Bertram Gawronski
Implicational Schemata and Correspondence Bias: The Role of Implicit Theories in Situational Adjustment


When people observe another person's behavior, they often draw strong dispositional inferences from this behavior even when it is highly constrained by situational factors. This phenomenon is called the correspondence bias (or the fundamental attribution error), and is one of the most robust and repeatable findings in social psychology. A common explanation for the correspondence bias is that perceivers often lack the motivation or the cognitive capacity to take situational factors into account. In the present research it is argued that the process of situational adjustment is guided by perceivers' implicit theories about trait-behavior relations (implicational schemata). These implicit theories sometimes imply that an observed behavior is highly diagnostic regardless of the presence or absence of situational constraints. Hence, perceivers may actually consider situational factors, but in some cases they come to the conclusion that these factors can be ignored without making an invalid dispositional judgment. Accordingly, the correspondence bias may not only be due to insufficient motivation or capacity, but also to perceivers' implicit theories that guide the process of situational adjustment. This is not only theoretically important for understanding the robustness of the correspondence bias, but also practically for attempts to avoid the correspondence bias in everyday life.

2001, ISBN 3-936142-29-7, Price: 20,- Euro

Pabst Science Publishers
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