Fundamental Attribution Error

Fundamental Attribution Error

What is it?

Fundamental Attribution Error is a bias that makes people attribute the behavior of others to their personality, while attributing their own behavior to the situation.

Fundamental attribution error, also known as correspondence bias, is a cognitive bias where people tend to overemphasize the role of personal traits or characteristics when explaining someone else's behavior, while underestimating the impact of the situation or external factors.

Here are two simple examples to help you understand the fundamental attribution error:

  1. A person cutting you off in traffic: Suppose someone cuts you off in traffic, and you immediately think that the driver is rude, reckless, or inconsiderate. You've attributed their behavior to their personality traits. However, it's possible that the driver is in an emergency or simply made a mistake. In this case, you've made the fundamental attribution error by not considering the situational factors that could be influencing their behavior.

  2. A coworker performing poorly at work: Imagine a coworker has been underperforming at work lately, and you assume that they're lazy or incompetent. By attributing their poor performance to their personal traits, you're committing the fundamental attribution error. It's possible that external factors, such as personal issues or an overwhelming workload, are affecting their pe ...