Summary Sheet of Attribution Theory

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Summary sheet of Attribution theory
What is attribution?
It is the process of assigning cause to an event.
Why do we do this?
We make attributions to make sense of our environment and the most important aspect of our
environment, where we must attribute cause, is the behaviour of others.
Why do we have to attribute cause to the behaviour of others?
We do this to respond to them, the process of working out what causes social behaviour is known as
the attribution of causality.
What are the two types of attribution of causality?
1. Internal attributions- This means we believe something internal is causing their behaviour, for
example, their personality.
2. External attributions-This is where we believe an external factor is causing their behaviour.
What other attributions do we make?
We also make attributions about the cause of events. Many psychologists believe that individuals
each have distinctive attribution styles. There are a number of theories that explain individual
differences in attribution styles.
Grotter 1966 categorised internals and externals.
Internals believe they have a large amount of control over their destiny.
Externals are more fatalistic and believe they have a little control over their destiny.
Errors in attribution
Psychologists have observed that there are a number of errors people can make when making
#attributions about the causes of behaviour:
The fundamental attribution error is the tendency for people to make external
attributions about our own behaviour and internal attributions about the behaviour of others.
(internal rather external attributions about the behaviour of others)
There is another error that can be made about how we attribute the causes of our successes and
People with a self-serving bias make internal attributions about successes, meaning they
believe that factors internal to them, for example, their personality, resulted in their
successes. They however make external attributions about failures, meaning they attribute
failure to factors external to them, meaning they do not receive the blame. It is known as a

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