Tma04 Dse212

Topics: Psychology, Attribution theory, Social psychology Pages: 5 (1570 words) Published: May 30, 2013
People, being naturally inquisitive, have often been referred to as scientists. Even as young children, people are constantly testing and evaluating the boundaries to decipher their own social environment and quickly recognise what is acceptable and what is not. This soon evolves into intuition and whether it is constructed in a logical and rational way depends on a number factors. However, when considering cognitive psychology and the information processing that underpins judgements and risks, people's cognitive processes are often likened to computers in the way that these processes interact. This essay begins by looking at Fritz Heider (1944, as cited in Buchanan et al., p.60) an influential psychologist in this area who coined the phrase 'naive psychology'. It then progresses onto the advantages and disadvantages of the attribution theories using Kelley's covariation method and MacArthurs vignettes to test the theory. This is followed by looking into optimistic bias and whether this bias can prevent people from constructing rational and logical theories when making sense of their social environment. Finally, the essay evaluates the HIV/AIDs and smoking progression and how people can conceptualise risk, resulting in laying blame elsewhere other than in their social group. Heider was one of the first psychologists to study in detail social cognition. He believed that delving into how people made sense of their social environments was fundamental in understanding social behaviours, he believed people actively built models of cause and effect to find predictability and regularity which would help control their lives, operating like 'naive psychologists'. Heider also believed people used this method when people perceive others and their actions. He constructed a study using animated cartoons of moving shapes consisting of a circle, a box and a rectangle. When asked to describe what they saw, all but one of the participants described the shapes movement in terms of human action. The fact that these people were perceiving these shapes automatically to be people goes some way to provide support for Heider's theory and prove that people are certainly trying to make sense of their social environment. However this, albeit simple use of experimental social psychology, has a few limitations. As this was a simplified experiment and disimilar to what would happen in a real social environment, Heider was not able to prove that the results would be the same outside in 'real life'. In fact, often results obtained outside of the laboratory conclude opposite results to that of the laboratory. There is also a possibility that the participants, upon hearing that they would be attending a psychological experiment, subconciously associated psychology with people or themselves and their answers reflected this. In an experimental condition there will always be confounding variables no matter what measures are taken to eliminate them, it is certainly difficult to take research on perception and attention out of everyday life and into a controlled experiment. In a social environment because people are not manufacturing social situations, people see them as they are, this could put them in good stead to construct rational and logical theories on their environment. What Heider's theory lacks is specific procedures and data. Harold Kelley (1967, as cited in Buchanan et al., p.72) who developed the covariation model, used testable predictions and data in his attribution theory. The attribution theories suggest people distinguish between external/disposition factors and internal/disposition factors to recognise the causes of social behaviour. Kelley proposed that when people use information in causal reasoning, three variables are decided upon, distinctiveness, consensus and consistency, this was known as the covariation model. He supported the belief that people behave like intuitive scientists. MacArthur (1972, as cited in Buchanan et al., p.74)...
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