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Critically discuss the claim that people tend to explain the

A prevailing area in social psychology is that of attribution theory. Attribution evaluates behaviour; seeking explanations for the decisions that people make about why particular events occurred or why certain individuals acted the way they did. A common sense approach taken by Heider (1958, cited in Augoustinos, 1995) views people as ‘naïve scientists’ deducing the causes of events around them as holding cause and effect relations. People tend to attribute behaviour to a single cause residing either within the actor; ‘dispositional,’ or outside in the situation; ‘situational.’ Ross (1997, cited in Hogg & Vaughan, 2002) identified the ‘fundamental attribution error,’ this refers to a tendency to focus to much on behaviour itself and not enough on the situation or context; overemphasising dispositional causes and underestimating situational ones, even where strong situational pressures exist. In studies aiming to provide empirical support for attribution theory; in particular fundamental attribution error, the focal point was that of the attributions made by the observer of another persons’ behaviour. Jones & Nisbett (1971, cited in Kimble, 1990) highlighted an important issue, this is the process by which the actors make attributions of their own behaviour, they found that actors tend to attribute their behaviour more too situational causes, and observers behaviour more too dispositional ones. Heider (1958) referred to this inclination as a ‘polar tendency in attribution;’ Jones & Nisbett (1972) called it the ‘actor observer effect’ (cited in Augoustinos, 1995). Based on the actor-observer effect Storms (1973, cited in Brown, 1986) predicted that if an actor in conversation with a stranger and an individual observing the conversation were asked to explain the actors’ behaviour they will disagree. In his study there was a conversation lasting five minutes, following this both the actor and his ob...

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Critically discuss the claim that people tend to explain the. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:39, September 01, 2014, from