Trait impressions as heuristics for predicting future behavior

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24 Scopus citations


The dispositionist bias manifests itself when (a) behavior is overattributed to dispositions and (b) contextual factors are underused when predicting behavior. The psychological processes underlying the former bias have been more thoroughly examined than the latter. Three studies support the hypothesis that the trait implications of past behavior function as heuristics used to predict high levels of cross-situational consistency. Subjects in Experiment 1 used both dispositional and situational information to predict behavior, but the level of consistency predicted was inversely related to how much time was spent integrating the available information. In Experiment 2, attributionally complex subjects were less likely to predict high levels of behavioral consistency and were more sensitive to the context in which behavior was to occur. Imposing a cognitive load in Experiment 3 increased noncomplex subjects ' tendency to predict consistency across situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-411
Number of pages17
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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