How do we find the meaning behind the behavior of others or our own? Attributions are made everyday, sometimes without our knowledge, as we attempt to understand the cognitive processes that goes behind the behaviors of others.
Here are some examples of the different kinds of attributions that are made:
Fundamental Attribution Error
Here the blame is put on fellow commuters and not on the situation (rush hour).
Ex: “The only reason I failed the test was because I had a death in the family.. However, my friend failed the test because she’s not very bright.
Here the individual explains their own behavior as being caused by the situation while explaining the behavior of others on their personality traits.
We attribute our successes to ourselves while our failures happen beyond our control.
The purpose of attribution is to make our social world more predictable. As humans we want to explain the ” how”, “what”, “when” etc. of our human experience. When we find that explanation in regards to the behavior of others it is one of two different types; external attribution and internal attribution. In the examples given above we can see that it is more common for us to blame our behavior on external forces, like the situation or another person, rather than a failing on our part.
This is the flowchart of attribution:
An event happens where I was negatively affected by the actions of another -> I provide an attribution or an explanation for their behavior (fundamental attribution, Actor-Observer, or Self- Serving) ->my behavior from there depends on the type of attribution I perceive it as. The reasoning is that if we can predict the reasoning for other people’s behavior we can then influence their future behavior, right?