A recurring theme in attribution theory is that lay explanations for intentional and nonintentional behaviors diverge. In this vein, Reeder proposes in "Mindreading: Judgments About Intentionality and Motives in Dispositional Inference" (this issue) that they evoke different inferential paths that produce different attributional patterns. This comment considers Reeder's proposal of diverging paths in relation to another duality in social inference research, spontaneous versus deliberate processing. In our view, Reeder's dismissal of the relevance of processing mode is amissed opportunity for theoretical integration and elaboration. Mounting evidence from social cognitive neuroscience (SCN) research has revealed networks of brain regions distinctively recruited in spontaneous and deliberate processing and elucidated functional components of each system (Satpute & Lieberman, 2006). The SCN literature suggests that intentionality-divergence arguments by Reeder and others may need to be qualified in some respects, for although both systems respect the difference between intentional and nonintentional behavior, they do so in different ways that yield different attributional outcomes. However, on the bright side, SCN research can inform aspects of Reeder's model that are currently underspecified, such as: How do perceivers register that a behavior is intentional versus nonintentional in the first place? And how do perceivers recognize "hard" versus "soft" situational constraints in order to draw different inferences from them?
Journal Article
Publication Date
Psychological Inquiry

Full Citation

. “Intentionality in intuitive versus analytic processing: Insights from social cognitive neuroscience.”
Psychological Inquiry
, (January 01, 2009):