Not As Big As It Looks: Attribution Errors in the Perceptual Domain

Zachariah Sharek, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Sam Swift, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Francesca Gino, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Don Moore, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
People routinely assume correspondence between acts and dispositions while underweighting the influence of the situation, a systematic error prior research has labeled “correspondence bias.” Three laboratory studies investigate the robustness and generality of this tendency while exploring its relevance in the domain of physical perceptions. Results suggest that it may be even more fundamental than prior theories have supposed. Most prior work on the correspondence bias uses paradigms in which the outcome is more salient and easier to assess than the situation. Our studies address this imbalance and test the theory in new domains where disposition is represented as the height of a person or the weight of a product. Situational manipulations vary the presence of a height aide or the weight of product packaging. Participants fail to sufficiently discount for situational influences, selecting those people and products enhanced by their situation. The results provide new insights into the ultimate causes of the correspondence bias.
[ to cite ]:
Zachariah Sharek, Sam Swift, Francesca Gino, and Don Moore (2010) ,"Not As Big As It Looks: Attribution Errors in the Perceptual Domain", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 37, eds. Margaret C. Campbell, Jeff Inman, and Rik Pieters, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 652-653 .