Back in high school I learned about an extremely important concept in my AP psychology class: The fundamental attribution error. The fundamental attribution error, or FAE, is a psychology term that refers to the claim that in contrast to interpretations of their own behavior, people place undue emphasis on internal characteristics of the agent (character or intention), rather than external factors, in explaining other people's behavior. In simple terms, the FAE refers to when people attribute your behavior to who you are as a person rather than outside forces.
An example of the FAE would be when you see someone acting rude and think its because they are a mean person. In reality, that person may just be having a bad day. There are external factors that have caused their behavior, not their personality. Examples like this one happen frequently when people are first meeting others or interacting with new people.
The key word I would like to point out is “error.” This assumption that we make about others is not accurate! As humans we try to make sense of our surroundings by making logical assumptions but that can result in errors such as this one.
When we witness others making assumptions about us, we become angry because we know it isn’t true. Knowing that this error exists, we should try to minimize the assumptions that we make about others. Being knowledgeable about the FAE can give you the power to correct the error.
From personal experience I have been able to better recognize the FAE over the years. I can better distinguish between when someone is having a bad day versus being a bad person. I have also had plenty experiences of people assuming that I am stuck up from being too quiet and closed off in social situations. I wish people would be able to see my disposition can be caused by external factors and not just my personality.
Overall, I believe that the FAE is one of the most important psychological ideas to be aware of. I am grateful that I was able to learn about such an important topics at such a young age. I hope that awareness of the FAE can be spread to make society better as a whole.