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Attribution Theory - Essay Example

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Attribution Theory

Attribution theory aims at determining the hidden aspect in which people use to interact with each other in context with the understanding of others' behaviors. This theory helps an individual on a personal as well as collective level to understand human behaviour in detail. For example the theory helps the various causes of interaction between humans, whether it be his or her own behaviour or someone else's. Attribution theory is based upon those notions that people believe and want to know the reasons behind their understanding for the actions that they and others take. It helps them to attribute and analyze causes to different behaviours they see in their everyday lives rather than assuming and considering such behaviours while taking for granted. This phenomenon assists them in developing some feeling of control over their own behaviours and sometimes over situations they feel complex or critical to take appropriate decisions. The theory was actually proposed by Psychologist Fritz Heider (1896-1988) who believed that it is not important what people perceive about their believes is true or untrue, what matters is that people perceive what they are dictated by others' acting or behaviours (Attribution, 2008a).

At a personal level, attribution theory is central to the individual's construction of a personal reality. Harvey et al (1978) believed that to a larger extent, the structure and meaning of the events experienced by an individual derive from attribution analyses that are often subtle and complex to understand. Logically, this notion seems to be true because such analyses may at times appear to be fully represented in the person's consciousness. Such occasions usually focuses only on one end of the process since the other spectrum of the analyses seem to occur partially, if not entirely, out of conscious awareness. The meanings and consequent behaviours following from such analyses often indicate that a logical, rational integration of information has occurred.

Attribution theory (AT) reveals about what our senses perceive of the other person whom we are interacting, while assisting that a person can correctly decide what is real and what is not, the theory judges his or her intentions. The theory also determines and analyzes the extent of mental illness, for example a person who attributes reality to things that are not real, or deny reality to things that are real, may be mentally not sound (Harvey et al, 1978, p. 5).

AT is used in technical situations where there is a need to assess the sources and reasons of gender effects and their impact of arbitrators' experience while taking decisions (Bemmels, 1991). It is among the popular theories of social psychology that deals with explaining the behaviour of decision-makers who must decide on a response to the behaviour of other individuals, such as managers responding to the performance of their subordinates and officials in the criminal justice system responding to individuals alleged to have committed an offense.

Attribution Process

Attribution is a three-stage process which ...Show more


Attributions are those grounds of human personality, which distinguishes one individual from another. The theory refers to those personal traits for which an individual claims himself or herself to be successful in life. However, in situations where one feels that he or she has not succeeded in achieving his goals of life or situations which make the person feel like defeated, attribution process takes place…
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