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Causal Attributions [The reasons for the behavior of others and ourselves; WHY they/we behave a certain way, e.g., the cause of behavior] Fritz Heider:

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Presentation on theme: "Causal Attributions [The reasons for the behavior of others and ourselves; WHY they/we behave a certain way, e.g., the cause of behavior] Fritz Heider:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Causal Attributions [The reasons for the behavior of others and ourselves; WHY they/we behave a certain way, e.g., the cause of behavior] Fritz Heider: One of the founders of attribution theory Viewed people as amateur (naive) scientists – trying to figure out causes of behavior and assigning responsibility for one’s actions

2 InternalExternal Stable Unstable Ability, Intelligence, Personality Traits Effort, Mood Luck, Transitory weather conditions Task difficulty Also, there are 2 other dimensions: Global versus Specific Causal Attributions

3 Relationship-Enhancing and Distress-Maintaining Attributions Positive Event Relationship-Enhancing Attribution Distress-Maintaining Attribution My partner takes me out to an expensive dinner My partner is sweet and thoughtful My partner took me out to write the cost off on taxes Internal, stable, global Negative Event My partner forgot my birthday External, unstable, specific Something unexpected must have come up External, unstable, specific My partner is always uncaring and selfish Internal, stable, global

4 In a classroom At a party At work At a bar Susie Marcie Lolita Sister Mary Teresa Consensus) Seymore Tom Dick Harry (Consensus) The behavior to be explained: Seymore makes a pass at Lolita (Distinctiveness) (Consistency) Kelly’s Cube (Covariation) Model of Attribution

5 Typically, we do not have complete information about people on all three of Kelly’s dimensions. Also, research has shown that the dimension of “consistency” is used quite a bit, whereas “consensus” is not used frequently. Kelly’s Cube Model of Attribution (cont.)

6 Sue receive an A on the final paper for Professor Adams. Half the class got A’s on this paper, and the other half got B’s. This is the 1 st time that Sue has received an A on a paper; in her other courses she has obtained B’s on her papers. On the last paper for this class, Sue also received an A. Why did Sue get an A? She is an excellent writer Consistency: High or Low Her teacher is an easy grader Consensus: High or Low This paper was especially good Distinctiveness: High or Low Joan received an A on her final paper for Professor Downs. No one else in the class received an A. Joan gets A’s on almost all of her papers she writes in other classes. On the last paper for this class, Joan also received an A. Why did Joan get an A? She is an excellent writer Consistency: High or Low Her teacher is an easy grader Consensus: High or Low This paper was especially good Distinctiveness: High or Low

7 Fundamental Attribution Error [Correspondent Bias -- that one’s behavior corresponds to one’s personality] The tendency to overemphasize internal explanations for the behavior of others, while failing to consider the power of the situation. Example – Participants had NO choice in reading a Pro Fidel Castro speech Others still believe the position reflected that of the person

8 Self-Generated Reality Are people unknowing architects of their own social reality? Often our role in affecting other’s responses is ambiguous (e.g., personality, physical appearance, social role/position, mannerisms) At other times, we intentionally try to get people to do or say something (e.g., sign petition, donate money, Inducer Responder Inducer asks responder to respond a certain way (e.g., 16/20 times in a politically liberal or conservative manner) Later, asked inducers to judge the “real” opinions of the responders --- they made dispositional attributions for the responder’s behavior (i.e., either liberal or conservative politically)

9 Fundamental Attribution Error Role of Perceptual Salience [what we see or pay attention to] Observers thought that the actor they could see better had a greater impact on the conversation

10 The actor/observer effect: The tendency to see other people’s behavior as dispositionally caused (e.g., ability, personality), while focusing more on the role of situational factors (e.g., task difficulty, bad luck) when explaining one’s own behavior. Actor-Observer Effect (Difference) Fundamental Attribution Error not applied equally)

11 Perceptual salience: Actors notice the situations around them that influence them to act, while observers notice the actors Information access: Actors have more information about themselves than do observers (e.g., how consistent present behavior is to past behavior) Actor: “That’s the first free throw I’ve missed in 4 games” Motivational bias: Explanations for one’s successes that credit internal, dispositional factors, as opposed to failures, which are explained by external, situational factors (e.g., bad luck) [Self-esteem maintenance; self-presentation reasons] Reasons for the Actor-Observer Difference Actor’s focus is on the task (the basket) Observer’s focus is on the actor

12 ~ Reversing Actors’ and Observers’ Perspectives ~ Actor sees own behavior as situational. Observer sees actor’s behavior as dispositional (trait). Actor-observer effect Actor Observer Actor sees own behavior as more dispositional. Observer sees actor’s behavior as more situational Other Observer Other (person actor was talking to) Actor sees self

13 Quiz Show Game Study (Power of social roles) Questioner (writes a set of 10 reasonably difficult questions Contestant (has to answer the questions by the questioner) Observers Ratings of others on a general knowledge rest Questioner perceived as more knowledgeable by contestants and observers Told that this assignment was random; it wasn’t

14 GPA and External Attributions for Failure Higher GPA Less absenteeism Lower dropout rate Greater satisfaction with school Training session to address issues facing new student, How to cope with Problems, Where to go for help, etc. Giving students realistic reasons for possible poor 1st year performance (e.g., new setting, more adjustments, harder classes)

15 Success is attributed to internal factors (Self-Enhancement Strategy ) Failure is attributed to external factors (Self-Protective Device) Prevalence of internal outcomes for both success and failure (especially unstable ones) Unexpected outcomes lead to a greater number of attributions (e.g., need for greater attributional searching for possible explanations) Overview Attributions in the Sports Pages

16 Attribution Examples in Sports Self-Attributions Internal & Unstable (most common in sports for failures) "I could not be as aggressive as I wanted to be and kind of flinched a couple of times" -- Golfer Ernie Els on a wrist injury and his 77 final round score "For this fight I had to lose a lot of weight. I wasn't that strong … “ --- Boxer Floyd Mayweather on beating Jr. Jesus Chavez “It was one of those nights. I felt like I couldn’t miss” – Michael Jordan

17 Self-Handicapping Behavior Early assumptions: A)People wish to have accurate information/feedback regarding their abilities B) Role of achievement motivation (high versus low) Definition of self-handicapping strategies; behavior that: A)Enhance external attributions for failure B) Allows internal attributions for success (e.g., Kelly’s augmentation principle)

18 Self-Handicapping Behavior (cont.) "Cause" of self-handicapping A)Non-contingent reinforcement history, especially for success (e.g., Success not due to one’s ability or effort) B) Perception that successful performance cannot likely be repeated  The belief that one deserves or has partially earned their success (e.g., due to themselves) has to exist

19 Self-Handicapping Behavior (cont.) Insolvable Task “Success” Ability attributions Males Males attributed their “success” to ability more than females Females Insolvable Task-2 (stakes raised) Drug Choice Enhancing drug Impairing drug Private Public Males much more likely to choose impairing drug – even when only they were told of their initial success (private condition)

20 Seligman’s Suggestions A) Allow external attributions for failure (when reasonable) B) Develop strategies for improvement after failure C) Failure is not “the end of the world” (learning experience, feedback) D) Allow development of personal control in early years of life

21 Misattribution and Speech Anxiety Placebo usage --- a) Cause of one’s arousal is not obvious b) Misattribution source is salient (obvious, easily observable) c) Misattribution source is perceived as plausible Giving a speech (anxiety arousing event) Subliminal noise to increase anxiety Subliminal noise to decrease anxiety Accurate information; e.g., it’s common to be anxious Less mistakes made during speech Anxiety is partially explained by the noise as well as the person

22 Motivation: SDT (Self-Determination Theory) Intrinsic Motivation Extrinsic Motivation The activity itself is rewarding; you are interested, and enjoy doing it The gains we make from the activity motivate us (e.g., money, power, prestige, endorsements)

23 A Look at Rewards for Motivation Good jump ropers during recess were chosen and put in three conditions Following the intervention, which group will jump rope during recess more? Expected reward: Students were told if they did a good job, they would get a “good jumper” badge. All got a badge. Unexpected reward: Students were awarded a “good jumper” badge after doing a good job on the task. All got a badge. Control / No reward: Students jumped rope, but were not told of a reward, and were not given one.

24 Intrinsic Motivation (Traditional Belief) Overall Motivation = Internal + External Rewards Individuals who intrinsically enjoy their work Increase extrinsic (external) rewards (e.g., pay) Can lead to lowered intrinsic motivation Why? Intrinsic Motivation Extrinsic Motivation Extrinsic (external) factors now partially account for why individuals are motivated to perform a given task External rewards limit people’s sense of self-determination Tangible extrinsic rewards reliably undermine intrinsic motivation under most circumstances. The most detrimental reward contingency involves giving rewards as a direct function of people's performance. This is the one most often used in life, and it seems to be the one that is most detrimental to the motivation, performance, and well-being.

25 ~ Overestimating Failure/Harshness ~ What is the “Spotlight Effect”: Perception of our behavior as “sticking out” Others will attend to and notice our behavior as being different (an outlier) Lonely Guy Restaurant Scene

26 Overestimating Harshness Studies 3 scenarios with social blunders --- Setting of library alarm Forgot to bring gift at party Seen with cheap store bag Ratings (predictions) provided by: Self (actors) Observers Scenario Actors’ Observers prediction rating 1. Library incident Empty-handed guest Spotted at the mall On average, actors believe they will be rated MUCH harsher that they are!


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