Correspondence bias

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Correspondence bias, also known as the fundamental attribution error is the tendency to overestimate the the effects of lasting traits and dispositions in determining people's behavior, as compared to situational effects. Kicking a malfunctioing vending machine might be perceived by standerby as the action of an inherently angry person. Yet when we kick a vending machine, it is the obviously justified result of our failing grade on a test, the revocation of our driving license and the machine eating our money for the third time this week. We think of the other person as an evil mutant and ourselves as righteous actors.

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References

  • Gilbert, Daniel T.; Malone, Patrick S. (January 1995). "The correspondence bias". Psychological Bulletin 117 (1): 21-38.  (PDF)