What is the Attribution Theory?
The Attribution Theory was given by Fritz Heider. It is a method that can be utilized for analyzing how people distinguish the behavior of themselves and that of other people. Attribution theory is all about how people create causal clarifications. In 1958, his book "The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations", Heider says that all behavior is considered to be found by either external or by internal factors:
• External Attribution: causality is allocated to an external factor, force or agent. Outside factors finds outside your control. You perceive as you have no choice. Thus your behavior is limited, influenced, or even totally determined by influences outside your control. So you feel not answerable. A general instance is the weather. This is also called as Situational Attribution.
• Internal Attribution: causality is allocated to an internal factor, force or agent. Inside factors comes inside your own control. You can decide to behave in a particular manner or not. So your behavior is not limited, influenced or even completely determined by influences which are outside your control. Thus you feel responsible. A characteristic example is your own intelligence. It is also called as Dispositional Attribution.
One of the most astonishing characteristics of human beings is that we believe we can describe anything. Research by psychologists has shown that most people are partial in their judgment of whom or what is accountable for an action or an event:
• We likely to attribute the successes of other persons and our personal failures to external factors. We see these as not their own advantages and not our own mistakes.
• We try to attribute our personal successes and failures of others to internal factors. We see these as our personal merit and their own mistakes.
Usage of the Attribution Theory
• Attribution Theory finds its usage in Criminal Law, Psychology, Ethics, Decision-making and Understanding Cognitive Bias.
• Required in Self-Appraisals, HRM Appraisals, Peer-Appraisals, etc.
• Education sector.
• Relevant in Marketing Communication. It can be applied to advertising.
Steps involved in the Attribution Theory.
Three-stage process underlying attribution:
1. Perception. First step is to Observe. The person should perceive or observe the behavior.
2. Judgment. Realize deliberateness. The person must consider that the behavior was intentionally done.
3. Attribute. The person should determine if he believes the other person was enforced to perform the behavior (in which case the cause is attributed to the circumstances) or not (in which case the cause is attributed to another person).