Name of Theory: Attribution Theory Originator(s) and Professional Background: Attribution theory was developed overtime from the theories of Fritz Heider, Edward Jones, Keith Davis, and Harold Kelley. All were social psychologists. Edward 'Ned' Jones was born August 11, 1926 in Buffalo, NY. He received his doctorate degree from Harvard University in 1953. He taught at Duke University in the psychology department and was chair of the department from 1970-73. He was on both the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Mental Health's advisory boards. He has written several books including Foundations of Social Psychology. 3. Institution(s) with which identified: Harold Kelley was at the University of California and most of his research involving attribution theory was funded by the National Science Foundation. Edward Jones spent his entire career at the Duke University. 4. Purpose of the theory: Attribution theory is about how people make causal explanations; about how they answer questions beginning with "why?" The theory deals with the information they use in making causal inferences, and with what they do with this information to answer causal questions. The theory developed within social psychology as a means of dealing with questions of social perception. For instance, if a person is aggressively competitive in his/her behavior, is s/he this kind of person, or is s/he reacting to situational pressures. If a person fails a test, does s/he have low ability, or is the test difficult? In both examples, the questions concern the causes of observed behavior and the answers of interest are those given by the man on the street. This is why Heider refers to attribution theory as "naïve" psychology. Attribution theory describes the processes of explaining events and the behavioral and emotional consequences of those explanations. Approximate year of origin: Heider first wrote about attribution theory in his book The Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships (1958) which played a central role in the origination and definition of attribution theory. Jones and Davis' systematic hypotheses about the perception of intention was published in 1965 in the essay "From Acts to Dispositions." Kelley published "Attribution in Social Psychology" in 1967.


6. Circumstances that led to model development: In the 1970s the field of social psychology was dominated by attribution theorists and researchers. "Attribution theory came to rival cognitive dissonance as one of the most imperialistic theories in social psychology. Attribution theory was seen as relevant to the study of person perception, event perception, attitude change, the acquisition of self-knowledge, therapeutic interventions, and much more" (Ross and Fletcher, 1986). Attribution theory emerged from Heider's (1958) "naïve" or "lay" psychology and

beliefs must be taken into account if psychologists were to account for human behavior. high distinctiveness.does the target person respond in the same way to other stimuli as well? Consistency information .subsequent reformulations by Jones and Davis (1965) and Kelley (1967). arguing that both personal forces and environmental factors operate on the "actor. He asks the question: "How do individuals establish the validity of their own or of another person's impression of an object?" Kelley suggested that perceivers examine three different kinds of information in their efforts to establish validity (Ross and Fletcher.does the target person always respond in the same way to this stimulus? Three combinations of this information: 1.the degree to which the actor performs that same behavior toward an object on different occasions. Key terms: 1. This would be true whether the beliefs were valid or not. 4. 2) the target person seldom likes . perceivers may infer a disposition of kindness from a kindly act.) from his or her behavior. Perceivers make correspondent inferences when they infer another's personal dispositions directly from behavior. Attributions .the degree to which other actors perform the same behavior with the same object." and the balance of these determines the attribution of responsibility (Lewis and Daltroy. Kelley (1967) advanced Heider's theory by adding hypotheses about the factors that affect the formation of attributions: consistency. Consensus . Therefore. for example. high consistency: The target person's judgment of the restaurant (it is a good restaurant) should be perceived as valid if the perceiver knows that 1) other people like the restaurant. He stressed the importance of taking the ordinary person's explanations and understanding of events and behaviors seriously.the degree to which the actor performs different behaviors with different objects. Heider postulated a set of rules of inference by which the ordinary person might attribute responsibility to another person (an "actor") for an action. Kelley's Model of Attribution Theory: Kelley's theory is not limited to interpersonal perception. His theory concerns the subjective experience of attributional validity. 1985): Consensus information . Inferences are correspondent when the behavior and the disposition can be assigned similar labels (e. and consensus. Heider also suggested that you could learn a great deal from commonsense psychology. 3. 8. Heider distinguished between internal and external attributions. kind).do all or only a few people respond to the stimulus in the same way as the target person? Distinctiveness information .the causes individuals generate to make sense of their world. Correspondent Inference Theory: Jones & Davis described how an "alert perceiver" might infer another's intentions and personal dispositions (personality traits. attitudes. 7. etc. Distinctiveness .g. 2. Description of Attribution Theory: Heider's "Naive" Psychology: Heider believe that people act on the basis of their beliefs. High consensus. Consistency . 1990). distinctiveness.

Relations. (1973). The Psychology of Interpersonal. G. E." In G. The processes of causal attribution. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. 1990): 1. 2) the target person likes most restaurants and 3) the target person enjoys the restaurant each time s/he goes there. O. Boutsen. and 3) the target person enjoys the restaurant every time he or she goes there. R. F. (1991). development of therapeutic relationships between health care professionals and clients.restaurants. Lewis. "How Causal Explanations Influence Health Behavior: Attribution Theory. vol. M. 9. Attributions and Health Education Attribution theory can be applied to health education in 6 ways (Lewis and Daltroy. F. http://www. Bibliography Boruchovitch. Inc. Ross. 192-238. Jones.K." In Glanz.). Low consensus. 2) the target person seldom likes the restaurant.authorstream. and Fletcher. Attribution in social psychology. (eds. Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.). 2. F. More than likely the target person's liking this restaurant is attributable to the person liking the company or wine rather than the food. high distinctiveness. low consistency: If a perceiver knows 1) few other people like the restaurant. Kelley. 5. H. 360-64. Low consensus. San Francisco. (1958). Single-parent college students' attributions toward academic success. H. H. alteration of incorrect attributions. The restaurant is good. K. and 3) the target person disliked this restaurant in the past. K. (1993. Berkowitz (ed. Canada. 3. development of correct attributions. 28(4).M. J. August). CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Kelley. 2." In L. 3. "From Acts to Dispositions: The Attribution Process in Person References Heider. Causal attributions for health and illness: A cross-cultural contribution. Psychology in the Schools. 2. high consistency: If a perceiver knows that 1) most people do not like the target person's restaurant. (1967). FL: Academic Press. H. and Rimer. and 6. B. American Psychologist. . low distinctiveness. (1985). Orlando. 4. E. The Handbook of Social Psychology. 107-128. "Attribution and Social Perception. L. maintenance of perceived personal effectiveness. and Daltroy.. attributing characteristics to the individual. Aronson (eds. E. (1990). 73-114. Toronto. vol. New York: Wiley. 2. altering the focus of attributions. (1965). and Davis. M. and Practice. 15. Lindsey & E. F. Target person's enjoyment at restaurant attributable to something about him/her (likes to eat out) not something unique about the restaurant. Lewis. E. 28. H.) Health Education and Health Behavior: Theory . Research. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation.

Desprels-Frayssee. J. 21(5). . 25(1). 227-45. (December 1996). W. E. (April 1993). Attribution style and projection. & Gaier. 127(3). (May 1993). The article presents a study of children of holocaust survivors. The Journal of General Psychology. October). Maltby. (1995. P. 1993). 157(4). A. Preservice teachers' changing attributions for elementary students success of failure. The results of the study present no relation between the two theories. M. Attribution theory in sport: Problems and solutions.. 154(3) 339-346. Causal attributions for college success and failure: An AsianAmerican comparison. Thus. Tampa. The Journal of Psychology. (1989). Referential set presentation effects on complementation by 6 year olds. D. & Mills. 525-38. The article is a study of the meaning attributed by children to the properties of objects. FL. 257-270. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-West Educational Research Association. interpersonal adjustment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. & Perry. The specific characteristics which were being analyzed include the following: narcissism. The children of the holocaust survivors completed a California Psychological Inventory. and the Hardiness Scale. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. Actor-observer bias in close relationships: The role of self-knowledge and self-related language. interpersonal adjustment. The children of this age group in the study seem to find difficulty in differentiating objects with more than one characteristic. complementation refers to the differentiation of several objects by a set of common characteristics. University of South Florida. Academic help-seeking in the university setting: The effects of motivational set. Journal of Genetic Psychology. R. Effectiveness of inservice attribution training of teachers. Narcissism. 99-123. and coping in children of holocaust survivors. (1995. & Thompson. K. S. (1994). R. Kilbride. In this case. L. The study utilizes several theories to explain certain personality characteristics of children of holocaust survivors. The study was performed by administering the Attribution Style Questionnaire and the Projections sub-scale of the Defense Style Questionnaire to a group of undergraduate students. the study indicates the differences of attribution in interpretation by children. Fullen.. Wallace. E. 146-58. attributional style. 120(2). Journal of Genetic Psychology. The article is a very concise argument of a study comparing attribution theory and the psychoanalytic theory of the defense mechanism of projection.. 505-507. (September. O'Brien Multiphasic Narcissism Inventory. Chicago. T.Fiedler. (1992). B. The study applies attribution theory to examine why some children of holocaust survivors might express some of these personality characteristics. and help source characteristics. Research in Higher Education. McClure. J. 33(2). ERIC microfiche. IL. Unpublished master's thesis. and coping. Discounting attributions and multiple determinants. J. P. Magnusson. C. Annotated Bibliography Baron. The study is analyzed by the manner children respond to different complementation instructions. Yan. July). L. (1995).

(April 1997). The article mentions the discrepancies among the empirical and theoretical basis of the discounting principle. 229-235. and group affiliation: egotistic mechanisms in helplessness deficits. Gender and attribution of control over health and physical size. Then. Performance level in situations of helplessness. The article presents a study of the differences of attribution attitudes between men and women. T. The article utilizes the attribution theory to explain performance deficits resulting from learned helplessness. The Journal of Social Psychology. The study utilized a two-way analysis of variance. self-esteem could be threatened when the results are attributed to a person. . (137) 387-389. 137(2). Scott. The study analyzed the discrepancies of genders attributing styles. and discussed. Finally. a study is presented which aims at explaining helplessness deficits or the lack of them by the attribution of egotism.The author of this article is a well known social psychologist. For example. Recent research presents the new tendency of individuals to prefer multiple explanations rather than just one for a situation. Finally. weight being the dependent variable. the attribution of men and women to their success or failure in weight control. (June 1997). and when the attribution is engaged to the individual's self-esteem. C. isolated causes and other associated causes exist. He relates in this article the discounting principle in attribution theory and the changes that have occurred with respect to this principle. Witkowski. the theories of Multiple Causation are explained and implemented to the case. The article also includes the aspect that in discounting. analyzed. while positive outcomes tend to be accepted in order to reinforce self-esteem. Journal of Social Psychology. The conclusion of the short article suggests that the results of the study have implications for developing public health education campaigns. According to the article. two different case studies are presented. threat. The patterns of attribution by men and women of their personal success or failure is assessed. bad outcomes are usually denied responsibility. However.