Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fundamental Attribution Error

"The fundamental attribution error is especially prevalent in Western nations, where middle-class people tend to believe that individuals are responsible for their own actions." I can corroborate, as a middle-class westerner, that we think people are responsible for their own actions. The fundamental attribution error says people overestimate personality influence and underestimate situational influence. According to the text we also have a self-serving bias, where we take credit for our "good actions" and let situations account for failures. Next the book talks about the "just world hypothesis" Then the text goes on to reveal its caveat in all these attribution theories: satisfaction and dissatisfaction.

After reading the section I find that fundamental attribution error is not an error. We live in a society where people are responsible for their actions regardless of the situation. I think everyone in the world has a self serving bias because all people want to feel good about their lives, not just westerners. The "just world hypothesis" is an antiquated idea. Anyone who considers the world a fair place should be considered delusional. Then we come to the caveat: satisfaction. I agree with the book that satisfaction influences our point of view. If a were a famous millionaire loved by the world I may have a more positive view of people than I have as a struggling artist.  When I consider the Stanford prison study I think the guards who acted sadistically were sadistic people who were given an opportunity to express their inner selves. Unless they were specifically forced to make the prisoners do each thing they made them do, their commands came from their own minds making them sadistic people. Some of the guards did not engage in negative behavior because they were good people.

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