Actor–observer asymmetry  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Actor–observer asymmetry (also actor–observer bias) explains the errors that one makes when forming attributions about the behavior of others (Jones & Nisbett, 1971). When people judge their own behavior, and they are the actor, they are more likely to attribute their actions to the particular situation than to a generalization about their personality. Yet when an observer is explaining the behavior of another person (the actor), they are more likely to attribute this behavior to the actors’s overall disposition rather than to situational factors. This frequent error shows the bias that people hold in their evaluations of behavior (Miller & Norman, 1975). Because people are better acquainted with the situational (external) factors affecting their own decisions, they are more likely to see their own behavior as affected by the social situation they are in. However, because the situational effects of anothers' behavior are less accessible to the observer, observers see the actor's behavior as influenced more by the actor's overall personality. The actor-observer asymmetry is a component of the ultimate attribution error.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Actor–observer asymmetry" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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