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Person Perception and Attribution

Module by: Mark Pettinelli. E-mail the author

Asch and Zukier (19841) categorized the techniques used to resolve conflicts between contradictory characteristic traits of a target person. They distinguished between six techniques empirically - on the basis of descriptions of people formed when two discordant traits were present:

  1. Segregation: The dispositions (e.g., brilliant-foolish) are each assigned to a different sphere of the person (e.g., to the intellectual and practical sphere).
  2. Inner versus outer (depth dimension): One of the conflicting dispositions (e.g., sociable) is assigned to a surface manifestation of the person and the other (e.g., lonely) to a deep, inner layer.
  3. Cause and effect: Two dispositions (e.g., dependent-hostile) are seen in a casual relationship (e.g., a person acts in a hostile way because of his futile efforts to break off his dependence on another person).
  4. Common source: Two dispositions (e.g., cheerful-gloomy) are judged as resulting from the same basic disposition (e.g., moody).
  5. Means-end: One disposition is interpreted as a means to achieve another disposition or end (e.g. with the pair strict-kind, strictness is regarded a manifestation of kindness).
  6. Interpolation: The disparity between intelligent and unambitious is bridged by inferring from disappointing former experiences that a person has now lost interest. Interpolating a unifying explanation smoothes the contrast between conflicting dispositions.

Footnotes

  1. Asch, S.E., and Zukier, H. (1984). Thinking about persons. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 1230-1240.

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