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Double shot: an attribution error based on cultural values and norms on the way to discrimination

In social psychology, attribution error, also known as correspondence bias or attribution effect, is the tendency for people to under-emphasize situational explanations for an individual's observed behavior while over-emphasizing dispositional and personality-based explanations for their behavior.

Research suggests that also cultural values and norms affect the way people make attributions. In particular, differences in attribution style exist between individualist and collectivist cultures.

People in individualist cultures place a high value on uniqueness and independence, believe in the importance of individual goals, and define themselves in terms of personal attributes.

People in collectivist cultures, on the other hand, place a high value on conformity and interdependence, believe in the importance of group goals, and define themselves in terms of their membership in groups.

North American and Western European cultures tend to be individualistic, while Asian, Latin American, and African cultures tend to be collectivist.

But if we need to look into the future and not into the past we have to understand that all of us have 3 important attribution errors:

1 - Fundamental attribution error (Russia, the West): it is assumed that other people’s behavior corresponds to their personal attributes.People in collectivist cultures tend to be less susceptible to the fundamental attribution error than people in individualist cultures;

2 - Motivational attribution error: an attempt to explain success and failure. Luck will be explained by personality, failure – by external causes, situation;

3 - Maximum attribution error: a person explains behavior due to belonging to a race or other social group.

Plus the tendency of a person to evaluate various customs being based on the norms of his group. And here come:

1 - Apreconceived idea: attitudes based on differences (racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia);

2 - Prejudice: a more complex phenomenon. Condemnation, assessment based on differences;

3 - Discrimination: negative behavior based solely on differences.

Knowing it we have to remember that the ethnic setting of a person is a system of a person’s attitude to time, nature, and values.

Today when borders are blurred – ethnic identity is growing. People fight for their culture, for their language and for their sovereignty.

There is a paradox between globalization and the desire of people to preserve their culture.

What we need today is to learn to protect our rights and interests, to achieve our goals, while at the same time not violating the rights of other people.


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