It's actually a psychological term describing how we use internal factors to explain what happens to someone else while we apply external factors to explain the things that happen to us.
Ari Melber covers it in this video. (Here's hoping that the ad preceding the video won't be for a financial institution.)
This is a different world, a whole new ballgame. Let's rein in our assumptions. The last thing we need is to support policies based on judgments that aren't founded in reality and facts.
Take the unemployment thing. I didn't lose my job because I didn't do it well. I lost my job because the organization was tied to construction and we suffered serious revenue losses and my job was eliminated and outsourced. The guy sitting next to me at the Department of Labor the other day didn't lose his job because he didn't do it well. He lost it because the place where he worked doesn't have enough demand to keep four techs employed and he was the last one hired so......
If you lose your job, it's not going to be because you woke up one day and said "Fuck this steady paycheck shit. I want to struggle and live with financial insecurity. I'm going to stop doing my job well." If you lose your job, it's going to be because this economy is getting meaner and leaner and someone has figured out how to keep their business running without you. Should that unfortunate thing happen to you, may anyone you encounter understand that your lack of a job is not your fault. And if they can't then may they have the decency to keep their mouths shut. Or better yet - to help you find your next job.
As Melber says at the end of the video, it's time we call out this lack of compassion and understanding. We need to ask the people who still want to believe that large numbers of Americans don't want to work - would rather struggle to survive than get up each day and go to work - that question: Really? That's your argument?
I dick around with Fundamental Attribution Errors all day long. Sometimes they keep me warmer than the cats curled around my feet. Seriously, the sanctimony I can pull together when presented with something like an episode of 16 and Pregnant or those people with forty-two children. Mind you, I'm not advocating we limit the number of babies a woman can have or the age at which she can have them, but it still doesn't make it right when I indulge in that kind of judgmental thinking.
There's a lot of ignorance (that Put Me in Charge screed, for example) perpetrated on social media, but there's plenty of clever thought, too. One of my favorites is this:
The Fundamental Attribution Error says that if you're not wealthy, it's because you don't work hard enough, didn't choose the right career path, didn't plan well and aren't smart enough. If I'm not wealthy, it's because the government takes all my money in taxes and gives it to lazy, poor people.
What are your fundamental attribution errors?