Discuss 2 Errors in Attribution Theory


Discuss Two Errors in Attribution Theory

All that could be heard was the ticking of the clock. Jane was silently contemplating what was happening. It had been hours since the time John agreed to meet. Why wasn’t he here yet? Attribution is a concept that is associated with how people explain and interpret behavior and events in their lives. Humans have an innate desire to understand events that happen to them. According to Fritz Heider (1958), humans, such as Jane, automatically create conclusions on why certain events occur. There are 2 types of conclusions or attributions: dispositional and situational. In a dispositional attribution, the cause of a given event is attributed to another person’s character, behavior, personality, or attitude. “He’s late because he’s so lazy and forgetful,” is an example of Jane creating a dispositional attribution. A situational attribution would attribute the cause of a given event to the environment. “There must have been bad traffic. Maybe he missed the bus?” are 2 examples of situational attribution. This cognitive processing of attribution stems 2 habitual errors in one’s social life: fundamental attribution error and self-serving bias.
Fundamental attribution error occurs when people gather information about a person and make a flawed conclusion about them. This happens when people place higher value on dispositional factors rather than situational factors. Attribution theory alludes to the idea that people have a higher probability of relying on dispositional factors when describing another person instead of using situational factors, which may be more accurate. If Andrew tripped over a rock, I would describe Andrew as a clumsy person. I wouldn’t take into consideration that his shoes were untied or that he was tired. I would attribute his clumsiness to his personality, rather than the fact that there were other factors involved. Thus, if I were to describe Andrew, I would say he was a clumsy person....