Actor-observer differences in information inference and causal attribution

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Conducted 2 experiments with 144 undergraduates to assess (a) differences in the information available to persons trying to understand the causes of their own behavior (actors) vs those trying to understand the causes of another's behavior (observers) and (b) the effects of information differences on causal explanations. In Exp I, actors reported positive behaviors to be less distinctive and more consistent with past behavior than did observers, whereas the reverse was true for negative behaviors. Consistent with this difference, actors attributed desirable behaviors more to their own internal dispositions than did observers, whereas the opposite occurred for undesirable behaviors. In Exp II, when all Ss were given the consensus, distinctiveness, and consistency information generated by actors in Exp I, both actors and observers attributed positive acts more to internal factors than negative acts. When given the information generated by the observers, neither actors nor observers exhibited this bias. Thus, when given the same information, actors and observers no longer showed differences in causal explanations. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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