Evaluate Kelley's Co-Variation Model of Attribution

Topics: Attribution theory, Psychology, Causality, Philosophy of science / Pages: 5 (1118 words) / Published: May 19th, 2011
“Evaluate Kelley’s Co-Variation Model Of Attribution”
The co-variation model of attribution uses the idea that all people analyse behaviour and search for causes of it in a similar way to a scientist. The model introduces the theory that when observing behaviour, people will process a cause by identifying the factor with the highest co-variance to the behaviour. This is achieved by collecting three sets of information, these being consistency, distinctiveness and consensus. When consistency is low (the behaviour is happening occasionally and is not constant) people search for an internal or external alternative cause by using the remaining two sets of information. This essay will evaluate the co-variation model of attribution. It will firstly discuss the validity of the model, followed by its reductionism and finally its usefulness. Then a conclusion will be drawn of the overall effectiveness of the model in explaining how people attribute causes to other people’s behaviour. The first evaluative point to be made about the co-variation model is that it lacks any real validity. Validity is important for anything in psychology to have as it is required for the finding to be properly applied to real life. Validity can be defined as “The extent to which a measure accurately reflects the concept that it is intended to measure.” There is no way of actually knowing if people are undergoing the thought process described in the model, An experiment by McArthur (1972) tested the model by having participants make either external or internal attributions by using the consistency, distinctiveness and consensus sets of information, and the results were supportive. But as it’s an experiment with controlled, artificial conditions any results gained may not necessarily be a good representation of how people think and attribute causes of behaviour in real life. For this reason the model can be considered invalid. But, as the McArthur (1972) experiment did provide evidence to

References: National Library Of Medicine, HTA 101: Glossary, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nichsr/hta101/ta101014.html, Accessed 11 October 2009 Word Net, Word Net Search, http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=reductionism, Accessed 11 October 2009 Kelley, H. H. (1967) Attribution theory in social psychology. In D. Levine (ed), Nebraska symposium on motivation (pp. 192-238). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press Alloy and Tabachnik (1984) Assessment of co variation by humans and animals: The joint influence of prior expectations and current situational information. Psychological Review, 91, 112-149 Hogg and Vaughan, MAH GMV (2008) Social Psychology, Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

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