Self-serving biases function to maintain self-esteem by attributing one's own failures to external factors and attributing positive outcomes to internal factors. By attributing failure to an external source, one can then free oneself from the negative connotations of failure, and, thus, help to maintain a higher sense of self-esteem. Self-serving biases also play a significant and varied role in social attributions. For example, when assessing the cause of another person's behavior, one will often overestimate the personal disposition of the individual and underestimate the environmental or situational factors; thus making the fundamental attribution error (Jones and Harris, 1967). If the error is extended to a group context, it is known as the Ultimate Attribution Error. Further, a person is more likely to make internal attributions of another's behavior if the behavior is undesirable.
Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference
©2003 by the University of Northern Iowa
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA
"The Fundamental Attribution Error: Differences Between the Homeless and College Students,"
Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference: Vol. 7:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/csbsproceedings/vol7/iss1/4