viernes, abril 29, 2005 no shortcuts here 


MYERS 2004 Exploring Social Psychology 3rdEd. McGraw:NY.
with a few summaries and comments made by me.

Module 6 The Fundamental Attribution Error

..how much are we affected by our social environment.

.. depends on the situation (as well as on what we bring to the situation).

When explaining someone’s behavior, we underestimate the impact of the situation and overestimate the extent to which it reflects the individual’s traits and attitudes.

This discounting of the situation, … the fundamental attribution error….

We tend to presume that others are the way they act.

When referring to ourselves, we typically use verbs that describe our actions and reactions…. Referring to someone else, we more often describe what that person is…
(I do, they are)

Why do we tend to underestimate the situational determinants of others’ behavior but not of our own?

Perspective and Situational Awareness
Differing Perspectives
Attribution theorists point out that our perspective differs when we observe others than when we act… When we act, the environment commands our attention. When we watch another person act, that person occupies the center of our attention and the situation becomes relatively invisible. (figure ground analogy…. So the person seems to cause whatever happens….. what if we could see ourselves as others see us and if we saw the world through their eyes?

Perspectives Change with Time
The less opportunity we have to observe people’s behavior in context, the more we attribute to their personalities.

Similarly, people’s impressions of someone they have heard about from a friend are typically more extreme than their friend’s firsthand impressions… (hmm, the power of heresay?)

Cultural Differences..
Cultures also influence the attribution error… A Western worldview predisposes people to assume that people, not situations, cause events. … The assumption here is that, with the right disposition and attitude, anyone can surmount almost any problem: You get what you deserve and deserve what you get.

How Fundamental Is The Fundamental Attribution Error?
It is sobering to think that you and I can know about a social process that distorts our thinking and still be susceptible to it.

French investigators Jean-Leon Beauvois and Nicole Dubois (1988) report that “relatively privileged middle-class people are more likely than less-advantaged people to assume that people’s behaviors have internal explanations. (Those who have made it tend to assume that you get what you deserve.)

…. Had I viewed these interactions through their eyes instead of my own, I might have come to different conclusions…

So what?

The contextual nature of experience (and hence behavior) is supported again in this topic of attribution and the fundamental error found in it. Awareness of the lenses used to observe, describe, explain and predict behavior renders distinct possibilities for each same situation. Taken from the observer, situations are explained different from the observed. Likewise, awareness of situational variations are influenced and influential to the observation.. hence the cultural and socioeconomic consideration in explaining situations.

As social scientists we need to acknowledge the scenario in which behavior is focused on and armed with the knowledge available in the field to explain as thoroughly as possible phenomena making adjustments for the biases and inaccuracies presented here as in the case of attribution error. So we must take a harder look at behavior to incorporate situational factors impinging on the observer as well as on the observed.

Module 7 The Powers and Perils of Intuition

What are our powers of intuition—of immediately knowing something without reasoning of analysis? … and trusting the force within.

… “ ‘Most of a person’s everyday life is determined not by their conscious intentions and deliberate choices but by mental processes that are put into motion by features of the environment and that operate outside of conscious awareness and guidance.’” (That the unconscious controls our behavior? That we go on automatic and “assign routine affairs” to the unconscious while consciously attending to important and novel issues.)

We Overestimate The Accuracy Of Our Judgments.
As we construe our past and future we construe different selves. Overconfidence phenomenon… incompetence feeds overconfidence. It takes competence to recognize what competence is.

What produces overconfidence? Why doesn’t experience lead us to a more realistic self-appraisal?

1. people tend to recall their mistaken judgments as times when they were almost right;

2. People also tend not to seek information that might disprove what they believe.

We are eager to verify our beliefs but less inclined to seek evidence that might disprove them. We call this phenomenon the confirmation bias.

Remedies for Overconfidence.

Confidence and competence need not coincide.
Two techniques have successfully reduced the overconfidence bias. One is prompt feedback… (the other) to get people to think of one good reason why their judgments might be wrong: Force them to consider disconfirming information. (include in proposals) reasons why they might not work.

Overconfidence can cost us, but realistic self-confidence is adaptive.
So what?

Again here we are searching for accuracy in our descriptions and predictions. The extent to which intuition is likened to the unconscious is questionable…unless that realm includes the collective unconscious of human nature. If we accept the definition of intuition offered here of knowing without reasoning, we might incur in the attribution error of intuition as in the mind and not as a collective locale beyond it. And then, how would that process be operationally defined and measured?

From instructor’s manual:
Overconfident social judgments.
Milojkovic and Ross also reported that when people were 90 to 100 percent confident, they were not more correct than when they were only 50 to 65 percent confident.

The bias to verify rather than falsify our beliefs. The text suggests that one reason for the overconfidence phenomenon is that people search for confirming evidence rather than attempting to disconfirm their hunches.

…will have convinced themselves of a wrong rule—a mistake they could have avoided if they had tested their hunch by seeking to falsify it.

”…In science, and in everyday life, we should find most credible those ideas that not only are seemingly confirmed by available evidence, but also withstand attempts to falsify them.” (…is falsify to prove wrong?)

Module 8 Reasons for Unreason

The mixed picture of our intuitive self-knowledge … paralleled by a mixed picture of our rationality.

…four reasons for unreason—common ways in which people form or sustain false beliefs:
1. Our preconceptions control our interpretations.
2. We often are swayed more by anecdotes than by statistical facts.
3. We misperceive correlation and control.
4. Our beliefs can generate their own conclusions.

Our Preconceptions Control (?) Our Interpretations.
(I say… within the context of truth, our pre-judgments would lead to a particular direction.. to the extent that we can look and not be blinded by passion.)

But, We respond not to reality as it is but to reality as we construe it… (Is this so in explaining illness also? Is it all relative?)

… Both proponents and opponents of capital punishment readily accepted evidence that confirmed their belief but were sharply critical of disconfirming evidence. Showing the two sides an identical body of mixed evidence had therefore not lessened their disagreement but increased it.

The moral: (after exposure of visual cues and viewer’s inferences) There is a reality out there, but our minds actively construe it. Other people might construe reality differently and might, therefore, behave differently.

..the availability heuristic highlights a basic principle of social thinking: People are slow to deduce particular instances from a general truth, but they are remarkably quick to infer general truth from a vivid instance.

The availability heuristic explains why powerful anecdotes are often more compelling than statistical information and why perceived risk is therefore often badly out of joint with real risks…

Illusory Correlation….(Seeing) a correlation where none exists.
If we believe a correlation exists, we are more likely to notice and recall confirming instances. (thinking of a friend, and the friend calling… sometimes. Others the friend does not call)

Illusion of Control—the idea that chance events are subject to our influence…

(About) hospital patients and the elderly….
That enhancing their sense of control benefited their health and well-being. All this makes clear to me that perceived control is extremely important in successful functioning.’”

Our Beliefs Can Generate Their Own Confirmation.
Self-fulfilling prophecies… Even more startling—and controversial—are reports that teachers’ beliefs about their students similarly serve as self-fulfilling prophesies.

Do Teacher Expectations Affect Student Performance?
Teachers think well of students who do well.

Low expectations do not doom a capable child, nor do high expectations magically transform a slow learner into a valedictorian. Human nature is not so pliable.
(but) …
High expectations do seem to influence low achievers, for whom a teacher’s positive attitude may be a hope-giving breath of fresh air.

Do We Get What We Expect From Others?

… to some extent… Love helps create its presumed reality.
…once formed, erroneous beliefs about the social world can induce others to confirm those beliefs, a form of self-fulfilling prophesy called behavioral confirmation.

… Tell children they are hard-working and kind (rather than lazy and mean), and they may live up to their labels.

These experiments help us understand how social beliefs, such as stereotypes about people with disabilities or about people of a particular race or sex, may be self-confirming. We help construct our own social realities. How others treat us reflects how we and others have treated them.

Module 9 Behavior and Belief

The text suggests that an attitude—one’s favorable or unfavorable evaluative reaction toward something or someone—may be exhibited in beliefs, feelings, or intended behavior. Thus when assessing attitudes, we tap one of the following dimensions: affect (feelings), behavior (intention), or cognition (thoughts). (From Teacher’s manual)

Attitude Functions
Recent research reflects renewed interest in the psychological functions of attitudes, an issue that was first popular more than 30 years ago. Katz (1960) suggested that attitudes serve (1) a knowledge function by helping us organize and structure our environment, (2) an instrumental function in helping us maximize rewards and minimize punishments, (3) an ego-defensive function by helping us deal with internal conflicts and defend against anxiety, and (4) a value-expressive function in helping us express ideals that are important to our self-concept.
(From Teacher’s manual)

(The virtues of experiential teaching/learning) : Action stimulates thinking; experiencing phenomena first hand heightens understanding; active cognitive processing of concepts increases retention. (From Teacher’s manual)

Herek argued that the AFI can be readily reworded to assess the motivational basis for almost any attitude . (From Teacher’s manual)

Which comes first, belief or behavior? Inner attitude or outer action? Character or conduct? What is the relationship between who we are (on the inside) and what we do (on the outside)? (I think, therefore I am!)

Underlying our teaching, preaching, and counseling is the assumption that private beliefs determine public behavior: If we want to alter people’s actions, we therefore need to change their hearts and minds.

Do Attitudes Influence Behavior?
Attitudes are beliefs and feelings that can influence our reactions.

… our attitudes do influence our actions in some circumstances:
• When external influences on our words and actions are minimal.
• When the attitude is specific to the behavior
• When we are conscious of our attitudes
(energy follows thought)

…. An attitude will influence our behavior if other influences are minimal, if the attitude specifically relates to the behavior, and if the attitude is potent, perhaps because something brings it to mind. Under these conditions, we will stand up for what we believe.

Does Behavior Influence Attitudes?
… we are likely not only to think ourselves into a way of acting but also to act ourselves into a way of thinking. Many streams of evidence confirm that attitudes follow behavior.

The word role is borrowed from the theater and, as in the theater, refers to actions expected of those who occupy a particular social position.

(Discussion of Zimbardo’s research of prisons and guards… institutionalization—to enforce rules) … a growing confusion between reality and illusion, between role-playing and self-identity…

Take on a new role--… and it may shape your attitudes. (..so roles entail incorporating beliefs???)

Saying Becomes Believing
… we are prone to adjust our message to our listeners, and, having done so to believe the altered message… (i.e., giving professional/personal references)

The Foot-In-The-Door Phenomenon

…that when people commit themselves to public behavior and perceive these acts to be their own doing, they come to believe more strongly in what they have done. (e.x., having the customer rather than the salesperson, fill out the agreement. Having written it themselves, people usually live up to their commitment.

Evil Acts And Attitudes
…people would justify an action especially when coaxed into it, not coerced. When we agree to a deed voluntarily, we take more responsibility for it..

Actions and attitudes feed one another, sometimes to the point of moral numbness. The more one harms another and adjusts one’s attitudes, the easier harm-doing becomes. Conscience mutates.

So, they internalized the conscientious act if the deterrent was strong enough to elicit the desired behavior yet mild enough to leave them with a sense of choice. Moral action, especially when chosen rather than coerced, affects moral thinking.

Interracial Behavior And Racial Attitudes
If moral action feeds moral attitudes, will positively interracial behavior reduce racial prejudice—much as mandatory seatbelt use has produced more favorable seat belt attitudes? …. If we wait for the heart to change—through preaching and teaching—we will wait a long time for racial justice. But if we legislate moral action, we can, under the right conditions, indirectly affect heartfelt attitudes.

… that positive behavior toward someone fosters liking for that person. … If you wish to love someone more, act as if you do.

…. Faith and love are alike—if we keep them to ourselves, they shrivel. If we enact and express them, they grow.

Why Does Behavior Affect Attitudes?

Cognitive dissonance theory… proposes that we feel tension (“dissonance”) when tow simultaneously accessible thoughts or beliefs (“cognitions”) are psychologically inconsistent—as when we decide to say or do something we have mixed feelings about. Festinger argued that to reduce this unpleasant arousal, we often adjust our thinking.

So if we can persuade others to adopt a new attitude, their behavior should change accordingly; that’s common sense. Or if we can induce people to behave differently, their attitude should change (that’s the self-persuasion effect we have been reviewing).

Cognitive dissonance theory assumes that our need to maintain a consistent and positive self-image motivates us to adopt attitudes that justify our actions. Assuming no such motive, self-perception theory says that when our attitudes are unclear to us, we observe our behaviors and then infer our attitudes from them.

How do I know what I think until I hear what I say or see what I do?
Module 10 Clinical Intuition

..Let’s see why alerting mental health workers to how people form impressions (and misimpressions) might help avert serious misjudgments. (consequences?)

Illusory Correlations
If the students or clinicians expected a particular association they generally perceived it, regardless of whether the data were supportive.

Believing that a relationship existed between two things, they were more likely to notice confirming instances. To believe is to see. (Of course!)

Self-Confirming Diagnoses
… (a problem with clinical judgment) is that people might also supply information that fulfills clinicians’ expectations.

…found that people often test for a trait by looking for information that confirms it.


Professional clinicians are “vulnerable to insidious errors and biases,” … They:
• Are frequently the victims of illusory correlation;
• Are too readily convinced of their own after-the-fact analyses;
• Often fail to appreciate that erroneous diagnoses can de self-confirming; and
• Often overestimate the predictive powers of their clinical intuition.

The implications for mental health workers are more easily stated than practiced: Be mindful that clients’ verbal agreements with what you say does not prove its validity. Beware of the tendency to see relationships that you expect to see or that are supported by striking examples readily available in your memory. Rely on your notes more than your memory. Recognize that hindsight is seductive: It can lead you to feel overconfident and sometimes to judge yourself too harshly for not having foreseen outcomes. Guard against the tendency to ask questions that assume your preconceptions are correct; consider opposing ideas and test them, too (Garb, 1994).

Propositions that imply observable results are best evaluated by systematic observation and experiment--- we need inventive genius, or we may test only trivialities. …
Science always involves an interplay between intuition and rigorous test, between creative hunch and skepticism.

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