Fundamental Attribution Error

2 February 2017

The human nature is an interesting subject to study, each individual has their own way of seeing things in their own perspective or ways of persuading others, in order to make sense of their own life’s. Fundamental attribution error being one important concept, this explains a persons behavior, how a person can underestimate circumstances yet overestimate ones characteristics. For example if a man didn’t hold the door for woman when walking into a store, the woman behind him might conclude that man doesn’t have manners or is uncivil.

That woman interrupted the situation in her perspective without considering situational factors, such as, he might have been running late or he didn’t notice another person behind him. People will judge primarily on their experience with that individual without considering other factors or placing their selves in their situation. An important researcher known as Milgram, he challenged the demands of authority on obedience, and how far are people willing to conform to orders. Milgram analyses social compliance and obedience toward superior in his experiment.

Fundamental Attribution Error Essay Example

In the study there is a learner, teacher and administrator, each of whom play an important role in the experiment. The teacher is the one giving the questions to the learner and if the learner gets the answer wrong the teacher is obligated to shock the learner. The administrator has the authority to tell the teacher to increase the level on the shock generator. When the learner continues get an answer incorrect the shocks get stronger from 15 to 450 volts and so the learner refuses to continue because he cannot endure anymore pain.

The teacher complies with the commands given by administrator to keep going even if the learner is hurt. Milgram experiment was successful and demonstrates how people obey to represent cooperativeness or by fear even if it goes against better judgment. The concept of fundamental attribution error and Milgram’s research on obedience takes an important role in David’s response to his history teacher’s question to why so many German people complied with Hitler’s order to systematically slaughter millions of innocent Jews.

David’s response being, “because German’s were unusually cruel, sadistic people with abnormal and twisted personalities. ” The fundamental attribution error in David’s response is when he penalized every single person in the German population for being all cruel, sadistic, abnormal and twisted personalities. He used Germans behavior as a significant factor as their external disposition to judge all Germans for their actions. Also in David’s response, the German population was responsible for the harm to the Jewish community, although Hitler was the prime leader and influenced the outbreak of the Nazi Party.

Hitler’s leadership illustrates a great example of Milgram’s research, of abuse of power and obedience in German society. Milgram reveals how people, in this situation German citizens obeyed to higher authority either because of fear or collaboration. David was not able to see the underlining causation of Germany’s injustice, although this is common act, people are usually compelled to unrightfully circumstances and overestimating people.

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Fundamental Attribution Error. (2017, Feb 24). Retrieved May 13, 2021, from
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