- First explained by Fritz Heider (1958).
- Attribution theory proposes how people explain events and
experiences in their lives, and the adaptational consequences of
- Attribution theory was developed in an
attempt to understand why an event occurred so that later events
can be predicted and controlled.
- Attribution refers to "the process of explaining one's own
behavior and others".
- Attribution theory concerns with how individuals “attribute”
or explain the behavior of other people, events, or their own
- Attribution theory proposes that people attribute a given
behavior either to causes outside of the person or to some
factor within the person who is performing the action
(“dispositional” or “internal” factors).
- Responsibility for the behavior is assigned or not assigned
depending on the
attribution of the cause of the behavior.
- Factors that determine attribution include
- effect on self-esteem (i.e., one’s bad behavior is more
likely to be attributed to outside causes than is one’s good
- universality of the behavior (everyone behaves in that
manner, so it is just a habit or manifestation of
- unusual nature of the particular behavior at a given
- Causes of behaviour may be divided as two:
- Situational - cause of behaviour is attributed to
external factors such a delays or ration of others
- dispositional - cause of behavior attributed to internal
factors such as personality or character.
- People tend to attribute their successes to dispositional
factors, and their failures to situational factors.
- For example: “I did well on the test because I am
smart,” or “I did poor on the test because I didn’t get
- Attribution Errors
- Fundamental attribution error refers to the tenancy for
people to overestimate the influence of another person's
internal characteristics on behaviour and underestimate the
influence of situation.
- Ciccareloi SK, Meyer GE. Psychology: South Asia Edition.
Pearson Education & Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. Ld.,
New Delhi, 2008.
- Heider F. The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations.
New York: Wiley, 1958.
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