DSE212 Key Terms 7

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  1. Fundamental attribution error
    • Heider
    • We explain other's behaviour in terms of dispositional causes, but our own in terms of situational causes – Actor/Observer effect (AOE).
    • FAE is due to perceptual salience - for the actor the situation is most prominent so they give situational explanations; for the observer, the actor is the most salient aspect of the perceptual field, so observers explain behaviour in terms of the actor.
    • FAE is a bias rather than an error

    • Importance
    • Demonstrates cultural differences (Western ‘individualistic’ cultures focus on the power of the individual, so see things in terms of individual success/failure rather than the situation; Indian Hindus do not (Miller, 1984)
    • An important factor that biases our explanation of why people behave as they do
    • Storms (1973) showed that change in perceptual perspective changed the reasons people gave for behaviour
  2. Attribution theory
    • Theories that try to explain how we explain the behaviour of ourselves and others
    • Focus on causes of success and failure, and how we justify our performance to ourselves and others
    • Jones and Davis (1967) say we tend to use internal
    • factors to explain people's behaviour as these tell us about the person, not just the current situation, so are more useful for predicting future behaviour
    • Can be prone to errors caused by relying on people making attributions based on logic (which they often don't
    • Examples include:
    • Harold Kelley's (1967) Covariation model of attribution – using Consistency, Consensus and Distinctivity to deduce cause
    • Heider and Simmel (1944) - people assigning human qualities to an animation of two squares and a circle moving around a box

    • Importance
    • Attribution theories help to explain social cognition (how people think about people/society)
  3. Schema
    • Cognitive structure containing everything we know about a particular object
    • In social psychology these are social objects containing shared knowledge
    • Fredric Bartlett (1932)
    • Bartlett used schemata to explain why people mis-remember things:
    • English people remembered details about a Native American folk tale in ways that made sense in their English culture
    • Knowledge in schemata is packaged as generalised objects that make sense as parts of the whole set of information
    • Different types of schema exist, such as role schema, person schema and event schema
    • Can be self-confirming - "we see what we expect to see". This can lead to distortion and incorrect judgment, e.g. the Guardian ad where the skinhead running at the old man to save him from falling bricks.
    • Examples include Darley and Gross (1983) - Hannah description experiment

    • Importance
    • Schematic processing is a fast, efficient way to store and recover information – we can fill in the gaps with stored knowledge
    • It provides insight into prejudice and its causes
  4. Stereotype
    • A mental representation of a person that over-generalises them.
    • Sterotyping somone emphasises characteristics of the category we fit them into
    • Tajfel showed that boys over-emphasised similarities within their ingroups, and exaggerated differences between their groups and outgroups
    • Largely automatic processes working below conscious level of awareness

    • Importance
    • Makes us exaggerate similarities between members of a category and the differences between categories (e.g. Tajfel, ingroups/outgroups)
    • Identity distortions may underline judgements of others, for example skinhead equals aggression
    • It provides insight into prejudice and its causes
  5. Self-serving bias
    • Tendency to attribute successes to internal/dispositional reasons and failures to external/situational ones
    • Self-serving bias might be based on what we expect to happen (cognitive bias) or due to our need to feel good and in control (motivational bias).
    • Shrauger (1975) found people with high self-esteem make more self-serving biased attributions.
    • Example - Lau and Russell (1980) - content analysis of explanations of success/failure in newspaper articles covering major sporting events showed a greater tendency to attribute wins to internal factors.

    • Importance
    • Identifies a way in which we distort judgements.
    • Could be used to help people with low self-esteem
    • Results that people put down to 'bad luck' might actually be within their control, not situational, offering room for improvement

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DSE212 Key Terms 7
2012-06-09 20:11:25
DSE212 Key Terms

DSE212 Key Terms 7
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