Fundamental Attribution Error

What is the Fundamental Attribution Error? The fundamental attribution error is a term, which refers to the common human error in which people tend to underestimate situational influences and overestimate individual personality factors, when explaining behavior. Even though most research on crime favors the view that both personality and situational factors play a mutual role in determining behavior, most people neglect to realize or acknowledge this. The fundamental attribution error tends to only apply when making attributions about others. When explaining our own behavior, the opposite is true; we tend to discount dispositional factors in favor of situational forces. This is also known as a self-serving bias, in which we tend to give credit to our personality traits when referring to something good about ourselves; when referring to bad things or events, we blame external situational forces. For example, if we were to hypothetically ask a group of correctional counselors why they believe certain inmates committed crimes, they would most likely attribute it to personality characteristics: laziness, aggression, negative worldview, etc. If we were to ask the inmates, they would probably blame external forces for their problems,… Read More

Jury Selection | Importance of Experiential Questioning

Jury Selection It can be argued that the selection of a good jury is more important than any facts of the case. I happen to believe that the facts of the case are equally important to a good jury selection. Many fellow criminal attorneys have claimed that no amount of evidence against their client would matter, as long as their jury selection is perfect;  they believe they will come out on top over the long run, regardless of the circumstances in the case. Although this may very well be true, many lawyers unknowingly lack in their abilities to effectively pick a decent jury. The usual approach to jury selection, voire dire, focuses on asking jurors questions which fall into two categories: affiliative, and attitudinal questions. These questions are thought to show any conscious or unconscious preferences a prospective juror may have towards the prosecution or defense. What are Affiliative and Attitudinal Questions? Affiliative questions are focused on any groups that a prospective juror identifies with. These questions are supposed to provide the attorney with clues as to where the prospective juror stands on various social issues. Alone, affiliative… Read More