The present work is focused on the fundamental lay theories that structure social understanding in everyday encounters as people strive to “make sense of” the actions and outcomes of others. Below, it is argued that whereas existing approaches have focused primarily on the idea that people’s lay theories of social action contain explanatory principles relating to the idea that human action stems from unobservable mental states (i.e., Theory of Mind approaches, e.g., Flavell et al., 1986), these approaches have left under-examined other aspects of lay theories of social action. In particular, I submit that lay theories of social action also contain causal-explanatory principles relating to the causal origins of human behavior and outcomes, an idea that has its’ roots in Attribution Theory (e.g., Heider, 1958). Below, I provide some—albeit not overwhelming—evidence consistent with the idea that individuals possess Social Explanatory Styles—broad and characteristic tendencies to explain the behavioral propensities of others in terms of either internal/self-existent (e.g., “That’s just the way she is! She’s always doing that!”) or external/interconnected (e.g., “Anyone who grew up in an environment like that would behave just like her!”) qualities—and, further, that these styles function as lay theories in the sense that they exert theory-like effects on information processing. In particular, Social Explanatory Styles are shown to possess some degree of breadth: They are broadly applied to the explanation of diverse types of human action. In addition, Social Explanatory Styles are shown to guide the processing and interpretation of newly-encountered social-behavioral information.
|Advisor:||Gill, Michael J.|
|Commitee:||Laible, Deborah E., Moskowitz, Gordon B., Munson, Ziad|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-B 70/09, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Social psychology, Experimental psychology, Personality psychology|
|Keywords:||Attribution, Explanatory style, Ordinary psychology, Social cognition, Social explanations|
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