Sunday, February 24, 2013

On being happy and mistaken: Mood effects on the fundamental attribution error

In On Being Happy and Mistakes, Josepg P. Forgas asks "does temporary mood influence the occurrence of the fundamental attribution error ?" Fundamental attribution error describes the tendency to overestimate the effect of disposition or personality and underestimate the effect of the situation in explaining social behavior.

Based on affect-cognition  and research on attributions, three experiments predicted and found that negative moods decrease and positive moods increase the fundamental attribution error, because of the information-processing consequences of these affective states.The study of Josepg P. Forgas shows that mood systematically affects attributions of observed behavior by altering relative attention to actor and context. When the actor is more salient, sad people are more inclined to perceive an actor in stable trait terms and favor dispositional over situational explanations, whereas the opposite is true for happy people. However, when the context is made more salient, this pattern reverses, such that those in a negative mood make more situational attributions than those in a positive mood. Taken together, these findings provide strong support for our hypothesis that mood and salience interact to affect attributions.

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