They could have correctly framed their research questions in terms of the features of situations that activate dispositions e. It turns out that social psychologists might have been targeting professional personality psychologists as much as they were everyday people with their alleged Fundamental Attribution Error.
Consider the following two quotes from Ross The first compares the "intuitive psychologist" ordinary person on the street with professional psychologists: "Our exploration of the intuitive psychologist's shortcomings must start with his general tendency to overestimate the importance of personal or dispositional factors relative to environmental influences.
As a psychologist he seems too often to be a nativist, or proponent of individual differences, and too seldom an S—R behaviorist " p. Ross then explicitly criticizes professional psychologists who study personality dispositions: "The professional psychologist, like the intuitive psychologist, is susceptible to the fundamental attribution error. This susceptibility, in fact, is crucial to the strategy of designing so-called non-obvious research. Many of the best known and most provocative studies in our field depend, for their impact, upon the reader's erroneous expectation that individual differences and personal dispositions will overcome relatively mundane situational variables or 'channel factors' p.
In a paper I presented at the Sixth European Congress of Psychology , I suggested that part of the reason might have been a turf battle between social psychologists and personality psychologists, who had to compete for limited space in their flagship APA outlet, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. If attribution theorists could have discredited the very basis of personality research personality dispositions , that would have given social psychologists more opportunities to publish in the prestigious JPSP. How wrong is that, creating an imaginary Fundamental Attribution Error to advance your own career at the expense of your colleagues?
I would say that is pretty bad. With their stubborn insistence on the idea that ordinary people act just like social psychologists, trying to compare the relative strength of situational and dispositional "causes," the attribution theorists blinded us to what was really going on when people use situational or dispositional language. It turns out that people do prefer situational or dispositional language when talking about behavior, but it has nothing to do with trying to objectively explain the underlying causes of behavior.
Instead, it is about ascribing personal responsibility for actions. It is about giving or taking the credit for laudable behavior or the blame for despicable behavior. Sadly, the attribution theorists had an inkling that something like this was going on. They noticed that people like to use dispositional language to take credit for good behavior and to excuse their own bad behavior by blaming it on the situation.
Whether dispositional or situational language was used for other people was a little more complicated. It seemed to depend on the relationship to the other person.
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But, in any case, choice of language was not about the scientific analysis of causes, but about trying to persuade people about personal and moral responsibility. The attribution theorists' glimpses into the nature or dispositional and situational language were lost, overshadowed by their obsession with the FAE. Despite the scientific shortcomings of attribution theory and its application to the Stanford Prison Study, people are still attracted to the paradigm today because of its implications for moral responsibility. In the words of Ben Blum "The appeal of the Stanford prison experiment seems to go deeper than its scientific validity, perhaps because it tells us a story about ourselves that we desperately want to believe: that we, as individuals, cannot really be held accountable for the sometimes reprehensible things we do.
Our actions are determined by circumstance. Our fallibility is situational. Just as the Gospel promised to absolve us of our sins if we would only believe, the SPE offered a form of redemption tailor-made for a scientific era, and we embraced it. Today, fortunately, careful thinkers and researchers are giving us a better understanding of the social purposes served by the language we use in explaining behavior. Bertram Malle, a social psychologist who has been quietly laboring away on a folk-conceptual theory of explanation instead of seeking fame with provocative experiments, has discovered many interesting things about the psychology of explanation.
His theory, well supported by evidence from many studies , is that people use behavior explanations both to make sense out of behavior and as a social tool to communicate meaning and manage impressions. More important than whether explanations use situational or dispositional language, according to Malle's studies, is whether people see behavior as intentional or unintentional, how they understand the beliefs and desires underlying intentional behavior, and what they assume and know about the background of those beliefs and desires, including unconscious mental states, personality, upbringing, culture, and the immediate social context.
Although Malle's research program has not received the fanfare given to attribution theory and the Stanford prison experiment, it provides a richer, more satisfying, evidence-based account of the psychology of explanation. Carnahan, T. Revisiting the Stanford prison experiment: Could participant self-selection have led to the cruelty? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , 33 , DOI: Funder, D.
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On the accuracy of personality judgment: A realistic approach. Psychological Review , , Ross, L. The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings: Distortions in the attribution process. Berkowitz Ed. New York: Academic Press. John A. Johnson, Ph. Skip to main content. Jack: Welcome to our show, today. In this episode, Jill and I talk about house [inaudible ], house flipping versus land flipping and some of the differences and pros and cons. Jack: One of the shows we did this week was called Mailer Yield. I think it was yesterday. What mailers yield better results? Imagine this.
Imagine a county, maybe the county that you live in. Now take all the property in that county, every single property, take out all the commercial real estate. Take out all the houses. Take out all the government owned land. Picture it in your head. Jack: All right. Now, take the bottom … They have an assessed value between a million dollars and ten dollars. Does that make sense? Jack: This is imperative. For every hundred vacant properties that you send out, your going to buy one.
Well, like Jack said, you gave a range. You know, am I going to send an offer to someone with a property with a half a million assessed value? No, and offering a couple thousand? Jack: You want the five acres in the rural area in the beginning. Go ahead anddo that. Your strike percentage is going to be less. I have bought property for … Gosh, the guy paid twenty-something thousand for it, tried to sell it for forty-something thousand for it.
I mean, come on. Jill: Well, and also too, it depends on what your criteria is, because we have members that are going for those higher dollar properties. Jill: Yeah. You can easily double your money, and get your feet wet, figure this out, and then go on. Jack: We have, and what you want to have is a positive experience your first time out, okay? I bought a house.
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I cleaned it up, and I lost my ass. Jack: You want to have a positive experience. Look, you already know people who are making a ton of money on this. I say we, meaning my world, puts our shows together …. Jill: Yeah, we meaning not me … put our shows together, our staff actually picks out, they really do go into our online community, so just so you know, put something in there. We might pick yours.
Our staff goes through and picks out questions for Jack and I to cover on these shows. I wrote down three negatives, and I wrote down three positives to share.
Can you do that on a house flip? Too deep, bought it wrong, did it wrong, and it was a half million dollar mistake. Jill: That was one thing in negative. The thing, too, houses versus land, so many more things to go wrong on a house deal. You know that to make a beautiful …. Jill: You did. Customer reviews. Overall Reviews:. Recent Reviews:.
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