I recently wrote about building up a resource for Change knowledge here within this very Blog. Finally I got the time to deal with some basic psychological questions of Change. I am looking forward to be able to share those insights on “Change Psychology” with you, here.
When explaining other people’s behaviors, we look for similarities (covariation) across a range of situations to help us narrow down specific attributions. There are three particular types of information we look for to help us decide, each of which can be high or low:
- Consensus: how similarly other people act, given the same stimulus, as the person in question.
- Distinctiveness: how similarly the person acts in different situations, towards other stimuli.
- Consistency: how often the same stimulus and response in the same situation are perceived.
People tend to make internal attributions when consensus and distinctiveness are low but consistency are high. They will make external attributions when consensus and distinctiveness are both high and consistency is still high. When consistency is low, they will make situational attributions. People are often less sensitive to consensus information.
If a manager yells at a person, we assume it is his nature if he is the only person to yell at that person (low consensus), he yells at other people too (low distinctiveness) and he yells at them often. However, if everyone else gets cross with the same person (high consensus) and the manager does not yell at other people (high distinctiveness), we assume it is something external—probably the person being yelled at. Finally, if the manager has not yelled at the person before, we assume that something unusual has happened (situational attribution).
Use this to help understand how others are thinking.