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Social Psychology Exam 1

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What are the legs of the Social Psych Tripod?
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Principle of Situationism | Principle of Construal | Concept of Tension Systems
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What is the principle of situationism?
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The idea that social context creates potent forces which produce or constrain human behavior.
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Give an example of the principle of situationism.
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It’s Black Friday–still dark outside–and the line outside Wal-Mart has been growing since the wee hours. When the doors open up the people stampede inside–shoving each other and throwing elbows. Two women grab for the last Barbie dream house and a fight goes down. The power of the situation (desperation to get the toy your child has been dreaming of and the rush of the 4AM shopping spree) drove them madddd!!!
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What is life space?
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Life space is a term coined by Kurt Lewin that represents individuals and their *psychological* representation of the environment
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What are channel factors?
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Channel factors are small but critical factors that facilitate or create barriers for behavior.
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Give an example of a channel factor.
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Say that you know that your favorite store is having a sale but you don’t know if you have the time or money to go check it out. However they may provide a channel factor by emailing you a link to their website with all of the discount codes already applied. Now you practically HAVE to buy something 🙂
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What is the principle of construal?
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“The principle of construal is the idea that the impact of any “”objective”” stimulus situation depends on the personal and subjective meaning an actor attaches to the situation.”
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Give an example of the principle of construal.
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“Say you are observing two friends in a coffee shop. One girl gets off the phone and says “”I got the part!”” To your surprise the second girl slaps the first girl in the face. While you expect that good news would be an occasion to celebrate and say congrats…if the second girl was also going for the part she may have construed her friend’s outburst as a malicious jab (whether or not first girl meant it to be)”
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What are three errors surrounding the principle of construal?
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VAC – variability | active processing | causal attributions (1) Failure to appreciate VARIABILITY of situational construal either between 2 people or same person at 2 points of time (2) Failure to appreciate degree of ACTIVE COGNITIVE PROCESSING rather than passive reception (3) Making CAUSAL attributions for behavior like FAE
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Give an example of the principle of construal using the 3 errors.
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Say that I see a guy in a car run an red light. (1) I may fail to appreciate the variability of our construals – e.g. the way I view someone running a red light and the way he sees it. (2) I may also fail to acknowledge the guy’s active cognitive processing – e.g. I think: what an idiot didn’t the guy see the light was about to turn red. Guy thinking: I know I’m probably going to run a red but I have to be on time for my meeting. (3) I may make causal attributions about his behavior – e.g. this guy is obviously a terrible driver
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What is the concept of tension systems?
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The concept of tension systems is the idea that individual psyches as well as collectivities exist in a constant state of tension (we’re never in a state of rest).
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What are the three major contributions of the concept of tension systems?
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“QCS – quasi-stationary equilibrium | cusp of change | small forces (1) People or groups are often in “”quasi-stationary equilibrium”” due a number of RESTRAINING FACTORS (2) Systems are on the cusp of change (3) Small forces can effect a big change even though a big change may not effect any change at all. “
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Give an example of tension systems including the 3 major contributions
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The end of a relationship. (1) A relationship may be in quasi-stationary equilibrium held together by restraining factors (e.g. you live together and share same friend groups etc) (2) The relationship is on the cusp of change – maybe one or both partners are feeling like it may be the end as little things add up (3) Small forces – even a big change may not elicit the break-up (e.g. if someone loses a job) but sometimes it is just a small force (this is the last straw! We agreed that we would go home after the game and now you want to go out and party even though I need to go home and sleep! I’ve had enough!)
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Cognitive dissonance
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When your beliefs and behaviors are not in sync you change one or the other to regain balance (e.g. Christians who believe sex before marriage is a sin but then have sex before marriage often change their beliefs about sex before marriage).
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Insufficient justification
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When you don’t have enough justification to warrant your behaviors you may change your belief. E.g. boring study in which you are paid either 1 dollar or 20 to convince others it is fun. People only paid a dollar reported as actually more fun. Another example: kids whose parents give them money for good grades vs. congratulations. kids who aren’t rewarded monetarily more likely to have intrinsic motivation.
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Problems of effect size
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(1) Statistical – effect size relative to noise (2) Pragmatic – do we care / is there a real-world impact? (3) Expectation – is it a bigger or smaller effect than was expected?
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Baumrind Article
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Criticized Milgram’s experiment: (1) Results weren’t that generalizeable (2) Discomfort wasn’t just temporary (3) Not able to fully debrief participants / undo what’s been done.
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Milgram’s Study – Four Situational Factors
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(1) Proximity learner – teacher (2) Proximity experimenter – teacher (3) Setting (Yale vs. town) (4) Group vs. alone
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Types of deception
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(1) Second-order deception (lead ppt to believe they are an accomplice (2) Non-intentional – study too complicated to fully inform ppts (3) intentional – purposefully mislead ppts
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Kelman’s recommendations re: deception
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(1) Active awareness of the problem – is deception the only viable option? (2) Counteracting/minimizing the negative effects (feedback post-study and positive experience) (3) Develop new experimental techniques like role playing or at least forewarn ppts that deception may be used.
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Metaethical positions on deception
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(1) Act-Utilitarianism – Immediate consequences of study are most important (e.g. person will feel bad but we will be able to measure X) (2) Rule Utilitarianism – Deception is never acceptable (moral argument) (3) Deontological – must not treat person as a means to an end. Judges how much an action adheres to the rules of society (e.g. treating people humanely)
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APA Guidelines on Deception
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Only use deception if (1) Justified by social/educational usefulness (2) No hiding harm etc. (3) Debriefing must occur as soon as possible.
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Two themes of the Power of the Situation
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(1) Social pressures and other situational factors exert effects on behavior that are more potent than we usually recognize (2) To understand the impact of a given situation we often need to attend to the subtle details
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How was the situation in Jonestown manipulated?
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“(1) Rhetoric of the “”greater good””/utopianism (2) Diversity (3) Foot-in-the-door: just volunteer a little then asked to do more and give more (4) Conformity – not wanting to speak out (5) Trickery – staged healings and insights; for more educated members the belief that they had to do these tricks to bring people into the church.”
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Studies of group influence and conformity
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(1) Sherif’s Autokinetic Effect (2) Asch Paradigm (3) Bennington Studies (4) Sherif’s Summer Camp Studies (5) Darley & Latane Smoke Study
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Sherif’s Autokinetic Effect
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Conformity: When there is ambiguity and uncertainty our most basic perceptions and judgments about the world are socially conditioned and dictated. Because we’re not sure we look to people who are similar to us
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Asch Paradigm
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“Conformity: Showed 1 line with 3 comparison lines – clear “”right”” answer. Several trials where everyone (confederates + ppt) is saying the right answer; then ALL of the confederates say wrong answer. Roughly 1/3 ppts conformed with unanimous authority. You can get conformity even when there is a clear right/wrong answer. In many cases people changed their answer but not their beliefs/attitudes – just didn’t want to stand out.”
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Bennington Studies
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Social Pressure and conformity: Young women become considerably more liberal during time at Bennington. Identity and identifying with groups. Social pressure and reward of ‘conformity’ It’s not just behavior–it’s *attitude*–that you have to change for lasting effects
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Sherif’s Summer Camp Studies
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Intergroup competition and cooperation. Phase 1: Little interaction between groups. Phase 2: Intergroup competition (drives intergroup hostility) Phase 3: Requisite intergroup cooperation (via superordinate goal). Take home message: Need superordinate goal to force intergroup cooperation
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Darley & Latane Smoke Study
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Dilution/Diffusion of responsibility: Smoke coming into the room. People alone reported ~70% of time. People with silent confederates ~10%. People in-groups of 3 ~ 40%.
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Why is social influence so powerful?
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(1) Informational aspects – if situation is ambiguous other people’s opinions can help us make educated guesses (2) Normative Basis – You don’t want to be seen as the outlier (3) Social influence and tension systems – individuals and groups are always on the cusp of change with tension between dissent and majority. Powerful leader can lead to groupthink.
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Types of channel factors
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(1) Wording changes and PRIMING – e.g. priming for views on personhood amendments (2) Time pressure e.g. groupon/daily deal (3) Foot-in-the-door – e.g. give 5 dollars! Then volunteer! (4) Door-in-the-face – e.g. kids at grocery store. I want that no but you can have this if you’re good. (5) Low-balling e.g. infomercials – subscribe for just he cost of S&H! etc
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The two routes to persuasion
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(1) Central Route – persuasion that occurs when interested people focus on the arguments / content of the messages (2) Peripheral Route – persuasion that occurs when people are influenced by incidental things (attractiveness age attire etc)
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Elements of Persuasion
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(1) Communicator (2) Message (3) How the message is communicated (4) Audience
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Persuasion: Aspects of the Communicator
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(1) Credibility: believability and *Sleeper effect* (2) Perceived Expertise: confidence and introduction (3) Perceived Trustworthiness: eye contact and talking fast and taking an unexpected position (4) Attractiveness
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Sleeper effect and the discounting cue hypothesis
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Sleeper Effect – idea that the persuasiveness of a message increases with time; occurs when we remember the message but forget a reason for discounting it. Discounting cue hypothesis – we store information about the message differently than we store info about the message sources; discounting cues must FOLLOW the persuasive message.
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4 steps for sleeper effect and the discounting cue hypothesis
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4 things have to happen: (1) Message has to be initially persuasive (2) The discounting cue has to be strong enough to suppress initial attitude change (3) There has to be enough time between the immediate and delayed post tests (4) The message itself still has to have an effect on attitudes during the delay (be strong enough)
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Example of the sleeper effect
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“Commercial posing as a PSA tells you that high fructose corn syrup is actually good for you. You see that the ad is paid for by the corn growers of America so you discount the message. But a few months later you’re at the grocery store and you think “”I think I saw something saying that HFCS isn’t that bad. I’m going to buy these fruit snacks.”””
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Persuasion: Aspects of the Message
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(1) Reasons vs. emotions e.g. engendering good feelings or fear (2) Discrepancy e.g. require a big change or a small change? More credible sources can get away with bigger discrepancies (3) One-sided vs. two-sided – for initially agreeing audiences one-sided is better; for initially disagreeing audiences two-sided is better (4) Primacy vs. Regency – if there is a break/lapse after messages and before response primacy is better. if there is a gap between messages but not response recency is better.
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Persuasion: Aspects of Communication Channels
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(1) Active experience vs. passive reception: (face to face vs. mass media) active is better if issue is significant and/or I am familiar with it (2) Personal vs. media influence: 2-step flow of communication–media influence often occurs through opinion leaders who in turn influence others (3) Written vs. video taped: if message is difficult/complex writing is better because you can go back and reread. now with internet and TIVO most people can do that with video anyway.
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Persuasion: Aspects of the Audience
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(1) Age of audience – Generational targeting is more effective than life cycle targeting. (2) Thoughtfulness – whether or not audience has been forewarned that someone is trying to persuade them (3) Uninvolved audiences use peripheral cues
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Persuasion: Ways to stimulate thinking when audience is uninvolved
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(1) Rhetorical questions (2) Multiple answers (3) Feel responsible for evaluation (4) Use relaxed posture (5) Repeat the message (6) Undistracted attention
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Steps to resisting persuasion
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(1) Challenging beliefs (2) Developing counter-arguments (3) Attitude inoculation (expose people to weak attacks so when stronger attacks come they have refutations available)
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ELM
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Elaboration Likelihood Model (1) If EL is low: peripheral cues are used (2) If EL is high: cues can serve as an issue argument (cue salience; cue loss; cue-extremity; cue-weighting (3) If EL is intermediate: cues can determine the EL
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HSM
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Heuristic Systematic Model – more theory driven than systematic processing (1) Processing mode and goals are orthogonal/independent (2) Attenuation hypothesis: contradiction between cue and message will attenuate impact (3) Bias hypothesis: Cues bias your message processing (4) Additivity Hypothesis: both the cue and message exert significant impact
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Unimodel of Persuasion (LET)
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Lay Epistemic Theory: Persuasion is a process by which beliefs are formed on the basis of appropriate/relevant evidence. (1) Elaboration can occur with both message AND cue (2) Essentially the cue and the message are two TYPES of evidence (3) Thus the 2 modes are NOT orthogonal (you can use both!)
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Differences between LET and ELM/HSM
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(1) Unimodel recognizes a broader range of motivations (2) Unimodel distinguishes hardware and software: Hardware – we have limitation on how much we can hold. Software – what is the message? (3) Unimodel is more explicit about the evidence concept (all pieces of evidence rather than distinct things)
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4 things to consider about the subjectivity of construals
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(1) Adaptation level – every stimuli we judge is based on similar stimuli experiences in the past (2) Framing effects – asymmetry of loss/gain; impact of social norms (3) Comparison with past (4) Social comparison/relative deprivation
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Reasons for the subjective nature of the response/reinforcer relationship
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(1) Cognitive dissonance theory and insufficient justification effect (e.g. smoking cant be that bad for me I’m not going to get cancer) (2) Self-perception theory (Bem) and the overjustification effect (e.g. turning an intrinsically motivated thing into an extrinsically motivated things) – If you don’t know what you think about a situation you may look to your behaviors to form your attitude (I’m laughing so I must be having a good time)
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Themes of the book
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(1) Significant variability in a person’s construal of events to expect variability in behavior across two objectively (seemingly) identical situations. (2) Significant variability from one person to another in the meaning or interpretation of even fundamental concepts (3) Our FAILURE to recognize this variability leads to an overconfidence in prediction of behavior (ESPECIALLY in other people)
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What are schemas?
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Schemas are a cognitive set of scripts about how people behave. They help us process information and predict behavior. Help with labeling and categorizing and resolving ambiguities
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2 factors determine which schemas we use
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(1) Accessibility – is the most readily available schema? (2) Priming – have we been primed to look for that schema?
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3 Approaches to Explaining Behavior
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(1) Attribution Theory(ies) (2) Fundamental Attribution Error (3) Self-serving biases
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Attribution Theories
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(1) Heider’s Theory of Attribution (2) Kelley’s Theory (3) Correspondent Inference Theory (4) Self-Perception Theory (5) Weiner’s Model of Achievement Attributions
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Heider’s Theory
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People tend to attribute someone’s behavior to internal or external causes. Several factors are involved: (1) Opportunity/Possibility (2) Motivation/Effort (3) Desire/Intention (4) Knowledge/Ability
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Kelley’s Theory
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We use 3 factors in making our attributions: (1) Distinctiveness – how does the actor behave toward other objects? (2) Consistency – how does the actor behave toward this object across different situations? (3) Consensus – how would other actors behave toward the object? Always goes: LO HI LO (actor) | HI HI HI (object) | LO LO HI (situation)
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Correspondent Inference Theory
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Deals with dispositional attributions. Circumstances that lead to more accurate dispositional attributions: (1) Intentional behaviors (2) Few non-common effects – aka a lot of overlap! (3) Low assumed desirability – disconfirming expectations/not what everyone else would do. VEN DIAGRAM!
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Self Perception Theory
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When unsure about our attitudes we infer them the way an observer would–by looking at our behaviors and the circumstances in which they occur.
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Weiner’s Model
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Achievement Attributions: Stable/Unstable and Internal/External. Stable-Internal = Ability. Stable-External = Task difficulty. Unstable-Internal = Effort. Unstable-External = Luck.
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Fundamental Attribution Error
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“Tendency for observers to underestimate the situational influences and overestimate dispositional influences on others’ behaviors. It is easier and takes a lot less effort. Unfortunately “”blaming the victim”” occurs e.g. in rape cases. Really more of a bias than an error.”
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Actor-Observer Effect
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(1) Perceptual explanation: actor’s attention is different than observers (observer watching 2 people about to walk into each other and actors are looking at their phones) (2) Informational explanation: actor and observer may have different amounts of information.
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Limitations of the Actor-Observer Effect
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“(1) It is weakened with positive behaviors or negative outcomes. (2) Sometimes the actor attributes behavior to disposition more than the observer (3) May exist because the “”situational attribution”” category is ambiguous (4) Changes with “”empathy set”” instructions (e.g. put yourself in their shoes) (4) Active vs. Passive Observer (e.g. were you standing next to the actor or observing form a distance?)”
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Self-Serving Biases
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“(1) Thinking we are better than average (obviously we can’t all be better than average) – we assign importance to what we are good at. This is more pertinent to subjective dimensions like “”smart”” or “”funny”” (2) Cognitive conceit: illusory optimism sometimes keeps us from taking sensible precautions. e.g. no one thinks they will have an accident due to drinking but a lot of people drive drunk. You need enough of this to sustain hope but also enough pessimism to motivate concern. (3) Defensive attributions: The more severe the outcome the more likely observers will be to attribute responsibility. This depends on SIMILARITY with person or situation!”
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Other Biases
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(1) False consensus / false uniqueness (overestimating the commonality of your opinion) – can be due to SELECTIVE EXPOSURE (2) Self-handicapping (creating a handy excuse for failure to protect your own self-image
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Why do we have biases?
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(1) Self-presentation (internal and external) (2) Self-esteem/Self-enhancement (3) Information processing.
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Two assumptions of personality theorists
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(1) Stimulus situations in the social sphere would provoke distinctly different responses from different people (2) Individuals display a substantial degree of consistency and thus predictability responding to different situations
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Mischel’s 1968 Challenge (the .30 barrier)
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Mischel found that (1) Research showed low correlations between two behavioral measures/items to assess the same personality trait – .1 to .2 (2) Research also showed low correlations between a measure of a personality trait and a person’s behavior in a particular situation – .2 to .3. Mischel suggested that .3 was the upper limit of the predictability of personality traits on behavior.
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Mischel’s Two Challenges
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“(1) Consider what perceptual and cognitive and motivational factors might lead us to “”see”” high degrees of behavioral consistency where little/none exist (e.g. confirmation bias) (2) Find new ways of understanding the determinants of people’s responses to their social environments. “
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Studies showing low correlations between personality and behavior
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(1) Newcomb’s study of extroversion. Took problem boys at summer camp; assessed talkativeness during quiet time and meal time and found r = .14 (LOW) (2) Hartshorne & May found a correlation of .23 between honesty behaviors in kids. (3) Self report – people show higher correlations (.6 to .8) across diff measures of personality. BUT interrater consistency is very low (about .30)
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Bem’s Nomothetic vs. Ideographic
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(1) Nomothetic: traditional approach in which you create a measure of a trait and everyone can take and be given a score. (2) Ideographic: look at a person and ID particular traits of the individual
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Epstein’s Theory of Aggregation
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(1) Looking at individual pairs naturally produces LOW correlations (more items needed!) (2) If you take averages of multiple observations and measurements of a trait the correlation will be HIGHER. Predictions based on aggregated info are stronger.
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Three Conclusions about Personality
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(1) Predictions based on single observations. If variability of the outcome is high the best prediction if you only have one previous response to go off of will be one based on the AVERAGE of the sample. (2) Predictions based on multiple observations. You can predict the distribution of responses but there is still uncertainty in predicting behavior in a single situation (3) Relative likelihood of personality-behavior. Using odds ratios to get the likelihood of behaving in X manner given Y personality – concerns how the person will behave RELATIVE to their peers. Bob is more likely to volunteer for that charity than his friends.