Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Days 123 - 130

Today C completed the last exam of her LLB. So we had mexican.

I have learned that I cannot:
• Order main sized meals anymore. Stop fucking kidding yourself and have the entree tostada instead of the enchilada.
• Write more than 2500 words in one night. I'm not 19 anymore, writing for 12 hours straight is no longer an option.
• Live on less than 7 or 8 hours sleep per night. Especially if I want to drink wine with dinner.

We search for stable and enduring properties in individuals and situations in an effort to construct causal theories allowing for behavioural prediction. In doing so, we tend to distinguish between personal and environmental factors.

We run into traps when it comes to the behaviour of others - internal causes of behaviour such as intentions are hidden and we tend only infer them where there are no clear external causes. Nonetheless, we also tend to display a bias toward preferring internal rather than external attributions even where there is clear evidence of external causality. It is possible that we prefer to attribute behaviour to stable underlying attributes because this renders behaviour more predictable, increasing our sense of control over our world.

It is true though, that positive illusions may be adaptive for mental health – depressed subjects tend to be less likely than non-depressed subjects to overestimate the degree to which they control chance events. Depressed subjects are also less likely to display unrealistic optimism in making projections about the future.

As an extension of these principles, we tend to cling to an illusion of control and believe in a just world. Deserts theory in legal scholarship is premised on the same assumptions - bad things happen to ‘bad people’ and good things happen to ‘good people’ – people have an ability to meaningfully exercise choice and have control over the course of their lives. This pattern of attribution allows us to view the world as a controllable and secure place in which we can determine our own destiny.

Deserts theory also allows for these general patterns of attribution to lead us to conclude that victims are responsible for their misfortune – unemployed people are out of work because they are not trying hard enough, rape victims were asking for it, Indigenous Australians are responsible for their disadvantage and should stop expecting handouts.

Fat people are lazy, greedy, undisciplined slobs.

In the fall out of tragic life events, victims of trauma and violence may experience a strong and debilitating sense that the world is no longer stable, meaningful, just or predictable. One way to restore meaning is to take responsibility for the event and self blame.

GM Vaughan and MA Hogg, Introduction to Social Psycology, (Pearson, 4th ed, 2002).
W Weiten, Psychology: Themes and Variations, (Wadsworth, 5th ed, 2002).

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