Perception and Cognition
(1) Explain how both Ally and Jessica make the “fundamental attribution error” by breaking the rules for “Improving the Quality of Your Interpersonal Perceptions” (Chap. 5) and then,
(2) show how their instant perceptions affected how they thought about Dave and the situation, using concepts from Chapter 6 (and the lectures on Nov. 8). Include in your answer, WYSIATI, heuristics (mental shortcuts), the inference ladder and “Errors in Cognition and Talk.”
Short Written Assignment
The fundamental attribution error refers to the tendency of perceivers to underestimate the effect of human behavior situational factors and to overestimate the effect of dispositional factors. In this particular case, Jessica immediately concludes that Dave did something awful to Ally after finding Ally crying. By so doing, Jessica makes fundamental attribution error by assuming Dave’s misbehavior has somehow caused Ally’s situation. Jessica broke the rules for improving her interpersonal perceptions of quality by failing to listen to what Dave had to say and being unable to control her emotions. Jessica jumps into a conclusion without considering active listening to judge the situation based on what transpired. This makes her misjudge the situation. Her emotions are also highly controlled by Ally’s crying. By seeing Ally cry, Jessica felt pity and immediately conclude that Dave must have hurt her terribly as he did to all his past girlfriends. She consequently sides with Ally and reprimand Dave for his action, despite Dave being right.
Ally shows a fundamental contribution error by immediately concluding that Dave refuses to complete her work so that she may fail. Ally shows her strong manipulative traits, where she use tears and emotional outburst to get what she wants, even when she is wrong. Ally broke the rules for improving her interpersonal perceptions of quality by failing to cultivate a positive outlook on the situation. She has been into her phone for a while as Dave does her assignment. This means she was not participating in doing the assignment and was ready to hand-in Dave’s work as her own. This would imply that she would have cheated if Dave did not get tired of doing her homework. In addition, this lack of active participation in doing homework was likely to impact her school performance in the future. If she cared about her future academic performance she should have taken more interest in her homework. This lack of positive outlook is what made Ally misjudge Dave and conclude that she wanted her to fail. A positive outlook could have taken this as a call to engage her in her homework because Dave cared about her ability to do the work alone in the future. Ally also broke the rules for improving her interpersonal perceptions of quality by failing to be an active listener. If she paid attention to Dave, she could have understood why Dave was stopping working on her assignment for his. She could have understood that Dave valued her active involvement in her assignment rather than staying aside for him to work on everything. Ally broke the rules for improving her interpersonal perceptions of quality by failing to control her emotions. She was irritated after being informed to take charge of her work, which was highly out of place. Her reaction influenced Jessica’s emotions pushing her into making the wrong judgment.
Jessica’s judgment about Dave is highly distorted by instant perception. Jessica saw Ally crying and immediately perceived that Dave must have hurt her. She refused to take any explanation from Dave. She based her judgment on “what you see is all there is”. Ally crying based on WYSIATI Dave must have wronged her. Just like all other guys and just like she has been before he must have treated his girlfriend Ally inappropriately. Ally also used the WYSIATI concept to perceive that the only reason Dave abandoned her assignment is to make her fail. The WYSIATI distorted her perception that she failed to see Dave’s desire to help her learn to do her assignment for her future academic performance. Jessica heuristic way of handling the problem was to comfort Ally while reprimanding Dave, without paying attention to what happened. Ally heuristic way to handle the situation was crying and accusing Dave, without even thinking of her mistake. This made Dave to come out as the wrongdoer before the two, despite having done nothing wrong, and despite Ally having been in the wrong all along.
The approach adopted by Ally and Jessica to address the issue is thus not optimal, but it helps them reach their immediate goal. Ally’s immediate goal is to attract sympathy and force Dave to complete her assignment. She does this by attracting both Jessica and Dave’s attention by crying uncontrollably when Dave refuses to do more work for her. Jessica’s goal of comforting Ally is achieved by trying to reprimand Dave and giving Ally the assurance of things being right in the future. Jessica’s perception is also distorted by her ladder of inference. Her reasoning is highly swayed by her past observation of how Dave treated her ex-girlfriends. She strongly believes the situation at hand is a replica of the past and hence, she acts with agitation, supporting the wrong party. Her inference is also based on the notion that men always treat women badly and hence, this case cannot be an exception to Jessica. Jessica’s errors in cognition make her jump into conclusion and employ emotional reasoning to the situation. All this makes her blame the wrong person for the situation. Wrong perception resulted in unnecessary conflict between Jessica and Dave, which could have been avoided if Jessica tried to investigate the problem with a calm mind, and listen to details that led to the situation without being bias or without favoring one side.
Gawronski, Bertram. “Fundamental Attribution Error”. (2007): 367-369. Accessed November 20, 2019. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281179007_Fundamental_Attribution_Error
Morvan, Camille and Jenkins William J. Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. London: CRC Press, 2017.
 Bertram Gawronski, “Fundamental Attribution Error”. (2007): 367-369. Accessed November 20, 2019. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281179007_Fundamental_Attribution_Error
 Camille Morvan and William J. Jenkins, Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases, (London: CRC Press, 2017).