Sex Roles

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 333–343 | Cite as

Assessing the theoretical models for sex differences in causal attributions for success and failure

  • Irene Hanson Frieze
  • Bernard E. WhitleyJr.
  • Barbara Hartman Hanusa
  • Maureen C. McHugh


Three basic models of attributional sex differences are reviewed: General Externality, Self-Derogation, and Low Expectancy. Although all of the models predict that women are unlikely to attribute their successes to ability, the models were quite different in other predictions. A meta-analysis of 21 studies examining sex differences in success-failure attributions was done to determine which of these three models had the most empirical support. Wording of attribution questions was also assessed. Results indicated only two consistent sex differences: Men make stronger ability attributions than women regardless of the outcome when informational attributional wording is used; and men attribute their successes and failures less to luck. Empirically, none of the models was well supported.


Theoretical Model Social Psychology Empirical Support Strong Ability Causal Attribution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene Hanson Frieze
    • 1
  • Bernard E. WhitleyJr.
    • 1
  • Barbara Hartman Hanusa
    • 1
  • Maureen C. McHugh
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PittsburghUSA

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