Attribution theory

Attribution theory

Attribution theory is a social psychology theory developed by Fritz Heider, Harold Kelley, Edward E. Jones, and Lee Ross.

The theory is concerned with the ways in which people explain (or attribute) the behavior of others or themselves (self-attribution) with something else. It explores how individuals "attribute" causes to events and how this cognitive perception affects their usefulness in an organization.

Internal versus external

The theory divides the way people attribute causes to events into two types.
* "External" or "situational" attribution assigns causality to an outside factor, such as the weather.
* "Internal" or "dispositional" attribution assigns causality to factors within the person, such as their own level of intelligence or other variables that make the individual responsible for the event.

The covariation model developed by Harold Kelley examines how people decide whether an internal or an external attribution will be made.

See also

* Attributional bias
* causation
* Educational psychology
* Correspondent inference theory
* Locus of control
* Explanatory style
* Attribution (psychology)


* Heider, Fritz. (1958). "The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations". New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-36833-4

External links

* [ Essay on Attribution by Steve Booth-Butterfield of West Virginia University (1996)]
* [ "From Attributions to Folk Explanations: An Argument in 10 (or so) Steps" (Bertram Malle, University of Oregon, 2002).]

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