Have you ever heard the phrase “Fundamental Attribution Error” before? Put simply, it’s the term for when you attribute someone’s behavior to their character rather than their outside circumstances. Alternatively – holding someone else to a higher standard than you hold yourself.
Why could this be dangerous, and why is it called an error?
Unless you’re a saint on the road, everyone who drives falls victim to Fundamental Attribution Error.
On your drive to work, you get cut off. You honk at the offender, cursing his bad decision-making and decide he (or she) must be the stupidest driver to ever pass the licensing exam.
Of course, you would NEVER cut someone off.
Except…you did. Yesterday.
Perhaps… perhaps the person who just made a poor driving decision is late to a meeting. Maybe he’s rushing to the hospital to see his dying grandmother before she passes away.
Now, I’m not excusing his bad driving. I’m saying that there are other reasons to make poor decisions than innate character.Unless you're a saint on the road, everyone who drives falls victim to Fundamental Attribution Error. Click To Tweet
When you cut someone off, you grimace and squeal “Sorry!!” even though they can’t hear you. You rationalize your decision based on external factors, like how late you are to work. It makes you feel better about what just happened, but the driver YOU just cut off is now thinking you’re the dumbest driver that ever lived.
We all do it.
And it’s dangerous.