People make snap judgments all the time. That woman in the sharp business suit must be intelligent and successful; the driver who just cut me off is a rude jerk.
These instant assessments, when we attribute a person’s behavior to innate characteristics rather than external circumstances, happen so frequently that psychologists have a name for them: “fundamental attribution errors.” Unable to know every aspect of a stranger’s backstory, yet still needing to make a primal designation between friend and foe, we watch for surface cues: expensive pants—friend; aggressive driving—foe.
A new research paper demonstrates that the fundamental attribution error is so deeply rooted in our decision making that not even highly trained people-evaluators, such as hiring managers and school admissions officers- can defeat its effects. <Read more.>