Discuss two errors in attributions.
Attribution, defined as assigning a quality or character to a person or an object, in the context of Psychology, refers to the classification of factors that affect behaviour. Behaviour is attributed to either or both dispositional factors and situational factors. Dispositional factors refer to the internal causes of an individual’s behaviour, whilst situational factors deal with the external causes of behaviour which can include the social setting and environment. Two common errors of attribution are the Fundamental attribution error (FAE) and Self-serving bias (SSB). Fundamental attribution error is a term used to refer to a bias to attribute other people’s behaviour to internal causes rather than external circumstances. If people behave kindly towards us with a warm gesture we immediately assume and conclude that they have a kind personality whilst if they behave in ways that seem impolite to us (perhaps not greet us at all) we tend to think of them as rude. Instead of acknowledging the important role played by situational determinants of behaviour, we assume that other people’s behaviour reflects their dispositions. A study that demonstrates the (FAE) is Jones and Harris (1967). These researchers asked their participants to read essays written by fellow students which were about Fidel Castro’s rule in Cuba and were either supportive or critical of Castro. There were two conditions- the choice condition and the no choice condition. The choice condition was that a group of the participants were told the essayists were given the choice whether to take a positive or negative view of Castro whilst in the no choice condition, another group of the participants were told that the essayist did not have any choice and that the experimenter had assigned them in the pro-Castro or anti-Castro role. As expected, participants in the choice condition assumed that the essays reflected the genuine attitudes of their writers. However,...
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