We have explored the power of situational pressure, so what then is its implication on our actions? The answer is Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE).

The definition of the FAE can be succinctly defined by the image above. Mathematically, it’s an error because we think that it is:

“Internal Motivation = Action”

Rather than

“Situational pressure + (Internal Motivation / 10) = Action”

Why do we do that?

To put it simply, we are wired to blame. It’s in our human tendency to find someone to blame for something that we are unhappy about. We want someone to be punished, for it is impossible for something or a situation to be punished. We want someone to take responsibility and suffer for the supposed injustice done upon us because we are creatures of hate and vengeance, generally. That’s why we have such strong and eternal proponents of death penalty throughout history till today, that’s why we choose retribution over therapy in the justice system, because we are not as noble and beautiful as we think. In spite of that, however, we must still strive to be altruistic and forgiving, to be the ideal human beings.


We must recognize that when something doesn’t go well for us, we have to reserve judgement at least until we are sure of the situation that he/ she is in. How do we do that? Talk to him, get him to open up to you; people are generally quick to open up and talk about their problems because it makes them feel better for someone to empathize with them. That is, of course, if you are willing to emphathize. As Abraham Lincoln had put it:

“I don’t like that man, I must get to know him better.”

Side note: As you can tell, I have a very cynical viewpoint of humanity; calling humans ugly and selfish creatures. This is because I feel that it is important for us to recognize the ugly truth about our inherent nature before we can seek to rectify it. I am a cynic because, as the late George Carlin had accurately revealed that:

“Inside every cynic, there is a disappointed idealist.”

I am disappointed in our species, but I have not lost faith. I still believe that we can live up to our own expectations, for we are a species that had overcomed multiple evolutionary tests of survival. Right now, we can very well overcome the moral one we are facing.

Signing off,



Gilovich, T. and Ross, L. (2015) The wisest One in the room: How you can benefit from social psychology’s Five most powerful insights. Philadelphia, PA, United States: Free Press.


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