Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

2020 Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Internal and External Attributions

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_2301
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Synonyms

Definition

Explanations for behavior that stress something about the person (internal attribution) or something about their environment (external attribution).

Introduction

Attribution theory examines how people determine the causes of behavior. Many of the dominant conceptualizations within attribution theory focus on how an individual (the social perceiver) understands another person’s (the actor) behavior (Jones and Davis 1965). However, attribution theory also seeks to explain understanding of one’s own behavior. Internal attributions are explanations that stress something about the person, such as their traits, abilities, and physical characteristics. External attributions are explanations that stress environmental or situational factors, such as task difficulty, social influences, and the physical characteristics of a particular environment (Ross 1977).

Fundamental to attribution theory is this “internal-external or disposition-situation...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central Queensland UniversityAdelaideAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Virgil Zeigler-Hill
    • 1
  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA