Self Perception Theory

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Self Perception Theory

  • Bem argued that people are often unaware of what exactly their attitudes are about a particular issue. He argued that we approach our own attitudes in a similar way to that in which we approach other people's; you deduce their attitudes and emotions by observing their behaviours.
  • If behaviours changes, and there is no obvious external reason for this change, then this indicates to the individual that their attitude must also have changed. Attitude change therefore follows and is informed by behavioural change.

The over justification effect

  • Attributions are made concerning the likely causes of behaviour. For example, an individual may conclude that they watch a lot of sport on TV because they like sport.
  • These self attributions have important implications for motivation. If someone is offered significant financial inducements for performing a behaviour, then the reason for engaging in that task is attributed externally and motivation to perform decreases. However, in the absence of external factors to which performance can be attributed, the person attributes the motivation internally.
  • This has been called the over justification effect, where motivation to perform a task is reduced if there is a significant external justification for that behaviour.

Evaluation of self perception theory

  • Evidence for the link between self perception and attitude change comes from evidence that facial movements can influence emotional experience. For example, an individual…




This is really clear and informative. The links to key terms really help. Thanks

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