What are the differences between internal and external attributions?

timer Asked: Oct 30th, 2015
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Question Description


Examine the role of attributions in our social world. What are attributions, and how do we use them in our daily lives? Discuss the differences between internal and external attributions and describe the fundamental attribution error. 

Tutor Answer

Grace K899
School: Boston College

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Attributions from the context of social psychology, refer to a particular behavior or event in which one infers of cause of. Attributions are a part of our daily lives. Sometimes we are aware of them, but more often than not, we use them without even realizing it. As an example of how we use them in our daily lives, suppose you did rather poorly on a math quiz. You may initially chalk up the bad grade due to the teacher not explaining the course work properly, instead of looking at your own behavior, such as not adequately preparing for the test.

Attributions can be internal or external. Internal attributions are individualistic. For example, we may infer about the cause of a particular behavior, such as the poor math grade used above, based on individual factors such as traits or feelings. External attributions on the other hand infer that a behavior or event is the cause of the particular situation an individual may find their self in. For example, you received a poor grade on a math quiz because there were too many distractions in the classroom.

Attribution error refers to an individual describing someone's behavior in a given situation to be because of internal attribution factors rather then considering that external attribution factors could also be the cause.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I'm always happy to answer your questions.

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