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Abstract

People's interactions with others typically take place in specific situations. Therefore, it is likely that expectancies of others are often situation-specific. In two studies, we examined when and how this situation-specificity of expectancies affects judgment.We showed that situation-specific expectancies ‘“Michael is kind at work”’ lead to surprise and contrast effects when incongruent behavior refers to the same specific situation ‘work’, but not in other situations ‘general or home’, whereas general expectancies ‘“Michael is kind”’ lead to such surprise and contrast effects, regardless of the target situation. These results suggest that people sometimes are “situationalists” and do not always show dispositional biases. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.