The Multiple Roles of Context in Dispositional Judgment
One of the most elementary features of cognition is the distinction between figure and background, stimulus and context. A variety of motivational and informational factors lead us to single out certain objects, events, or properties as focal and others as background. We may intend to-and actually believe we do – react to the inherent properties of the stimulus. However, a large amount of research suggests that our reactions depend on the context as much as they depend on the stimulus itself (see e.g., Higgins & King, 1981; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977; Kahneman & Miller, 1986; Wyer & Srull, 1986).