Attribution Theory Essay

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ATTRIBUTION THEORY: “Attribution theory deals with how the social perceiver uses information to arrive at causal explanations for events. It examines what information is gathered and how it is combined to form a causal judgment” (Fiske & Taylor, 1991) In simpler words, it means how and why ordinary people explain events like they do. Heider (1858) believed that people are pretty much naïve psychologists who are trying to make sense of the world. People have a habit of seeing cause and effect even when there is none. By cause he means WHY something happens and by effect he means WHAT happens. There were two main ideas that he came up with which I actually found really interesting and it made a lot of sense. • When we are explaining the behaviours of others we look for something called internal attributions which is just something like personality traits. That means we could look for such traits as sad, jealousy, happy and so on. • When we are explaining our own behaviour we are more likely to make external attributions, for example environmental and situational. I would like to explain this further. Internal attribution is when we think that a person had to do something for a reason that had to do with themselves. If you saw a person take the last of an item from somewhere when there were other people around (perhaps food) your automatic thoughts would be that this person is selfish, inconsiderate, and disrespectful and so on. They are all thoughts we believe to be about them. We are explaining their behaviour based upon their personality. Now if we flip this situation to external attributions and you were the one who took the last item of something, we would say we were unaware that there was only one left or unaware that someone else wanted the item. That would mean it’s situational. I think that we are driven by emotions. We don’t like to take blame so in
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