Terms in this set (36)
Attribution Theory founder
Fritz Heider (1950s)
Austrian psychologist related to the Gestalt school of thought
What did Heider believe that people strive to do?
Understand why others behave the way they do and to determine whether their behavior is caused by internal factors (personality or disposition) or external situations
Attribution Theory essence
There is a cause or explanation for things that happen
Attribution Theory is a cognitive view of ?
people strive to attribute causes to events that happen
Problems arise from
People create faulty beliefs, perceptions, interpretations. Examples?
"Everybody hates me!"
"He did it on purpose!"
" I'm just not good at_________"
How can therapeutic interventions correct faulty thinking?
Propose alternative thinking processes- we all become what we believe we are
causal explanations for our successes & failures
Why is it important that we attribute a cause to an outcome? (3)
1) to avoid them (if undesirable) or repeat them (if desirable) in the future
2) for the sake of having an explanation
3) because it helps us psychologically deal with a specific event
example of how attributing cause is helpful for psychological reasons (HIV diagnosis)
Finding a reason or meaning for the adverse situation is one aspect of a readjustment process people need to go through for their own psychological well-being. They need to find a reason or explanation for why they contracted HIV- need to attribute their situation to something
Basis for this theory
Understanding more about the causes helps us
better understand why people behave in certain ways
3 aspects of a Cause
1) Locus of Control
Locus of Control
the extent to which people believe they have control over events in their lives
2 types of locus of control
Internal locus of control
believes events happen as a result of something within himself or herself (e.g., skill, intelligence, desire, commitment, work ethic, values, beliefs), attributes over which the person has control
External locus of control
believes events happen because of things outside the realm of personal control or because of things in the environment
External causes are divided into those attributed to
fate, luck, or chance
powerful others (physicians, dentists, therapists, other health or medical personnel)
Whether someone attributes internal or external causes to a given situation
varies from situation to situation
if a student fails a course, the case for the poor grade is inevitably
external- often a powerful other (professor)
if a student does really well in a course, then the cause for the good grade is attributed to
internal (attending class, taking notes, and studying) over which the student has control
Example of person diagnosed with HIV
potential causes are personal behavior (internal causes- not using a condom, sharing unclean needles)
or external causes (luck or fate or the actions of others- perinatal transmission or transfusion transmission)
how consistent (stable/unstable) or permanent (unchangeable/changeable) the causes are
Internal causes, such as mood, desire, drive, and effort, are always stable, permanent, and consistent.
True or False?
they can fluctuate from day to day, from situation to situation
Using cause stability to explain health behavior for an alcoholic
When an alcoholic relapses, he or she is more likely to attribute this negative behavior to an external, unstable cause (someone else switched out my drink and I drank it but it won't happen again)
- external cause was someone
- unstable aspect was temporary situation
Stable/unchangeable attribution about not using condoms
"I tend to lose good judgment about condoms when I drink; therefore I will stop picking partners up in bars."
Unstable/changeable attribution about not using condoms
"My new boyfriend says he doesn't believe in condoms; what was I supposed to do? Plus, we were drunk that night."
Some causes can be controlled or changed and others cannot
Uncontrollable attribution to obesity
"I am obese due to genetic reasons; if anyone in my family just LOOKS at food we gain weight!"
Controllable attribution to obesity
"I started overeating in graduate school due to stress and gained 30 pounds"
Effort and mood examples of controllability
Both are internal and unstable, however, effort is controllable while mood is uncontrollable
Laziness example of controllability
Laziness is internal and stable, however, it is controllable
Controllability is the basis of
Stigmas and stereotypes
Examples of controllability being used as a stigma
Cause of obesity is thought to be internal AND controllable, however, can be uncontrollable due to genetic reasons
Dental caries (cavities) are also attributed to internal, controllable causes of laziness and poor motivation
Assigning causation may help (2)
1) explain the behavior
2) identify the type of intervention needed to achieve behavior change
Article in back of chapter
Occupational low back pain (LBP)
Purpose: assess the association between worker attributions and LBP
Hypothesis: Attributing LBP to internal causes may increase the worker's perceived control, whereas external attributions may cause distress
Method: 278 garment workers, questionnaire and direct observation
-workers who scored high in internal attribution were more likely to be knowledgeable of back safety
- workers reporting high demand were more likely to report LBP
- workers attributing LBP to job tasks were more likely to report LBP
- those reporting high supervisor support were less likely to report LBP
- workers with annual incomes above $15,000 were more likely to report LBP in the test of both the Demand-Control-Support and Attribution models
Conclusion: Attribution theory is useful in the study of LBP