The fundamental attribution error, as the textbook defines, is the tendency in explaining other people’s behavior, to overestimate personality factors and underestimate the influence of the situation. Basically, fundamental attribution error also known as, cognitive bias, is the error that we make in judgments toward other people rather than think of the person’s situation and their behaviors that react to the certain situation.
The behavior of cognitive bias, directs people to make abrupt, irrational, and hasty decisions about other people’s behaviors. For example, while driving, whenever there are a slow traffic in front you, you would get upset and blame the very person who is the cause of it, get angry, call them names or even cuss people out. However, the reason of the slow traffic could have been a tragic car accident or an old man driving slow because he had bad vision, or even maybe there was a problem with the driver’s car. There are infinite possibilities of the cause, but sometimes people make misleading judgments towards others.
The one way to prevent oneself from making any blunt fundamental attribution errors, is to “Put yourself in other’s shoes”, meaning placing yourself in the situation that the other person is in. In doing so, one would become more understanding and feel sympathy for that other person.
However thinking rationally or thinking for someone else before you is not an easy task. When one is having a bad day, he or she would not think of others because they themselves are in a vulnerable state of mood. In order to prevent any aggressive fundamental attribution errors, people need to think differently and be courteous to others.
Kee Y. Chung