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The Destructive Power of Attribution Bias

by Rick Baker
On Apr 24, 2014

From Wikipedia...

In psychology, an attribution bias or attributional bias is a cognitive bias that refers to the systematic errors made when people evaluate and/or try to find reasons for their own and others' behaviors.[1][2][3] People constantly make attributions regarding the cause of their own and others’ behaviors; however, attributions do not always accurately mirror reality. Rather than operating as objective perceivers, people are prone to perceptual errors that lead to biased interpretations of their social world.[4][5]


People jump to conclusions. People have Automatic Negative Thoughts [ANTs]. 

People overestimate the accuracy of their intuition and their gut feel fails them. 

All of these things are in the zone of Attribution Bias. 

And Attribution Bias wreaks havoc when problems arise in business. 

To be more clear - Attribution Bias wreaks much havoc in business. Much damage occurs when Attribution Bias rears its destructive and flawed-attribution head into the face of problems.

Here's what that looks like:

  • a problem arises
  • one person just knows the other person is at fault [that's the special 'gift' of Attribution Bias]
  • everything gets personal; everything gets difficult; much time & energy is wasted; little gets resolved
Business people lay this sort of Attribution Bias on one another all day long.

As a result, they get to share a whole bunch of interpersonal tension and workplace stress.

As a result, the organization where they work gets to achieve less-than-necessary success.

Everybody loses...maybe a little...maybe a lot...regardless, everybody loses.

That's why it is important to understand Attribution Bias.

That's why it is important to free oneself from the grips of Attribution Bias.

Comments (1) -

rick baker
9/12/2015 5:14:15 PM #

"Beware the "squint" brain. Look at things squarely and without prejudice."

Frank Channing Haddock
'Power of Will', (1910)

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