Fundamental Attribution Error

All human beings tend to make the same mistakes when someone does not see the world as they do.  

The first mistake they make when someone disagrees with them is that they believe that the other person must be missing some of the information that they have.  That is the idea behind debate.  The concept goes, “If I simply give you information, you will see things the way that I do.”  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  We can both have the same information, and still disagree.  In those instances, we have a problem.

Mistake two, the other person must not be as smart as me.  We have the same facts, but they cannot piece it together in the way that is obvious to me.  However, if through continued interaction, we learn that, on the contrary, our friend is actually as smart or smarter than me.  We still have a problem.  They have the same information that I have and they are plenty smart enough to see what I see.  

How do I square this with my worldview?  Well, unfortunately, most of us do that by making the third error.  Mistake three, we believe that the other person is evil, corrupt or misguided in some way.

Hopefully, we can all agree that none of our three mistakes…  ignorant, dumb or evil are justified in many instances.  The magic of diversity is that through our disagreement we move toward a better future for all of us.  We learn and grow from diversity of thought and opinion.  Unfortunately, we lose all that value when we make these faulty assumptions.

In my journey through the world, I have not found that democrats, republicans, conservatives, liberals or moderates are necessarily missing information, nor dumb and nearly none are evil.  When we drop those expectations, we can gain the best value from one another.  

One of the ways to evolve to a better place together is to understand the biases that make us susceptible to bad decision making.  Keep this particular bias in mind as you join in the political discourse of the day, and you may find value all around you that you have been missing.

Just my opinion.  What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Fundamental Attribution Error

  1. Whether discussing politics, religion, or even things that seems as indisputable as statistics, this in an important lesson to learn in the age of social media.

    Liked by 1 person

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