Attributions & other Social Psychological Phenomena

Attribution
o Any judgment you make about the cause of another person's behavior.
o In social cognition, any inference about the cause of a person's behavioral action or set of actions.

The Self-Serving Attributional Bias
o The tendency for individuals to take credit for successes and deny responsibility for failures.
o According to the instructor, it may also be the politician's creed.
Example:
o You win a game of trivial pursuit and attribute the reason to your intelligence.
o You lose a game of trivial pursuit and attribute the reason to luck (the role of the dice).

The Person Bias
o Individuals tend to give too much weight to the internal personality factors as being the causes of other peoples behaviors, and not enough weight to the environmental or situational factors for other people's behaviors.
o This phenomenon occurs so often that it is also called the fundamental attribution error.
A Possible Cause of the Person Bias
The knowledge across situations hypothesis.
-You are well aware of your own behavior and how it depends on the situation, because you have knowledge of those different situations and your behavior in them.
-For other people that you see only occasionally, however, you have limited knowledge of their behavior in just one or a few situations.

Social Facilitation
o The tendency to perform a task better in front of others than when alone.
Social Interference
o The tendency to perform a task worse in front of others than when alone.
Why Social Facilitation/Interference?
o The presence of others facilitates performance of dominant (habitual, simple, or instinctive) actions and interferes with performance of nondominant (nonhabitual, complex, or unnatural) actions.
o It is related to a more general phenomenon:
- The effect of high arousal on performance.
o High arousal typically improves performance on simple or well-learned tasks and worsens performance on complex or poorly learned tasks.
o Arousal in a social situation is related to an individual's concern about being evaluated.
- Both S.F. & S.I. decrease when an audience is blindfolded or does not pay attention.
- Both S.F. & S.I. increase when an audience is high in status or expertise and was paying attention.

Deindividuation
o A loss of self-awareness.
o It occurs in group situations that foster anonymity and draw attention away from the individual.
Factors that influence Deindividuation
1) Group Size
- The larger the group the more likely its members will lose self-awareness and lower their normal inhibitions.
2) Physical Anonymity
- The more physically anonymous a person is the more likely his or her normal inhibitions will be lowered.

Groupthink
o The tendency of decision-making groups to suppress dissent in the interests of group harmony resulting in a failure to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.
o Examples:
- Kennedy administrations decision to conduct the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba.
- NASA's decision to launch the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Symptoms of Groupthink
1) Illusion in the group that they are invulnerable.
2) Unquestioned belief in the group's morality.
3) Rationalization is used to justify the group's decisions.
4) The group has a stereotyped view of opponent.
5) Conformity pressure is applied to individual dissenters in the group.
6) Self-censorship among the individuals in the group.
7) There is an illusion of anonymity in the group.
8) There are self-appointed mindguards in the group that "protect" the group from dissenting opinions and information that disputes the group's decision.

Ways Leadership Can Reduce Groupthink
1) Tell group members about groupthink.
2) Be impartial; do not endorse any position.
3) Encourage critical evaluation (objections & doubts).
4) Assign one or more "devil's advocates."
5) Occasionally subdivide the group.
6) When issue concerns relations with another group, take time to survey and identify all possible actions by the rival.
7) Reach a preliminary decision, then call a "second-chance" meeting, asking each member to express remaining doubts.
8) Invite outside experts to occasionally attend meetings and challenge the group's views.
9) Encourage group member's to air the group's deliberations with trusted associates and report their reactions.
10) Have independent groups work on the same question or problem.