It was hypothesized that subjects who took the role of interaction observers ration than actors would predict a closer relationship between attitudes and behaviors and would report greater confidence in behavioral predictions derivable from an actor's attitude statements. One hundred sixty-eight subjects assumed the role of either actor or observer in scenarios of group interactions in which a central person made a statement about a particular attitude object. As predicted, subjects in the observer role reported that specific future behaviors (e.g., loaning money, helping to study for a test) had a greater likelihood of occurrence following an attitude statement (e.g., "I like Pat") than did subjects in the actor role, and observers were more confident than actors in these predictions. In addition, the favorability of the attitude statement was directly related to the strength of predictions, and the central person's familiarity with the audience was directly related to confidence in predictions. Observers apparently view attitude statements as reliable indications of internal dispositions that serve as a potential "cause" of subsequent behaviors, while actors view attitude statements as tenuous orientations that can be modified in accord with future situational contingencies.

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Copyright © 1977 Graduate Students in Social Psychology at the University of North Carolina. This article first appeared in Representative Research in Social Psychology (1977), 108-117.

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