Anexample of a time in which my friend had created a faulty or exaggerated viewabout a group of people would be when I first told her about the town that Igrew up in. It is a very small town in rural Nova Scotia and she grew up in alarger city in Nova Scotia. It was easy for her to use availability heuristics to make a judgment of the type of peopleand the personality traits and characteristics of people that would come from sucha small town. In other words, she had a strong accessibility of what in her mind was a schema of a small town. My friend had a basic stereotype in her mind about what people that came from small townswere like, she had created a construalbecause that is how she perceived people from small towns.
She assumed that allpeople there lived on a farm and enjoyed hunting and fishing. To her, this wasa very automatic thinking process asshe really didn’t have to think too hard to form her opinions. However, shefailed to realize that everyone has individualdifferences and although many people from my town do live on farms and dohunt and fish, that is just a stereotype that not everyone fits into. Thoughthere are definitely groups ofpeople that do behave in such a manner. My friend was not using the fundamental attribution error as shewas overestimating the situation (people living in a small town) andunderestimating people’s personalities (the fact that different people havedifferent personalities). Since I was from this town she had formed an attitude toward me as a means ofevaluating the type of person I was.
My friend wanted to maintain her self-fulfilling prophecy and believethat I fit into the description of someone from a small country town and thusshe treated me as if I fit the typical stereotype. I asked her if she wouldlike to visit my town so that she could see that not everyone fit thatdescription. She was initially worried about visiting because as she originallycomes from a city she believed that she was part of the out-group and that people would have an in-group bias towards her and would not make her feel verywelcomed. My friend also believed that because she was from the city she wasbetter than those who are from the country and as a result used a downward social comparison to comparethe differences between both. Once she visited my hometown and meant somepeople she quickly retracted her original statements and maintained a hindsight bias that she had never hadthat stereotype in her mind and never actually believed in the typicalsmall-town person stereotype that she had construed in her mind.
After thefact, she told me that she had previously been primed to think in that manner because that was how things were inanother small town she had visited, and thus she had been endorsing explicit attitudes about what my townwould be like too because it was easy for her to think in that manner. Myfriend had used the attribution theoryto explain why she had previously acted the way she had about small towns. Allin all, she enjoyed her visit and realized that everyone has individualdifferences and that she should not generalize specific attributions to entire populations.