Fundamental Attribution Error

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  • The tendency to overemphasize dispositional, or personality-based, expla nations for behaviors observed in others while underem-phasizing the role and power of situational influences. In the classic demonstration by Edward E. Jones and Keith Davis (1967), participants were presented with pro- and anti-Fidel Castro speeches under one of two conditions: (1) the speaker chose the position freely or (2) the position was randomly selected (by tossing a coin). Subjects were to rate the pro-Castro attitude of the speakers in the condition they were assigned to.

    Participants still rated the people who gave the pro Castro speeches as having a more positive attitude toward Castro than those giving anti-Castro speeches. The fundamental attribution error represents, like other cognitive biases, a concept that was derived from Western, particularly North ...

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