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Stressing the person: Legal and everyday person attributions under stress

Kubota, Jennifer T.
Mojdehbakhsh, Rachel
Raio, Candace
Uleman, James S.
Phelps, Elizabeth A.
Published in Biological Psychology. 2014, no. 103, p. 117-124
Abstract When determining the cause of a person's behavior, perceivers often overweigh dispositional expla-nations and underweigh situational explanations, an error known as the Fundamental Attribution Error(FAE). The FAE occurs in part because dispositional explanations are relatively automatic, whereas consid-ering the situation requires additional cognitive effort. Stress is known to impair the prefrontal cortexand executive functions important for the attribution process. We investigated if stress increases disposi-tional attributions in common place and legal situations. Experiencing a physiological stressor increasedparticipants' cortisol, dispositional attributions of common everyday behaviors, and negative evaluations.When determining whether a crime was due to the defendant's disposition or the mitigating situation,self-reported stress correlated with increased dispositional judgments of defendant's behavior. Thesefindings indicate that stress may make people more likely to commit the FAE and less favorable in theirevaluations of others both in daily life and when making socially consequential judicial decisions.
Keywords Fundamental attribution errorStressPerson attributionsCortisolLegal decisions
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Article (Published version) (938 Kb) - public document Free access
Research groups Affective sciences
Emergence et expression de l'émotion (E3 Lab)
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KUBOTA, Jennifer T. et al. Stressing the person: Legal and everyday person attributions under stress. In: Biological Psychology, 2014, n° 103, p. 117-124. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:88845

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Deposited on : 2016-11-11

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