is the scientific study
of individual behavior as
a function of social
Some areas of interest are attitudes and attitude
change, person perception, the self interpersonal
attraction, altruism, aggression and social influence.
Attributions are the reasons we give for our
own or others behavior.
Example: You see an athlete
advertise a camera on TV.
Why are they
using the camera?
One of his research projects
involved hiring people to do a very boring task.
Research participants were paid either $1 or
$20. All were given the same boring task.
Later all subjects were asked how they liked
doing the task.
of subjects liked the task
more? The $20
group or the $1 group?
Surprisingly the subjects who were paid the
$1 liked the task more. This result can
be explained by attribution theory. Participants
who were paid $20 found it easy to think of
a reason why they did the task - they
were paid good money to do it. On the other
hand, participants given only $1 thought that
they must have liked the task since the money
was so low. Otherwise why else would they have
There are 2 kinds
We judge that a person
does something because of
who he or she is (the
athlete likes the
Situational: A person does
something because of his or her situation (she
wants the money).
We overestimate the power of
the person and underestimate the power of the
heuristic may explain why
this error occurs.
to make dispositional
attributions for others
IF you did
bad on a test
You are likely to emphasize the situation.
For example, the test was a poor test, or that
you did not get enough sleep the night before
else did bad on
You are likely to blame the disposition of
the person. For example, they aren't really
all that smart.
more distant we are from
the person the more
likely we are to make
the opposite is true, the
closer we are to the
person the more likely we
are to understand the
Liberals - (situational attributions)
believe that there are
believe that the result
is because on the
personality of the
By altering actors and
observers perspectives through
videotape replays, mirrors, or
other methods, one can
actors and observers
Nisbett & Ross 1980