28 May 2022


Cultures and Fundamental Attribution Error

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Social self is an idea cherished by the mind as its own and is acquired from communicative life. General life acts the main scope of self-feeling. Personal impressions help the mind in reflecting personal forces. Differentiated aspects of a person’s life help in the creation of self-ideas (Cooley, 1902). This aspect is sustained by purpose and is usually has aggressive forms that attach to things that a person find as different from others. The manifestation of the aggressive self-occurs inappropriateness of objects with common desires. There is a distinction in the reference of self to a person involved. 

Individualistic culture is concerned with a society that involves itself with individualism. Individualism-collectivism dimension deals with the varying degrees of the deeply felt views of what is good, worthwhile and right thereby differentiating cultures. Individualistic cultures let people focus on their independent self rather than group mentality (Rothwell, 2010). Such people view each other as loosely attached and are more based on their personal goals. This culture has a diverse population that emphasizes on personal achievement. It assesses the detrimental and beneficial aspects are having relationships with others. Low power distance culture and low context communication style are among the unique communication aspects involved with individualistic culture. 

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Examples of individualistic cultures include the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Canada among others. Cultures associated with low power distance encourage that there be minimal power difference between employers and employees by challenging authority. They also advocate for the legitimate use of power. Imbalances in power make such people respond with negative emotions. Due to the low context communication style, individualistic cultures ensure that their communication is direct, precise, and specific. This means that there is no reading between the lines. This prevents misunderstanding between cultures. 

Collectivistic culture, on the other hand, is associated with people sharing knowledge, therefore, enhancing effective functioning in a social environment. Collectivistic culture encourages people to interact, communicate, and share the knowledge. This makes people who associate themselves with collectivism to have similar ideas and thinking about the world. They also have similarities in the way they perceive things, their attitude and values, and their behaviors. However, this does not make them same but rather differentiates them with people from other cultures. People in this culture view themselves as interdependent with each other (Smith and Bond, 1999). Due to the feeling that they each benefit from the groups, people in collectivistic culture work had to ensure they too benefit the group. Examples of countries associated with collectivistic culture are China, Japan, Egypt, and Syria among others. They refer to their groups when defining who they are. However, wealthy people are less collectivistic as they can buy what they want. Homogeneity, need for each other’s help to achieve something, and ability to access other groups are among the factors affecting the degree of collectivistic culture. 

The main difference between individualistic culture and collectivistic culture is that individualistic culture consists of people who are more focused on their individual achievement and progress while collectivistic culture consists of persons whose main focus is grouped based hence doing all activities to enhance group development. 

Fundamental attribution error is also known as attribution effect or correspondence bias. It is involved with differences of how people interpret their own behaviors by placing undue emphasis personal characteristics instead of the external factors when explaining another person’s behavior. Ross argues that “fundamental attribution error forms the conceptual bedrock of the field of social psychology” (Ross, 1977). The fundamental attribution error makes one view others as being guided by their personality then view themselves as being guided by circumstances. People usually over attribute behaviors to traits. Theories that predict fundamental attribution error include; just world phenomenon where people tend to think that they deserve what they get and get what they deserve, salience of the actor where when observing a person, we consider the person as the primary reference and the situation is just a mere background, lack of effortful adjustments where we tend to stick to fundamental attribution error, and culture where those in individualistic culture are prone to errors as compared to those in collectivistic culture. 

Deviation from the norm in a systematic pattern describes cognitive bias (Kahneman and Tversky, 1972). This happens when one draws their inferences about others in an illogical manner. One uses his or her perception to create subjective social reality. Construction of social reality by individual influences their character in the social world. This, therefore, results in inaccurate judgment or irrationality. Cognitive bias makes one to make fast decisions with consideration of time rather than accuracy. 


Charles, H. Cooley. (1902) “Human Nature and the Social Order.” New York: Scribner's. 

Rothwell, J. Dan (2010). An Introduction to Communication. New York: Oxford University Press. 

Smith, P. B., Bond, M. H. (1999). Social psychology across cultures (2nd Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. 

Ross, L. (1977). "The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings: Distortions in the attribution process." In Berkowitz, L. Advances in experimental social psychology. New York: Academic Press. 

Kahneman, D.; Tversky, A. (1972). "Subjective probability: A judgment of representativeness." Cognitive Psychology. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Cultures and Fundamental Attribution Error.


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