Attribution bias is a predisposition among people to attribute the causes of the behavior of someone, or even performance, to their internal characteristics or external circumstances. The attribution comes in both positive and negative outcomes. Did not understand what attribution bias is? Read on through to the end of the article to understand better.
In this article, you will mainly learn about attribution bias and its effect in a business environment, especially in the workplace. Furthermore, we will also discuss some of the essential steps on how to get rid of attribution bias in the workplace so as to have a better workplace environment. Hence, to learn more, read the sections below.
What Is Attribution Bias?
According to a definition by Wall Street Mojo –
“Attribution bias is a cognitive bias causing a person to misinterpret their impulse and others’ behavior. As a result, it becomes an easy tool for a person to protect their egoistic behavior and self-image in front of others. Unfortunately, it often has negative connotations associated with it.”
A simple and general example is an instance when a manager blames his employees when they fail to perform or underperform. It basically leads to a person explaining the behavior of other people based on their character and not the situation that they face.
Furthermore, this situation enables the exaggeration of the individual traits of the person and thereby wrongly portrays the circumstance. This leads to a bias whose negative impact further leads to the minimization of the situation’s role and maximizing the role of the individual in the given scenario.
Attribution bias comes in a variety of forms and can enable one person to systematically attribute his/her successes to their own abilities and efforts. Furthermore, such individuals attribute failures to external factors and others and refrain from owning up to what might have been their own faults.
There is a further level of attribution bias where a person considers others’ successes to come out of dumb luck and failures to their personal flaws.
How Does Attribution Bias Affects Workplace Environment?
One of the biggest aspects of attribution bias is that in a workplace, it significantly impacts decision-making, relationships, and performance in most areas of life, including business, production, organizational culture, as well as investments.
According to Investopedia,
“Attribution bias can create misunderstandings, strain relationships, and hinder teamwork and cooperation…this can result in a toxic work environment, where blame is assigned unfairly, and collaborative problem solving is stifled.”
Attribution biases create a negative impact in business situations as well. There are some business leaders who commonly fall prey to attribution bias and hence make poor decisions. They thereby make faulty assumptions about the major causes of their businesses’ successes and failures.
It happens due to the blaming of individuals for the problem instead of focusing on the root cause of the problem. It leads to managers and top employees coming up with the wrong solution for a problem, which leads to a disastrous effect on the work environment and productivity of the company.
How To Get Rid Of Attribution Bias At The Workplace?
The article on attribution bias on Wall Street Mojo rightly puts here –
“One may find attribution bias in cases such as victim-blaming and at all workplaces related to employee performance. Moreover, if one concentrates more on a person’s behavior than on the real causes of bias, those decisions become wrong and harmful.”
Hence, you can see from here that attribution bias can lead to grave consequences in the workplace. Therefore it needs to be dealt with in every organization for a better workplace environment where everyone has an open mind, and all employees feel valued. The following are the steps to take to get rid of attribution bias in the workplace:
1. Encouraging Open Communication Among Employees
A great example of a great work culture is where employees communicate honestly and openly with each other. This further helps the organization to create an environment of mutual trust and understanding while reducing the likelihood of attribution bias. Focus on an environment where leadership skills and teamwork are valued more than anything else.
2. More Focus On Behavioral Conduct
The organization must have a good environment where there is a code of conduct. When discussing the performance of every individual, the focus should be on specific behaviors and actions rather than personality traits or internal characteristics. This can help the organization not make assumptions based on prejudice and stereotypes.
3. A Culture Of Empathy Within The Organization
The organization’s management must encourage the employees to put themselves in the shoes of others and consider various situational factors that influence their behaviors of them as well as others. This further helps in reducing the tendencies that attribute others’ behaviors to internal characteristics and external circumstances.
4. Offering Training On Attribution Bias
One of the great ways to ensure a respectful organizational culture is to offer training on attribution bias. Ensure that employees recognize and learn how to overcome biases in the organization. Furthermore, it also helps employees to create a greater awareness of the inherent biases in the organization and effectively manage them.
5. Focusing On A Diverse And Inclusive Workplace
Attribution bias can be reduced by a good margin if the organization exposes the employees to a diverse and inclusive workplace. This will also enable employees to have a broader range of experiences and perspectives. Such an organization will challenge preconceptions, prejudices, and stereotypes and will promote an open and inclusive culture.
Hence, you can see from the aforementioned sections that attribution bias is a purely psychological phenomenon that highly affects how an individual perceives the causes of events and behaviors. This is especially true for workplace situations.
Since this type of bias has a significant impact in the workplace, it is important to recognize it in a given situation. Proper recognition of the attribution bias helps you to make better decisions in the workplace and gives you a better idea of how to take care of such biases and improve workplace relationships.
A passionate writer and an avid reader, Soumava is academically inclined and loves writing on topics requiring deep research. Having 3+ years of experience, Soumava also loves writing blogs in other domains, including digital marketing, business, technology, travel, and sports.