ChapterPDF Available
expected goal simply because they’re not very unhappy
at this failure. And similarly, from this perspective, sev-
eral of the appraisals sometimes said to be necessary
for anger generate hostility primarily because these
interpretations are often exceedingly aversive. Some-
one’s deliberate attempt to keep a person from fulfilling
his or her desires is much more unpleasant than an acci-
dental interference with his or her goal attainment, and
thus, is much more apt to stimulate the person to
aggression. This analysis regards the frustration–
aggression hypothesis only as a special case of a much
more general proposition: Decidedly aversive occur-
rences are the fundamental generators of anger and the
instigation to aggression.
Leonard Berkowitz
See also Aggression; Anger
Further Readings
Anderson, C. A., Deuser, W. E., & DeNeve, K. M. (1995).
Hot temperatures, hostile affect, hostile cognition, and
arousal: Tests of a general model of affective aggression.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 434–448.
Berkowitz, L. (1989). Frustration–aggression hypothesis:
Examination and reformulation. Psychological Bulletin,
106, 59–73.
Berkowitz, L., & Harmon-Jones, E. (2004). Toward an under-
standing of the determinants of anger. Emotion, 4, 107–130.
Dill, J. C., & Anderson, C. A. (1995). Effects of frustration
justification on hostile aggression. Aggressive Behavior,
21, 359–369.
Ellsworth, P. C., & Scherer, K. R. (2003). Appraisal
processes in emotion. In R. J. Davidson, H. Goldsmith, &
K. R. Scherer (Eds.), Handbook of the affective sciences
(pp. 572–595). New York: Oxford University Press.
Geen, R. G. (1998). Aggression and antisocial behavior.
In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.),
The handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2,
pp. 317–356). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
The fundamental attribution error describes per-
ceivers’tendency to underestimate the impact of situa-
tional factors on human behavior and to overestimate
the impact of dispositional factors. For instance, people
often tend to believe that aggressive behavior is caused
by aggressive personality characteristics (dispositional
factor) even though aggressive behavior can also be
provoked by situational circumstances (situational
The term fundamental attribution error was created in
1977 by social psychologist Lee Ross. However,
research on the fundamental attribution error goes
back to the 1950s when social psychologists Fritz
Heider and Gustav Ichheiser started to investigate lay
perceivers’ understanding of the causes of human
behavior. Interest in the fundamental attribution error
experienced a peak in the 1970s and 1980s when a
general notion within social psychology was to dis-
cover shortcomings in human judgment.
Notwithstanding its widely accepted significance for
social psychology, the fundamental attribution error has
also been the subject of controversies regarding its gen-
eral nature. On the one hand, critics argued that the fun-
damental attribution error does not occur for everyone
under any circumstances, which challenges the ade-
quacy of the label fundamental. On the other hand, crit-
ics claimed that there is no unambiguous criterion that
could specify the real causes of human behavior, thus
challenging the adequacy of the term error. Irrespective
of these controversies, the fundamental attribution error
is generally regarded as a very important phenomenon
for social psychology, as it often leads to surprised
reactions to research findings demonstrating a strong
impact of situational factors on human behavior.
From a general perspective, evidence for the funda-
mental attribution error comes from three different
lines of research. First, numerous studies have shown
that people tend to infer stable personality character-
istics from observed behavior even when this behavior
could also be due to situational factors. For example,
students may infer a high level of dispositional anxi-
ety from a fellow student’s nervous behavior during a
class presentation, even though such nervous behavior
may simply be the result of the anxiety-provoking sit-
uation. This tendency to draw correspondent disposi-
tional inferences from situationally constrained
behavior is usually called the correspondence bias. In
the present example, the fundamental attribution error
can contribute to the correspondence bias when
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perceivers do not believe that giving a class presenta-
tion is anxiety provoking. Thus, perceivers will infer
that the presenter must be an anxious person, even
though most people would show the same level of
behavioral anxiety during a class presentation.
A second line of research on the fundamental attri-
bution error is concerned with surprised reactions that
are often elicited by social psychological findings.
Consistent with social psychology’s notion that human
behavior is strongly influenced by situational factors,
several studies have shown that everyday people often
do not help other individuals in an emergency situation
when other people are present, that everyday people
are willing to administer life-threatening electric
shocks to other individuals upon request by an experi-
menter, and that everyday people engage in sadistic,
torturing behavior simply because they are assigned to
a superior social role. These findings have provoked
surprised reactions not only among lay people but also
among professional psychologists. One reason for
these reactions is that perceivers tend to underestimate
how simple changes in the situation can lead everyday
people to engage in immoral behavior.
A third line of research on the fundamental attribu-
tion error is concerned with cultural differences in lay
perceivers’ explanations of human behavior. A large
number of cross-cultural studies have shown that
people in Western societies tend to explain human
behavior in terms of stable personality characteristics,
whereas people in East Asian societies tend to explain
human behavior in terms of situational factors. For
example, a school massacre may be described in terms
of the abnormal personality of the perpetrator in
Western cultures, whereas the same massacre may be
described in terms of the perpetrator’s situation in
East Asian cultures. This difference is assumed to
have its roots in a more general difference between
Western and East Asian worldviews. Whereas Western
societies tend to stress the independence and unique-
ness of each individual (individualism), East Asian
cultures tend to stress the connectedness and the rela-
tion of the individual to the social context (collec-
tivism). This difference, in turn, leads to a stronger
focus on characteristics of the individual in Western
cultures and to a stronger focus on characteristics of
the individual’s situation in East Asian cultures.
Correspondence Bias
The fundamental attribution error is often associated
with another social psychological phenomenon: the
correspondence bias. The correspondence bias refers
to perceivers’ tendency to infer stable personality
characteristics from other people’s behavior even
when this behavior was caused by situational factors.
Originally, the terms fundamental attribution error
and correspondence bias were used interchangeably
to refer to one and the same phenomenon, namely,
perceivers’ tendency to underestimate the impact of
situational (relative to dispositional) factors on human
behavior. However, recent research has shown that the
correspondence bias can also be due to factors that do
not imply an underestimation of situational factors.
Rather, perceivers sometimes commit the correspon-
dence bias because they consider situational factors to
have a strong impact on human behavior. Drawing on
these findings, many researchers in the field now dis-
tinguish between the fundamental attribution error
and the correspondence bias, viewing them as two dif-
ferent (though sometimes related) phenomena.
Specifically, the term fundamental attribution error is
now used to describe people’s tendency to underesti-
mate the causal impact of situational factors on human
behavior and to overestimate the impact of disposi-
tional factors. In contrast, the term correspondence
bias is used to describe people’s tendency to infer sta-
ble personality characteristics from observed behavior
even when this behavior could also be due to situa-
tional factors (which may or may not be due to an
underestimation of situational factors).
From a general perspective, explanations of the fun-
damental attribution error have focused on (a) cogni-
tive mechanisms, (b) motivational influences, and
(c) general worldviews.
With regard to cognitive mechanisms, it has been
argued that actors usually have a higher perceptual
salience than situations. As such, observed behavior
often forms a perceptual unit with the actor, but not
with the situation in which it occurs. This mechanism
leads to different outcomes for actors who generally
see the situation they are responding to but do not see
themselves engaging in a particular behavior. This
explanation is supported by research showing that
only observers tend to attribute a stronger impact to
dispositional as compared to situational factors,
whereas actors tend to attribute a stronger impact to
situational as compared to dispositional factors.
With regard to motivational influences, it has been
argued that the fundamental attribution error implies
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a general tendency to see human behavior as con-
trolled by the individual rather than by situational fac-
tors. Specifically, lack of personal control over one’s
actions would imply that individuals may not be
responsible for their actions, thus undermining the
social and legal basis of many modern societies. As
such, people are sometimes motivated to downplay
the impact of situational factors on human behavior to
protect the general notion of personal responsibility.
Finally, it has been argued that the fundamental
attribution error has its roots in an individualist world-
view that sees each individual as independent and
unique. This explanation is derived from cross-
cultural research, showing that people in collectivist
cultures attribute a stronger weight to situational fac-
tors than do people in individualist cultures.
Bertram Gawronski
See also Actor–Observer Asymmetries; Attributions;
Attribution Theory; Bystander Effect; Correspondence
Bias; Milgram’s Obedience to Authority Studies; Stanford
Prison Experiment
Further Readings
Gawronski, B. (2004). Theory-based bias correction in
dispositional inference: The fundamental attribution error
is dead, long live the correspondence bias. European
Review of Social Psychology, 15, 183–217.
Hamilton, D. L. (1998). Dispositional and attributional
inferences in person perception. In J. M. Darley &
J. Cooper (Eds.), Attribution and social interaction
(pp. 99–114). Washington, DC: American Psychological
Ross, L. D. (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
Ross, L. D., & Nisbett, R. E. (1991). The person and the
situation: Perspectives of social psychology. New York:
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... In starting with understanding how trainees conceptualize the source of an individual's problems or behavior, this assists to identify a key component in advocating for change. The social psychology phenomenon of the fundamental attribution error is the human tendency, when assessing others, to locate problems or behaviors within the individual with a neglect of the contextual factors (Gawronski, 2007). These attributions, although more common in individualistic cultures such as the United States versus collectivist cultures, can lead to the underattribution of situational contexts influencing behaviors. ...
Full-text available
Views on what is important in training for psychologists are evolving, reflecting a broadening understanding of the role psychologists can and should play in societal change. Since the development of the scientist-practitioner model after World War II, arguments around training have focused on the appropriate balance between training in the practice of psychology versus training in research related to psychology. Recent calls reflect more radical change to include an advocacy emphasis within the formal coursework of psychology doctoral programs, well articulated by Mallinckrodt, Miles, and Levy (2014) as the tripartite model of Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate. In this paper, we present the argument for expanding a model that incorporates advocacy training into clinical psychology internships and postdoctoral programs and describe why we believe voices for advocacy have been largely silent in public-sector clinical psychology training and practices. We outline how this may be accomplished in public sector training settings, and we articulate a call to action for public servants to speak out so their voice can ignite a passion for advocacy within public sector psychology service and training. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
... Jones and Davis's theory of correspondence; Kelley's theory of covariation and Weiner's model of causal attribution; Baron et al. 2001). Kelley's original attribution theory suggested that people either explain behaviour as due to con-stant, personal dispositions (internal attribution) or as due to environmental circumstances or situations (external attribution) (Baron et al. 2001, Gawronski 2007. When we noticed the differing patterns in the nurses' explanations, it seemed to be strongly reflecting this attribution bias. ...
To explore how Registered Nurses address psychosocial issues for patients and their families living with chronic kidney disease. It is in the scope of registered nursing practice to address the emotional, psychological and relational implications of living with chronic disease through psychosocial and family interventions. Patients living with chronic kidney disease frequently report poor quality of life and numerous psychosocial issues; however, they do not find that these issues are always adequately addressed. This research was hermeneutic inquiry as guided by Gadamer's philosophy of understanding. Family/psychosocial nursing practices are examined from the perspective of self-reports of Registered Nurses working in acute care nephrology units. Interviews with nurses were conducted throughout 2012. Nurses attribute, or explain, patient and family member behaviour in a variety of ways. These explanations may or may not align with actual patient/family reasons for behaviour. Nurses' explanations influence subsequent nursing practice. While there is some evidence of practices that overcome biased attributions of patient behaviour, the cognitive processes by which nurses develop these explanations are more complex than previously reported in nursing literature. Clinical reasoning and subsequent nursing practice are influenced by how nurses explain patients'/families' behaviour. Exploration of this issue with the support of social cognition literature suggests a need for further research with significant implications for nursing education and practice to improve family/psychosocial interventions.
Mankind's ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change may be limited by cognitive biases. To address this challenge, research on cognitive biases has to be expanded beyond the study of individual-based psychological cognition effects to understand their interaction with cultural factors and their impact on group behaviour. Here we describe the relevant cognitive biases and how they are impacted by culture, and we propose that future environmental policymaking has to take into account how such Culturally Embedded Cognitive Biases (CECB) affect willingness to comply.
In diesem Kapitel wird dargelegt, wie Personen zu einem Eindruck und einer Beurteilung einer anderen Person kommen. Dabei wird auf die Rolle von äußerlich beobachtbaren Merkmalen des zu Beurteilenden und des Verhaltens einer Person eingegangen. Fehleinschätzungen resultieren häufig daraus, dass bei der Beurteilung von Verhalten situative Gegebenheiten zu wenig berücksichtigt und damit letztendlich dispositionale Faktoren überschätzt werden. Es wird zudem auf Merkmale der Situation bei der Eindrucksbildung eingegangen. Je nach Blickwinkel und Auffälligkeit können Beurteilungen ein und desselben Verhaltens sehr unterschiedlich ausfallen. Schließlich werden auch Merkmale des Beurteilers dargelegt, die einen Einfluss auf die Eindrucksbildung ausüben. Auch aufgrund dieser Merkmale ist die Beurteilung anderer Personen meist nicht das, was wir „objektiv“ nennen würden. Aus diesem Grund ist es sinnvoll, verzerrende Mechanismen zu kennen und sie bei weitreichenden Beurteilungen zu vermindern.
Klares Feedback an Kollegen, Mitarbeiter, externe Dienstleister und Führungskräfte hilft, eigene Grenzen und Bedürfnisse zu wahren, Unsicherheit zu reduzieren und Potenziale optimal zu nutzen. Feedback liefert wertvolle Information darüber, wie man auf andere wirkt. Der Ansatz der Gewaltfreien Kommunikation, Ich-Botschaften nach Gordon sowie das Kommunikationsmodell nach Schulz von Thun stellen Instrumente zur Verfügung, die das Konfliktpotenzial kritischer Rückmeldung minimieren. Auf Bewertung zu verzichten, macht ein respektvolles Miteinander auch in herausfordernden Situationen möglich. Exzellenz in Teams erfordert eine hohe Transparenz der wechselseitigen Erwartungen. Zeitnahe und konkrete Rückmeldung verhindert, dass in einer spezifischen Situation als ungünstig erlebtes Verhalten zur Gewohnheit des Handelnden wird oder dass sich die Wahrnehmungen von außen in Eigenschaftszuschreibungen verfestigen. Feedback mit offenen Fragen hilft Lösungen zu entwickeln, Vertrauen zu vertiefen und künftige positive Interaktionen zu fördern.
Attribution theory is concerned with the attempts of ordinary people to understand the causes and implications of the events they witness. It deals with the “naive psychology” of the “man in the street” as he interprets his own behaviors and the actions of others. For man—in the perspective of attribution theory—is an intuitive psychologist who seeks to explain behavior and draw inferences about actors and their environments. To better understand the perceptions and actions of this intuitive scientist, his methods must be explored. The sources of oversight, error, or bias in his assumptions and procedures may have serious consequences, both for the lay psychologist himself and for the society that he builds and perpetuates. These shortcomings, explored from the vantage point of contemporary attribution theory, are the focus of the chapter. The logical or rational schemata employed by intuitive psychologists and the sources of bias in their attempts at understanding, predicting, and controlling the events that unfold around them are considered. Attributional biases in the psychology of prediction, perseverance of social inferences and social theories, and the intuitive psychologist's illusions and insights are described.
Social psychological research has repeatedly shown that perceivers draw correspondent dispositional inferences from observed behaviour even when this behaviour was highly constrained by situational factors (i.e., the correspondence bias). Even though this phenomenon has been proposed to be multiply determined, the most common explanation is still that perceivers ubiquitously consider situational factors to have little impact on human behaviour (i.e., the fundamental attribution error). The present chapter offers a critical analysis of the available empirical evidence on the correspondence bias from the perspective of theory-based bias correction. It is concluded that the correspondence bias results from a number of different processes associated with the application of perceivers' causal theories about situational influences on human behaviour. However, there is no evidence for the assumption that the correspondence bias is due to causal theories implying that situational factors have little impact on human behaviour. Theoretical and empirical implications are discussed. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of European Review of Social Psychology is the property of Psychology Press (UK) and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)