Monday, February 20, 2012


Fundamental attribution error. It helped me to break it down…

Fundamental |ˌfəndəˈmentl|
Forming a necessary base or core; of central importance: the protection of fundamental human rights | interpretation of evidence is fundamental to the historian's craft.

Verb |əˈtriˌbyoōt| [ trans. ] ( attribute something to)
Regard something as being caused by (someone or something) : he attributed the firm's success to the efforts of the managing director | the bombing was attributed to the IRA.

error |ˈerər|
A mistake: spelling errors | an error of judgment. See note at mistake.
the state or condition of being wrong in conduct or judgment: the money had been paid in error | the crash was caused by human error.

The fundamental attribution error is how people perceive each other. Usually people that have a more positive outlook on the world see people’s positive qualities. People that tend to be more negative see negative characteristics in other people. In any given situation people tend to over emphasize internal quos to the behavior of others while under estimate outside influences. This means subconsciously we are quick to make rash statements about situations without knowing the whole situation. A helpful example could be to picture someone walking down a street. All of a sudden someone from behind bumps into them and dashes off. Most people initial reaction would be startled and say “What the fuck? You’re a jerk! Watch out!” But at the same time the person that bumped into the other person could be rushing off because they’re in a hurry to catch the bus down the block. Without knowing that the person didn’t intentionally run into the other person we are quick to assume that they’re just an ass hole.

Lia Branning-Chen

1 comment:

Megan Pearce said...

The fundamental Attribution Error in this way, is so relevant to everyone's say to day life. Especially in New York. It's hard to go anywhere without at least seeing one person and wondering "why on earth are you doing that?"

Although those thoughts and impulses are important - if you see someone beating a garbage can with a baseball bat, and you assume he might be a violent lunatic and run (even though he may be filming it for a performance art project from a window above the street) it may benefit you to follow your impulse - it is also important that we try to empathize with people beyond our spontaneous first reaction.

With examining the practical uses of an understanding of the fundamental attribution error, I feel like it is probably best to utilize a "treat others as you would like to be treated" approach with caution in regards to safety. if someone's behavior seems incomprehensible, it is often helpful to think of the last time your own actions probably seemed that way to someone else. someone driving on the bumper of your car is probably not just a huge inconsiderate jerk. his wife might be having a baby in the backseat, and your spedometer may be broken. However, it's certainly best to acknowledge his behavior as dangerous either way and switch lanes.