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Social Cognition Chapter Four. Social Cognition To what extent do we behave like we are superstitious, simpleminded, and/or uneducated?To what extent.

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Presentation on theme: "Social Cognition Chapter Four. Social Cognition To what extent do we behave like we are superstitious, simpleminded, and/or uneducated?To what extent."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social Cognition Chapter Four

2 Social Cognition To what extent do we behave like we are superstitious, simpleminded, and/or uneducated?To what extent do we behave like we are superstitious, simpleminded, and/or uneducated? How might our fictions guide our behavior and actions?How might our fictions guide our behavior and actions?

3 Social Cognition We are forever trying to make sense of our social worldWe are forever trying to make sense of our social world –How we do it makes a difference…

4 How Do We Make Sense of the World? We humans have powerful and efficient brains.We humans have powerful and efficient brains. As wonderful as they are, they are far from perfect.As wonderful as they are, they are far from perfect. –One consequence of this imperfection is that most of us end up “knowing” a lot of things that simply are not true. Example: Infertile couples, adoption, & later conception (Gilovich)Example: Infertile couples, adoption, & later conception (Gilovich) –We believe it is true because we want it to be and because we focus our attention on instances that support our belief.

5 How Do We Make Sense of the World? Are we rational animals?Are we rational animals? –18 th century philosopher Bentham thought so… He argued we engage in a felicific calculus – a happiness calculation – to determine what is good and what is bad.He argued we engage in a felicific calculus – a happiness calculation – to determine what is good and what is bad. The goal = “the greatest happiness for the greatest number”The goal = “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” –Became a fundamental assumption underlying modern capitalism

6 How Do We Make Sense of the World? More recently, Kelley argued that people think like naïve scientists.More recently, Kelley argued that people think like naïve scientists. –We look for three pieces of information: ConsistencyConsistency ConsensusConsensus DistinctivenessDistinctiveness –The way we use this information to make attributions can underlie important decisions. A systematic weighing of these factors can be highly valuable and extraordinarily important.A systematic weighing of these factors can be highly valuable and extraordinarily important.

7 How Do We Make Sense of the World? There is little argument that we are capable of rational thought and behavior.There is little argument that we are capable of rational thought and behavior. –Example: Benjamin Franklin’s felicific calculations However, rational thought requires at least two conditions which almost never hold in every day life:However, rational thought requires at least two conditions which almost never hold in every day life: –Access to accurate, useful information –Mental resources needed to process life’s data

8 How Do We Make Sense of the World? We do not possess a “God’s-eye” view of the world and, as such, we try to use shortcuts whenever we can.We do not possess a “God’s-eye” view of the world and, as such, we try to use shortcuts whenever we can. According to Fiske & Taylor, we human beings are cognitive misers.According to Fiske & Taylor, we human beings are cognitive misers. –We are forever trying to conserve our cognitive energy.

9 How Do We Make Sense of the World? Fiske & Taylor argue that, given our limited capacity to process information, we attempt to adopt strategies that simplify complex problems.Fiske & Taylor argue that, given our limited capacity to process information, we attempt to adopt strategies that simplify complex problems. –We ignore some information. –We “overuse” other information. –We accept a less-than-perfect alternative. Our strategies are efficient but can lead to serious errors and biases.Our strategies are efficient but can lead to serious errors and biases. –Unless we recognize our cognitive limitations we will be enslaved by them.

10 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment How does social context – the way things are presented and described – affect our judgments about people, including ourselves?How does social context – the way things are presented and described – affect our judgments about people, including ourselves? –Four different aspects are key: The comparison of alternativesThe comparison of alternatives The thoughts primed by a situationThe thoughts primed by a situation How a decision is framed or posedHow a decision is framed or posed The way information is presentedThe way information is presented All judgment is relative – how we think about a person or thing is dependent on its surrounding context.All judgment is relative – how we think about a person or thing is dependent on its surrounding context.

11 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Reference Points & Contrast Effects An object can appear to be better or worse than it is, depending on what it is compared to.An object can appear to be better or worse than it is, depending on what it is compared to. –Example: Use of a decoy An alternative that is clearly inferior to other possible selections – but serves the purpose of making one of the others, the one it is most similar to – look better by comparisonAn alternative that is clearly inferior to other possible selections – but serves the purpose of making one of the others, the one it is most similar to – look better by comparison Example: Tasti-burger decoy study (Pratkanis, et al.)Example: Tasti-burger decoy study (Pratkanis, et al.) –The addition of the decoy created a contrast effect…

12 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Reference Points & Contrast Effects When any object is contrasted with something similar but not as good, that particular object is judged to be better than would normally be the case.When any object is contrasted with something similar but not as good, that particular object is judged to be better than would normally be the case. –This is the contrast effect. Example: Charlie’s Angels/Blind date (Kenrick & Gutierres)Example: Charlie’s Angels/Blind date (Kenrick & Gutierres)

13 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Reference Points & Contrast Effects Contrast effects can occur subtly and have powerful effects.Contrast effects can occur subtly and have powerful effects. –Depending on the context, objects and alternatives can be made to look better or worse. Examples: politicians, cars, houses, etc.Examples: politicians, cars, houses, etc.

14 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Reference Points & Contrast Effects Important judgments we make about ourselves can also be powerfully influenced by contrast effects.Important judgments we make about ourselves can also be powerfully influenced by contrast effects. –Example: HS valedictorian at an elite college –Example: Comparison of own attractiveness relative to beautiful vs. average people

15 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Priming & Construct Accessibility How we interpret social events usually depends on what we are currently thinking about, as well as what beliefs and categories we typically use to make sense of things.How we interpret social events usually depends on what we are currently thinking about, as well as what beliefs and categories we typically use to make sense of things. –Categories vary with the individual.

16 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Priming & Construct Accessibility Interpretation also can depend on what happens to be prominent in the situation, which can be induced through priming.Interpretation also can depend on what happens to be prominent in the situation, which can be induced through priming. –A procedure based on the notion that ideas that have been recently encountered or frequently activated are more likely to come to mind and thus will be used in interpreting social events Example: Higgins, Rholes, & Jones study of impression formationExample: Higgins, Rholes, & Jones study of impression formation Example: Bargh, et al. studyExample: Bargh, et al. study

17 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Priming & Construct Accessibility Priming can and does have a major impact on the attitudes and behavior of many people – even of seasoned professionals in life-and-death situations in the real world.Priming can and does have a major impact on the attitudes and behavior of many people – even of seasoned professionals in life-and-death situations in the real world. –Example: Physician study on HIV risk (Heath, et al.)

18 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Priming & Construct Accessibility Several studies have shown that there is a link between which stories the media cover and what viewers consider to be the most important issues of the day.Several studies have shown that there is a link between which stories the media cover and what viewers consider to be the most important issues of the day. –In other words, the mass media make certain issues and concepts readily accessible and thereby set the public’s political and social agendas. Example: NC Election study (McCombs & Shaw)Example: NC Election study (McCombs & Shaw) Example: Iyengar, Peters, & Kinder studyExample: Iyengar, Peters, & Kinder study

19 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Framing the Decision Another factor influencing how we construct our social world is decision framing – whether a problem or decision is presented in such a way that it appears to represent the potential for a loss or for a gain.Another factor influencing how we construct our social world is decision framing – whether a problem or decision is presented in such a way that it appears to represent the potential for a loss or for a gain. –Example: Gain/Loss study (Kahneman & Tversky)

20 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: Framing the Decision People dislike losses and seek to avoid them.People dislike losses and seek to avoid them. –It is more painful to give up $20 than it is pleasurable to gain $20. –How a question is framed is of enormous importance. Example: Energy conservation study (Aronson, Gonzales, & Costanzo)Example: Energy conservation study (Aronson, Gonzales, & Costanzo) Example: Breast cancer self-examination (Meyerowitz & Chaiken)Example: Breast cancer self-examination (Meyerowitz & Chaiken)

21 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: The Ordering of Information Another factor influencing the way we organize and interpret the social world is the manner in which information is arranged and distributed.Another factor influencing the way we organize and interpret the social world is the manner in which information is arranged and distributed. –Two especially important characteristics: What comes firstWhat comes first The amount of information givenThe amount of information given

22 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: The Ordering of Information The Primacy Effect and Information FormationThe Primacy Effect and Information Formation –Things we learn first about a person have a decisive impact on our judgment of that people. Example: Asch study of personality assessmentExample: Asch study of personality assessment Example: Perception of intelligence (Jones, et al.)Example: Perception of intelligence (Jones, et al.)

23 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: The Ordering of Information In many situations we are not simply sitting back observing those we are judging.In many situations we are not simply sitting back observing those we are judging. –We are interacting and actively influencing. –We have specific goals that shape our interpretations of the people we interact with. Example: Teachers judging intelligence of studentsExample: Teachers judging intelligence of students

24 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: The Ordering of Information An interesting exception to the primacy effect was discovered by Aronson & Jones.An interesting exception to the primacy effect was discovered by Aronson & Jones. –Study of tutors and anagram solvers –Suggests that if teachers are invested in the long-term development of their students they are prone to resist making a snap judgment based on a first impression

25 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: The Ordering of Information Why does the primacy effect in impression formation occur?Why does the primacy effect in impression formation occur? –Evidence for two explanations: Attention decrementAttention decrement –Later items in a list receive less attention and, thus, have less impact on judgment. Interpretive setInterpretive set –First items create an initial impression that is used to interpret subsequent information, either through the discounting of incongruent facts or by subtle changes in the meaning of the items seen later.

26 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: The Ordering of Information Regardless of the explanation, the primacy effect has an important impact on social judgment.Regardless of the explanation, the primacy effect has an important impact on social judgment. Moreover, we usually have little control over the order in which we receive information.Moreover, we usually have little control over the order in which we receive information. Therefore, it is important to realize the existence of these effects so that we can try to correct for them.Therefore, it is important to realize the existence of these effects so that we can try to correct for them.

27 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: The Amount of Information We often believe we want more information when making a decision.We often believe we want more information when making a decision. Although it can be helpful, it also can change how an object is perceived and evaluated through what is called “the dilution effect.”Although it can be helpful, it also can change how an object is perceived and evaluated through what is called “the dilution effect.” –The tendency for neutral and irrelevant information to weaken a judgment or impression Example: Zukier studyExample: Zukier study

28 The Effects of Context on Social Judgment: The Amount of Information The dilution effect has obvious practical value for persons interested in managing impression, such as those in sales or politics.The dilution effect has obvious practical value for persons interested in managing impression, such as those in sales or politics. Why does it occur?Why does it occur? –One answer is that irrelevant information about a person makes a person seem more similar to others, and thus more average and like everyone else.

29 Judgmental Heuristics One way that we make sense of the array of information that comes our way is through the use of judgmental heuristics.One way that we make sense of the array of information that comes our way is through the use of judgmental heuristics. –These are mental shortcuts – a simple, often approximate, rule or strategy for solving a problem. –Heuristics require very little thought. –The three most common: Representative heuristicRepresentative heuristic Availability heuristicAvailability heuristic Attitude heuristicAttitude heuristic

30 Judgmental Heuristics According to Kahneman & Tversky, when we use the representative heuristic, we focus on the similarity of one object to another to infer that the first object acts like the second.According to Kahneman & Tversky, when we use the representative heuristic, we focus on the similarity of one object to another to infer that the first object acts like the second. –Example: High-quality products are expensive, therefore, if something is expensive, it is high- quality. –Example: Lucky Charms vs. 100% Natural –Example: Disease cure should resemble cause.

31 Judgmental Heuristics The representative heuristic is often used to form impressions and to make judgments about other persons.The representative heuristic is often used to form impressions and to make judgments about other persons. –The first information we usually pick up about a person is usually associated with simple rules that guide thought and behavior. Example: Gender and ethnic stereotypesExample: Gender and ethnic stereotypes

32 Judgmental Heuristics The availability heuristic refers to judgments based on how easy it is for us to bring specific examples to mind.The availability heuristic refers to judgments based on how easy it is for us to bring specific examples to mind. –There are many situations in which this short cut will prove accurate and useful. The main problem with employing this heuristic is that sometimes what is easiest to bring to mind is not typical of the overall picture.The main problem with employing this heuristic is that sometimes what is easiest to bring to mind is not typical of the overall picture. –This will lead us to faulty conclusions. Example: Death from drowning or fire? (Plous)Example: Death from drowning or fire? (Plous)

33 Judgmental Heuristics An attitude is a special type of belief that includes emotional and evaluative components.An attitude is a special type of belief that includes emotional and evaluative components. –In a sense, an attitude is a stored evaluation. According to Pratkanis & Greenwald, people tend to use the attitude heuristic as a way of making decisions and solving problems.According to Pratkanis & Greenwald, people tend to use the attitude heuristic as a way of making decisions and solving problems. –Example: Reagan college grades (Pratkanis)

34 Judgmental Heuristics The use of an attitude heuristic can influence our logic and ability to reason.The use of an attitude heuristic can influence our logic and ability to reason. –Example: Thistlewaite study of syllogisms

35 Judgmental Heuristics Another dimension of the attitude heuristic is the halo effect.Another dimension of the attitude heuristic is the halo effect. –A general bias in which a favorable or unfavorable general impression of a person affects our inferences and future expectations about that person –Example: College students halo for women’s diet (Stein & Nemeroff)

36 Judgmental Heuristics Still another dimension of the attitude heuristic is the false-consensus effect.Still another dimension of the attitude heuristic is the false-consensus effect. –An overestimation of the percentage of people who agree with us on any given issue –If I believe something, I leap to the conclusion that most other people feel the same way. Example: “Eat at Joe’s” study (Ross, et al.)Example: “Eat at Joe’s” study (Ross, et al.)

37 Judgmental Heuristics When do we use heuristics? What conditions are most likely to lead to heuristic employment rather than rational decision making?When do we use heuristics? What conditions are most likely to lead to heuristic employment rather than rational decision making? –Multiple conditions: Lack of time to thinkLack of time to think Information overloadInformation overload Unimportant issueUnimportant issue Little solid informationLittle solid information

38 Categorization & Social Stereotypes One of the most important consequences of categorization is that it can invoke specific data or stereotypes that then guide our expectations.One of the most important consequences of categorization is that it can invoke specific data or stereotypes that then guide our expectations. –Example: “Hannah” study (Darley & Gross) Most people seem to have some understanding of stereotypes.Most people seem to have some understanding of stereotypes. –They seem reluctant to apply them in the absence of solid data. Despite this understanding, stereotypes still influence our perception and judgments.Despite this understanding, stereotypes still influence our perception and judgments.

39 Categorization & Social Stereotypes Often in real face-to-face interactions, the process observed by Darley & Gross does not stop with mere judgments.Often in real face-to-face interactions, the process observed by Darley & Gross does not stop with mere judgments. –Example: Stereotypes, schoolteachers, & student performance (Rosenthal & Jacobson) Results demonstrated that expectations and stereotypes lead people to treat others in a way that makes them confirm their expectations.Results demonstrated that expectations and stereotypes lead people to treat others in a way that makes them confirm their expectations. –This is called a self-fulfilling prophecy.

40 Categorization & Social Stereotypes Still another effect of categorization is that we frequently perceive a relationship between two entities that we think should be related – but, in fact, they are not.Still another effect of categorization is that we frequently perceive a relationship between two entities that we think should be related – but, in fact, they are not. –Social psychologists have dubbed this “the illusory correlation.” –Example: Hamilton, et al., study

41 Categorization & Social Stereotypes This illusory correlation shows up quite often in social judgments.This illusory correlation shows up quite often in social judgments. –Example: Likelihood of lesbians contracting AIDS –Example: Psychiatric diagnostic categories Regardless of the setting, the illusory correlation does much to confirm our original stereotypes.Regardless of the setting, the illusory correlation does much to confirm our original stereotypes. –Our stereotype leads us to see a relationship that then seems to provide evidence that the original stereotype is true.

42 Categorization & Social Stereotypes One of the most common ways of categorizing people is to divide them into two groups: those in “my” group and those in the “out” group.One of the most common ways of categorizing people is to divide them into two groups: those in “my” group and those in the “out” group. When we divide the world into two such realities, two important consequences occur:When we divide the world into two such realities, two important consequences occur: –The homogeneity effect –In-group favoritism

43 Categorization & Social Stereotypes The homogeneity effect refers to the fact that we tend to see members of out-groups as more similar to each other than the members of our own group – the in-group.The homogeneity effect refers to the fact that we tend to see members of out-groups as more similar to each other than the members of our own group – the in-group. –It is not uncommon for us to imagine that members of the out-group all look alike, think alike, and act alike. Example: Sorority study (Park & Rothbart)Example: Sorority study (Park & Rothbart)

44 Categorization & Social Stereotypes In-group favoritism refers to the tendency to see one’s own group as better on any number of dimensions and to allocate rewards to one’s own group.In-group favoritism refers to the tendency to see one’s own group as better on any number of dimensions and to allocate rewards to one’s own group. In-group favoritism has been extensively studied using what has come to be known as the minimum group paradigm…In-group favoritism has been extensively studied using what has come to be known as the minimum group paradigm…

45 Categorization & Social Stereotypes In the minimum group paradigm, originated by Tajfel, complete strangers are divided into groups using the most trivial criteria imaginable.In the minimum group paradigm, originated by Tajfel, complete strangers are divided into groups using the most trivial criteria imaginable. –Group members behave as if those who share their meaningless label are their good friends or close kin and allocate more money and rewards to those who share their label.

46 Constructive Predictions & Re-constructive Memory Two thinking processes play an important role in social cognition:Two thinking processes play an important role in social cognition: –Predicting our reactions to future events –Remembering past events Both are subject to considerable error.Both are subject to considerable error. –Considerable research demonstrates that we overestimate the emotional impact of events and durability to these events, whether good or bad. Example: Assistant professors (not) receiving tenureExample: Assistant professors (not) receiving tenure

47 Constructive Predictions & Re-constructive Memory Why do we mispredict?Why do we mispredict? –One reason is that we adjust to both happy and sad events in our lives, but frequently fail to recognize our powers of adjustment when we mentally construct what our futures will look and feel like. –Another reason is that when we imagine the future, we tend to focus only upon the event in question to the exclusion of all other things that will undoubtedly occur at the same time.

48 Constructive Predictions & Re-constructive Memory Like imaging the future, recalling the past plays an important role in our social interactions, and is also subject to bias.Like imaging the future, recalling the past plays an important role in our social interactions, and is also subject to bias. Remembering is a re-constructive process.Remembering is a re-constructive process. –We recreate our memories from bits and pieces of actual events filtered through and modified by our notions of what might have been, and what should have been, and what we would like it to have been.

49 Constructive Predictions & Re-constructive Memory Our memories also are profoundly influenced by what people have told us about specific events – long after they occurred.Our memories also are profoundly influenced by what people have told us about specific events – long after they occurred. –Example: Work of Elizabeth Loftus Leading questions influence the judgment of facts and can affect the memory of what has happened.Leading questions influence the judgment of facts and can affect the memory of what has happened.

50 Autobiographical Memory It is clear that memory can be reconstructive when it involves quick, snapshot-like events.It is clear that memory can be reconstructive when it involves quick, snapshot-like events. We also have a strong tendency to organize our personal history in terms of what Markus calls “self-schemas.”We also have a strong tendency to organize our personal history in terms of what Markus calls “self-schemas.” –Coherent memories, feelings, and beliefs about ourselves that hang together and form an integrated whole –Our memories get distorted in such a way that they fit the general picture we have of ourselves. Example: Ross, McFarland, & Fletcher study of toothbrushingExample: Ross, McFarland, & Fletcher study of toothbrushing

51 Autobiographical Memory Loftus has continued this line of research further and shown how easy it is to plant false memories of childhood experiences in the minds of young adults.Loftus has continued this line of research further and shown how easy it is to plant false memories of childhood experiences in the minds of young adults. –Most people, when presented a story of their childhood as fact, will incorporate and plant that memory into their own history and will have embroidered it with details. –This has been called the false memory syndrome.

52 Autobiographical Memory Loftus’s research on the planting of false childhood memories has led her and other cognitive psychologists to take a close and skeptical look at a recent societal phenomenon:Loftus’s research on the planting of false childhood memories has led her and other cognitive psychologists to take a close and skeptical look at a recent societal phenomenon: –the recovered memory phenomenon

53 Autobiographical Memory According to scientists who have done systematic research on the nature of memory, repeated instances of traumatic events occurring over a long stretch of time are not usually forgotten.According to scientists who have done systematic research on the nature of memory, repeated instances of traumatic events occurring over a long stretch of time are not usually forgotten. –Rather, “recovered” memories of abuse could have been unintentionally planted by therapists. –Accordingly, memory researchers have criticized some self-help books on the grounds that they grossly underestimate the power of suggestion and unwittingly lead people to recover false memories.

54 Autobiographical Memory False memory has been a highly controversial issue in contemporary psychology.False memory has been a highly controversial issue in contemporary psychology. –Some professional psychologists have been willing to take accounts at face value. –Most cognitive scientists, based on their memory research, believe that, in the absence of any corroborating evidence to suggest abuse, it would be wrong to accuse the suspected family memory of a crime.

55 How Conservative is Human Cognition? Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek confirmation of initial impressions or beliefs.Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek confirmation of initial impressions or beliefs. –It is a common tendency in human thought. –Example: Snyder & Swann study – students chose to ask questions to confirm their pre-existing belief about an interviewee.

56 How Conservative is Human Cognition? Not only do we tend to confirm our hypotheses, but we often are quite confident that they are true.Not only do we tend to confirm our hypotheses, but we often are quite confident that they are true. –Fischhoff termed this the “hindsight bias” or the “I-knew-it-all-along” effect. Once we know the outcome of an event, we have a strong tendency to believe that we could have predicted it in advance.Once we know the outcome of an event, we have a strong tendency to believe that we could have predicted it in advance.

57 How Conservative is Human Cognition? The confirmation and hindsight biases provide support for the proposition that human cognition tends to be conservative.The confirmation and hindsight biases provide support for the proposition that human cognition tends to be conservative. –We try to preserve that which is already established, to maintain our preexisting knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and stereotypes.

58 How Conservative is Human Cognition? Greenwald has argued that cognitive conservatism has at least one benefit:Greenwald has argued that cognitive conservatism has at least one benefit: –It allows us to perceive the social world as a coherent and stable place. –To keep our minds operating and coherent, it makes sense to practice cognitive conservatism and to modify only slightly our cognitive categories.

59 How Conservative is Human Cognition? Cognitive conservatism also has its costs:Cognitive conservatism also has its costs: –The misuse of categories may cause a person to distort events or to miss important information. –The misapplication of a heuristic can lead to poor decision-making. –The consequences are not just mental: Such thinking can lead to racism, sexism, prejudice, and just plain stupid thinking.Such thinking can lead to racism, sexism, prejudice, and just plain stupid thinking.

60 How Conservative is Human Cognition? What can we do to avoid the negative consequences of cognitive conservatism?What can we do to avoid the negative consequences of cognitive conservatism? –Be wary of those who attempt to create your categories and definitions of situations. –Try to use more than one way to categorize and describe a person or event. –Try to think of persons and important events as unique. –When forming an impression, consider the possibility that you might be mistaken.

61 How Do Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior? What is the relationship between our attitudes and our behavior?What is the relationship between our attitudes and our behavior? Can we use our attitudes to predict how we will behave?Can we use our attitudes to predict how we will behave? –A long history of research suggests that we cannot!

62 How Do Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior? One of the class studies of the attitude-behavior relationship was conducted in the early 1930s by LaPiere.One of the class studies of the attitude-behavior relationship was conducted in the early 1930s by LaPiere. –He contacted hotel and restaurant proprietors and assessed their attitude toward Chinese patrons. Strongly negativeStrongly negative –Later assessed behavior of the same proprietors Only one of 128 establishments refused service.Only one of 128 establishments refused service. Attitudes did not predict behavior.Attitudes did not predict behavior.

63 How Do Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior? In 1969, Wicker reviewed over 40 studies that had explored the attitude- behavior relationship.In 1969, Wicker reviewed over 40 studies that had explored the attitude- behavior relationship. –His conclusion? It is considerably more likely that attitudes will be unrelated to overt behaviors.

64 How Do Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior? How can we reconcile this body of research with our intuition that a person’s attitudes are strongly related to his or her behavior?How can we reconcile this body of research with our intuition that a person’s attitudes are strongly related to his or her behavior? –One way is to conclude that there is no consistent relationship between attitudes and behavior.

65 How Do Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior? The perception of a relationship may persist because of the common tendency to attribute the cause of an individual’s behavior to characteristics of the individual, rather than to the power of the situation itself.The perception of a relationship may persist because of the common tendency to attribute the cause of an individual’s behavior to characteristics of the individual, rather than to the power of the situation itself. –Jones, et al. call this tendency a correspondent inference: The behavior of the person is explained in terms of an attribute or trait that is just like the behavior.The behavior of the person is explained in terms of an attribute or trait that is just like the behavior. –Example: Sam spilled wine because he is clumsy. –Example: Fidel Castro study (Jones & Harris)

66 How Do Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior? Just because attitudes don’t always predict beliefs does not mean that attitudes never predict behavior.Just because attitudes don’t always predict beliefs does not mean that attitudes never predict behavior. –Fazio has identified one major factor that increases the likelihood that we will act on our attitude – Accessibility Attitude accessibility refers to the strength of the association between an object and your evaluation of it.Attitude accessibility refers to the strength of the association between an object and your evaluation of it. Not all attitudes and beliefs are highly accessible.Not all attitudes and beliefs are highly accessible.

67 How Do Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior? According to Fazio, attitudes are used to interpret and perceive an object selectively and to make sense of a complex situation.According to Fazio, attitudes are used to interpret and perceive an object selectively and to make sense of a complex situation. There is considerable evidence to support the proposition that highly accessible attitudes guide behavior.There is considerable evidence to support the proposition that highly accessible attitudes guide behavior. –Example: Fazio & Williams study of Reagan/Mondale voting patterns

68 How Do Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior? There is another way that attitudes and beliefs can influence behavior:There is another way that attitudes and beliefs can influence behavior: –The belief can come to create the social world in which we live. Example: Hostility word game (Herr)Example: Hostility word game (Herr) –In sum, a relatively subtle context had influenced attitudes and expectations that, in turn, affected behavior and subsequently affected the next round of perceptions.

69 How Do Attitudes and Beliefs Guide Behavior? Dweck and colleagues have demonstrated the behavioral consequences of people’s more enduring beliefs.Dweck and colleagues have demonstrated the behavioral consequences of people’s more enduring beliefs. According to Dweck, children develop implicit theories about the permanence of people’s defining traits.According to Dweck, children develop implicit theories about the permanence of people’s defining traits. –These theories exert a considerable influence upon a child’s judgments and behavior. Example: People who see intelligence as a fixed trait are more apprehensive about failure.Example: People who see intelligence as a fixed trait are more apprehensive about failure.

70 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation In studying how we interpret our social world, social psychologists have identified three general biases that often affect our attributions and explanations:In studying how we interpret our social world, social psychologists have identified three general biases that often affect our attributions and explanations: –The fundamental attribution error –The actor-observer bias –Self-biases

71 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation The term fundamental attribution error refers to a general human tendency to overestimate the importance of personality or dispositional factors relative to situational or environmental influences when describing and explaining the causes of social behavior.The term fundamental attribution error refers to a general human tendency to overestimate the importance of personality or dispositional factors relative to situational or environmental influences when describing and explaining the causes of social behavior. –Example: Correspondent inference

72 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation Another example of the fundamental attribution error is provided by an experiment conducted by Bierbrauer.Another example of the fundamental attribution error is provided by an experiment conducted by Bierbrauer. –Participants witnessed a reenactment of Milgram’s obedience study; assumed that obedience was an aberration. –Results indicated that participants failed to attribute the witnessed obedience to the power of the situation.

73 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation As observers, we frequently lose sight of the fact that each individual plays many social roles and that we might be observing only one of them.As observers, we frequently lose sight of the fact that each individual plays many social roles and that we might be observing only one of them. Thus, important social roles can be easily overlooked in explaining a person’s behavior.Thus, important social roles can be easily overlooked in explaining a person’s behavior. –Example: Dr. Mensch –Example: Quiz show study (Ross, Amabile, & Steinmetz)

74 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation The implications of the fundamental application error are far-reaching.The implications of the fundamental application error are far-reaching. –Example: Common reactions to person using food stamps at the grocery store, convicted burglar –Perceiving poverty and crime (as only two examples) as related to dispositional rather than situational factors will impact policy, spending, program development, etc.

75 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation At the very least, our knowledge of the fundamental attribution error should alert us to the possibility that our attributions may not always be correct and that we should take seriously the motto of the novelist Samuel Butler:At the very least, our knowledge of the fundamental attribution error should alert us to the possibility that our attributions may not always be correct and that we should take seriously the motto of the novelist Samuel Butler: –“There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

76 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation Another common bias in social judgment is known as the actor-observer bias.Another common bias in social judgment is known as the actor-observer bias. –This is the tendency for actors to attribute their own actions to situational factors, whereas observers tend to attribute the same actions to stable personality dispositions of the actors. I give myself the benefit of the doubt – I use situational causes to explain myself.I give myself the benefit of the doubt – I use situational causes to explain myself. I don’t give you the same benefit – when I try to explain your behavior, I make the fundamental attribution error.I don’t give you the same benefit – when I try to explain your behavior, I make the fundamental attribution error.

77 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation There is considerable evidence that the actor- observer bias is pervasive.There is considerable evidence that the actor- observer bias is pervasive. –Example: Explaining intelligence test scores –Example: Attributing research participation –Example: Drawing conclusions about peer behavior –Example: Explaining choice of girlfriend and college major –Example: Ascription of personality traits

78 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation What causes the actor-observer bias?What causes the actor-observer bias? –Storms’ research indicates that it is a function of where a person’s attention is focused. Actor’s attention is usually focused on the environment and past history.Actor’s attention is usually focused on the environment and past history. Observer’s attention is almost always focused on the actor.Observer’s attention is almost always focused on the actor. –Storms’ research also suggests that actors who saw themselves on videotape from the observer’s point of view were more likely to explain their own behavior in terms of dispositional factors, whereas observers who saw the world from the point of view of the actors were more likely to explain behavior in situational terms.

79 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation Often the actor-observer bias can lead to misunderstanding and conflict.Often the actor-observer bias can lead to misunderstanding and conflict. The Storms experiment points to one method for nipping this potential conflict in the bud:The Storms experiment points to one method for nipping this potential conflict in the bud: –Change the actor’s and observer’s perspective –One tactic for doing this is to promote empathy by role-playing the other’s point of view.

80 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation As a primary source of motivation, the way in which we conceive of the self greatly influences all of our social cognitions.As a primary source of motivation, the way in which we conceive of the self greatly influences all of our social cognitions. There are two general ways that the self influences social cognition:There are two general ways that the self influences social cognition: –Egocentric thought –Self-serving bias

81 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation Most people have a tendency to perceive themselves as more central to events than is actually the case.Most people have a tendency to perceive themselves as more central to events than is actually the case. –We call this egocentric thought. People engaging in egocentric thought remember past events as if they were a leading player, influencing the course of events and the behavior of others.People engaging in egocentric thought remember past events as if they were a leading player, influencing the course of events and the behavior of others. Example: Jervis research on world leadersExample: Jervis research on world leaders Example: Langer research on the “illusion of control”Example: Langer research on the “illusion of control”

82 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation Another interesting manifestation of egocentric thought is the assumption in social situations that others are paying more attention to us than they are.Another interesting manifestation of egocentric thought is the assumption in social situations that others are paying more attention to us than they are. –Example: Teenager with a pimple –Example: College student in uncool t-shirt (Gilovich, et al.) Because we always see the world through our own eyes, it is very difficult for us to see ourselves through the eyes of others.Because we always see the world through our own eyes, it is very difficult for us to see ourselves through the eyes of others. –We imagine they see us the way we see ourselves.

83 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation The belief that one’s self is the center of the universe helps explain a paradox that occurs everyday in US newspapers.The belief that one’s self is the center of the universe helps explain a paradox that occurs everyday in US newspapers. –Despite pride in our country’s technological achievements, fewer than 10 percent of daily newspapers carry a regular column on science. –In contrast, over 90% carry a daily feature on astrology. The stock-in trade of the horoscope is the Barnum statement – a personality description vague enough to be true of almost everyone.The stock-in trade of the horoscope is the Barnum statement – a personality description vague enough to be true of almost everyone. Because of our tendency to think egocentrically, most of us will feel that the Barnum statement is a bull’s-eye description of us.Because of our tendency to think egocentrically, most of us will feel that the Barnum statement is a bull’s-eye description of us. –Example: Petty & Brock study of personality test results

84 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation The tendency toward egocentric thought occurs in subtle ways that frequently include our memory for past events and information.The tendency toward egocentric thought occurs in subtle ways that frequently include our memory for past events and information. One very common finding is that people have superior memory for information descriptive of the self.One very common finding is that people have superior memory for information descriptive of the self. The role of egocentric thought in memory does have practical implications for the student:The role of egocentric thought in memory does have practical implications for the student: –One of the best ways to recall material from classes is to relate it to your personal experiences – to think how it applies to you.

85 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation The self-serving bias refers to a tendency for individuals to make dispositional attributions for their success and situational attributions for their failures:The self-serving bias refers to a tendency for individuals to make dispositional attributions for their success and situational attributions for their failures: –Example: Automobile driving –Example: Student performance on exams –Example: Gambler perception of success –Example: Married persons’ estimate of housework –Example: General personal ratings –Example: Two-person team performances –Example: Explanations of peer dislike

86 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation As Greenwald & Breckler note:As Greenwald & Breckler note: –“The presented self is (usually) too good to be true; the (too) good self is often genuinely believed. But, why do people engage in the self-serving bias?But, why do people engage in the self-serving bias? –One explanation that accounts for some of the data is purely cognitive. Individuals are aware of different information as actors than as observers.Individuals are aware of different information as actors than as observers.

87 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation But a purely cognitive-informational explanation cannot account for all of the examples of self-serving bias.But a purely cognitive-informational explanation cannot account for all of the examples of self-serving bias. –Another explanation is that we are motivated to engage in such attributions to protect and maintain our self-concepts and self-esteem. This is called ego-defensive behavior.This is called ego-defensive behavior. Example: Weary, et al.Example: Weary, et al.

88 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation Of what value are self-biases?Of what value are self-biases? –Self-biases can serve important purposes: The individual who believes that he or she is the cause of good things will try harder and persist longer to achieve difficult goals.The individual who believes that he or she is the cause of good things will try harder and persist longer to achieve difficult goals. Example: Winning basketball teams (Grove, et al.)Example: Winning basketball teams (Grove, et al.) –There may also be more important temporary benefits to self- biases as well: Example: People who had faced tragic or near-tragic events (Taylor)Example: People who had faced tragic or near-tragic events (Taylor) Example: Benefits of optimistic style of thinking (Seligman)Example: Benefits of optimistic style of thinking (Seligman)

89 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation In brief, engaging in egocentric thought and self-serving attributions has an array of benefits.In brief, engaging in egocentric thought and self-serving attributions has an array of benefits. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that these positive consequences are not without their price:At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that these positive consequences are not without their price: –The major price is a somewhat distorted picture of the self and the world in general.

90 Three Possible Biases in Social Explanation Ironically, this distorted picture of the world is frequently caused by a motive to justify ourselves and our behavior.Ironically, this distorted picture of the world is frequently caused by a motive to justify ourselves and our behavior. One of the most fascinating aspects of the social animal is our touching need to see ourselves as good and sensible people – and how this need frequently leads us to perform actions that are neither good nor sensible.One of the most fascinating aspects of the social animal is our touching need to see ourselves as good and sensible people – and how this need frequently leads us to perform actions that are neither good nor sensible.

91 By March 20th You should have read chapter four by this time. Now that you have completed these power points, please go to the Social Animal website. lt.asp lt.asp Log in and take the quiz for chapter four, submit answers to my .


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