Chronic and temporary distinct expectancies as comparison standards: Automatic contrast in dispositional judgments

Gifford Weary, Stephanie J. Tobin, Darcy A. Reich
2001 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology  
In 4 studies, the authors examined whether making outcome expectancies distinct resulted in their use as comparison standards and, consequently, in contrastive dispositional inferences for a target's behaviors. The expectancies examined were based on either chronic future-event expectancies (Study 1) or temporary, manipulated expectancy standards (Studies 2-4). Analyses revealed that when contextual expectancies were distinct or separable from target information, participants' dispositional
more » ... ' dispositional judgments were contrasted from them under cognitive load and overcorrected (assimilated to them) under no load. These effects were mediated by participants' behavior categorizations. Evidence suggestive of a proceduralized form of correction for task difficulty and an effortful awareness-based correction for the effects of expectancies also were found. Results are examined in light of recent models of the dispositional inference process. Over the past 40 years, social psychologists have learned a great deal about how ordinary perceivers give meaning to the observed actions of another person. Early treatments focused on the contents of perceivers' intuitive theories of action. Heider (1958), for example, proposed that perceivers believe successful enactment of purposive behavior by another is dependent, in large part, on the person's ability and the difficulty of environmental factors. Put more formally, he argued that if a person succeeds at some task, then perceivers' naive theories of action hold that that person's ability must be greater than the environmental difficulty. If the person fails (and if he or she was trying to perform the task), then A considerable body of research has supported these more recent process models of dispositional inferences. Several studies
doi:10.1037/0022-3514.80.3.365 pmid:11300572 fatcat:f6vxpv7gn5bdzbyodkpdhysggy