The Challenges in Explaining Mass Shootings

Posted by Ed 10 mths ago
By Daniel R. Stalder Ph.D. on August 05, 2019 in Bias Fundamentals

The perpetrator in a mass shooting is responsible and to blame. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be other contributing causes like guns, culture, and dehumanizing rhetoric.
 A classic question in social psychology is to ask why there is wrongdoing in society. A classic error or bias is to respond very quickly that there is something wrong with the wrongdoer and to look no further. Ignoring the possibility of situational or societal causes and focusing only on the characteristics of the wrongdoer falls under the “fundamental attribution error” or FAE, not that the wrongdoer should ever be excused or ignored (Stalder, 2018).
In the two recent mass shootings in the U.S., at least one of which appears to be a hate crime, there indeed must be something wrong or deranged or evil in the perpetrator.
The person who pulled the trigger is to blame and needs to be brought to justice. But to limit our explanation to the shooter being “crazy” or “sick” while denying other potential causes, within only a few hours after the shooting, would fit the FAE. Unfortunately, some political figures follow this explanatory path (Gittleson & Doom, 2019). 

Please support our advertisers:

< Back to main category

Login now