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An exploratory study on the cognition of social phenomena

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  • 社会現象の認知に関する探索的研究
  • シャカイ ゲンショウ ノ ニンチ ニ カンスル タンサクテキ ケンキュウ

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Abstract

Past research on social cognition have not paid much attention to the cognition of social phenomena. The general goal of the research project of which this paper represents an initial phase is to learn how ordinary people explain social phenomena. The purpose of this study is to investigate under what conditions people apply the same explanation to social phenomena as that applied to individual's behavior. For this purpose, social phenomena were defined as an aggregate of individuals' behavior. It was hypothesized that the following three dimensions of the behavior (and the social phenomenon as an aggregate of the individual behavior) would affect the degree to which the same causal explanation is used to explain individuals' behavior and social phenomena: (1) whether the behavior can be defined in itself (absolute behavior) or only in comparison to others' behavior (relative behavior), (2) the temporal stability of the behavior, and (3) the relevancy of social desirability to the behavior. Interestingly, these factors affected only the explanations of social phenomena; the explanations of individuals' behavior were not affected by these factors. The degree to which internal dispositions were used less in the explanation of social phenomena than in the explanation of individuals' behavior was greater when the behavior (and the social phenomenon) was relative, unstable, and relevant to social desirability. Another interesting finding is that the relevance of social desirability of social phenomena had a negative effect on the likelihood that external attributions were made, in sharp contrast to the fundamental attribution error which occurs in the explanation of individual's behavior. These findings were interpreted in terms of how easily the "fundamental causal schema" (Murata, 1982) is used.

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