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Actor-Observer Effect: The tendency for actors to view their own behavior as situationally caused and for observers to perceive the behavior of actors.

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Presentation on theme: "Actor-Observer Effect: The tendency for actors to view their own behavior as situationally caused and for observers to perceive the behavior of actors."— Presentation transcript:

1 Actor-Observer Effect: The tendency for actors to view their own behavior as situationally caused and for observers to perceive the behavior of actors as being due to their dispositions (e.g., ability, personality) E.g., for observers: Acts (behaviors) = Dispositions (personality/trait attributions) What is the actor-observer effect?

2 Information access : Actors have more information about themselves than do observers (e.g., how consistent present behavior is to past behavior) Perceptual differences: Actors notice the situations around them that influence them to act, while observers notice the actors 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] What are the Reasons for the Actor-Observer Effect?

3 ~ Reversing Actors’ and Observers’ Perspectives ~ How was this accomplished?

4 ~ Reversing Actors’ and Observers’ Perspectives (cont.)~ Findings? Reorientation had a greater impact on participant’s view of situational factors

5 Issues/Implications? ~ Reversing Actors’ and Observers’ Perspectives (cont.)~  Increased appreciation of situational factors (observers) Legal settings (e.g., court cases and mitigating factors)  Couples therapy  Role of a motivational bias in more emotionally-laden settings  Possible negative effects of self-observation (e.g., greater stress regarding alcoholics, depressive clients)

6  Danger of therapist’s dispositional views of clients (along with the decreased situational attributions of self-viewed clients) --- mutual underestimation of situational factors  Why were the dispositional evaluations not affected much? Issues/Implications (cont.)?

7 ~ Overestimating Failure ~ 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

8 Overestimating Harshness Studies Study 1: 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 3 rd party ratings Why 3 rd party ratings?Rule out possibility of a self-presentation bias

9 Table 1 Mean Composite Index Ratings of Respondents in Scenarios 1, 2, and 3 Scenario Actors’ Observers’ 3rd-person prediction rating prediction 1. Library incident Empty-handed guest Spotted at the mall What do the scores in the above table indicate?

10 Study 2: Getting acquainted exercise and performance on a anagram task Ratings on 12 traits before and after the anagram task Overestimating Harshness Studies (cont.) Findings?  Actors (solvers) expected to be rated more harshly by observers, especially after their (poor) performance on the anagram task  Curiously, actors (solvers) expected to be rated harshly BEFORE they performed the anagram task  Actors overestimated harsh thoughts by observers and underestimated lenient ones Lower ratings = more harsh views

11 Overestimating Harshness Studies (cont.) Study 3 (Quiz Show paradigm): Original Study by Ross --- Questioner (writes a set of 10 reasonably difficult questions) Contestant (has to answer the questions by the questioner) Observers Told that this assignment was random; it wasn’t Ross initial findings = Questioners were perceived as more knowledgeable on a general knowledge test by contestants and observers

12 Overestimating Harshness Studies (cont.) Study 3 (Quiz Show paradigm): To test for role of the Focusing illusion? People place greater weight on specific “focal” stimuli and less weight to other “non-focal” factors (e.g., relevant situational ones) in making their predictions about how others will rate them Findings?  Defocused game show contestants believed they would be rated better by questioners and observers  Those in control condition were overly focused on their poor performance -- expected harsher ratings

13 Overestimating Harshness Studies (cont.) Study 4: Testing the role of the amount of defocused information Findings? Greater discrepancy between actors (targets) and observers ratings when lots of non-focal information was provided (long version). Higher scores = more lenient ratings

14 Some Issues to Consider  Would people overestimate the degree to which others would rate them after a successful performance? Is this common? [High quality shopping bag (yes) versus good anagram performance (No) ]  Is is of evolutionary value to overestimate the harsh evaluation of others (e.g., to avoid being banished from the group) --- Significant diagnostic role of negative information in making impressions  Do people hold a general cynical set of beliefs about the behavior and evaluations of others? [Enhances image of observers] Implications of overly harsh judgments for actors? Avoidance, limited choice of behaviors by actors (fear, apprehension) – regret issue


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