Discuss two errors in attribution

Essay by MC_RainbowHigh School, 11th gradeA, October 2014

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Taha Shehab

Discuss two errors in attribution

Attribution is how people interpret and explain causal relationships in the social world and society. Dispositional factors are internal, psychological factors that influence behavior, for example personality, beliefs, mood and situational factors are external factors that influence behavior, for example roles, luck, laws, etc. Theories and studies have shown that there are two main errors in attribution: the fundamental attribution error (FAE) and self-serving bias (SSB), which will be discussed in this essay.

Ross (1977) defines the FAE as the "tendency to attribute another's behaviour to dispositional qualities, rather than the situation itself" and the "overestimation of dispositional attributions rather than to situational factors..." This term refers to a bias to attribute other's behavior to stable internal causes rather than external circumstances. People, like psychologists, favor explanations of behavior in terms of dispositional, rather then situational factors. With that being said, if people behave kindly towards us, we conclude that they have a kindhearted personality and if they seem ill mannered, we conclude that they are rude.

Or, we might attribute actors as "crazy" in real life due to the many roles in movies they had to play, which were mostly "disturbed, senseless, and out-there." However, some might not take into account that they auditioned for and were given these roles in the films (situational).

The FAE has been demonstrated in a study conducted by Jones and Harris (1967). Their aim was to see whether participants would demonstrate FAE when attributing behaviour (to disposition), even if they knew that a specific role was assigned, and chance-directed behaviours to situation. These researchers asked their participants to read essays written by fellow students. The essays were about Fidel Castro's rule in Cuba and were either supportive or critical of Castro. The participant's task...