Attribution Error

Attribution error is a phenomenon, identified and studied by social psychologists, whereby human beings exercise self-serving bias in how they explain the attributions, or reasons, for their own and others’ behavior. It is perhaps the most studied form of cognitive bias. In numerous instances, research subjects have erroneously blamed on intrinsic, or internal, motivators the behavior of others that the subjects perceived as negative. At the same time, those subjects will excuse and justify their own negative behavior as attributable to external rather than personal causes. So, for example, when late for a meeting or irritable with colleagues, the subject will blame the weather, an external condition, as responsible for their own tardiness or irritability. However, the same subject experiencing another’s tardiness or irritability ...

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