent Inference Theory

1). Correspondent Inference Theory – Informative information

When trying to figure out why someone behaved the way they did, we focus on information that seems most informative

C. We pay close attention to social desirability issues, often thinking that we know more about another person when his actions are counter to the culture at large

What if the student wore a tuxedo on campus?

You might think he came from a wedding or a job interview. His “behavior” in wearing non-student clothes makes you think you know more about him

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Kelly’s Theory of Attribution

2). Kelley’s Theory of Causal Attributions

Like Jones, Kelly thought that people often question another person’s behaviors, trying to figure it out …

Why did he break a date?

Why didn’t she like my research paper?

Why did my mother yell at me?

Why is the police officer pulling me over?

Kelly thought we rely heavily on the principles of consistency, distinctiveness, and consensus to explain another’s behavior

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Kelly’s Theory of Attribution

2). Kelley’s Theory of Causal Attributions

Does he always break dates? (consistency)

If yes, his behavior probably has something to do with him

Does he just break dates with me, or does he break them with everyone? (distinctiveness)

If just you, maybe it is you! If it’s all girls, then it must be him

Do all of my potential suitors break dates? (consensus)

If they all stand you up, then maybe it is you!

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Kelly’s Theory of Attribution

2). Kelley’s Theory of Causal Attributions

When an action is consistent, but lacks distinctiveness and consensus, we tend to attribute it to the actor’s traits.

It is something about him

For now, let’s look at a third attribution model that focusing on the Correspondence Bias (though I will use the term more people are familiar with, the Fundamental Attribution Error) …

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

Why do you think these two people are fighting?

Do you think they are simply “angry people”

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

The “Fundamental Attribution Error” involves the tendency to explain others’ actions as stemming from their dispositions (or internal traits), even in the presence of clear situational causes

Think about one of the original studies in this area by Ross looking at a “Quiz Show”

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The Quiz Show

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

Ross, Amabile, and Steinmetz – The Quiz Show

Study examined participants’ attributions about a quiz show

Three participants were randomly assigned to one of three roles in the study: Host, Contestant, or Viewer

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The Quiz Show

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

Ross, Amabile, and Steinmetz – The Quiz Show

Study examined participants’ attributions about a quiz show

The Host made up difficult questions (but they had to know the correct answer). The host then quizzed the Contestant. Viewers later watched the show.

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The Quiz Show

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

Ross, Amabile, and Steinmetz – The Quiz Show

Results:

Predictably, Contestants got most questions wrong

When Viewers later rated both the Contestant and the Host, they rated the Host as more knowledgeable than the Contestant

But these roles were based on random assignment, so the chances that the Host is actually smarter than the Contestant is not all that likely! Think about this …

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The Quiz Show

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

Ross, Amabile, and Steinmetz – The Quiz Show

People often fail to consider the situation

Here, the Host was allowed to develop the questions, so he obviously knew the answers!

See supplemental materials for more on this study

But does that really make the Host smarter? This is an example of…

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

People give the situation insufficient weight

We assume actions begin with the individual’s temperament

We focus on the individual, not the things going on around her

Remember the study we talked about earlier by Jones, the one where students wrote a pro-Castro essay?

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

People give the situation insufficient weight

We assume actions begin with the individual’s temperament

We focus on the individual, not the things going on around her

Remember the study we talked about earlier by Jones, the one where students wrote a pro-Castro essay?

In a follow-up study, Jones found that essay readers thought the essay represented the author’s real opinion even when the essay writer was forced to write a pro-Castro essay

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

Like optical illusions, there’s a figure and a background in person perception. As humans, we often pay attention to the figure, but don’t really focus on the background.

Remember this figure-ground example?

Do you see the two faces or the vase?

Our focus on the person can have a big influence our (mis!)attributions

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error in real life

Taylor and Fiske looked at interview seating arrangements …

Participants watched a conversation between Person A and Person B. Sometimes, participants sat so they faced Person A. Other times, they faced Person B

When facing A, participants saw A as the dominant actor in the conversation. When facing B, they saw Person B as the dominant actor

They failed to notice the situation!

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

Although we overestimate the importance of internal causes shaping others’ behavior, we also believe that we correct for this error more than other people do. Do we? Ha!

The impact of the Fundamental Attribution Error

The food-stamp line:

We might think people on food stamps are lazy, but that only focuses on the person, not the situation

After all, we fail to look at the state of the economy!

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error

Although we overestimate the importance of internal causes shaping others’ behavior, we also believe that we correct for this error more than other people do. Do we? Ha!

The impact of the Fundamental Attribution Error

Same thing for convicted thieves …

Is he deserving of punishment because he is a “bad” person?

Or are there other reasons for his criminal behaviors?

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error and cultural factors

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the “error” is more common in cultures that emphasize individual freedom (individualistic cultures, like ours) than those cultures that emphasize group cohesiveness (collectivistic cultures).

This may depend on age.

Miller found that young children in the USA don’t separate internal from external attributions until the child hits age 11

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error and cultural factors

Do Americans focus on personal autonomy? Nisbett thought so

He showed participants a film about fish in an aquarium, with the camera focusing on one “starring” fish

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error and cultural factors

Do Americans focus on personal autonomy? Nisbett thought so

He showed participants a film about fish in an aquarium, with the camera focusing on one “starring” fish

Both American and Japanese students could recount a lot of details about the “starring” fish, but only Japanese students knew about the rest of the aquarium scene (the other fish, the corral, the water color, etc.)

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The Fundamental Attribution Error

3). Fundamental Attribution Error and cultural factors

Bilingual studies on the “I am” sentence completing tasks also support cultural differences in the Fundamental Attribution Error

Bicultural individuals respond differently depending on the salient culture:

They make the error when thinking individualistically

Do not make the error when thinking collectivistically

If you still want more insight into the fundamental attribution error (especially cultural elements), see the supplemental materials

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Theories of Attribution

4). Additional elements of attribution

A. Stability

We may believe that an outcome was caused by things that will not change over time (like intelligence) or factors that will change over time (the amount of effort we use)

B. Controllability

If we believe the person we are evaluating can change their behavior if he or she wishes to do so, then we assume they caused the event because it was under their control

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Theories of Attribution

4). Additional elements of attribution

C. Augmenting principles involve the tendency for us to add weight to a factor if the action occurs despite the presence of inhibitory causes

If a person runs a red light with a cop right behind him, we are more likely to conclude he is a reckless driver

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Theories of Attribution

4). Additional elements of attribution

D. Discounting principles involve the tendency to attach less importance to one potential cause of some behavior if there are other potential causes are present

If a may ran a red light because everyone else ran it too, or because there were no cars coming from the other direction, or because his pregnant wife was about to deliver a baby in the car he may be seen as less reckless

But how do we explain our own behavior? …

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The Actor-Observer Effect

5). The Actor-Observer Effect

The Actor-Observer Effect is like the Fundamental Attribution Error, but it takes into account attributions for our own behavior

That is, we tend to attribute our own behavior to situational causes but the behavior of others to internal causes

If someone else trips, they are clumsy (via the Fundamental Attribution Error). But how do we explain our own tripping?

It’s obviously due to the uneven ground!

Let’s look at some other examples …

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The Actor-Observer Effect

5). The Actor-Observer Effect

A. Think about a real life example from Sauliner and Perlman

They found that inmates cited transitory situational causes for their problems (the actor effect)

Prison counselors cited the internal, personal characteristics of the inmates as the reason for the prisoners’ problems (the fundamental attribution error)

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The Actor-Observer Effect

5). The Actor-Observer Effect

B. Think about another study by Storms

He asked observers to watch a conversation between two actors. He then had the observers and the actors measure how friendly, talkative, and nervous the actors had been

As you might suspect, actors based all of their ratings of the conversation on the situation while observers based their ratings on internal dispositions of the two actors

But later, the actors saw the same conversation from either their prior viewpoint or from the viewpoint of the person they had been talking to

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The Actor-Observer Effect

5). The Actor-Observer Effect

B. Think about another study by Storms

He asked observers to watch a conversation between two actors. He then had the observers and the actors measure how friendly, talkative, and nervous the actors had been

If they saw the conversation from their own original point of view, they once again saw situational attributions

If they saw the conversation from the other actor’s point of view (that is, now acting as an observer), they rated themselves in the film in dispositional terms

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The Actor-Observer Effect

5). The Actor-Observer Effect

C. When looking at their successes and failures on college intelligence exams, students blame the poor performances of others on inability, but blame their own poor performance on the exam difficulty.

D. Observers conclude that others will behave similarly (act the same way) in the future, but actors think that they themselves will act differently

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The Actor-Observer Effect – Why?

5). The Actor-Observer Effect – Why does it occur?

The actor knows how past experiences influenced his current situation, and they know how they formed their attitudes.

Think about Bob (pictured below) trapped under plastic. Do you know how he got trapped? I bet Bob does!

The observers’ attention is focused on the actor. They may be unaware of the situational factors that got the actor to that place

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Understanding the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” Phenomenon!

5). The Actor-Observer Effect – Why does it occur?

Sam shows up late to pick Susan up for their date.

Sam thinks the problem with his tardiness is due to lots of red lights he encountered on the way (situation-based)

Susan thinks Sam is losing interest in her (internal-based)

If each can change their point of view and acknowledge that the other person is focused on a different attribution, they may be able to solve the problem!