If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:6:35

Video transcript

so we're going to take a look at a branch of psychology called social psychology so we're placed in different situations each and every day so you can't dismiss the fact that these situations affect our behavior this is a situational approach to behavior in theorists place the situational approach to behavior under a branch of psychology called social psychology so social psychology is a branch of psychology concerned with how social phenomena influences us and how people interact with others so it focuses on the interaction between an individual in his or her environment so this is us in our environment and this interaction is going to shape our behavior so in many instances people behave very differently depending upon their situation so behavior is seen as being influenced by external situational factors rather than internal traits or motivations so external is a very important word external or situational factors so in this theory or explanation so to say it's hard to predict someone's behavior based off of just one situation because that one situation isn't going to be really predictive of how they'll act or be in another situation that's the beauty of this situational approach is that depending on the situation the behavior may change that's the assumption we need to go in with and as social creatures we humans based judgments and ideas about others simply off the situation in which that person behaves but we also acknowledge and it's important to do this but sometimes we behave in ways that deviate from our typical character and differing situations it's kind of like saying you can't judge a book by its cover an attribution is the process of inferring the causes of events or behaviors so attribution has two parts to it but we're going to focus on one part also attribution can either be internal or it can be external and the external is what we're going to be focusing on today so over the course of a day or let me step back a bit attribution I said is the process of inferring the causes of events or behaviors and it's something that we do every day without even really realizing that we're doing it so over the course of a day we probably make tons of attributions about our own behavior as well as that of the people around us so the concept of attribution is actually much more complex but since we're going to focus on the external and we'll break that part down so the external attribution is the inference that a person is behaving a certain way because of something about the situation he or she is in so external attribution has three main parts and the first is consistency so we're looking at external or situational circumstances we're looking at consistency so does the person usually behave this way in the situation and the second is distinctiveness now distinctiveness in this case is does the person behave differently in different situations or is this particular situation distinct and the last is consensus so do others behave similarly in the situation now if we can confidently answer yes to the second two questions so the ones that regard distinctiveness and consensus so if we can say yes to does the person behave differently in different situations and do others behave similarly in the situation then we can come to the conclusion that the person is behaving in a particular way due to their situation so here we can say the situation is having an effect on their behavior now if the person usually behaves the same in you situation then you know that their behavior is not really affected by that situation since they are consistent so if we answer yes to this one then we know that maybe their behavior isn't totally dependent on the situation if it's going to be consistent from situation to the next situation to the next situation maybe that is more of an internal attribution so pretend you're at the zoo with your very calm and reasonable best friend and you head over to the snakes exhibit and although your friend doesn't like snakes she calmly takes the time to look at them and read about all the different kinds of snakes out there now one day you have this genius idea to decide to bring a pet Cobra to her house and the second she walks in the door she screams and freaks out and runs out and you are totally bewildered you have no idea what to do well what can we conclude I mean I wouldn't say your best friend is always frantic but clearly based on the distinct situations she was placed in she's going to behave differently so in the zoo the snakes are all caged up she is obviously comfortable she knows the snakes not going to come at her but the second you brought it in to her living room in a different situation she felt like her safety was being endangered so she's going to act differently in that situation so moral of the story situational approaches teach us more about a person the more time we spend with them and see them in different circumstances and also don't ever bring a snake that close and in the open to your best friend's house