Fundamental Attribution Error for Car Shopping

The Fundamental Attribution Error reminds us that people tend to unduly emphasize internal character, rather than external factors when trying to understand people’s motives. We tend to believe that others do bad things because they are bad people. The oft-overlooked reality is that the environment matters more, if not most.


A thief steals an upscale car from the valet at your favorite upscale restaurant while you’re enjoying your steak dinner. Is the thief a bad person? Or does he have a family too to feed at home? External factors.


A car shopper doesn’t show up at a dealership until they are ready to buy. Are they a bad person? Are they even a good person? Or do they have everything they need for shopping completely and painlessly at home? External factors.


As more and more of today’s information moves online, as more and more of today’s transactions move online, and as more and more of society’s interactions move online, a good bet is to know the external environment the consumer is in and to start bringing the products closer and closer to them.


It’s more than digital retailing, too. Anyone can see that coming. It’s humbly beyond the concept of a transaction. It’s to a place of completing the transaction on your phone and having the car delivered to you at your home, at your place of work or wherever is most convenient to you—steak dinners or otherwise.