Description When we are trying to understand and explain what happens in social settings, we tend to view behavior as a particularly significant factor. We then tend to explain behavior in terms of internal disposition, such as personality traits, abilities, motives, etc. as opposed to external situational factors. This can be due to our focus on the person more than their situation, about which we may know very little. We also know little about how they are interpreting the situation. Western culture exacerbates this error, as we emphasize individual freedom and autonomy and are socialized to prefer dispositional factors to situational ones. When we are playing the role of observer, which is largely when we look at others, we make this fundamental attribution error. When we are thinking about ourselves, however, we will tend to make situational attributions. Research Edward Jones and Victor Harris (1967) asked people to assess a person’s pro- or anti-Castro feelings given an essay a person had written. Even when the people were told the person had been directed to write pro- or anti- arguments, the people still assumed the author believed what they were writing. Example I assume you have not done much today because you are lazy, rather than perhaps tired or lack the right resources. So what? Using it Beware of people blaming you for things outside of your control. Also watch out for people doing it to you. You can make friends and build trust when individuals are blamed by others, by showing that you understand how it is not to do with their personality. Defending Watch how others make attributions. When they seem to go against the trend and be in your favor, be curious about their motives. http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/fundamental_attribution_error.htm I've actually noticed this first hand people totally focus on one aspect of someone's actions as an observer, watching someones actions or hearing about them from someone else yet they are totally ignorant to the situational or external factors. Thus they may be judging that person as "bad" yet they have no clue about the whole situation or the way the person is interpreting it. Akin to the example listed in that article, let's say someone has a bunch of physical things their dealing with severe fatigue, neurological symptoms, skin problems, just lot's of health problems in general possibly anxiety, PTSD and the world just being a cold and cruel place(coping with traumas or bullying). Unaware of all that this person deals with on a daily basis people might label that person as "lazy", slacker", a "leech" a "parasite" because your attributing their behavior of not being productive to their disposition yet you're ignorant to the situational influences regarding them not being as productive as they would like. It's basically adding insult to injury. I'm far from perfect I've made mistakes more so then the average person. I consider myself a nice person, I'll give an example here. Two years ago when I went on a date with this woman I coined the phrase a "BPD-sociopath" who actually has good traits to her too despite me calling her that(everyone has good and bad in them she is also in her 30's). We went for dinner then went for a walk and ended up waiting in line a this club a few blocks after our walk. When in the line there was a larger woman in front of us and she made a somewhat rude comment about her size which I was not happy about her saying. I'm not fond of being rude to strangers like that, I expressed my concern that she may have heard and it wasn't right. Treating others the way you'd like to be treated and not treating others in a way you wouldn't like to be treated is a good motto in live, however mistakes do happen no one is perfect and without flaws. I'll give a different example from when I was 18 I met up with this girl for an intimate encounter at a mall and when I saw her she was well overweight I pretended not to recognize her and she followed me out to my car before I was like oh it's you. Looking back that was a pretty cruel thing of me to do, I hope it didn't hurt her feelings or self esteem too much. Even four years ago this one girl I knew had a friend as this girl was obese. The girl I knew had a boyfriend but I regret not dating her prior as when she showed interest it kinda turned me off, it's weird how that works. Anyways I had her over and I felt sorta bad for her because when I was walking upstairs the look on my brothers GF's face when she saw how big she was, was that of surprise and shock. She must have to deal with people judging her based on her size consistently and that isn't fair we're so much more then how we look. We as humans are always searching and scanning the world for differences that set us apart but at the core we're all so very similar. We all need to feel wanted, loved, cared for, to be accepted. This is why ostracism can be a very horrible thing since you're basically excluded and shunned not by choice but because you've fallen out of favor by the in-group. People are people and should be treated with dignity and respect regardless if they have an ideal body, face, social status, reputation etc. It just goes to show how much I changed in about a half decade between each example I listed. We as humans are constantly changing and growing so is the world around us, nothing ever stays the same. People change, the situation changes things certainly aren't black and white or as simply as some make them out to be. As the one quote I linked on the quotes you like page there is nothing noble and being superior to another person the real superiority is being better then your previous self. Sometimes we play the blame or projection game to highlight others flaws so we can feel superior. In other cases it's not so that we can feel superior it's just to lay some of the blame for our situation onto others for not mistreating, abusing us or just down right not understanding possibly even being ignorant. It is easy to judge someone when you don't know their whole past experiences and their exact current situation... Anyways that's my rant for the day!