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Perceiving & evaluating other people

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  1. Perceiving & evaluating other people • Why do we evaluate others? • all of us are naïve psychologists • Are we accurate? • often • however, our judgments can suffer from a number of biases • analogy: bias/ perceptual illusion; gives cue to normal processing

  2. Attributions from behavior • Attribution • a claim about the cause of someone’s behavior • Heider • Is behavior due to unique personal trait or is it a normal human behavior given the situation?

  3. Person vs. Situation Attributions • Kelley’s 3 questions • does this person regularly behave this way in this situation? • do others regularly behave this way in this situation? • does this person behave this way in many other situations?

  4. (1) Does Susan regularly get angry in traffic jams? (2) Do many other people get angry in traffic jams? (3) Does Susan get angry in many other situations? YES NO YES NO NO YES No personality or situational attribution Situational attribution: traffic jams make people mad Personality attribution, general Personality attribution, particular Kelley’s Attributional Logic

  5. Person bias in attributions • People give too much weight to personality and not enough to situational variables • Conditions promoting person bias • task has goal of assessment of personality • observer is cognitively loaded (busy with other task) • Conditions promoting a situation bias • when goal is to judge the situation

  6. Two-stage Model of Attributions • First stage is rapid & automatic • bias according to goal (person/situation) • Second stage is slower & controlled • won’t occur if cognitively loaded • we correct our automatic attribution

  7. Automatic Attribution Controlled Attribution Observer’s goal Revision: could be a funny show Person: Joe laughs easily What kind of person is Joe? Situation: the TV show is funny Revision: maybe Joe laughs easily How funny is the TV comedy? Two-stage Model of Attributions Book example: Joe laughs hysterically while watching a TV comedy. What can we conclude?

  8. 0.70 0.60 0.50 0.40 0.30 0.20 0 United States India 8 11 15 Adult Cross-cultural differences • Western culture • people are in charge of own destinies • more attributions to personality • Some Eastern cultures • fate in charge of destiny • more attributions to situation Attributions to internal disposition Age (years)

  9. Does the trait describe: 1. You? 2. A close friend? 3. A professor • Outgoing • calm • agreeable • shrewd • self-disciplined • tidy Y N D YES NO Depends on situation

  10. Actor-Observer Discrepancy • Others’ behavior: Person bias • Own behavior: Situation bias • Why? • hypothesis 1: Knowledge across situations • hypothesis 2: visual orientation

  11. Prior Information Effects • Mental representations of people (schemas) can effect our interpretation of them • Kelley’s study • guest speaker • students: half got written bio saying speaker was “very warm”, half got bio saying speaker was “rather cold” • “very warm” group rated guest more positively than “rather cold” group

  12. Effects of Personal Appearance • The attractiveness bias • physically attractive people are rated higher on intelligence, competence, sociability, morality • studies • teachers rate attractive children as smarter, and higher achieving • adults attribute cause of unattractive child’s misbehavior to personality, attractive child’s to situation • judges give longer prison sentences to unattractive people

  13. Stereotypes • What is a stereotype? • schemas about a group of people • a belief held by members of one group about members of another group • how can we study stereotypes? • early studies just asked people • today’s society is sensitized to harmful effects of stereotyping • need different ways of studying

  14. Studying stereotypes • 3 levels of stereotypes • public • what we say to others about a group • private • what we consciously think about a group, but don’t say to others • implicit • unconscious mental associations guiding our judgments and actions without our conscious awareness

  15. Implicit Stereotypes • Use of priming: subject doesn’t know stereotype is being activated, can’t work to suppress it • Bargh study • word lists, some include e.g. “gray,” “Bingo,” “Florida” • observed subjects walking to elevators • studies on racial stereoptypes

  16. Implicit Stereotypes • Devine’s automaticity theory • racial stereotypes are so prevalent in our culture that we all hold them • stereotypes are automatically activated • we have to actively resist them if we don’t wish to act in a prejudiced way. • Overcoming prejudice is possible, but takes work

  17. Self-fulfilling Prophecies • Beliefs & expectations create reality by influencing our behavior & others’ • Pygmalion effect (liberal arts pop quiz: Who was Pygmalion?) • person A believes that person B has a particular characteristic • person B may begin to behave in accordance with that characteristic

  18. Studies of the Self-fulfilling Prophecy • Rosenthal & Fode • gave 2 groups of students randomly selected rats • told Group 1 they had “super genius” rats • told Group 2 they had “super moron” rats • all students told to train rats to run mazes • “genius” rat group ended up doing better than the “moron” rat group

  19. Studies of the Self-fulfilling Prophecy • Rosenthal & Jacobson • went to a school and did IQ tests with kids • told teachers test was a “spurters” test • randomly selected several kids and told the teacher they were spurters • did another IQ test at end of year • “spurters” showed significant improvements in their IQ scores • reason: teacher’s expectations of them