Perceptions of an aggressive encounter as a function of the victim's salience and the perceiver's arousal

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Abstract

Investigated the effects of a victim's physical salience and perceivers' arousal on perceptions of a verbally aggressive interaction. Based on evidence that there is a tendency to attribute causality to salient stimulus persons and to form more evaluatively extreme impressions of such persons, it was predicted that an aggressor's behavior would be attributed more to causes in a physically salient than a nonsalient victim and that the behavior of a salient victim would be evaluated more extremely than that of a nonsalient victim. Based on J. A. Easterbrook's (1959) hypothesis that arousal narrows the focus of attention to the most salient cues in the situation, it was further predicted that aroused perceivers would manifest both a stronger tendency to attribute causality to a physically salient victim of aggression and more extreme ratings of the stimulus persons than would nonaroused perceivers. Data from 2 studies with 206 undergraduates support all of the experimental hypotheses except one: The tendency to attribute the aggressor's behavior more to a physically salient than a nonsalient victim was not greater for aroused than for nonaroused perceivers. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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