Fundamental Attribution Error

We attribute the reason of our own(or of our friends) failures to the environment, but the failures of others(or our enemies) to their character.

Eg. We were late because there was a huge traffic jam - but the other person was late because they are tardy.


  • We tend to attribute an observed effect to potential causes that capture our attention. When we observe other people, the person is the primary reference point while the situation is overlooked.

  • Individualistic (Western) cultures are reportedly more prone to the error while people from collectivistic cultures are less prone. Western individualism is associated with viewing both oneself and others as independent agents, therefore focusing more on individuals rather than contextual details.