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Chapters 4 and 5
Perceptions of Others
Perceptions of Ourselves
Next Class
First Exam
Do not be late
Bring photo ID and Student ID
Bring a pencil and eraser
This exam will consist of approximately 70 multiple
choice and 3 short answer questions
Check out textbook website (my psychlab) for multiple
choice practice questions
2.5 hours
Contact Regis Caprara with any questions
Email: [email protected]
Example Multiple Choice Question
1) Which of the following people have fallen prey to the
fundamental attribution error?
a. Tim, who points to a person who fell down and says, "What a
clumsy oaf!“
b. Sophie, who explains her poor exam performance by pointing
out how hard the questions were.
c. Don, who attributes his loss in a chess game to bad luck.
d. Alex, who explains his girlfriend's tears by saying, "She didn't get
enough sleep last night.“
e. Beatriz, who points to an erratic driver and says, "Look at that!
The roads are slick tonight."
Example Short Answer Question
2) Define the term self-fulfilling prophecy and provide one example of how this
process might work with regard to teenage drinking. How is this process
related to schemas? (5 marks)
a) define
We have expectations about other people.
These expectations can influence how we act toward these people.
These actions can cause these people to act in ways that are consistent with our
b) Teenage drinking example
c) How related to schemas
*** note that there are 3 sections to this question
Perceptions of Others
Question: How do we come to know and understand our
social world?
Answer: We perceive others?
We watch their actions, gestures, facial expressions, and
we listen to them. We try to understand them and why
they act and feel and think the way they do.
Attribution Theory
Is the study of how we infer the causes of other people’s
Heider (1958)
– Internal attribution (disposition) – a person’s behavior was
caused by something internal, such as his/her attitudes,
character, or personality
– External attribution (situation) – a person’s behavior was
caused by something external, such as the situation;
assume that most other people in that same situation
would behave similarly
Attribution Theory
How do people decide if another person’s behavior (B) was
primarily caused by the situation (S) or his/her disposition (D)?
Lewinian Equation:
A person’s behavior is a joint function of the situation the person is
in and the person’s unique predispositions to act.
To know whether a person has a disposition to behave in a certain
way we need to observe the behavior and “subtract out” the effect
of the situation.
Discounting Principle
We should not assume that D has an effect when B = S.
When we try to estimate a person’s disposition, the behavior
should be discounted or ignored when it is precisely the type of
behavior that the situation demands.
The behavior is nondiagnostic – it tells us nothing about the
person’s unique disposition and enduring tendencies to behave in
a certain way.
e.g., Car with fan
Fundamental Attribution Error
(also know as the Correspondence Bias)
i.e., We are not very good at following the discounting
We overestimate the extent to which other people’s
behavior is due to internal, dispositional factors and we
underestimate the role of situational factors
Behavior, we often believe, corresponds to disposition.
Fundamental Attribution Error
Jones and Harris (1967)
Participants watch debaters argue pro-Castro or anti-Castro issues. They
are told that the debaters was either given a choice on which side to
debate or no choice. (2 independent variables)
What is the debater’s real attitude? How Pro-Castro is the debater?
(dependent variable)
Causes of Correspondence Bias
1) We want dispositions (estimate of D)
• It gives us a sense of control
2) We misunderstand situations (estimate of S)
• We don’t realize the constraints of the situation. We
underestimate the capacity of the situation to alter
• Role of perceptual salience
3) We misperceive behavior (estimate of B)
• It is sometimes difficult to estimate B
4) We fail to use information
• The situation is the first automatic attribution and then only
after disposition.
Three Stage Model of Attribution
When can we/can’t we do the 3rd phase?
Automatic dispositional
Effortful situational
Three Stage Model of Attribution
Gilbert, Pelham, & Krull (1988)
ideal vacation, fashion trends
hidden secrets, their sex lives
Watched the videos while cognitively busy or not busy
Three Stage Model of Attribution
Gilbert, Pelham, & Krull (1988)
Bland Topics
Anxious Topics
Dispositional Anxiety
Not Cognitively Busy
Cognitively Busy
Three Stage Model of Attribution
Automatic dispositional
Effortful situational
Actor/Observer Differences
Observer Attributions (perceptions of other’s behavior)
We tend to attribute other people’s behavior to internal
reasons and assume their behavior is caused by their
Actor Attributions (perceptions of own behavior)
We tend to attribute our own behavior to external reasons
and assume that our behavior is caused by the situation.
Why are Actor Attributions Different?
1) We want to see ourselves as flexible – and that we can change
according to the demands of the situation (estimate of D)
• We also use our estimate of D in a self-serving way.*
2) We understand situations better (estimate of S)
• We realize that situations can constrain behavior. We
know our behavior differs in different situations and not
due only to our disposition.
• Role of perceptual salience
3) We fail to use information
• The situation is the first automatic attribution and then
only after disposition.
Automatic situational
Effortful dispositional
Knowledge about Others
How accurate are we at understanding others?
We are often not accurate because of the following
 The fundamental attribution error
 The actor/observer difference
 The defensive (self-serving) attributions
Perceptions of Ourselves
1) Self-Concept – Who am I?
2) Self-Knowledge – Do I know myself?
3) Liking vs. Knowing the Self
4) Social Self – Interacting with others
5) Cultural Self – How culture impacts the self
Self-Concept: Who am I?
I am _________________________
I am _________________________
I am _________________________
I am _________________________
I am __________________________
Who am I?
Self-Concept: the content of the self; our knowledge
about who we are
Self-Schema: beliefs about the self that organize and
guide the processing of self-relevant information, they
are elements of the self-concept
Self-Awareness: the act of thinking about ourselves
Do We Know Ourselves?
Intuitions/introspection about the self
Predicting our feelings –- affective forecasting
Predicting our own behaviors
Do we know ourselves any better than other people
know us?
The process whereby people look inward and examine
their own thoughts, feelings, and motives.
The reasons that we often provide for thoughts and
feelings may be wrong and based on common naive
theories related to these experiences.
Predicting Our Own Feelings
Affective Forecasting
How would you feel if:
 you failed this course?
 you won the lottery?
 you lost your arm?
 you became a mother/father for the first time?
Imagine …..
Actually Happens ….
Predicting Our Own Feelings
(and behaviors)
Affective Forecasting
People often mispredict how they will be emotionally
influenced by events.
 Problems with intensity
 Problems with duration
 Explanations
- focus
- psychological immune system
TED Talk: Dan Gilbert (2004)
Social Comparison Theory
We learn about our own abilities and attitudes by comparing
ourselves to other people.
 We compare ourselves with others who are similar on
important attributes or dimensions
 We compare ourselves to others when there is no objective
 Downward Social Comparisons can make us feel better
 Upward Social Comparisons can make us feel worse or they
inspire us (sometimes…)
Social Identities
Social identities are the part of our answer to “Who am
I” that comes from our group memberships.”
Race, Age, Sex, Job, SES, Height, Weight, Attractiveness,
Nationality, Intelligence These are just some of the social categories that we
belong to and for which we have relevant social
Which is more important our personal or our social
The Cultural Self
The enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared
by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation
to the next.
The self is determined in part by the culture that we live in.
Who am I?
I am _________________________
I am _________________________
I am _________________________
I am _________________________
I am __________________________
Who am I?
A North American would likely answer:
 I am tall
 I am good at sports
 I am outgoing
An Asian would likely answer:
 I am a Kawakami
 I am a Buddhist
 I am my father’s daughter
North American vs. Japanese Culture
– Individualistic
– Independence
– Context Independent
– Analytic Reasoning
– Internal Attributions
 Interdependence
Context Dependent
 Holistic Reasoning
 External Attributions
North American/Western Cultures
Promote the concept of giving priority to one’s own goals over
group goals and defining one’s identity in terms of personal
attributes rather than group identifications.
– Individual traits and goals
– Personal achievement and rights
– Reject Conformity
For example, I am a good student, I am smart, I am good at
A great example is the novel The Giver.
North American/Western Cultures
Independent Selves
Self-schema in which others are
not represented as part of the self
Context Independent
Attend to focal object and not gestalt
Analytic Reasoning
Emphasis is on the proper use of rules and that
contradictory statements cannot be true
Internal Attributions
Assume behavior of others correspond to their traits
Cultural Attributions
• He is the leader. He is a strong swimmer.
• The other fish are chasing him.
Eastern Cultures
Promote the concept of giving priority to the goals of one’s
group (often one’s extended family or work group) and defining
one’s identity accordingly.
(Not only Asian cultures but also African and South American
 Connections with others
 Group goals and solidarity
 Reject Egotism
For example, I am a sister, I am Jill’s friend
Eastern Cultures
Interdependent Selves
Self-schema in which others are
represented as part of the self.
Context Dependent
Attend to surroundings and gestalt
Holistic Reasoning
Emphasis is on considering all possible influences and
balancing competing forces
External Attributions
Assume behavior of others correspond to the situation more
than people from a Western culture
Cultural Attributions
• The other fish are swimming too fast. The other fish don’t like him.
• He is slow. He is guarding the rest.
Next Class
Class 4: First In-Class Exam
Class 5: Attitudes
Reading material:
Chapter 6: Attitudes and Attitude Change: Influencing
Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior, pp. 152-189.
Do Web demonstrations of the IAT –
Web demonstrations of the IAT
The Implicit Association Test
Do this task before you come to class.
Go to the website.
Under “Or continue as a guest …” select Canada
Select “Go to the Demonstration Tests”
Follow instructions
Do at least 2 tests and make sure one of them is the
Race IAT
• Write down which test you did and your results for
each test