Attitudes & Attribution Across Cultures
Making Attributions in Intercultural Interactions
Types of explanations:
1) Ability; internal attribution (I did well because I am good at this subject)
2) Task difficulty; external (I did well because the exam wasn’t very hard)
3) Effort; internal & unstable (I did well because I studied a lot)
4) Luck; external & unstable (I did well because I got lucky)
- Cultures tend to use different explanations for success & failure
Isomorphic attribution (Triandis, 1977)
When there is no breakdown of terms of the same attribution (e.g. if a samerai says I
want to sleep with you, it doesn’t mean sex)
Cultural Style of Attribution
- In individualistic cultures people tend to focus on the individual as determining the
cause of behaviour.
People attribute success to ability & failure to external factors.
- In collectivistic cultures people tend to give greater emphasis to external causes of
People attribute success to help from others & failure to lack of effort.
Fundamental Attribution Error
- Is it possible that the fundamental attribution error is a uniquely western phenomenon?
- Miller (1984)
Participants: American & Asian Indians of varying ages
They had to describe the cause of actions they had observed in their lives
At age 8 – no significant difference between American & Indian in internal
attribution, but as age increases, Americans attribute more to internal
External attribution – Americans attribute less to external as age increases
Masuda & Nisbett’s Study (2001)
- Japanese & Americans recal details about the focal fish to a nearly equal extent
- Japanese remember more details about the small fish, the background, the corals, etc.
- Individuals who were born in one culture (collectivistic) & then live in individualistic
- How bicultural indiviuals make attributions for human behaviour
Make more situational attribution for Chinese images RESULTS:
- Those with bicultural identity made more situational attribution when Chinese images
were presented & less situational attribution when American images were given
- Conclusion: Social perceptions are fluid & depend on which culture is brought to
- The tendency of explaining one’s succe