This week, a video caused a fierce discussion on the Internet. The description of the video said “ Kid urinates on the street, parents had a violet clash with passerby”. In this video, a women had a bitter wrangle with the man who held the camera, and it seemed that this mother was helping her child urinate beside the pavement, and then she found that this man was taking pictures of her kid, so she quickly pushed the buggy in order to go away, but the man who held the camera didn’t let her go. In the final part of the video, they even had some physical confrontation.
After this video was posted on Internet, people all blamed this mother for her rude and uncivilized behavior. Like all the other people, when I saw the news and watched the video, I was also angry on this women’s behavior. However, the trend of this event suddenly reversed. The complete form of the video was posted and in this one, the mother said that there were too many people queued for the public restroom and her 4-year-old child could not withhold urine for such long time, and in the video the woman used a nappy to catch the foul and threw it into the trash bin. Besides, when the woman wanted to leave, the man who held the camera kept preventing her from leaving and took pictures of the kid’s private parts. After watching the full version of the video, the public started to change their attitude and turned against to the man who video the girl.
In this case, everyone including me attributed causes to the women’s personality characteristics and ignored the circumstance she was in. Such tendency was called fundamental attribution error in psychological terms. When the uncompleted version of the video first came, people just saw a woman who let her child urinate on the road, and they might think “This mother is so rude! How can she teach her child to urinate on the road!” However, people failed to consider situational factors, like a 4-year-old kids could not wait for such a long time and actually this mother indeed used a nappy to hold the foul.
False attribution error can be seen everywhere in daily life, but it is hard for people to realize they have such cognitive bias, and nowadays some unprincipled media even used false attribution error to manufactured some pieces of biased news in order to draw public attention. The previous video is one of the examples. The uncompleted version was released by Phoenix Television, a famous TV channel in China. In this version, people can just see that the woman had a quarrel with the man who took pictures of the kid, and the description wrote by the media suggested that it was all the woman’s fault that made those rude behavior. Therefore, people who watched this video would simply think that this mother not only did uncivilized behavior but also have a quarrel with someone who was trying to stop her, how impudent she was! But actually the fact was not like that, and it seemed like Phoenix Television was trying to lead people to have false attribution error on this event intentionally. However, if people can realize the existence of false attribution error and know that it is easy to have such bias, there will be less prejudice on others.