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example of a time in which my friend had created a faulty or exaggerated view
about a group of people would be when I first told her about the town that I
grew up in. It is a very small town in rural Nova Scotia and she grew up in a
larger city in Nova Scotia. It was easy for her to use availability heuristics to make a judgment of the type of people
and the personality traits and characteristics of people that would come from such
a small town. In other words, she had a strong accessibility of what in her mind was a schema of a small town. My friend had a basic stereotype in her mind about what people that came from small towns
were like, she had created a construal
because that is how she perceived people from small towns. She assumed that all
people there lived on a farm and enjoyed hunting and fishing. To her, this was
a very automatic thinking process as
she really didn’t have to think too hard to form her opinions. However, she
failed to realize that everyone has individual
differences and although many people from my town do live on farms and do
hunt and fish, that is just a stereotype that not everyone fits into. Though
there are definitely groups of
people that do behave in such a manner. My friend was not using the fundamental attribution error as she
was overestimating the situation (people living in a small town) and
underestimating people’s personalities (the fact that different people have
different personalities). Since I was from this town she had formed an attitude toward me as a means of
evaluating the type of person I was. My friend wanted to maintain her self-fulfilling prophecy and believe
that I fit into the description of someone from a small country town and thus
she treated me as if I fit the typical stereotype. I asked her if she would
like to visit my town so that she could see that not everyone fit that
description. She was initially worried about visiting because as she originally
comes from a city she believed that she was part of the out-group and that people would have an in-group bias towards her and would not make her feel very
welcomed. My friend also believed that because she was from the city she was
better than those who are from the country and as a result used a downward social comparison to compare
the differences between both. Once she visited my hometown and meant some
people she quickly retracted her original statements and maintained a hindsight bias that she had never had
that stereotype in her mind and never actually believed in the typical
small-town person stereotype that she had construed in her mind. After the
fact, she told me that she had previously been primed to think in that manner because that was how things were in
another small town she had visited, and thus she had been endorsing explicit attitudes about what my town
would be like too because it was easy for her to think in that manner. My
friend had used the attribution theory
to explain why she had previously acted the way she had about small towns. All
in all, she enjoyed her visit and realized that everyone has individual
differences and that she should not generalize specific attributions to entire populations.


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