Successful lawyers and the self-serving attribution bias

The self-serving attribution bias blinkers most of us, as commonly “individuals see themselves as fully responsible for their successes yet blame external sources for their failures.” Thus, as explained in the Academy of Mgt. Perspectives, Vol. 23, Feb. 2009 at 81, a litigator’s brilliance and doggedness won at trial but a rigged jury, unscrupulous adversary, and home-town judge caused the same litigator’s next loss at trial (See my post of May 14, 2006: Fundamental Attribution Error; Aug. 30, 2006: systems cause problems more than personal shortcomings cause them; July 10, 2007: fundamental attribution bias and neuroscience; and Nov. 21, 2008: value attribution that distorts perceptions; March 15, 2009: the affect heuristic, where preconceived value-judgments interfere with our assessment of costs and benefits.).

This penchant for self-serving attribution, common to all of us, hinders our ability to learn from what happened (See my post of May 27, 2008: post mortems with 7 references.).

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