Chapter Five: Social Attribution, Behavior

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Psychology & Brain Sciences
John Bickford

Social Psychology Social Attribution: Exploring Behavior Attribution theory refers to the study of how people understand the causes of events  Causal attribution is the process of people who we use to explain both their own and other’s behavior Explanatory style refers to a person’s habitual way of explaining events and is assessed along three dimensions: internal/external / stable/unstable / global/specific Making people believe that they can exert control over events that they formerly believe to be outside their control restores hope and unleashes the kind of productive energy that makes future success more likely.  Girls attribute failure to lack of intellectual ability and boys attribute failing to not playing attention or not trying hard enough Covariation principle, the idea that behavior should be attributed to potential causes that co-occur with the behavior. Three types: 1) consensus – what people would do in a given situation 2) distinctiveness – whan an individual does in different situations, is a behavior unique to one situation or occur in many situations? 3) consistency – what an individual does in a given situation on different occasions *when all of these are HIGH, situation attribution is necessary. Dispositional attribution is called for when consensus and distinctiveness are low but consistency is high. Example: John laughed at the comedian, almost everyone who hears the comedian laughts at him [consensus]. John does not laugh at many other comedians [distinctiveness]. In the past, John has almost always laughed at the same comedian [consistency]. Discounting principle is the idea that people should assign reduced weight to a particular cause of behavior if other plausible causes might have produced it. Augmentation principle means we
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