Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error Page: 17
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actor-observer bias is a tendency for people to describe their own behavior (as the actor) in terms
of the context which surrounded the behavior, and inversely commit the FAE in identifying the
causes of others' behavior (Jones & Nisbett, 1972). The actor-observer bias is more of an
extension of the FAE than a separate concept.
In satisfying the desire to know why people behave the way they do, the FAE is
committed as an error of convenience. Indeed, research has found that the more cognitively taxed
a person is, the more flagrant and pervasive their engagement of the FAE; identifying behavior
and making dispositional attributions comes quite automatically, however, assessing contextual
factors and incorporating them into the attribution requires directed, conscious, and thus energy
consuming thinking (Gilbert & Patrick, 1995; Gilbert, Pelham & Krull, 1988). After all, it
requires greater attention and integrative cognitive work to consider the broader context. Also,
some researchers suggest that the FAE comforts us by creating a sense of fairness; other people's
woes are the results of their own poor disposition rather than a harsh environment (Furnham &
The FAE in clinical work. It appears that clinical training models might actually increase
the prevalence of FAE commission by master's level clinicians across their training experience
(Gilibert & Banovic, 2009). In part, this is likely related to the FAE's function as an organization
tool for individuals to understand their experience of other people. In clinical work, diagnostics
are designed to make for easier communication and orient the clinician by giving her an
understanding of the client's presenting concern (i.e., previously described proposed utilities of
the DSM, 1 and 3, respectively). This approach inherently makes dispositional claims about
people. Diagnoses in the DSM portray the state of a person, his or her qualities, with no
consideration of the power of situations. It is not the author's intention to place the full blame of
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Schmalz, Jonathan. Oh G-d, A Borderline: Clinical Diagnostics As Fundamental Attribution Error, thesis, December 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103389/m1/23/: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .