Bias du Jour #4

by F.

In one experiment, subjects listened to people giving speeches either for or against Fidel Castro. Subjects assumed that the tenor of the speech (for or against) represented the speaker’s true feelings, even when told that the speakers flipped a coin in order to decide whether to speak in favor of or against Castro.

Now, think about that for a minute: subjects still made the attribution even when told that the speakers flipped a freakin’ coin in order to decide whether to speak in favor of or against Castro. A coin! This is called the correspondence bias or

The Fundamental Attribution Error: People tend to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for others’ behavior while under-emphasizing the role and power of the situation in which the behavior occurs.

Cites: E. E. & Harris, V. A. (1967). The attribution of attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 3, 1-24; Ross, L. (1977). The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings: Distortions in the attribution process. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (vol. 10, pp. 173-220). New York: Academic Press.

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