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Attributional biases are cognitive biases which affect attribution -- the way we determine who or what was responsible for an event or action.

Such biases typically rely on actor/observer differences -- people involved in an action view things differently from those people outside (observers).

Often they are caused by asymmetry in availability (frequently called "salience" in this context). The behavior of actors is easier to remember than the background settings; or, our own inner turmoil is more available to ourselves than it is to others. As a result, our judgments of attribution are often distorted along those lines.

In some experiments, for example, subjects were shown only one side of a conversation or were able to see one of the faces of the conversational participants. Whomever the subjects had a better view of were judged by them as being more important, influential, and having a greater role in the conversation.

There is some evidence that more intelligent and socially apt people are more likely to make errors in attribution.

The most well-known and representative example of an attributional bias is the fundamental attribution error.

Attributional biases include:

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Block, J., & Funder, D. C. (1986). Social roles and social perception: Individual differences in attribution and "error." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1200-1207.

External links[edit | edit source]

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