Who is responsible for economic failures? Self-serving bias and fundamental attribution error in political context

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The current movement towards a fair socio-economic society can be measured by cost of living and cost of housing. Over the last 5 years, Israel has witnessed a serious rise in both these indices. At the same time, Israel has endured a reduction in family income. These trends led to massive public protests during the summer of 2011. The current research deals with how the Israeli public decides who is responsible for these socio-economic woes. It also deals with related biases in the Israeli public sphere. From a survey conducted among 1538 Israelis on and immediately after the 2015 national elections, we have statistically significant evidence that subjects determine blame based on their support (or non-support) of the ruling government. When the respondents did not identify politically with the ruling party they attributed blame for socio-economic problems (rising cost of living and rising cost of housing) to the prime minister and to a lesser extent to the ruling party. Subjects that politically identified with the ruling party did not attribute socio-economic problems to the prime minister or the ruling party. They placed blame on outside/other causes. The results of the survey are consistent with the ‘fundamental attribution error’ concept which suggests and shows the effect of psychological biases on opinions that should be based upon objective considerations. This research confirms that there is a strong impact of biases on people when voting. We suggest that politicians and voting researchers take this matter into consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-350
Number of pages16
JournalQuality and Quantity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Fundamental attribution error
  • Governmental responsibility
  • Party identification
  • Self serving bias


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