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Explain two Attributional Biases

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Explain two Attributional Biases There is much evidence that we tend to attribute our own behaviour to the situation and others to their dispositions. This has come to be known as the fundamental attribution error (FAE) or the correspondence bias. The FAE has been subject to a considerable amount of investigation. Ross (1977) set up a quiz show, in which participants were randomly given the role of questioner or contestant. Although both observers and participants knew that the roles had been randomly assigned, they still rated the questioner as being more knowledgeable than the contestant was. This meant they were ignoring situational variables such as the fact that the questioner had free choice of subject, and so could choose questions from their own specialist knowledge, whereas the contestants had no such choice. ...read more.


This shows that manipulating the focus of people's visual awareness can influence the attributions they make. Many explanations for the fundamental attribution error assume that it is a consequence of general cognitive processes. But there is strong evidence that this error is not present in other cultures. It appears to be present in individualistic cultures but not in collectivistic cultures. Miller (1984) showed that dispositional attributions increased with age in American society, suggesting learning was taking place, but remained low and stable with age within Hindu society. These differences could be because of genuine differences in the causes of behaviour within the two cultures. Despite popular notions that virtually everyone suffers from low self-esteem, one of the most firmly established findings in social psychology concerns the power of self-serving bias, or the tendency to perceive oneself favourably. ...read more.


Another instance of self-serving bias occurs when we compare ourselves with others. In nearly any socially desirable situation, we are likely to rate ourselves as better than average. For example, only 1% of Australians rate their job performance as below average; most Dutch students believe they are more honest, persistent and friendly than average; and 25% of American students believe they are in the top 1% in their ability to get along with others. Self-serving bias can protect us from the negative effects of low self-esteem, which may include vulnerability to anxiety and depression. Research on depression has shown that mildly depressed individuals have a more accurate picture of themselves and of how others see them. On the other hand, an extreme self-serving bias can make a person egotistical and deceitful, and can interfere with intergroup relations in work and social situations. ...read more.

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