Inferences about character and motive influence intentionality attributions about side effects


Jamie S. Hughes, Department of Psychology, Daemen College, 4380 Main Street, Amherst, NY 14226, USA (e-mail:


In two studies, we predicted and found that inferences about motive and character influence intentionality attributions about foreseeable consequences of action (i.e., side effects). First, we show that inferences about intentionality are greater for good side effects than bad side effects when a target person's character is described positively. In Study 2, we manipulated information about a target person and found that inferences about intentionality were greater when side effects were consistent with a target person's character and motives. Overall, our data cast doubt on the generality of the side-effect effect. We discuss our findings and their implications for future research on intentionality and social perception.