Ultimate attribution error

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The ultimate attribution error is when a person attributes negative behaviors by members of another "group" (nation, race, religion, etc.) to their inherent character, while explaining away any positive behavior on their part as being merely circumstantial. This is a way in which the cognitive bias of prejudice is retained, despite evidence against it being presented.

An example of this was found in a study revealing that Hindus observing negative behaviors among Hindus attributed these behaviors to external factors, while the same behaviors among Muslims were believed to be deficiencies of character. Muslims concluded the same thing about Hindus.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. Taylor, D. M; Jaggi (1974). "Ethnocentrism and Causal attribution in a South Indian Context". Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 5: 162–171.