The present study is concerned with the perceptual and inferential processes leading to dispositional attribution. Subjects were presented with unambiguous emotional reactions (e.g., a happy or a fearful reaction) to ambiguous situations (e.g., a situation evoking both happiness and fear) and to unambiguous situations (e.g., a situation evoking happiness). The subjects' task was to identify the emotions that the reactions expressed and those that the situation evoked. These identifications showed that the reactions produced strong contextual effects on the perceived emotional meaning of the ambiguous situations but not on the perceived emotional meaning of the unambiguous situations. The experiment also assessed subjects' attributions of the reactions to emotional dispositions. We found that the actor's reactions produced a strong effect on dispositional attribution when the situation was unambiguous but only a weak effect when the situation was ambiguous. These results were interpreted in terms of Trope's (1986) two-stage model of dispositional attribution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science