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Actor-observer differences in the Big-Five personality factors: An information-processing explanation

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Date Issued:
2004
Summary:
A basic difference between the perspectives of actors and observers is the amount of information each has to make attributional inferences. Jones and Nisbett (1972) suggested these informational differences lead to an inverse relationship between trait and situational attributions, such that better-known others receive more situational attributions while lesser-known others receive more trait attributions. While this difference has traditionally been accounted for as a function of individuals' perceptions of cross-situational variability in the actor's behavior, recent research has suggested that this explanation is inaccurate. Unfortunately, alternative explanations for the self-other differences in attributional tendencies have yet to be offered. It was hypothesized here that these differences might be better explained as a function of the specific traits people attribute to themselves versus those that are attributed to others. To that end, the first study in this paper examined different attributions offered for oneself versus one's acquaintance as a function of the social desirability of the Big Five personality traits (i.e., Extraversion/Introversion, Agreeable/Disagreeable, Conscientious/Not Conscientious, Emotionally Stable/Neurotic, Intelligent/Unintelligent). While it was expected that results would reflect self-enhancement tendencies on the subjects' part; i.e., subjects would make more positive trait attributions (Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, Intelligence) to themselves than to their acquaintances and more negative trait attributions (Introversion, Disagreeableness, Not Conscientious, Neuroticism, Unintelligence) to their acquaintances than to themselves, findings suggested that whether subjects chose to self-enhance was based, at least in part, on the trait in question. The most counterintuitive of these findings being that subjects labeled themselves as being more Introverted than their acquaintances. While self-enhancement explanations are traditionally described as a function of a motivational drive to protect one's self-esteem, such reasoning could not be applied to findings reported in Experiment 1. Experiment 2 offered the alternative explanation that attributional differences on the part of oneself and one's observers are based on the amount of information available to themselves versus their outside observers.
Title: Actor-observer differences in the Big-Five personality factors: An information-processing explanation.
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Name(s): Janowsky, Alisha
Florida Atlantic University, Degree Grantor
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Department of Psychology
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2004
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 126 p.
Language(s): English
Summary: A basic difference between the perspectives of actors and observers is the amount of information each has to make attributional inferences. Jones and Nisbett (1972) suggested these informational differences lead to an inverse relationship between trait and situational attributions, such that better-known others receive more situational attributions while lesser-known others receive more trait attributions. While this difference has traditionally been accounted for as a function of individuals' perceptions of cross-situational variability in the actor's behavior, recent research has suggested that this explanation is inaccurate. Unfortunately, alternative explanations for the self-other differences in attributional tendencies have yet to be offered. It was hypothesized here that these differences might be better explained as a function of the specific traits people attribute to themselves versus those that are attributed to others. To that end, the first study in this paper examined different attributions offered for oneself versus one's acquaintance as a function of the social desirability of the Big Five personality traits (i.e., Extraversion/Introversion, Agreeable/Disagreeable, Conscientious/Not Conscientious, Emotionally Stable/Neurotic, Intelligent/Unintelligent). While it was expected that results would reflect self-enhancement tendencies on the subjects' part; i.e., subjects would make more positive trait attributions (Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, Intelligence) to themselves than to their acquaintances and more negative trait attributions (Introversion, Disagreeableness, Not Conscientious, Neuroticism, Unintelligence) to their acquaintances than to themselves, findings suggested that whether subjects chose to self-enhance was based, at least in part, on the trait in question. The most counterintuitive of these findings being that subjects labeled themselves as being more Introverted than their acquaintances. While self-enhancement explanations are traditionally described as a function of a motivational drive to protect one's self-esteem, such reasoning could not be applied to findings reported in Experiment 1. Experiment 2 offered the alternative explanation that attributional differences on the part of oneself and one's observers are based on the amount of information available to themselves versus their outside observers.
Identifier: 9780496834396 (isbn), 12093 (digitool), FADT12093 (IID), fau:9003 (fedora)
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Adviser: Thomas C. Monson.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2004.
Subject(s): Psychology, Social
Held by: Florida Atlantic University Libraries
Sublocation: Digital Library
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FADT12093
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author, with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Owner Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.