- Attribution theory
While driving home from school one day, a car suddenly swerved in front of me and passed down the lane. As a driver, I have taught myself to never get angry at other drivers so that I can focus on my own driving. That did not mean, however, that I didn’t judge the person who swerved in front of me. I attributed his behavior to an aggressive personality. I figured since he was driving so rashly, his personality must be that of someone impatient and slightly aggressive.
- Fundamental attribution error
The above example contradicts the fundamental attribution error. Usually, we make the error of attributing someone’s behavior to their personality rather than linking it to an external cause. In my case, I had attributed my crazy driver’s behavior correctly. At the next stoplight, I saw the driver pull into a McDonald’s and walk casually into it. At that point I was disappointed, not because the driver had cut me off but because their driving was so terrible they could have put others in danger.
- Cognitive dissonance theory
I have seen the cognitive dissonance theory in place with smokers. No one in my family smokes, but some of my friends’ parents do. Many, in fact, have even tried to quit. These smokers have weighed the possibility of smoking, but have justified it. They know that smoking causes health problems, but to decrease the dissonance, they may justify by stating that smoking helps them cope with stress or that it’s not that much of a health risk to begin with.
Persuasion is probably the most commonly seen in my life. For example, last year we had debates about various global issues. Throughout the debates, different people covered different topics that swayed my position. They were using persuasion to do so. It wasn’t so much as the source, but the message that really stuck out to me.