The Influence of Social Thinking

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We see someone laughing hysterically and we believe that the person must have a great sense of humor. As the person continues to laugh, others nearby begin to laugh with them. An innocent observer, though they see nothing funny, begins to laugh along with them.


Many people judge another person's personality and mood by only processing a small amount of information about them. We may see a person laughing at the grocery store and think they have a jovial spirit. When we see them at work, they may be cold and aloof. People are often judged by these situational moods. Yet, the person is adapting to the situation. This overemphasis on personality and the underestimation of the situation is known as fundamental attribution error (Myers 706). The person has changed their behavior to react to a different situation. This error can cause us to label and catalog people falsely.
When we use only mood and behavior to judge a person and overlook the situation it's an attribution error. When we react to situations it is sometimes difficult to understand how much is our behavior being controlled by our own attitudes and how much our behavior is controlling what we think. Often times people are told 'make the best of it'. There may be a class that a student doesn't enjoy yet approaches it with a positive attitude. If other outside influences are minimal, we may do well in the class (Myers 709). However, if people tell us we will fail in the class, and we don't take any action to change the attitude, we will likely fail.
Knowing that our attitude can change our behavior can be beneficial in changing ...
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