Causal preferences as a factor in the choice and diagnosis of social contingencies

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Michael E. Patch
Cite this article:  Patch, M. (1988). Causal preferences as a factor in the choice and diagnosis of social contingencies. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 16(1), 11-18.


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A variety of social contingencies have been described in terms of the patterning of self and/or social
causality along a chain of responses between 2 persons. Nonreciprocal (pseudo and asymmetrical)
contingencies focus the researcher on the comparative implications of self and socially caused behavior
as a matter of causal preference and relationship style. Two laboratory studies were conducted with this
point of view in mind. In the first study it was shown that participants indicating a preference for socially caused behavior were more likely to choose spontaneous interactions with strangers while those who preferred self causality tended to choose scripted or nonspontaneous interactions. In the second study it was found that participants preferring social causality were more accurate in assessing their own influence over in the behavior of others in a self disclosure task than were those who preferred self causality. Findings are discussed in terms of both the need for a causal preference assessment technique and further research into the phenomena of pseudo relationships.


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