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Flashcards in Social Psychology Deck (168)
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attributional theories

focus on the causal explanations that people generate to explain why a particular event or outcome has occurred


Heider's Attribution Theory

originator of attributional theory
proposed that people make dispositional or situational attributions


dispositional attributions

Heider's Attribution Theory
aka internal attribution
locates the cause of a behavior within a person


situational attributions

Heider's Attribution Theory
aka external attribution
locates the cause of the behavior outside of the person


Kelley's Attribution Theory

proposed that when people make attributions, they consider three types of information



Kelley's Attribution THeory
refers to whether the person behaves the same way over time
e.g. if person is constantly rude and obnoxious at work, high in consistency



Kelley's Attribution Theory
refers to whether a person's behavior is unique to the specific situation or stimulus
e.g. if person is rude and obnoxious only at work, behavior is high in distinctiveness



Kelley's Attribution Theory
refers to whether people in the same situation tend to respond similarly
e.g. if most people at work are rude and obnoxious, behavior is high in consensus


internal attributions (Kelley)

people tend to make internal attributions for behaviors that are high in consistency and low in distinctiveness and consensus


external attributions (Kelley)

people tend to make external attributions when the behavior is high in all three areas of consistency, distinctiveness, and consensu


Weiner's Attribution THeory

added a second dimension to study of attributions (in addition to internal vs. external)
looked at whether attributions are made to STABLE vs. UNSTABLE factors
e.g. unemployed person unable to find work for 6 months
internal + stable (ability)
stable + external (poor economy)
unstable + internal (effort)
unstable + external (bad luck)


depression learned helplessness according to attribution theory

person more likely to experience depression, helplessness, and hopelessness when a person attributes negative events to internal, stable, and global causes


attributional style and physical health and coping

pessimistic style associated with more endorsement of illness, poorer health, less active coping, and more problematic lifestyle patterns for preventing and managing medical problems


Abramson and Alloy - research on depressed people

non-depressed persons have unrealistic positive assessments of their ability to control outcomes, phenomenon termed "illusion of control"
depressed persons "sadder but wiser"


Fundamental Attribution Bias

bias toward attributing the behavior of others (the actor) to internal or dispositional causes, while underestimating the influence of situational variables


Actor-Observer Bias

persons attribute their own actions to situational factors while minimizing the role of dispositional elements and attribute others' behavior to dispositional factors


Self-Serving (Hedonic) Bias

proposes that when we explain our own behavior, we tend to attribute our own successes to internal or personal factors and our failures to external or situational factors



shortcuts or guidelines that people use to categorize other people, situations, or events
can result in incorrect judgments


availability heuristic

people estimate the likelihood of a situation by how easily they can recall it


representative heuristic

people make judgments about other people or events based on what they believe in is a typical example of a particular category
e.g. people assume rape victim is female and perpetrator is male


simulation heuristic

suggest the people determine the likelihood of an event based on how easy it is to picture the event mentally


George Kelly's Personal Construct Theory

we perceive the world according to what we expect to see
expectations are based on our past experiences
Repertory Grid Technique - widely used by organizational consultants; maps a client's conceptual model of the world (i.e. constructs) without contamination by the interviewer's constructs


three components of attitudes

do not always correspond - only a weak positive relationship between thoughts and feelings, and subsequent behaviors


Consistency Theories

Attitude formation and change are organized by a need to impose structure and order on one's understanding of the environment
Balance Theory
Symmetry Theory
Congruity Theory
Cognitive Dissonance Theory **


Balance Theory

Balanced state exists when all elements are positively related or when one is positive and two are negative
e.g. Joe and Beth - two friends both really liked a political candidate (all elements positively related) or both had very negative feelings about the candidate (one positive element and two negative elements)
Unbalanced state exists when all the elements are negative or when one element is negative and two are positive
When system unbalanced, people involved will move toward changing their feelings


Symmetry Theory

Extends Balance Theory by considering the intensity of the relationship
Strong the bond between the two people, the more intense any imbalance (lack of symmetry) will be felt and the stronger the motivation will be to change attitudes
e.g. Strong friendship between Joe and Beth will lead to greater attitude change than weak friendship


Congruity Theory

Extends Balance Theory
posits that a person will favor the object toward which he or she already feels the most affinity
e.g. if Joe's affinity for Beth is stronger than his affinity for the candidate, Joe is likely to decrease his support for the candidate and thus bring the relationship into more balance


Cognitive Dissonance

People change their attitudes to reduce the aversive arousal they experience when they become aware of inconsistency in their cognitions


Classic Cognitive Dissonance experiment

subjects performed dull task
when leaving, asked to tell incoming participant task was interesting
paid $1 or $20
subjects paid $1 reported greater liking for task than subjects paid $20


Postdecisional dissonance

occurs when a person is faced with two good choices and he/she becomes upset at not choosing one of the alternatives
person then emphasizes positive features of the alternative he/she did choose