Fundamental Attribution Error

The fundamental attribution error occurs when people tend to overestimate the importance of personality over environmental factors. For instance, if someone is upset then people tend to think that is because he is a person who gets upset, not because he is a person who is in an upsetting situation.

Image of fundamental attribution error.

Which statement is the best explanation of the fundamental attribution error?

The fundamental error is a tendency to underestimate the impact of situational determinants and overestimate the degree to which actions and outcomes reflect the actor’s dispositions [1].

Meaning that we are more likely to attribute another’s behavior to internal rather than situational causes.


  1. Ross, L. (1977). The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings: Distortions in the attribution process. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 10, pp. 173-220). Academic Press.

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