Attribution Theory: The Psychology of Interpreting Behavior
by Elizabeth Hopper/ThoughtCo.
In psychology, attribution is a judgment we make about the cause of another person’s behavior. Attribution theory explains these attribution processes, which we use to understand why an event or behavior occurred.
To understand the concept of attribution, imagine that a new friend cancels plans to meet up for coffee. Do you assume that something unavoidable came up, or that the friend is a flaky person? In other words, do you assume that the behavior was situational (related to external circumstances) or dispositional (related to inherent internal characteristics)? How you answer questions like these is the central focus for psychologists who study attribution.
Key Takeaways: Attribution Theory
Attribution theories attempt to explain how human beings evaluate and determine the cause of other people’s behavior.
Well-known attribution theories include the correspondent inference theory, Kelley’s covariation model, and Weiner’s three-dimensional model.
Attribution theories typically focus on the process of determining whether a behavior is situationally-caused (caused by external factors) or dispositionally-caused (caused by internal characteristics).
Common Sense Psychology
Fritz Heider put forward his theories of attribution in his 1958 book The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations. Heider was interested in examining how individuals determine whether another person’s behavior is internally caused or externally caused.
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.
She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.
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