Two attributional biases with evidence

Authors Avatar

Discuss at least two attributional biases, refer to evidence in your answer (10)

Attribution is judging the causes of behaviour, the decision is made that behaviour is caused by internal factors OR  external factors. A dispositional attribution is made when we can decide that someone’s behaviour is due to their personality or an internal cause. This means that the behaviour is seen as an outward manifestation of an inward quality. A situational attribution is made when we decide that someone’s behaviour is the result of the situation or the circumstances which they find themselves in. This means that the cause is external or beyond the control of the person. In social psychology, the actor is the person producing the behaviour and the observer is the watcher of the behaviour.

Join now!

The Fundamental Attribution Error is the general tendency observers have to decide that an actor’s behaviour has an internal cause. We have the general belief that a person’s behaviour and actions are due to their own personality traits. It is likely that this is because of an expectation that our behaviour and personality match or fit each other. A real life example is “He dropped the jug because he is clumsy”

Nisbett et al (1973) wanted to see if people tend to attribute the cause of a person’s behaviour as due to an internal cause rather than external cause. ...

This is a preview of the whole essay

Here's what a star student thought of this essay


The grammar, spelling, and punctuation are flawless. In criticism, I would like to see a conclusion drawn at the end (this could merely repeat what the two biases are and say that some evidence supports them). This would add to the structure and is conventional in essay-writing at A level standard and beyond. Apart from this, the structure is very clear (Intro - bias 1 - evidence and analysis - bias 2 - evidence and analysis).

The writer answers the questions by referring to evidence. The argument is clearly laid out, with each attribution error being stated and explained, and then the next paragraph provides evidence for it. They also then analyse this evidence, (for example by explaining that a study asking students about their university course has good ecological validity, and why this is advantageous). To add, the student gives time to both sides of the arguments by also saying what is bad about the evidence (in this case, biased sampling). It is important to do this as it shows they have considered and analysed rather than blindly accepting a theory.

The student makes their response explicit by beginning with a clear introduction which defines and explains the main ideas/terms in the essay question (in this case, attribution). This shows the reader that they understand the idea or theory behind the question and enables the reader to be settled into the writer's frame of mind (rather than throwing them straight into the argument).