Current Psychology

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 71-81

First online:

Emotion and the Ultimate Attribution Error

  • Martin D. ColemanAffiliated withPsychology Department, North Dakota State University Email author 

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The influence of specific emotions (fear and anger) on the ultimate attribution error was investigated. Participants were recruited from an undergraduate population. There were 420 participants (156 male) with a mean age of 19.26 years. Participants took part in an online study. The study identified participants’ political in-groups (Democrat or Republican), induced them to feel an emotion (fear, anger, or neutral), and asked them to make an attribution (dispositional or circumstantial control) for the good or bad behaviors of Democratic or Republican politicians. Results revealed an ultimate attribution error (participants made in-group favoring/out-group derogating attributions), and an influence of emotion over the pattern of attributions made within this attribution error. The hypothesis that the valence of emotions influences attributions within the ultimate attribution error was supported. No support was found for the hypothesis that appraisal dimensions of emotions influence attributions within the ultimate attribution error. Theoretical implications and future directions were discussed.


Attribution Judgment Emotion