Liberal Academia, psychology, and attribution error

So, when it comes to the bias in academia post, John weighs in with a comment I wish I had written myself:

Haidt had the deck stacked by delivering that speech to a room of social psychologists. Skitka and Tetlock conducted research suggesting that liberals tend to attribute events (particularly negative) to external forces (e.g., SES) while conservatives attribute them to internal forces (e.g., morality- Haight’s speciality). Social psychologists are concerned with context, and have classically referred to a tendency to attribute behavior to internal rather than external explanations the fundamental attribution error… So social psychologists consider conservative attribution style an error. Conservative social psychologists would either have to refute attribution theory or do some wicked mental gymnastics to get around that level of cognitive dissonance.

Of course, I really wish I had thought of that myself, as I’m a big believer that attribution theory helps to explain political ideology (and that conservatives get it wrong).   The world would be a better place if more people simply understood the fundamental attribution error.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Liberal Academia, psychology, and attribution error

  1. John says:

    Haight=Haidt. Guess I was dreaming about San Francisco.

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