Fundamental Attribution Error

Why do so many people make so many snap judgements?

I have been a victim of so many snap judgements, as I’m sure a lot of you have been.  There’s a reason we all do, and social psychology has narrowed it down to Fundamental Attribution Error, which is the concept that we instinctually judge others based on their actions or character, not the external factors or circumstances.  That seems to happen a lot in the world, and I think it’s one of society’s biggest problems: we live in a world that makes too many snap judgements, and we’re too quick to jump to conclusions about someone or something.

Consider this: the first impression.  It can be intimidating sometimes, feeling like you have to prove your worth to others in order to be accepted.  I find it to be a little demanding and choosy, don’t you?  Sometimes, because of Fundamental Attribution Error, we often neglect the circumstances involved when we meet someone for the first time; we fail to think outside that box of one-on-one conversation and consider what’s going on (or what has already transpired) outside that area.  If you try to engage in a conversation with someone who is in a less than pleasant mood, perhaps someone already got under his skin a few minutes prior to meeting you.  In that case, he just needs a little time to cool down.  Suppose someone cuts you off on the road.  Naturally, you’d be irritated, but we always assume it’s because he’s a jerk.  Maybe his dog was being a handful while he was trying to drive.

Yeah it’s hard to not get irritated when something like this happens to us, but it might be because we focus a little too much on how the present affects us instead of how it also affects those around us.  Circumstances are not always on our side, they’re not on anybody’s side most of the time, which is why we need to quit jumping to the first conclusion about someone that pops into our heads, and start getting on the same page with each other.  Don’t make that first impression the defining point of someone’s character, let their actions in more than one setting tell you who they really are.