Fundamental Attribution Error In Social Psychology

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In social psychology, fundamental attribution error is described as the tendency of people to attribute the behaviors of others to internal factors --such as character, personality, and intent-- rather than resulting from external factors and/or circumstance (Schwarz, 2014). This contrasts with an individual 's self-perception, which accounts for all readily available knowledge of personal circumstance, when evaluating personal behavior. Fundamental attribution error is an intensely common psychological phenomenon, and has rightly earned itself the ‘fundamental’ title. There are several theories as to the causes of fundamental attribution error, all of which are related to information incompleteness. The frequency of fundamental attribution …show more content…
Without omniscience, causality eventually must be determined by a certain degree of assumption (Kahneman, 2011). Which, by the limits of human imagination, is prone to error. To overcome fundamental attribution error, it is important to be conscious of personal ignorance, and have to maintain a healthy curiosity, whilst also incorporating the two step process (Kahneman, 2011). Through the questioning and investigation of assumptions, fundamental attribution errors can be reduced and people can create for themselves a more accurate understanding of reality.
Fundamental attribution errors are so commonplace that they represent an essential component of storytelling. For example, in situational comedies, fundamental attribution errors are used to create absurd conflicts resulting from the misunderstanding of key characters. In a modern comedic writing, Curb Your Enthusiasm is a great example, in which Larry David is constantly portrayed as misunderstood. The viewer is humored by Larry’s constant struggle to explain the circumstances behind his
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I’ve witnessed numerous examples of this. One very telling example just happened recently. About a week ago, I went to visit a couple friends of mine, Munenyasha and Lerato, at their apartment. Munenyasha and Lerato are close friends and live as roommates. Upon arriving at their apartment, only Lerato was home and Munenyasha became very frustrated that Lerato had not been replying to her text messages and had left unclean dishes on the kitchen counter. Munenyasha was disappointed, and accused Lerato of being lazy and rude. Having known Lerato for quite some time, I knew her to be hardworking and polite -- so there must have been a good reason for why she had not responded to the texts and why she had left dishes out on the counter. As it turns out, Lerato’s co-worker had called in sick from her workplace, & she had been asked to fill in. Because Lerato was called into work on such short notice, she did not have enough time to clean dishes --leaving them on the counter—neither did she have time to respond to Munenyashas’ text

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