Summary and Info
Is Yasser Arafat a freedom fighter or a terrorist? Is abortion murder? Is gun control a good idea? Is capital punishment immoral? Despite the fact that many people have the exact same information at their disposal concerning these questions, there is a great deal of disagreement about the answers. Why is it that different people respond to the identical objects or events in such divergent ways? Social psychology provides two answers to this question. First, and most obviously, different people have different preferences. For example, one person might strongly favor the Palestinians while another favors the Israelis. and these preferences might lead them to regard a person like Arafat in very different terms. The possibility that people have different attitudes and their attitudes drive judgment and behavior has received enormous empirical support (for reviews, see Eagly & Chaiken. 1993. 1998). and is consistent with commonsense understanding as well.There is also a second answer to this question, and that is the idea that even people with the same attitude might interpret a situation differently, causing them to respond differently. For example, although two people might have identical attitudes regarding violence and the situation in the Middle East, they might nevertheless disagree about whether Arafat is a terrorist. One person might see Arafat as unable to stop the violence toward Israeli's, while the other might feel that he is simply unwilling to do so (later in this chapter we address the issue of why such interpretive differences might emerge). Tins difference in interpretation of his behavior will have a sizable impact on perceptions of Arafat, behavior toward him, his compatriots, and those who agree with him. and judgments about the best way to achieve peace. The impact of this difference in interpretation should be substantial, even between two people with identical preferences regarding the actors and situation in the Middle East...
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