Fundamental attribution error: n. the tendency to explain others' behavior as the result of internal disposition, rather than external factors
A real-life example of the error is the infamous "47%" statement made by former Republican Party presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. At a private function, Romney said that that 47% of the American population is made up of people who pay no income tax, believe they are "victims," and "are dependent on the government." Romney's quick conclusion that those who do not pay income tax shun responsibility ignores other aspects of the situation, such as the fact that an large portion of the people who do not pay income tax are college-aged or retired.
A variation of the fundamental attribution error is the ultimate attribution error, which is directed towards entire groups and forms the basis of prejudice.
- AllPsych. (2011, November 29). Our View of Self and Others. Retrieved February 9, 2013, from AllPsych Online's website: http://allpsych.com/psychology101/attribution_attraction.html.
- Sanchez, J. (2012, September 18). The 47% and the Fundamental Attribution Error. Retrieved February 9, 2013, from Cato Institute's website: http://www.cato.org/blog/47-percent-fundamental-attribution-error.