Carrying My Gavel in the Future

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You just took exam three for your Psy1001 class. You wound up receiving a seventy percent, while your best friend scored an eighty-six percent. In your mind, you justify your score by saying that the questions were really hard or that the person next to you was distracting. When dealing with your friend, you say that she is just a natural genius and all exams are easy for her. Does this sound familiar? For most people, it does. This concept of overestimating the impact of dispositional influences like intelligence on other people's behavior is called the fundamental attribution error, which we learned about in chapter 13 of the Lilienfeld text. Since this topic applies so easily to our every day lives, the fundamental attribution error will be a concept that I will still remember in five years.

When judging other people's actions, we are much more likely to attribute their behavior to their personality, attitudes, and intelligence. When someone makes a rude comment, we say it is because she is cold-hearted, jealous, or ruthless. Instead, we should pay more attention to the situational influences on people's behavior, like maybe she just received some bad news or her car was just towed. We commit the fundamental attribution error because it is easy to make snap judgments. Also, it almost impossible to know all of the situational factors on people's behaviors.


The robotically animated clip above shows the other side of the fundamental attribution error. When explaining our own behavior, we are more aware of situational influences, so we tend to attribute our own actions to situational factors. This is because we know all of the situational influences that surround us.

Both sides of the fundamental attribution error are extremely visible in my life, now that the concept has been introduced to me. Now, I will keep this concept in my mind when judging my behavior and the behavior of others.

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This page contains a single entry by kirk0271 published on November 30, 2011 9:38 PM.

Psychology for Me in the Future was the previous entry in this blog.

The Concept That Will Stick with Me is the next entry in this blog.

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