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Ultimate Attribution Error

The ultimate attribution error refers to a psychological phenomenon in which individuals explain the behaviors of people in groups by attributing those behaviors to the influence of dispositional or situational forces. The dispositional or situational nature of the attribution depends on the positive or negative valence of the behavior and on whether the individuals so observed are members of the observer's ingroup or another group. Individuals making the ultimate attribution error tend to overemphasize broad dispositional explanations, or explanations based on innate group characteristics (e.g., ethnicity or gender) when explaining the negative (antisocial, undesirable) behaviors of members of groups they do not belong to. Conversely, positive (prosocial, desirable) behaviors of outgroup members are often attributed to exceptionality, luck, effort, special advantage, or other mutable situational ...

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