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- Mar 2021
This tendency is known as the “actor-observer effect”. What this means is that people often attribute their own behavior to situational causes, while observers attribute the actor's behavior to the personality or disposition of the actor. For example, an actor's common reason to be late is due to the situational reason, traffic. Observers’ lack of contextual knowledge about the traffic, i.e. common ground, leads to them attributing the lateness due to ignorance or laziness on the actor's part. This tendency towards dispositional attribution is especially magnified when the stakes are higher and the situation is more complex. When observers are relatively calm, the tendency towards dispositional attribution is less strong.