Attribution Error Discussion
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Wherever you go, you will be observing human behavior, and it is difficult not to make a judgment about people after observing how they behave. You might consider three people on a crowded bus to be kind if you see them give up their seats so a mother can sit down with her two young children. You might consider a grocery store employee to be rude if you asked him where to find the milk and he rolled his eyes and sighed heavily before directing you to its location. These two judgments would be logical—kind in the first case and rude in the second—because that is the type of people they appeared to be.
However, social psychologists are more concerned with the external social conditions that influence behavior. Maybe only one of the people on the bus acted kindly and the other two gave up their seats because they did not want to be perceived as unkind by others on the bus. Perhaps the grocery store employee is usually kind, but he behaved rudely because he has been told to work an extra shift at the last minute and it means he will likely miss a friend’s birthday party. If you attribute someone’s behavior to her or his personality, your judgment may underestimate the social conditions that influenced the behavior. When explaining the causes of someone’s behavior, underestimating or discounting the social situation results in what social psychologists call an attribution error.
For your assignment this week, you will look at a scenario and consider how the cause of a person’s behavior may be explained better by situational influences than one’s personality or internal disposition.
Review the Learning Resources for this week and consider how the causes of a person’s behavior may be explained by situational factors.
Consider the following scenario for this Assignment:
- Imagine that you have been summoned for jury duty in the United States. If you are selected to be on the jury, you will be hearing a rape case where a 23-year-old female alleges sexual assault. In order to select the jury (a process known by the Latin term voir dire), both the prosecutor and defense attorney question the jury pool to identify and dismiss for cause people who have strong opinions about the subject matter, who already know about the case, or who may be biased for or against either party to the trial. Attorneys may also dismiss members of the jury pool who they think will not be favorable to their case. These types of dismissals are called peremptory challenges and the attorneys have a limited number of them.
- During the process of jury selection, you notice the prosecutors are using their limited peremptory challenges to dismiss most of the young women from the jury pool. You find this peculiar, given that young women would seem to be most favorable to the prosecution’s case.
Submit 1–2 pages, not including title page and reference page:
- Informed by social psychology theory, explain why the prosecutor was reluctant to seat young women on the jury. Please provide a detailed explanation for this seemingly odd behavior.
- Possible references:
Sirin, C. V., & Villalobos, J. D. (2011). Where does the buck stop? Applying attribution theory to examine public appraisals of the president. Presidential Studies Quarterly, (2), 334.
Tausch, N., & Hewstone, M. (2010). Social dominance orientation attenuates stereotype change in the face of disconfirming information. Social Psychology, 41(3), 169–176. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1027/186…