PSYCH 104 Lecture Notes - Lecture 26: Fundamental Attribution Error, Psych

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Published on 5 Oct 2020
Psych 104
Social Psych
Spring 2019
Attribution Tendencies (Biases)
Fundamental Attribution Error (correspondence bias)
The tendency to overestimate internal causes for other’s behavior
When we’re making attributions about other people’s behavior, we
tend to want to make internal attributions. Oftentimes we’ll ignore
potentially strong external reasons for why they do what they do
because we have this fundamental need to make an internal
WHY: salience, stable expectations
Individuals are salient whereas situations are not, that leads us to
be more likely to say that the individual caused their own behavior.
There’s also a motivational component. Research has shown that
we tend to want stable expectations about them. It’s easier on us to
think people are acting based on something that is internal to them,
because we want people to be predictable. If we acknowledge that
environment may cause people’s actions, in the future it is hard for
us to analyze every situation the person is in. Cognitive Miser: it’s
less tiring, it’s easier to make an internal attribution about
someone’s behavior.
Leads to believe in a “Just World”
This leads us to believe that people get what they deserve since
their actions depend on their internal selves. People who are
successful, we tend to believe, are smart and deserve to be
successful. People who are homeless, we tend to believe, did
something to make themselves homeless. Rape trials often include
the common defense mechanism that the victim got what she
Actor-Observer Effect
FAE holds for other’s actions, but not own.
For ourselves, we tend to take in situations, environments, outside
pressures, etc. for our own actions more often than we do for other
Possible reasons: ego-defense, actor more info, observer wants
consistency, or…
We’re more likely to commit the Actor-Observer Effect when
we’re talking about bad outcomes or negative effects. When bad
things happen to others we tend to blame it on internal attributions
but when bad things happen to ourselves, we tend to blame
external attributions. As an actor, we have a lot more information
about ourselves that comes into play when we make judgments
about potential external influences. But when we make external
attributions about others, we tend to have a lot less information
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