PSYC1030: Social Cognition (Attribution Theory: inferring cause of…
PSYC1030: Social Cognition
Impression formation: process by which people combine info about others to make overall judgements about them
Algebraic model (Anderson 1965): combination of pro or con ratings - see OneNote for e.g.
Summative: adding up
Averaging: taking avg
Weighted averaging: context applies weighting
Weighted avg fairly accurate but gives no insight into formation (people don't do maths when meeting new people)
(Kunda & Thagard 1996) Schemas: cognitive structures that represent our knowledge about an object/idea/person based on past experiences
Event: expectations in situations e.g. restaurants
Role/scripts: expectations of people in events e.g. waiters
Person: expectations of groups or individuals e.g. stereotypes
Implicit personality: characteristics we believe form personality types
Self: more complex & include future plans for self
Central traits (Asch 1946) - see OneNote for e.g.
Peripheral traits - weight depends on context of central traits
Central traits: greater weighting
Huge change between impression of someone before and after one singe central trait has changed
Heuristics: mental shortcuts that give a quick solution to a problem (Kahneman & Tversky)
Availability: frequency of event judged by ease of examples remembered
Representativeness: compare person to prototype of group to determine likelihood person belongs to group e.g. spiky hair, piercings, leather = probably punk
Attribution Theory: inferring cause of behaviour in attempt to understand it
Heider's model: how we attribute causes for a single behaviour
External/situational factors: develop schemas for usual behaviour in various environmental stimuli e.g. person asking price in a shop = normal external
Internal/dispositional factors: related to personality characteristics
If a person's behaviour differs to what our external schema mandates, we attribute their behaviour to an internal factor e.g. person sleeping in a shop = abnormal external -> therefore internal
Covariational model (Kelley 1973): multiple observations, same person
Types of observations
Consensus information: do others perform same behaviour?
Distinctiveness information: performed only toward this target?
Consistency information: behaviour performed consistently?
Types of attributions:
Person: attribute behaviour to person performing it. Made when low consensus.
Target: attribute behaviour to person receiving the behaviour. Made when high distinctiveness.
Situational: attribute behaviour to context. Made when low consistency.
Fundamental attribution error (Ross, 1977)/correspondence bias (Gilbert & Malone, 1995; Jones, 1976): tendency to attribute others' behaviours internally instead of externally
Some evidence that this is more common in individualistic than collectivist cultures (Miller, 1984)
Actor observer bias: self attribution external; others attribution internal (Jones & Nisbett 1971)
One theory: know ourselves best so know which behaviours are externally influenced; know others less so assume internal
Another theory (Storms, 1973): focus on what we see - self sees situation, others we see the person
Malle (2006) found in a meta-analysis of 173 studies that this bias only occurs when observer is intimate of actor or when explaining negative events. When events are positive, the bias is flipped.
Self-serving bias (Taylor & Koivumaki, 1976): attribute positive outcomes to stable, internal factors & negative to temporary, external factors
Reasons we might do this
Self-presentation: look better to others
Self-esteem: look better to self
Definition: The psychological study of how people process information in social settings