Gender differences in attribution and person perception
This study examines gender differences in attribution and person perception. We are interested in seeing whether men and women differ in how they perceive other people. Participants were asked to imagine themselves in a scenario in which they had to complete a task with an unhelpful partner. Four different scenarios were used in the experiment. The only variation between the scenarios was the gender and attractiveness level of the uncooperative and confrontational partner. These variables were manipulated in order to study the effect they had on a participant's impressions and attributions. This specific study focuses on how these perceptions work in a challenging social situation. We are interested in seeing whether the participant's perceptions are influenced by their own gender, confederate's gender, and/or his or her physical attractiveness. Participants were uniformly negative in their perceptions of the confederate's adverse attributes. They described the incident in comparably negative terms, and were equally unwilling to interact with the confederate in the future. However, there was a difference regarding participant perception of positive attributes. Both gender's use of positive terms, feelings of closeness, and the use of cause-related words were higher for attractive confederates than for unattractive confederates. This finding suggests that participants tried harder to excuse the behavior of attractive confederates. Men and women did differ in their perception of confederate attractiveness however. Whereas both genders agreed on the appeal of unattractive partners, and attractive men, attractive women were perceived as being much more attractive by male participants than by female participants. Although men and women differed in their perception of female attractiveness, few gender-dictated differences were found in regard to overall person perception. We did however, learn that both women and men, are generally, equally biased toward attractive people. Despite boorish comportment on the part of attractive partners, both genders were more willing to let them "off the hook" for their bad behavior.