Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fundamental Attribution Error

Fundamental attribution error (FAE) is the tendency to overestimate personality factors and underestimate situational factors when explaining other's behavior's. People tend to overlook these situational factors and turn instead to the easier factor which in this case is personality. Results from experiments concerning FAE have made it increasingly obvious the flaws in how people process information about others. One experiment decided to find if accountability (“pressures to justify one's causal interpretations of behavior to others”) would affect judgment by exposing subjects to anti or pro-Castro essays. Subjects were told that either the writers had chosen their stance or were assigned their position. Subjects were then asked to find the “true attitude” of the writer. It was found that FAE was more likely to occur with subjects that were told the writers had a choice for their topic as opposed to those whom had no choice.

This idea that our judgment is less than perfect paints a different picture upon people we deal with every day. We talk about how well we know someone and yet it's fairly obvious that there is no sure way to know whether personality will ever truly will win through in the end. Situations offer variables people don't consider and often times forget either due to laziness or their inability to consider the option. For example a kind and caring person can go into an industry such as a hospitality thinking they are going to help people but after encountering nastiness from others and possibly a disheartening encounter with true hierarchal systems, may change into a bitter and distrusting person.  

Article used can be found here.

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