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Stereotyping and Attribution Errors

Stereotyping and Attribution Errors

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Published by Noor Fatima

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Published by: Noor Fatima on Mar 20, 2011
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Ste reo typ ing an d Att rib uti on Err ors Organ izatio 2 .

and people are often more sensitive to noticing things once they have an existing bias. to stereotype is to attribute to a person some characteristics which are seen to be shared by all or most of his fellow group members. Stereotypes are often activated in times when it will free up cognitive resources for other tasks. This can be from over-representation of different groups in socially prescribed roles. They reflect ideas that groups of people hold about others who are different from them. they are externally caused. and then people seek out more information. In this sense. For example. Stereotypes can be defined in many ways: Judgments about others • • Ethnic group membership (first used in 1922 by Walter Lippmann) Any group membership (more broadly used) Oversimplified generalization • About an entire group of people • Without regarding to their individual differences Categorize (or label) people/ events/ objects • Beliefs • Observations By another definition. negative behaviors by out group members are seen as internally caused. reproduced through socialization and exposure. so they manage to confirm the "validity" of the stereotype through false means. when explaining social events. stereotypes also typically derive from some aspect of social reality or grain of truth. Stereotypes can be embedded in our culture. stereotypes are a tentative hypothesis. but for in group members. with the same adjectives being seen as typical of a specific group over time. and are fairly consistent over time. Although often seen in a negative light. When it is easy to attribute something to a stereotype. There is no evidence to 3 .Stereotyping: Stereotypes are as old as human culture itself. then that is something that is done.

• Conversion model: We throw away the old stereotype and start again. police and women are so easily stereotyped. This has been shown in experiments that test the degree to which stereotypes are used when participants have been trying to remember a list of numbers. 4 . We usually need quite a lot of repeated information for each incremental change. We change our stereotypes infrequently. It is easier to create stereotypes when there is a clearly visible and consistent attribute that can easily be recognized. This is why people of color. we often cling to our obviously-wrong beliefs. but with the out group that has an attached stereotype. • Sub typing model: We create a new stereotype that is a sub-classification of the existing stereotype. we do so in one of three ways: • Bookkeeping model: As we learn new contradictory information. or are upset or anxious. Individual evidence is taken as the exception that proves the rule. When we do change the stereotypes. For example. People from stereotyped groups can find this very disturbing as they experience an apprehension (stereotype threat) of being treated unfairly. It is assumed that this comes about because the teachers subconsciously treated them differently. One problem with stereotypes is that they are often self-fulfilling prophesies. particularly when we can draw a boundary around the sub-class. even though they were equal in ability to the control group. Thus if we have a stereotype for Americans. which perpetuates their existence. it is cognitively easier to attribute behavior to that stereotype.show this. we incrementally adjust the stereotype to adapt to the new information. children randomly pegged as "bright" to teachers in 1st and 2nd grade ended up increasing their IQ more than the rest of the students over the course of the year. This is often used when there is significant disconfirming evidence. a visit to New York may result in us having a ‘New Yorkers are different’ sub-type. Even in the face of disconfirming evidence. and that those differences actually helped the children's academic abilities to grow.

• • Stereotyping can be subconscious. watching them read the essays caused them to attribute greater probabilities that those reading the pro-Castro essays were in fact pro-Castro and those reading the anti-Castro 5 . the fundamental attribution error involves placing a heavy emphasis on internal personality characteristics to explain someone's behavior in a given situation. such as 'white/black' (an artificial system of opposites. It is more often a simplification to speed conversation on what is not considered to be an important topic. Fundamental errors Attributing behavior of other people to internal factors (their motivation/ability). even in people who consciously do not want to be biased. where it subtly biases our decisions and actions. Men stereotype women and women stereotype men. • The fundamental attribution error is a common type of cognitive bias in social psychology. Stereotyping often happens not so much because of aggressive or unkind thoughts. which in origin seems to be more like 'European/non-European').Stereotyping can go around in circles. Attribution Process: • Internal attribution Perception that outcomes are due to motivation/ability rather than situation or fate • External attribution Perception that outcomes are due to situation or fate rather than the person Attribution Errors: There are two types of attribution errors. In certain societies this is intensified as the stereotyping of women pushes them together more and they create men as more of an out-group. Even though the observers were told that the readers were assigned to the groups entirely randomly. rather than thinking about external situational factors. 1. The same thing happens with different racial groups. Essentially.

For example. the car. In this way. you might blame the examiner. If you fail the test. if you pass your driving test on the first try. rather than admitting that you did not demonstrate safe and effective driving skills. Many people demonstrate self serving bias on some level or another. and failure to external factors. you might say that this was due to the fact you studied hard and you are a good driver. 1. strong individuals. Self serving bias Attributing our successes to internal factor and our failures to external factors. and it will allow you to use things like failures as learning experiences. • A self serving bias is a cognitive bias which tends to enhance the ego and self confidence of an individual. where people overemphasize dispositional (personality-based) explanations for behavior over situational explanations. since most people have a desire to be successful. • The most classic example of a self serving bias is the tendency of people to attribute success to their personalities. people credit themselves for doing well. 6 . This is an example of the so-called fundamental attribution error. and they plead out of responsibility for failures. or the weather. Being aware of the processes behind a self serving bias can help you to evaluate your performance and progress more critically.essays were in fact anti-Castro. through a variety of processes. which enhances their self esteem.

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