Disputes by their nature involve contentious behavior. If one attributes such behavior to underlying personality traits, these attributions can be quite damning. The current research investigated negative trait attributions and their impact on dispute resolution decisions. We hypothesized that judging one's opponent to be low in agreeableness and high in emotionality (e.g. stubborn and volatile) shifts one?s preference towards more formal procedures ? formal in the sense that a third party judge controls the process and outcome. Drawing on the attribution literature, we hypothesized that two antecedents of these judgments (and consequent preferences) are the perceiver's level of prior information and the perceiver's cultural proclivity to explaining behavior in terms of personal dispositions. Results of an experiment measuring reactions to a hypothetical dispute found that prior information and culture (USA vs Hong Kong) increased trait attributions and preferences for formal procedures. Additionally, expectancy measures showed interaction effects suggesting that disputants dynamically construct expectancies in light of their personality impressions.

Michael Morris, Angela Ka-yee Leung, and Sheena Iyengar
Journal Article
Publication Date
Asian Journal of Social Psychology

Full Citation

Morris, Michael, Angela Ka-yee Leung, and Sheena Iyengar
. “Person Perception in the Heat of Conflict: Negative Trait Attributions Affect Procedural Preferences and Account for Situational and Cultural Differences.”
Asian Journal of Social Psychology
, (August 01, 2004):