The Fundamental Attribution Error

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The fundamental attribution error plays a major role in our everyday lives. Until reading this section on the attribution error, I wasn't as aware of it as I am at this moment. Hopefully after you read the section and this short essay, you will be more conscious of this misattribution that happens right before your eyes, and you will be more aware when making attributions.

The fundamental attribution error is the tendency for observers to underestimate situational influences and overestimate dispositional influences upon other's behavior. (Myers, 2008) In simple terms, when a person's behavior is unbecoming, we tend to automatically jump to a conclusion that the person has a bad behavior, they're rude, etc. Very seldom do we look at the situation that the person may be in, whether it's personal or work related. In every event there is always cause and effect. Many times in misattributions, the cause of a person's behavior is underestimated.

As an observer, I've noticed a soldier who never really said much at work, and always walked around looking sad. This soldier wouldn't really help out much either when it was time to do details or clean the office daily. I begin to think that this person was lazy and would look at the soldier with mean stares. When I learned of the soldier's situation, he was diagnosed as depressed, I begin to think of what may have caused the depression. War had a major affect on his behavior, and the way I perceived him was incorrect. I had overlooked his situational influence, and overestimated his dispositional influence. I apologized on the inside, and no longer looked at that person in that way. This also changed my viewing of everyone else that I encountered. Instead of just making an attribution, I really tried to look below the surface to see what was the real problem. Attribution researchers have found a common problem with our attributions. (Myers, 2008, no page # needed here-102) When explaining...
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