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Correspondence bias

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Correspondence bias (also known as the fundamental attribution error) is the tendency to overestimate the the contribution of lasting traits and dispositions in determining people's behavior, as compared to situational effects. We might see someone kicking a vending machine, and conclude they're an inherently angry person. But maybe they just failed a test, had their driving license revoked, and had the machine eat their 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)