Culture and the Development of Everyday Social Explanation.
For many years, social psychologists who studied attribution theory assumed that people all over the world perceive each other through the same processes and are subject to the same biases. It was generally assumed, for example, that the tendency to attribute actions to persons relative to situations, known as the Fundamental Attribution Error, was pervasive -and universal.
In this study Miller compare Americans and Asian Indians of varying ages in the way they explained the causes of other people's behavior. While westerners tend to see individuals as autonomous and motivated by internal forces, many nonwestern "collectivist" cultures take a holistic view that emphasizes the relationship between individuals and their surroundings. Miller's research sheds light on how the invisible handoff cultural upbringing can influence the way we perceive the people in our world.
The first part of this study focuses on the impact of cultural meaning systems of the development of everyday social explanation that explored in a cross-cultural investigation undertaken among Indian and American adults and children (ages 8,11 and 15 years). It is demonstrated that an older ages Americans make greater reference to general dispositions and less reference to contextual factors in explanation than do Hindus.
Discussion focuses on theoretical implications of such a demonstration for understanding: (a) the importance of integrating semantic with structural considerations in theories of social attribution, (b) the need to develop no teleological frame works for interpreting age and cultural diversity in conceptualization, and (c) the role of cultural communication in the acquisition of everyday social knowledge. .
The purpose of present research is to demonstrate the impact of cultural meaning systems as a third variable, independent of such subjective and objective determinants, which must be taken into account to explain age and cultural variation occurring in attribution.