If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:5:28

Attribution theory - Attribution error and culture

Video transcript

how do we understand someone's behavior but we can break down behavior into two parts one is we can look at behavior as coming from a person's own internal attributes and secondly we can look at behavior as being fueled by situational or external factors such as the weather housing finances ideally when we're trying to analyze somebody's behavior we are a neutral judge right in the middle oftentimes behaviors are complex and involve combination of internal and external factors we are not however always as neutral as we want to be one of these biases happens when we judge the behavior of others so when we look at the behavior of others instead of being the middle we actually find ourselves over here that means that when we look at the behavior of others we're more likely to attribute their behavior to internal factors about that person as opposed to considering the complex situational external factors that a person may face so in fact we over attribute behaviors to these internal causes and this actually has a name we turn this the fundamental attribution error well how could this be a problem it could be a problem in terms of when we see complex patients for example patients who can't exercise who are obese who are struggling with poverty and we really under the external situational problems the social problems the health care barriers that they can have and almost blame them for the problems that they face so it's important to recognize that this may occur well what happens when we consider our own behavior but it turns out that we're not mutual even in that case when we consider our own behavior we actually often skewed in that other direction we're more likely to blame our behavior on external factors we're more likely to be victims of circumstance and while this doesn't have a particular name the combination of the fundamental attribution error alongside our own tendency to blame or attribute our own behaviors on external factors combined together is actually termed the actor-observer bias where we are victims of circumstance but others when they perform a behavior they are wilful actors there is also however a cultural component we know that fundamental attribution error tends to occur more commonly in individualistic societies these cultures include those found in North America and Europe cultures who place an emphasis on individual achievement and independence now that we've mentioned the cultural component this spend a little bit more time talking about culture let's think about success and failure because it appears that cultures may have differing ways that they can attribute to explain success and failure so let's split this up into individualistic so again that's Europe and North America and the second set of cultures is collectivist and these are cultures are put a value on community and interdependence and these are typically found in Africa and Asia and remember these are generalizations so one of the things that we find is that in attempting to explain success individualistic cultures tend to over attribute success to internal while on the other hand failures are more likely to be attributed to external or situational factors it's the complete opposite with collectivist cultures in fact when we look at success they tend to attribute success to external factors and failures are more likely to be attributed to internal factors I want you to be aware of one more bias this is called the self-serving bias and this bias is a way of protecting and enhancing our own self-esteem and this bias is much more common in individualistic cultures if we succeed it's down to our own internal personal qualities but if we fail we don't have a hit on our self-esteem because it's to do with they're more likely to do with things are outside of our own control so individualistic societies tend to demonstrate a greater degree of this self-serving bias and mechanism to protect our own self esteem which is particularly important in individualistic societies because of their emphasis on individual achievement and success