On the basis of a two-stage attribution model (Trope, 1986), we predicted that behavioral ambiguity increases the situation's contextual effect on the perception of behavior but decreases the situation's subtractive effect on the attribution of behavior. Three experiments with undergraduate subjects were designed to test these predictions. In Experiment 1 we presented ambiguous and unambiguous emotional reactions to different emotion-eliciting situations and measured subjects' emotion identification and dispositional attribution. In Experiment 2 we extended the test of the model to attribution of causality to the situation and to the actor's personality. In Experiment 3 we tested the predictions with respect to voluntary action. Subjects heard an actor's ambiguous or unambiguous evaluative statements about a likable or a dislikable person. On the basis of this information, subjects indicated their perceptions and attributions of the actor's evaluative statements. Despite differences in stimulus materials, design, and measures, results of all three experiments confirmed the predictions of the two-stage model.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science