What Conclusions Can We Draw From Trait Theory – Where this bias occurs Individual impact Systemic impact Why it happens Why it matters How to avoid it How it all started Example 1 – Social scientists Example 2 – Racial bias Summary Related TDL articles
In other words, we believe that people’s personality traits have a greater influence on their actions than other factors beyond their control.
What Conclusions Can We Draw From Trait Theory
Most of us work and live in an environment that is not optimized for making sound decisions. We work with organizations of all sizes to identify sources of cognitive bias and develop tailored solutions.
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Let’s say you’re driving to work one day and someone stops you. Furious, you decide that the other driver is a selfish person who doesn’t care about the safety of others. In fact, the other driver rarely cuts people off, and they are generally very careful about safety, but at this time they are going to the hospital for a family emergency, so they behave differently than usual.
Because of FAEs, most of us tend to believe that temperamental factors (that is, people’s personality traits) are more powerful than situational factors. In other words, we believe that whatever the circumstances, a person’s actions will generally reflect who they are as a person. This can lead us to make unfair and inaccurate judgments about people, ignoring any factors that contribute to their behavior.
We are especially likely to FAE when we consider certain types of behavior, including behavior that we consider unethical. This can hinder the resolution of systemic issues in our society.
FAE is often confused with another similar phenomenon, actor–observer bias (also known as actor–observer asymmetry). According to this cognitive bias, people make attributional attributions for the behavior of others and situational attributions for their own behavior. In other words, while we tend to explain our actions in terms of various external factors that may have led us to behave as we did, when it comes to other people we are more likely to say Keeps that they behave as they did. Do it because that’s the way they are.1
Trait Theory Of Personality
Another bias that is often confused with FAE is known as correspondence bias. What makes things even more confusing is that the two terms were actually used interchangeably for a long time before many researchers started claiming that they were different.
Technically, correspondence bias describes the tendency of people to make inferences about other people’s personalities based on their behavior.
Although these biases are individual, FAE may contribute to the correspondence bias. For example, let’s say you’re watching a classmate give a presentation. They seem nervous: they sweat, get nervous and stammer. FAE may prompt you to downplay the fact that the situation (giving a class presentation) is stressful for most people. In turn, the correspondence bias may lead you to infer from your classmate’s behavior that he or she would normally be an anxious person.
On an intellectual level, we all understand that people’s behavior is shaped by the situations in which they find themselves. Very few people would try to argue that everyone behaves exactly the same, regardless of the circumstances. the problem is not that we fall short
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(i.e. awareness of the strength of the position). In contrast, FAE emerges when we do not apply this understanding properly.
Of course, we can’t make reasonable judgments about someone’s behavior if we don’t have all the relevant information. However, as research has shown, people often FAE even when they are fully aware of what is happening.
In a classic study by Edward Jones and Victor Harris, university students read essays defending or criticizing Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Communist Party. Some participants were told that the writer could choose to write for or against Castro, while others were told that the writer was given a position. The researchers were surprised to find that when participants were told that the author did not choose which side they would be on, they still believed that the author’s opinion of Castro was consistent with the argument they presented in the essay. were in
Other studies have shown that this effect occurs independently of participants’ opinions. This appears to be the case even when they have been given additional information about the author or warned to avoid bias.
Shifts In Personality Are Common, But Sudden Changes Are Rare
So why do people FAE when they should know there are situational factors involved? There are a few different reasons why this happens.
In some cases, FAE appears to occur partly because it takes effort to adjust our perception of someone’s behavior to suit the situation in which they are. We have limited cognitive resources and our brains generally prefer to take the path that consumes the least energy. This leads us to adopt cognitive shortcuts (known as heuristics), and also makes us vulnerable to cognitive biases.
When we mentally process someone else’s actions, we go through three stages. First, we classify the behavior (i.e. what is this person doing?). Second, we make a behavioral characterization (i.e. what does this behavior say about this person’s personality?). Finally, we apply a situational correction (that is, what aspects of the situation might have contributed to this behavior?).
While the first two steps seem to happen almost automatically, the third step requires a more conscious effort on our part, which means it is often skipped, especially in situations where we have no time to go through it. There are no cognitive resources. This can happen, for example, if we are distracted by something else, or if we do not have time for this.
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There is empirical evidence to support this statement. In a study by Gilbert et al (1988), participants watched a (silent) video of a woman behaving anxiously. For some participants, the subtitles in the video indicated that the woman was being interviewed about topics that would make most people uncomfortable, such as sexual fantasies. For others, the subtitles showed an interview about relatively boring topics such as the ideal vacation. In addition, the researchers also manipulated the cognitive ability of the participants, asking some of them to take memory tests on the interview subjects afterward. This meant that these participants were distracted while watching the videos, partly because they were trying to remember the subjects.
The results of this experiment showed that when participants were distracted, they were more likely to make natural attributions for the woman’s concern. In other words, their explanations for her anxious behavior were related to stable traits of her personality: they said she was an anxious person in general. Meanwhile, participants who didn’t have to worry about a test only made temperamental accusations when they saw the boring version of the interview, because those who saw the gruesome version understood that the questions made them uncomfortable. Had given.
Other research has shown that we are more likely to do FAEs when we are in a good mood than when we are in a bad mood. In a study based on Jones and Harris’s Castro experiment, participants read essays that were either for or against nuclear testing, and then judged the author’s opinion on the subject. However, this study had an additional twist. Before reading the essay, participants completed a verbal ability test where they had to complete sentences such as “The car is on the side of the road like a train…” The questions ranged from easy to difficult, including some that were actually were not correct” answer (such as “bread is like butter like a river…”).
To manipulate participants’ mood, an experimenter told them after the test whether they performed above or below average. After this was done, they continued to read the essays, some were told that the author had chosen their argument and others were told that they were forced to argue a specific side. The results of this study showed that happy participants were more likely to perform FAEs, but only when the author was given an opinion.
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Why will? Overall, it seems that being in a bad mood can make us more alert and methodical in our process, helping us pay more attention and retain more information. In fact, happy participants were able to remember fewer details about the essay they read than participants who were in a bad mood, suggesting that being in a good mood may actually impair memory.
The fact that participants were more sensitive to FAEs if they had read an essay containing an unpopular opinion may also indicate that they relied on inferences or stereotypes about people holding that opinion, and their happiness The mood made him less likely to do so. Questioning their reliance on those stereotypes.
Basically, when we’re in a good mood, we can process our environment in a more carefree way, making us more likely to take shortcuts—and less likely to die.
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