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Are Our Attributions Accurate?

1 February, 2016 - 15:53

We have seen that person perception is useful in helping us successfully interact with others. In relation to our preceding discussion of attributions for success and failure, if we can determine why we did poorly on a test, we can try to prepare differently so we do better on the next one. Because successful navigation of the social world is based on being accurate, we can expect that our attributional skills will be pretty good. However, although people are often reasonably accurate in their attributions—we could say, perhaps, that they are “good enough” (Fiske, 2003)—they are far from perfect. In fact, causal attributions, including those relating to success and failure, are subject to the same types of biases that any other types of social judgments are. Let’s consider some of the ways that our attributions may go away.