An Evaluation of the View That; People Act as ‘Lay Scientists’ in Interpreting Their Social World, Perceiving and Analysing Information in an Objective, Rational Manner.

1606 words 7 pages
An evaluation of the view that; people act as ‘lay scientists’ in interpreting their social world, perceiving and analysing information in an objective, rational manner.
By Paula Lewis U0044332

Social psychologists interested in social perception and cognition have an ‘intuitive scientist’ model of how people understand their worlds – people seek ‘truths’ in a logical and rational way (as cited in Buchanan et al, 2007, p.106). They suggest that in order for people to have a sense of control over their social interactions, they make inferences and assumptions about people’s behaviour and events that they encounter. This concept falls under the ‘attribution theory’ umbrella, which means; assigning cause to our own or other peoples
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However, the evidence presented by Miller (cited in Buchanan et al, 2007), suggests that the FAE may be a product of culture. When judging our own actions, we tend to assign internal attributions to success (i scored high on my exam because i studied extremely hard) or external attributions towards our ‘failures’ (i failed my exam because it was too hard). It has been suggested that the reason the FAE disappears when assigning cause to our own actions is due to our own biases, mainly; the self-serving bias (cited in Buchanan et al, 2007). Cognitive psychologists suggest that the self-serving bias is based on how our cognitive system works; based on expectations of our worlds; we expect to do well at something if we put in the effort. We can use previous experience to make such judgements when not all of the information required to do this is available to us. Another plausible explanation is that it is a motivational bias, which is driven by a need to enhance our self-esteem, or to present ourselves in the best possible light (as cited in Buchanan et al, 2007, p.79). We are responsible for our own successes (as success tends to make us feel good about ourselves) and therefore we see our ‘failings’ as out of our control, so not our fault. The study by Ruscher et al (cited in Buchanan et al, 2007)


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