Examined how dispositionally unexpected outcomes elicit situational and
narrative causal explanations during conversation. Having formed target-based
impressions of a target, dyads later learned that the target experienced an
outcome that was expected or unexpected with respect to their impressions. Dyads
faced with unexpected outcomes spent more time discussing potential situational
factors, constructed more narrative explanations, invoked more original
explanations, built more upon each other's explanations, and asked each other more
questions than dyads faced with expected outcomes.
For example, dyads explaining why an apparently good student dropped out
of school together developed stories (i.e., narratives) that relied
heavily on situational factors (e.g., a death in the family; drug use).
The latter two results
suggest that these processes of causal explanation were intersubjective and
thus appropriately considered at the level of the dyad.
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