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9/16/16

SOCIAL BELIEFS AND JUDGMENTS


Chapter 3

SOCIAL PERCEPTION
Why are people the
way they are?
Why do people act the
way do?

Thinking about people


and their behavior
helps us to understand
and predict our social
world

Social perception: The


study of how we form
impressions of and make
inferences about other
people.

Judging a book by its cover

o Easily observable things we can see and


hear
o Crucial to rst impression

CONSCIOUSLY AND UNCONSCIOUSLY


JUDGING OUR SOCIAL WORLDS
Heuristics: Mental shortcuts people use to make judgments
quickly and eciently.
Heuristics serve as strategies to enhance our cognitive
resources:

1.

Must provide a quick and simple way of dealing with large amounts of
information

2.

Must work; in that they must be reasonably accurate much of the time.

Heuristics do not guarantee that people will make accurate


inferences about the world.

Sometimes heuristics are inadequate for the job at hand or are
misapplied, leading to faulty judgments; however, people use
heuristics for a reason: Most of the time, they are highly functional
and serve us well.

CONSCIOUSLY AND UNCONSCIOUSLY


JUDGING OUR SOCIAL WORLDS
AUTOMATIC THINKING
(system 1)

CONTROLLED THINKING

A type of thinking that is


unconscious, unintentional,
involuntary, and eortless
How we form rst
impressions of people and
navigate new roads without
much conscious analysis of
what we are doing.

A type of thinking that is


conscious, intentional,
voluntary, and eortful.
Pausing to think about your
self and the environment
and carefully selecting the
right course of action

(system 2)

The automaticity is based


on past experiences and
knowledge of the world.

CONSCIOUSLY AND UNCONSCIOUSLY


JUDGING OUR SOCIAL WORLDS
Representativeness
Heuristic: The tendency to
presume, sometimes despite
contrary odds, that someone
or something belonged to a
particular group if
resembling a typical
member.
Base Rate
Information:
Information about the
frequency of members
of dierent categories
in the population.

9/16/16

CONSCIOUSLY AND UNCONSCIOUSLY


JUDGING OUR SOCIAL WORLDS
Availability Heuristic: A cognitive rule
where people judge the likelihood of things
in terms of their availability in memory.
If instances of something come readily to mind,
we presume it to be commonplace.

CONSCIOUSLY AND UNCONSCIOUSLY


JUDGING OUR SOCIAL WORLDS
Anchoring and Adjustment heuristic: A
mental shortcut whereby people use a
number or value as a starting point and
then adjust insuciently from this anchor.
The problem with this heuristic is that
completely arbitrary values (or personal
experience and observation) can inuence
judgments.

The trouble with the


availability heuristic
is that sometimes
what is easiest to
remember is not
typical of the overall
picture, leading to
faulty conclusions.

Example: First impressions

CONSCIOUSLY AND UNCONSCIOUSLY


JUDGING OUR SOCIAL WORLDS

CONSCIOUSLY AND UNCONSCIOUSLY


JUDGING OUR SOCIAL WORLDS

Accessibility: The extent to which schemas and


heuristics are at the forefront of peoples minds and are
therefore likely to be used when we are making
judgments about the social world.

Overcondence Barrier: The fact that people usually


have too much condence in the accuracy of their
judgments and are thus unaware of their errors

Ways this might improve:

1. Some information is chronically accessible due to past


experience, meaning that the information is constantly
active and ready to use to interpret ambiguous situations.

When asked to consider the point of view opposite to their


own, people can realize that there were other ways to
construe the world than their conclusion, and
consequently make fewer judgment errors.

2. Something can become accessible because it is related to a


current goal.

Priming: The process by which recent experiences


increase the accessibility of a schema, trait, or concept.

Teaching people basic statistical and methodological


principles about how to reason correctly may help them
apply these principles in their everyday lives.

1. Information can become temporarily accessible because


of our recent experiences which are largely outside of
consciousness

MENTALLY UNDOING THE PAST

MENTALLY UNDOING THE PAST

Counterfactual Reasoning/ Thinking: Also


known as the simulation heuristic, is mentally
changing some aspect of the past in imagining
what might have been.

Counterfactual thinking can be useful if it


focuses peoples aYention on ways that
they can cope beYer in the future.

This way of

Counterfactual thoughts can have a big inuence


on our emotional reactions to events.

The easier it is to

thinking is not so
good if it results in
rumination,
whereby people
repetitively focus
on negative things
in their lives.

mentally undo an
outcome, the
stronger our
emotional
reaction.

9/16/16

HOW DO WE PERCEIVE OUR


SOCIAL WORLD?
Schemas also help people ll in the blanks when
they are trying to remember things.

Instead, we remember some information that was
there (particularly information our schemas lead
us to pay aYention to), and we remember other
information that was never there but that we have
unknowingly added to ll in any memory gaps.
Belief Perseverance: Persistence of ones initial
conceptions, such as when the basis for ones belief is
discredited but an explanation of why the belief
might be true survives.

MALLEABLE MEMORY
How would you describe the personality of each cat below?










Pretending cats can communicate with humans and are also
psychology experts, from which cat would you rather hear a
psychology lecture? Why?





MALLEABLE MEMORY: KELLEY (1950)


The warm-cold variable in rst impressions of persons (Kelley,
1950):
While awaiting their guest lecturer students are provided a
description of his personality. One group hears that the guest
lecturer has a warm personality and the other group hears
that he has a cold personality. After the lecture, students rated
how well they enjoyed the material.
Results: Students interpreted the warm lecturers talk more
favorably than the cold lecturer. In actuality, however, both
lectures were exactly the same!
Problem: With ambiguous situations, schemas act as lters,
screening out inconsistent information to our expectations.

MALLEABLE MEMORY: CARLI (1999)


Cognitive reconstruction, hindsight, and reactions to victims and
perpetrators (Carli, 1999):
Participants read a story
about a man named Jack and
a woman named Barbara who
dated and went away for a
weekend together. In one
condition, the story ended
with Jack proposing to
Barbara. In the other
condition, the story ended
with Jack raping Barbara.

Memory test two weeks later: Those who read the proposal version of
the story often misremembered details that were consistent with a
proposal schema. Those who read the rape version of the study were
likely to misremember details that were consistent with rape schema.
Problem: Gaps in memory are lled in with situation-consistent
information that never actually occurred.

MALLEABLE MEMORY: LOFTUS (1974)


Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction
between language and memory (Loftus, 1974)
Participants viewed a lm of an automobile
accident and then answered questions about
events occurring in the lm. The
question varied in the verbs
used to describe the accident:
About how fast were the cars
going when they smashed into each other? collided, bumped,
contacted, or hit were also used as descriptor verbs.

Results: Participants who were asked about


speed of the cars that smashed into each other
provided higher estimates of speed than
those who heard the other verbs.

Memory test one week later: Participants answered the question Did you
see any broken glass? Those who received the verb smashed were more
likely to say yes.

Problem: Verbiage in the question aected reconstruction of the original


memory.

CONSTRUCTING MEMORIES OF
OURSELVES AND OUR WORLDS
Memory reconstruction of our past behaviors
The more ambiguous the information, the more
we use schemas to ll in the blanks.

Memory reconstructions tend to be consistent with


our schemas/ beliefs/ biases.

Based on the previous studies, the fact that people
lled in the blanks in their memory with schemaconsistent details suggests that schemas become
stronger and more resistant to change over time.

Memory reconstruction of our past aYitudes


Rosy retrospection
Underestimate earlier liking

9/16/16

MEMORY TEST!

HOW DO WE EXPLAIN OUR SOCIAL WORLD?

When we are not really sure about the cause


of someones behavior, we make aYributions
about the cause we gure out the reason why
based on the information we have.

ASribution theory: Theory describing how
people explain the causes of their own and
other peoples behavior.
Use immediate observations to infer what
people are really like.


Waves
Sea
Surf
Swell
Tsunami
Beach
Moon
Undercurrent
Lagoon
Sand castle

THE NATURE OF THE


ATTRIBUTION PROCESS

WHEN DO WE MAKE INTERNAL VS.


EXTERNAL ATTRIBUTIONS? IT VARIES.

FriU Heider, the father of aYribution theory,


believed that people act as amateur scientists,
trying to understand peoples behavior by
piecing together information until they arrive at
a reasonable cause.
Recall the illusion of causal
theories from lecture 2.

Two main types of aYributions:
1. Dispositional (internal) aSribution:
People infer that a person is behaving a
certain way because of something about
that person (e.g., a trait or aYitude).

2. Situational (external) aSribution: People infer that a person is
behaving a certain way because of the situation that they are in.

The impact of aSributions in marriage: A


longitudinal analysis (Fincham & Bradbury, 1987):

EXPLAINING OUR SOCIAL WORLD BY


INFERRING TRAITS: THE PREFERENCE OF
INTERNAL ATTRIBUTIONS

We are perceptually
focused on people
they are who we notice,
not their situation.

The situation
(situational aYribution)
is often hard to see,
hard to describe, and
thus may be
overlooked entirely.

Spouses in happy marriages


see positive behaviors as a
result of their partners
personality (dispositional
aYribution) and negative
behaviors as a result of the
partners social circumstance
(situational aYribution).

Opposite ndings for spouses
in unhappy marriages.

Overall, however, people seem to prefer internal aYributions
(especially in the absence of other information, as when we are
reasoning about strangers). Why?

EXPLAINING OUR SOCIAL WORLD BY


INFERRING TRAITS: THE PREFERENCE OF
INTERNAL ATTRIBUTIONS
Without situational information, we often infer that
other peoples actions are indicative of their
intentions and dispositions.

Implicit personality theory: A type of schema
people use to group various kinds of personality
traits together.
Just as with other schemas, using these theories
helps us form well-developed impressions of other
people quickly.

Spontaneous trait inference: The eortless, automatic


inference of a trait after exposure to someones
behavior.

9/16/16

EXPLAINING OUR SOCIAL WORLD BY


INFERRING TRAITS: THE PREFERENCE OF
INTERNAL ATTRIBUTIONS
As we discussed previously, relying on schemas can also
lead us astray:
Making the wrong assumptions regarding an
individual
Resorting to stereotypical thinking where our schema
(stereotype) leads us to believe that the individual is
like all the other members of their group.

Within a culture, many people share similar implicit
personality theories. For example, our culture shares a
what is beautiful is good stereotype, and Chinese
culture has a stereotype that describes a person who
maintains harmony in relationships as well as inner
harmony.

THE COVARIATION MODEL: USING


DISPOSITIONAL VS. SITUATIONAL ATTRIBUTIONS

THE COVARIATION MODEL: USING


DISPOSITIONAL VS. SITUATIONAL ATTRIBUTIONS
Covariation Model of ASribution (Kelley, 1967):

Explains how we use social perception to aYribute behavior to


internal or external factors.
Explains what information we gather through perception and
how it is used to form a judgment about someones behavior
Covariation is your ability to observe how two or more
variables change in relation to each other

This model helps explain instances where

You have multiple observations of behavior.


There are observations of changes in behavior across time, place,
actors, and targets.
The perceiver (YOU) choose either an internal or an external
aYribution by using information regarding
1.
2.
3.

Consensus information
Distinctiveness information
Consistency information

THE TWO-STEP PROCESS OF MAKING


ATTRIBUTIONS: USING DISPOSITIONAL VS.
SITUATIONAL ATTRIBUTIONS
The Two-Step Process of making aYributions:

1. Automatic thinking a quick and spontaneous


judgment concluding a dispositional aYribution

People who are distracted or preoccupied may never get


past this step.

2. Controlled thinking a more eortful judgment


that requires conscious aYention. In considering the
situation, adjustment is made to thus concluding a
situational aYribution

We will engage in this step of aYributional processing if we:

THE CORRESPONDENCE BIAS: PEOPLE AS


PERSONALITY PSYCHOLOGISTS
AYributions can be distorted by self-serving motives and by biases in
reasoning (see lecture 2 for review!)

We are biased in thinking that people do what they do because of
the kind of people they are, not taking into account situational
factors.
A common biased shortcut is the Correspondence Bias: The
tendency to believe that peoples behavior matches (corresponds to)
their dispositions.

This bias is so pervasive that many social psychologists refer to it as the


fundamental aSribution error.

Consciously slow down and think carefully before reaching a


judgment.
Are motivated to reach as accurate a judgment as possible.
Are suspicious about the behavior of the target person (e.g., we
suspect they are lying).

THE ACTOR/ OBSERVER DIFFERENCE


Actor/ Observer Dierence: The tendency to see other peoples
behavior as dispositionally caused, while focusing more on the role
of situational factors when explaining ones own behavior. This
perceptual dierence can lead to striking disagreements between
people.

One reason for the actor/ observer dierence is Perceptual
Salience: actors notice the situations around them that inuence
them to act, while observers notice the actors.
I notice the situation around me to explain why I do what I do

You only notice me

The actor/observer dierence also occurs because actors have


more information about themselves (e.g., their behavior in other
situations) than do people observing them.

9/16/16

CULTURE AND CORRESPONDENCE BIAS


People from individualistic
and collectivistic cultures
both demonstrate the
correspondence bias.

Members of collectivist
cultures are more sensitive to
situational causes of
behavior and more likely to
rely on situational
explanations, as long as
situational variables are
salient.

HOW ACCURATE ARE OUR ATTRIBUTIONS


AND IMPRESSIONS?
Our impressions are sometimes wrong because of the mental
shortcuts we use when forming social judgments.
To improve the accuracy of your aYributions, remember that
the mental shortcuts we use, such as the correspondence bias,
can sometimes lead us to the wrong conclusions.
Even with such biases operating, we are quite accurate
perceivers of other people and we do very well most of the
time. Often, most of us are more accurate than we realize.
In short, we are capable of making both stunningly accurate
assessments of people and horric aYributional mistakes.

Schemas and cleaning


What type of laundry detergent do you normally use?
a.
b.
c.
d.
e.





Waves

Sea
Surf

Swell
Tsunami
f. another brand
Beach

Moon
Remember this list?
Undercurrent
g. I do not laundry
Lagoon
Sand castle