Module 43 Page 1
The Fundamental Attribution Error
Fritz Heider proposed Attribution Theory – the theory that we explain someone’s behaviour by crediting
either the situation (situational attribution) or the person’s disposition (dispositional attribution).
Fundamental Attribution Error – the tendency for observers, when analyzing another’s behaviour, to
underestimate the impact of the situation and to overestimate the impact of personal disposition ex. In
class a girl is quiet & shy, while over coffee a boy talks nonstop. But catch the girl at a party and you may
hardly notice your quiet classmate.
Attitudes and Actions
Attitudes – feelings, often influenced by our beliefs, that predispose us to respond in a particular way to
objects, people, and events
Attitudes Affect Actions
Persuasion efforts generally take two forms:
Peripheral route persuasion – doesn’t engage systematic thinking, but does produce fast results
as people respond to incidental cues & make snap judgements.
Central route persuasion – offers evidence & arguments that aim to trigger favourable
thoughts. Occurs mostly when people are naturally analytical or involved in the issue.
Those who try to persuade us are trying to influence our behaviour by changing our attitudes. Attitudes
are especially likely to affect behaviour when external influences are minimal & when the attitude is
stable, specific to the behaviour and easily recalled. Ex. Persuade people that tanning