Do people resist social-psychological perspectives on wrongdoing? Reactions to dispositional, situational, and interactionist explanations

Leonard S. Newman, Daria A. Bakina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Social psychologists could play major roles in public debates on social problems, but social-psychological accounts of behavior are often resisted. Replicating past research, when psychologists described research illustrating situational control of wrongdoing, participants believed that the psychologists would attribute less blame and responsibility to wrongdoers than other psychologists arguing for dispositional influences. But psychologists presenting interactionist accounts were not perceived to be similarly exonerating. Participants also preferred interactionist accounts to situational or dispositional ones. Finally, after exposure to interactionist accounts, participants included just as many (if not more) contextual factors in open-ended explanations of wrongdoing than after exposure to situational accounts. If social psychologists want to influence thinking about human behavior, insisting on strong situationism might be counterproductive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-273
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Influence
Volume4
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Attribution
  • Public education
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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