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William Wu's Fundamental Attribution Error Research

Final AP Psychology

William Wu

on 10 June 2013

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Transcript of William Wu's Fundamental Attribution Error Research

Error By William Wu Definition The Fundamental Attribution Error is the tendency of placing heavy emphasis or over value on internal personality traits or characteristics (dispositional attributes) when explaining and interpreting someone’s behavior or actions rather than placing emphasis and under value on external environmental factors (situational attributes). Two people, Ben and Bill, are sitting on the bench of a park. They noticed Johnny on the floor who just fell. Ben's explanation for Johnny falling is that Johnny is very clumsy. Bill's explanation for Johnny falling is that someone must of pushed him or there was a hard to notice rock or crack that caused Johnny to fall. Analyzes and concludes with internal factors (clumsiness); therefore, he is displaying the fundamental attribution error Analyzes and concludes with environmental, or external factors (someone pushing him or rock/crack) and is not displaying the fundamental attribution error This does not state that Bill is right and Ben is wrong, for the cause of Johnny falling down is not clarified. This just simply states that Ben is displaying the fundamental attribution error and Bill is not. Example: Research of Jones and Harris 1967. This is the most known demonstration study on fundamental attribution error. Students' essays are displayed to participants. The prompt was about Fidel Castro (Cuban Leader). Some students were given free will to write about their position while others were forced to write either pro-Castro or against Castro regardless of the students personal opinion. The participants concluded that those who wrote for pro-Castro have a more positive attitude toward Castro while those who wrote against Castro have a negative attitude toward Castro. So the participants believed that the students opinion towards Castro is the same as the essay's position on it. Hypothesis:
People would attribute freely chosen behavior to dispositional attributes My Research Question: Would people use dispositional attributes or situational attributes to explain and conclude other's absence? Hypothesis: If people were to explain and attribute one's absence, people would most likely use dispositional attributes. Experiment Background: Confederate A and I both have all 3 lunches during school. Each lunch we sit next to different groups of people (the participants). We both are usually here with the occasional absences. It is toward the end of the year and many teachers are assigning major projects that require immense time. Knowing that Confederate A has a major project due, I decided to use Confederate A as part of the experiment Confederate A went to the library during lunch hours to work on his project. During those hours, I surveyed each individual participant asking to explain Confederate A's absence. Variables Independent Variable - Whether the participants responded explaining with an internal factor or external factor response towards the absence. Dependent Variable - The number of participants between the two factors. Controlled Variables - I asked individually instead of as a whole group to avoid conformity. It is ensured that no participants are aware of Confederate A's actual location during the survey Data Out of 10 participants, 8 participants displayed fundamental attribution error and 2 did not Results and Analysis The majority of the participants did attribute through internal factors (fundamental attribution error). Only 2 participants did not display it. The participants who displayed FAE explained reasons like: "[Confederate A] is probably lazy and slept in," or "[Confederate A] is skipping."
The participants who didn't display FAE took consideration of possible situations like "[Confederate A] probably has a doctors appointment." Conclusion Fundamental Attribution Error is a common habit people tend to make Improvements:
Random Sampling
Larger Sample/More Trials
More Individualized Why does this happen? There are no universal accepted explanations in why this happens. Some explanations may be just world theory (people attribute other's actions based on what they deserve) or people tend to focus only on the person and characterizes the person by their behavior, while ignoring the environment Citations http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/The_Fundamental_Attribution_Error
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80x_jBTwQug The End
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