Errors of Attribution

Topics: Attribution theory, Self-serving bias, Social psychology Pages: 4 (1325 words) Published: November 27, 2011
With reference to research discuss two errors in attributions. (22 marks)

The Attribution Theory is a concept of social psychology that makes reference to how individuals feel the need to provide ‘cause to the events around us’. Fritz Heider first proposed the theory ‘The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958), which was later developed by others such as Harold Kelley and Bernard Weiner. The developed definition of this theory refers to the role of our minds in relation to our social behaviour. There are two main categories within this particular theory, Situational factors, which refer to how one’s environment and external circumstances can influence an individual, whilst Dispositional factors refer to our personality and our traits, factors that are to do with us as people. The Self- Serving Bias focuses on the way in which we as individuals tend to associate successes with our internal ability and characteristics and equating failures to external factors. The reason that this is seen as a common human tendency is because people acknowledge success as a way of positively influencing their self-esteem levels. This bias can affect our opportunities to learn from our mistakes and improve- by refusing to accept responsibility for our failures, our skill levels remain unchanged. Although this bias can be recognized in people throughout modern day society, Lewinsohn et al (1980) proposed that the bias will have the complete opposite effect on people who have a low self esteem or see themselves in a negative light. All successes are seen as luck rather than ability, whilst failures are seen as dispositional factors, generally seeing stupidity as the sole factor for their mistakes. Ironically, Lewinsohn suggests that depressed individuals will see themselves more realistically, making more practical attributions about their personality than a ‘normal’ person will. A study that was carried out by Johnson (1964), demonstrated a Self Serving Bias through...
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