Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0182, December 7, 2004 | 7,000 Subscribers...
 

 

Dear friends,

Many conflicts and misunderstandings that we experience everyday as individuals and as group leaders have to do with a very common error in judgment called Fundamental Attribution Error. In this week's article, "An Error in Judgment," we explore the cause of this error and steps we can take to help minimize it in ourselves and in our groups.

In my recent discussions with friends, colleagues, and readers, I've come to realize that many of you out there may be interested in what I've learned over the past few years about building my Internet-based Virtual University, FacilitatorU.com. And that this information may be just what you need to get started with your own online business. So I'm offering a 90-minute tutorial explaining the basics of setting up an online business. Please see details at the end of this issue. I hope you'll join me and take that first step to putting your business online in the new year.

In this Issue:

Feature Article: Errors in Judgment

Facilitation Micro-Skills Tele-Seminar: Behind the Scenes at FacilitatorU.com: 90-minute teleclass for the "would-be" Infopreneur, explaining the nuts and bolts of building an Internet Business


Job Opportunities: New positions at FacilitatorU.com

If any of you have any interesting stories or experiences about facilitation, group process, work groups, team building, training, etc. that might interest our readers, please send them to us.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher

 
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Relating Skill


An Error in Judgment
Understand and educate your groups about Fundamental Attribution Error

The Point


When you witness someone doing something that really pushes your buttons, to what do you attribute the cause of their action? To the character of this person, or to the nature of his/her individual personal situation? As it turns out, most of us jump to conclusions about the person rather than the external factors that might contribute to their behavior.

We see an apparently homeless person on the street requesting money from passerbys and we are likely to think things like, "Why is this person such a loser? Why don't they just get a job like the rest of us? They must have no self-respect at all to be doing such a thing."

It's far less likely for us to ask questions like these, "What is it about our society that gives rise to such things? What has happened in this unfortunate person's life to have led to this necessity?"

This is a difference in attribution that is so dominant in us that sociologists have given it a name. They call it...

Fundamental Attribution Error

This refers to the fact that whenever people are making attributions about an action, they tend to over-emphasize dispositional, or personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others, and under-emphasize the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior. In other words, people tend to have a default assumption that what a person does is based more on what "kind" of person he is, rather than the social, biological, or environmental forces at work on that person. This default assumption leads to people sometimes making erroneous explanations for behavior.

Why does Fundamental Attribution Error Occur?

One theoretical view holds that the error results largely from perspective. When we observe other people, the person is the primary reference point. When we observe ourselves, we are more aware of the forces acting upon us. So, attributions for others’ behavior are more likely to focus on the person we see, not the situational forces we can't see that are acting upon that person. In the parlance of psychology research, this is called salience -- more "salient" factors are more likely to be attributed as causal.


Examples


What do we think we know?

You are a participant in a group and you make a statement about your political stance. Just then you turn your gaze to a person across from you who at the same time breaks eye contact with you and looks the other way. You immediately think this person disagrees with your views and become angry at them. You attack them saying something like," I wish more people in this group were more open-minded." You don't know that this person was simply distracted by someone moving outside and was simply looking out the window. In this lucky instance, they just so happen to come up to you during a break and to your surprise, complement you on the very statement you made earlier and offer their agreement.


How can we reduce the error's effects?

A number of "debiasing" techniques have been found effective in reducing the effect of the fundamental attribution error:

  • Take heed to "consensus" information. If most people behave the same way when put in the same situation, then the situation is more likely to be the cause of the behavior.
  • Ask yourself how you would behave in the same situation.
  • Look for unseen causes. Since "salient" factors are usually overattributed, look for factors you would not normally take notice of.

Related findings

  • Persons in a state of cognitive overload are more likely to commit the fundamental attribution error.
  • There is some evidence to support the contention that cultures which tend to emphasize the individual over the group ("individualistic" cultures) tend to make more dispositional attributions than do the "collectivist" cultures. Persons living in more individualistic societies may be more likely to commit the fundamental attribution error.

Each of us might more readily note this about ourselves: our character isn't stable. It seems consistent because of our control over our environments. We will do well to give others the benefit of any doubt about the supposed cause of their behaviors.

Action
 
What will you do differently, or ask of your groups to minimize fundamental attribution error? Please send us your comments.
 
Job Opportunities

FacilitatorU.com is looking to fill a couple commission-based volunteer positions. These could be great opportunities for you if you're Internet savvy, have a strong network, and work well independently. Please review these positions for your own interest and also feel free to pass them along to any friends or associates whom you think may be interested. Click here to review details of these positions.
In the Spotlight

A "Behind the Scenes" Look at FacilitatorU.com

A 90-minute teleclass for the "would-be" Infopreneur explaining the nuts and bolts of building an Internet business

December 16th, at 1:00PM EST (NY Time).
Hosted by Steve Davis, Founder of FacilitatorU.com

I have been struck by Steve's ability translate my ideas into a web page design that really works for me and for my clients. He has also been extremely responsive to my needs and time constraints as we are adding components to the site as I speak. Steve is not just a great web designer, he becomes your coach as you work through the process and explore ways to not just build your site, but to take a business development approach to doing it. With Steve as my web designer and website host, I have my own personal guide helping me navigate my way through this new territory of e-commerce.
-- Margaret Wall, B.A., M.Ed., IntegratedLearning.ca
--

A 90-Minute Teleclass Tutorial

In my recent discussions with friends, colleagues, and readers, I've come to realize that many of you out there may be interested in what I've learned over the past few years about building my Internet-based Virtual University, FacilitatorU.com. And that this information may be just what you need to get started with your own online business.

Perhaps many elements of Internet business like accepting payments online, the difference between a merchant accounts and payment gateways, how to record and stream teleclasses and interviews, how to design an html ezine, how to select a shopping cart, how to register a domain name, basics of web hosting, etc. are a mystery to you and are stopping you from moving forward. During this class I hope to demystify these things for you and support you in taking action.

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  • How to decide the best way of accepting online payments for you.
  • The difference between PayPal, ClickBank, and Shopping Carts, how each of them work, and how much they cost you.
  • What features you need to make sure any payment processor or shopping cart has before you sign up with them.
  • The difference between a merchant account and a payment gateway, and how they work with your shopping cart.
  • Make more sales by discovering which payment methods are easiest for your customers.
  • How to accept payments in more than one way on your website (e.g. credit card and e-check).
  • Learn about the security aspects of online payments.
  • How to record and stream teleclasses to generate passive income.
  • How I design and publish my html ezine, the Master Facilitator Journal.

Steve Davis's gentle guidance and masterful understanding of building Internet businesses has opened up a whole new world for my company and a streamlined infrastructure for my work. Because I'm both a techno-phobe and a very busy professional, this expansive marketplace would otherwise have been inaccessible to me. His years of experience in trolling for the best solutions and his patient willingness to hand-hold and guide has de-msytified the process, saved me countless hours of work and created a platform for my business to rapidly grow and to handle much greater volume easily.
--
Jan Allen, Director, The Field Coaching Institute

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3. Resources List. You'll receive a collection of vendors and online resources I use that will help save you time getting your business up and running.

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Purchase Info

Live Teleclass + Real Audio Version + bonuses ($29.95)

Sign up for this live teleclass and get the chance to interact with the instructor asking questions you have about the topic.
Can't make the class? No problem. After the class, we'll email you the link to a real-audio recording of the seminar to listen to on your computer at your leisure. Or order the CD version below to listen to anywhere.
You'll also receive access to written notes summarizing the highlights of the class for future reference along with all the bonuses listed above.

Click Here to Purchase Live Teleclass + Real Audio + bonuses: $29.95


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Audio + bonuses + Compact Disk ($34.95)

Receive all of the above plus a Compact Disk recording of the seminar in the mail that you can listen to at your leisure.

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