Error # 1 Research Summary - Modesty Bias

Simpatía is a characteristic found in the Hispanic social norms. In the research study (Nairan Ramirez-Esparza, Samuel D. Gosling and James W. Pennebaker) the idea that the modesty-bias is a very significant part of the Hispanic culture was tested. This was done by cross referencing two tests. One was a self-report by Hispanics on their agreeableness, friendliness and politeness (essentially Simpatía), the second test involved the analysis for signs of Simpatía in social interactions. A total of 40 Mexican Americans (14 men and 26 women) residents in Austin, TX of 23.1 years of mean age were recruited. Of the participants, 56% were born in the US and 46% were born in Mexico. Simpatía was measured with nine Agreeableness items on the BFI because of the availability of the text in both Spanish and English. The questions in the social interaction evaluation, questions on neighbor acquaintance, person judgment, and preferences were used. The results for the self-evaluation for the English questionnaire and the Spanish questionnaire showed a higher modesty-bias in the Spanish language. (English Mean =4.12, Spanish Mean = 3.98) confirming a paradox were modesty is a result of politeness/friendliness, yet it is this modesty that makes the subjects unaware of it.

Error # 2 Research Summary - Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE)

Stanford University psychologist Nicole Stephens and a group of her colleagues set out to discover the general conceptions of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina survivors. They had noticed before they started the research that the general views of the people who had evacuated the city before the storm and the people who had stayed in their homes to weather out the hurricane were very different.

Stephens created a survey which she gave to two groups of people: the outside observers (i.e. the people who had evacuated, aid workers, firefighters, and pretty much anyone who had not experienced the storm first hand), and the people who had survived the storm. The survey contained questions about the perception of the people who had stayed behind and the observers (both groups would fill out both parts of the survey, so that both groups basically filled out their perceptions of themselves and the opposite group). The observers also described the evacuees in a much more positive light: self-reliant and hard-working. On the other hand, the researchers found that the general perception of the people who had chosen to stay in their homes during the storm were very negative, where the observers generally described them as dependent, lazy and/or stupid. The observers did not, however, take into account the fact that many of the people that had chosen did not have the means to leave (i.e. they did not have transportation, money or resources that would allow them to safely evacuate). On the contrary, the non-evacuees described themselves very differently. They said that they were much more “connected with their neighbors—communitarian rather than self-reliant… In short, they didn’t see themselves as failing to take action, but rather as taking a different kind of action—adapting to life’s travails and staying strong despite hardship” (Source).

This perfectly exemplifies Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE) in that the observing group did not take into account the situational factors that impeded the Katrina survivors from leaving; rather, they based their judgment of their actions on dispositional factors, saying that the non-evacuees must have been lazy or stupid for not leaving.

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