Internal / External Attribution (Social Psychology)

psychpost | 8/05/2011 04:33:00 PM
Homelessness, Internally or Externally caused?
I have just finished my Social Psychology course at the University last week and will be writing a post based on the of the most important aspects of Social Psychology.

Attribution Theory
: A description of the way in which people explain the causes of their own and other people's behavior.

There are two different types of attributions:
Internal Attributions: The inference that a person is behaving a certain way because something about the person. (Attitudes, character, or personality).

External Attributions: The inference that a person is behaving a certain way
because of something about the situation they are in. (Assuming that most people would respond the same way in the situation).



When we make attributions about people's actions, we (usually) automatically make Internal Attributions. Through a conscious effort we can think about possible situational reasons for their actions. If we believe that the situation played a large role in their actions, we will make an External Attribution. The problem is that we often stop after we make an Internal Attribution. Thinking about the situation requires us to use energy and time, which we may not be willing to use.

Fundamental Attribution Error: The tendency to infer that people's behavior corresponds to (matches) their disposition (personality).

This idea leads us into the Actor/Observer Difference, the tendency to see other people's behavior as Internally caused and to focus on External Attribution when
explaining our own behavior. For example, if you were driving on a busy road and you suddenly get cut off by another car, it is likely that you will believe they are an asshole or a jerk. On the other hand if you were on a busy road trying to make an appointment and you cut off another driver, you will probably blame the traffic and your need to make the appointment on time.

Does anyone have any examples of Internal/External Attributions? It would be fun to hear about them. I wish I could write some more, but I need to study for my calculus exam coming up soon. University courses are pretty tough.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Stevie Withers (Flickr)

15 responses to "Internal / External Attribution (Social Psychology)"

  1. Now that I'm in the process of diagnosing and treating my mood disorder, this blog will be extra interesting.

  2. I remember social psych, was a good course.

  3. i hope your not majoring in that stuff

  4. Depressing picture

  5. @Makel You cannot diagnose yourself with a mood disorder.

  6. In Antiochus and his daughter you have heard Following!

  7. I remember studying this in my Phsyc class...

  8. This makes me think about my life.

  9. Nice blog, this reminds of the days I was studying psychology as well.

  10. And now I am reminded why I didn't study psychology :D This is some complicated stuff

  11. I am very interested. Keep it up.

  12. Yea man keep it up good job

  13. @ed
    why do you hope he's not majoring in psychology?

  14. why?

  15. always

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