Power of Situations

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21 September 2011

A Critique of “The Power of Situations” by Lee Ross and Richard E. Nisbett
Our basics assumptions, and our instincts usually serve us well. We can judge the situations and people accordingly, and at most times, correctly. But behaviors in its entirety, is very complex and is based on a myriad of elements within our environment. Lee Ross and Richard Nisbett, authors of “The Power of Situations” conclude that information such as personalities, and backgrounds are trivial. If you walked in a neighborhood that is pleasantly normal one day, and the next day, you decided not to, is it because of the situation? Could it not be because, you felt like taking the bike for a ride instead, or felt lazy? Ross’ and Nisbett’s theory does not take into account that emotions, or personal preferences exist. Ross and Nisbett confidently believe that situations within our present environment determine our behavior. The latter, being the person’s emotional state, or personality serves no judicial purpose in determining behavior. The “specifics of the situation” (Ross/Nisbett 690) would be considered significant, in that the aesthetics of the situation is the “tipping point” in concluding actions. The authors also claim that “subtler, contextual details that empirical research has shown” (Ross/Nisbett 690) are factors that influence people to intervene. The authors also explain that the “fundamental attribution error;” is people’s belief in the significance of individuality, and failure in the significance of “situational factors in affecting behavior” (Ross/Nisbett 690). The “fundamental attribution error” is the biggest problem in what Ross and Nisbett conclude. The definition of the theory is clear-cut, but the author’s logic is based on empirical research that is not 100%. It could never be completely factual, as human personality traits, and emotion cannot be measured or removed from the equation. At first glance, their logic in presenting “evidence”...
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