The term that explains Maria’s attributing James’ lateness is the fundamental attribution error. This error is defined as the tendency to explain our own and other people’s behavior entirely in terms of personality traits. Thus, though James was not late due to his innate laziness and irresponsibility but rather a physical and situational difficulty, Maria attributed it to his apparent personality traits.
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Two primary motives that shape peoples’ construal are the Self-Esteem approach, which describes the need to feel good about ourselves and the Social Cognition approach, which describes the need to be accurate. These motives do not always follow the same direction because sometimes an individual may not be accurate, but still wants to feel good about him or herself. If these two are in opposite directions, generally people choose the direction of sacrificing accuracy in order to feel good about themselves by twisting the accuracy through self-justification or subjectivity.
Social Psychology is important because it is the scientific study of the way in which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the real or imagined presence of other people. Since we all interact with others, social psychology allows us to understand how individuals perceive and interpret society and how that perception influences us. Personality Psychology on the other hand, tries to explain an individual’s behavior in terms of his or her individual character traits. Further, Sociology is disparate from social psychology in that it is concerned with why a particular society or group within a society produces a certain behavior, or in other words, it is more geared towards evaluating society as a whole, rather than focusing on the psychology of the individual. Social Psychology is also related to Philosophy in that they both attempt to answer questions about human nature. However, Social Psychology takes it a step further and tries to explain those questions scientifically.
Sarah, though she has an overall unsatisfactory experience at CMU, states that she likes CMU because of her need for self-justification of her suffering. Because she knows that her experience is less-than satisfactory and in some ways, illogical, she feels the need to feel good about herself and therefore self-justify her experience by attempting to put a positive spin on her experience. Sarah could focus on the fact that CMU has excellent food and ignore the harsh workload and all-nighters to disillusion her into thinking that CMU is a great place to be. If CMU was an easier school with a lot of parties and other attractions, Sarah would still like CMU and laud it, just for different reasons. She would now focus her positive thoughts on the parties and easy workload.
Social Cognition is the way people process, store, and apply information in social interactions. An example of social cognition is when we make a choice between two cereals based on which is healthier for you. If one cereal is marked as 100% natural, and has pictures of natural grains on it, we generalize it as better for you when in fact it may not be. We used social cognition in that we used the information about healthy foods that we stored up and applied it to this particular situation where based on our previous knowledge and perceptions, we decided one was better for us.
Behaviorism refers to the belief that people behave based on conditioning, or the positive or negative responses associated with a certain action. For example, if there was an individual saw someone being attacked, their response to seeing the crime may differ depending on where they live. For an individual in Pittsburgh, he or she knows that the repercussion of helping the person is most likely positive and will not extremely endanger them. However, an individual who lives in Los Angeles or a more dangerous area may ignore the victim because he or she knows from past experience that helping him or her may be dangerous and have a negative repercussion.
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