April 28


Some kinds of “stinkin thinkin”…

By John Kuder

April 28, 2022

Hi, I’m John. I’m Connie. Okay, so we introduced ourselves. Oh, we did. Yeah. I was wondering how you were gonna work that in so… We might cut it right back out. Who knows?

Okay, so what are we talking about today, John? We are talking about a particular kind of stinking thinking. Ooh, I love that term! We’ll call fundamental attribution error. Big fancy term for something that gets in the way of us making good decisions. I have a lot of those…

You know, we all want to make the best decisions we can, right? Hopefully, yeah.
I mean, we don’t just like go out and “Oh, I think I’m gonna do something stupid today.” It’s not stupid Friday. Bait Car aside, okay. But, but sometimes we just don’t see that we’re, we’re biased. We don’t know. We don’t know it. And bias is, you know, it’s a term that gets used a lot of different ways.

Okay, so, we’re not talking about social bias or we’re talking about that’s literal bias, meaning it’s leaning one way stronger than another. So and maybe we’re conscious and maybe we’re not. Okay. (Hi, Julie! Thanks for watching.)

And so, it’s not you know, it’s not crazy or stupid. It’s just this, you know, unconscious, in this case, an unconscious bias. Oh, okay. So, this one is, like I said, it’s a cognitive bias and it leads to errors in judgment. And this one is about how we look at other people’s behavior. Okay. So, we see somebody do something and we we make it… we make a decision or a label without, “Well, how come they did that? Right? Why, why did they do that?”

Psychological research is, you know, gets done and they use big words and so they gotta be precise and sound smart. So we’ve got this fundamental attribution error. So fundamental just means like, at the base, right? We’re fundamental. Attribution is our labeling or blaming, our you know, they did that because. Attribution. And then and then they… the two areas that we are, you know, leaning one way or the other towards are whether the person themselves is, you know, some character flaw or something in them is the reason and that’s dispositional.

Okay, they’re like their disposition, right? You got a sunny disposition or that’s how we use the word commonly right? Oh, that’s true. Versus situational. Now, that doesn’t need explaining, right? Where does behavior come in here? Well, it’s a behavior either way. It’s what what influenced their behavior. For example, you had somebody cuts you off in traffic the other day, right? Okay. I mean, like five lanes of traffic. Okay. It’s, like, almost perpendicular to traffic. Exactly. He was on one side and he went through all… How many people slammed on their brakes? Oh, four lanes.

Okay. So, you had an impression of what that person was like at that moment. I’m sure a lot of us had them. Right? And so the the most, you know, this bias if you had this bias, you decided that there was something wrong with that person? Oh, yeah. Okay. Versus Oh, my God, maybe, you know, he, he realized he was so beside himself in worry about a family member he was trying to get to that he got in the wrong lane and the idea of being five minutes late by having to go turn around would, you know, just freak him out. And so he reacted something. I mean, okay, so I guess I could have been more understanding. In that moment. You didn’t like, Yeah, start thinking about well, what could have caused him to do that this you know, right. Oh, no no no. He was a dumbass.

Okay, so that’s the bias. That’s the fundamental attribution error in action. And, and it’s so it’s over emphasizing the influence of people’s personality traits versus something in their external situation. Okay. Okay. So how come we do that?

Well, okay, it’s lazy. That right! To a large extent. Like, that’s my opinion. It’s easier. Sure. Okay. And part of is we’re hardwired to… by evolution, to try to go on autopilot whenever we can and not think. Use as little brain power as possible, because it uses a lot of our energy. And when food is in scarce supply, we need to conserve our energy. Okay, so we do a lot of things on autopilot, okay, and there’s there’s a guy named Daniel Kahneman that got a Nobel Prize, and he wrote a book called Thinking Fast and Slow. And he, I mean, he really did a lot of research in this area. Yeah. And so we’re not getting into that. Yeah.

Okay, so we can see the person, right, we see what they did. And we trust what we see. And we just, you know, whatever we saw in that moment, that’s what caused it right. And it’s… rather than thinking about something external that we didn’t see or can’t see. So we don’t know if he had a fight with his wife or if his kid’s in the hospital or whatever. But that’s the we don’t think so we don’t… We have to slow ourselves down to factor that kind of stuff in. Right. Okay. So, so how do we stay aware of that?

Great question. Do you have an answer? We have to we have to get curious. Okay, well, you skipped ahead of me. I tend to do that. I’ve got a plan here.

So there’s another fundamental, there’s another cognitive bias that’s like, you know, kissin’ cousins with this one. It’s called Actor-Observer bias. And it it’s it just adds another part. So when we’re the… we’re the observer, that’s when we use this fundamental attribution error. And I’m.. (good thing my hands aren’t shooting, well, maybe they are. I’ve got some notes here.) So that when we’re the observer, we we tend to look at other people and say, “Oh, well, it’s because of the way they are. They did that because of the way they are internally that permanent kind of a permanent thing.” Okay about them. When we do something… Exactly! “Not my fault, it’s like my shoes are too tight! The strings on the tennis racket are too loose! That guy pulled in front of me in traffic!” You know, whatever. I mean, we… we blame all these situational things. We don’t say, “I’m fundamentally flawed as a person.” True.

And so that’s two cognitive biases. We’re gonna talk a bunch about… in the coming days and weeks, about mental models and how we can use those effectively.

Okay, if you’d like to download a little guide we put together, it’s called Family Harmony guide. I’m going to put a link in the comments here, and I hope to see you.

Stay tuned, we’re going to be doing this more often, correct?. Yes, we are. Alright, at least once a week. If somebody gets their act together… Bye

John Kuder

About the author

John is certified as a Mind Model Method Coach, Platinum Business Coach, Microsoft Office Specialist 2016 Master, CIW Certified Instructor, and holds many other certifications. He enjoys photography and gardening when he isn't buried neck-deep in a computer.

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