Seeing the Best in Others: Relations Between Positive Attribution Biases, Social Support Satisfaction and Resilience
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Humans differ in how they attribute intention to others’ ambiguous acts (e.g., someone hitting you with a ball in the park). Much research examining attribution biases has asked participants to choose between a negative explanation (e.g., the ball thrower was trying to make you angry) and a neutral one (e.g., the thrower made a mistake). Such research has robustly linked negative, or hostile, attribution biases to poorer psychosocial outcomes. Little work, however, has examined whether well-being is bolstered by positive biases (e.g., the thrower was hoping you would join their game). In the current study, we used customized social vignettes and asked participants to rate the likelihood of positive, neutral, and negative explanations. In a pilot sample of 110 adults, we found that positive attribution biases were linked to increased perceptions of social support and higher resilience. We conducted a pre-registered replication of this finding and found that social support mediates the link between positive biases and resilience, potentially because individuals with such biases perceive themselves to be supported even in the face of adversity.