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Perceived Causality and Emotional Reactions

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Causal ascriptions influence expectancy change and the expectancy of success. This is a necessary linkage for the development of an attributional theory of motivation, inasmuch as goal anticipations certainly affect other thoughts and actions. As Rotter and Hochreich (1975) stated when criticizing psychoanalytic theory:

Simply knowing how much an individual wants to reach a certain goal is not sufficient information for predicting his behavior. A student may want very badly to finish school and qualify himself for a well-paying job. But his past experiences may have led him to believe that no amount of studying will result in passing grades.

… If his expectancy for success in the situation is low… he is unlikely to study, despite his strong desire to graduate. A fellow student may share the same strong goals, and as a result of a different set of past experiences in school, have a high expectancy that studying will lead to academic success. In this instance, one could safely predict that the second student would be likely to study in order to obtain his goals. As you can see, the goals in these two cases are identical, but the expectancies differ, and as a result, the behavior of the two students is likely to differ, (p. 95)


  • Emotional Reaction
  • Causal Ascription
  • Affective Reaction
  • Social Emotion
  • Causal Dimension

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In which the author reveals his feelings about feelings. It is documented that causal ascriptions are linked with emotional reactions, and again general laws are established. The foundation for a social psychology of emotions is proposed.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4612-4948-1_5
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© 1986 Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

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Weiner, B. (1986). Perceived Causality and Emotional Reactions. In: An Attributional Theory of Motivation and Emotion. SSSP Springer Series in Social Psychology. Springer, New York, NY.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4612-9370-5

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