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Positivity Effect

 

Explanations > Theories > Positivity Effect

Description | Research | Example | So What? | See also | References 

 

Description

When considering people we like (including ourselves), we tend to make situational attributions about negative their behaviors and dispositional attributions about their positive behaviors. We probably do the reverse for people we do not like.

This may well be because of the dissonance between liking a person and seeing them behave negatively.

Research

Taylor and Koivumaki gave people a list of positive and negative behaviors done by themselves, their partners and friends and asked them to rate the degree to which these were due to situational or behavioral factors. Positive behaviors were attributed largely to dispositional factors, whilst negative behaviors were attributed to situational factors.

Example

If my friend hits someone, I will tell him that the other guy deserved it or that he had to defend himself. 

So what?

Using it

Make friends by making situational attributions about their problems and dispositional attributions about their positive behaviors.

Defending

Beware of people who overlook your mistakes and praise too fully. Especially when they start asking you for things.

See also

Attribution Theory, Cognitive Dissonance, Fundamental Attribution Error, Personal validation fallacy

References

Taylor and Koivumaki (1976)

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