Wednesday, May 11, 2016

- Bias #5: Attribution & Belief Bias

Belief bias is the tendency to judge the strength of arguments based on the plausibility of their conclusion rather than how strongly they support that conclusion.[1] In other words, if people agree with a viewpoint, they are inclined to believe that the process used to obtain the results must also be correct.

In social psychology, the fundamental attribution error, also known as the correspondence bias or attribution effect, is the tendency for people to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics (personality) to explain someone else's behavior in a given situation rather than considering the situation's external factors. It does not explain interpretations of one's own behavior, where situational factors are more easily recognized and can thus be taken into consideration.

Generally, the fundamental attribution error has been researched central to a social cognitive framework.[clarification needed] Barring this, however, there are many cultural differences which arise when attempting to explain this error.[25] Previous research has shown that cultural differences exist in the susceptibility of making the fundamental attribution error: people from individualistic cultures are more prone to the error while people from collectivistic cultures are less prone.[26]

It has been found that there is a differential attention to social factors between independent peoples and interdependent peoples in both social and nonsocial contexts. Takahiko Masuda and his colleagues (2004) in their cartoon figure presentation experiment showed that Japanese people's judgments on the target character's facial expression are more influenced by surrounding faces than those of the Americans,[27] whereas Masuda and Nisbett (2001) concluded from their underwater scenes animated cartoon experiment that Americans are also more likely than Japanese participants to mark references to focal objects (i.e. fish) instead of contexts (i.e. rocks and plants).[28] These discrepancies in the salience of different factors to people from different cultures suggest that Asians tend to attribute behavior to situation while Westerners attribute the same behavior to the actor. Consistently, Morris & Peng (1994) found from their fish behavior attribution experiment that more American than Chinese participants perceive the behavior (e.g. an individual fish swimming in front of a group of fish) as internally rather than externally caused.[29]

One explanation for this difference in attribution lies in the way in which people of different cultural orientation perceive themselves in the environment. Particularly, Markus and Kitayama (1991) mentioned how (individualistic) Westerners tend to see themselves as independent agents and therefore focus more on individual objects rather than contextual details.

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