Τετάρτη, 26 Μαΐου 2010

The fundamental attribution error

Let's all do an exercise. Take the time and think of some behaviours that irritate you. For example, it really pisses me off when people lie to me. Grrrrr....! I hate those big fat liars! I'm sure you guys out there can find stuff that turn you off. Like when someone interrupts you when you're trying to make a point or when someone takes food from your plate or when someone blocks a sidewalk with their car. Aren't these all uncivilized behaviours? What are these people thinking? There must be something terribly wrong with them, right?
Wrong... I hate liars, but i have lied a zillion times. I 'm sure you've interrupted people in conversations, i'm sure you've left your car somewhere you weren't supposed to. So stuff that annoy us are stuff we do too. But what exactly makes these behaviours irritating when others engage in them and why do we do things that we hate in others?
It is the wonderful "fundamental attribution error", as labelled by Ross (1977). Numerous social psychological studies have demonstrated that we generally tend to attribute others' behaviour to their personality or characteristic attitude, basically ignoring situational factors. Others' choices, we believe, result from free will (not from social norms or roles or pressures) and thus reflect aspects of their personalities. However, when coming to explain our own behaviour, we tend to ascribe it to external factors.
Let's go back to my very own example of lying. I hate being lied to. People who lie to me are liars, they normally lie, because they were brought up in a way to believe that lying is cool or convenient or whatever, they'll lie for ever and ever until they die! Me? Yes... I've lied sometimes... But i had to do it. I had to protect others from the truth! Come on, who wouldn't prefer a beautiful lie from the ugly truth?

Ross, L. (1977). The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings. In Berkowitz, L. (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol.10, pp. 174-220). New York: Academic Press.

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια:

Δημοσίευση σχολίου