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Hostile Attribution Bias

  • By: Kathryn B. Anderson & Loranel M. Graham
  • In: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology
  • Edited by: Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs
  • Subject:Social Psychology (general)
Definition

The hostile attribution bias (HAB) is the tendency to interpret the behavior of others, across situations, as threatening, aggressive, or both. People who exhibit the HAB think that ambiguous behavior of others is hostile and often directed toward them, while those who do not exhibit the HAB interpret the behavior in a nonhostile, nonthreatening way. Furthermore, people who make the HAB often respond to the other person's behavior in an aggressive manner because they perceive it as a personal threat. When they respond aggressively, this action is often viewed as inappropriate because the other person's original behavior was not intended to be aggressive. For example, imagine that José accidentally bumps his shopping cart into Melissa's cart in a busy grocery store. Then Melissa mistakenly assumes ...

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