Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Sociology and Anthropology
Attribution theory is concerned with the process by which people infer causation from "parts of the relatively stable environment" (Heider, 1958:297). This process is a function of the need to. control the environment through explanation and prediction similar to the way scientists attempt descriptions that render predictions. This analogy has also been drawn by Kelley (1967), who has concluded that the way in which causal attributions are made is similar to the way data is analysed by means of the analysis of variance procedure. Another example of the parallel between the scientific method and attribution processes has been made by Kelley (1971) regarding compensatory causes. These have been shown to be similar to the principles involved in scalogram analysis as developed by Guttman (1950), in that the underlying characteristics of action are examined and analyzed (see Kelley, 1971). While the scientific method can be seen as a model of the way in which people make attributions, so too, the way in which people make attributions can be seen in the scientific method, though, the "naive psychology" (Heider, 1958) of the "man on the street" is less systematic. "A naive version of J. S. Kills' method of difference provides the basic analytic tool" (Kelley, 1967:194).
Richardson, Brad B., "How we judge others: The attribution of responsibility" (1978). Student Work. 163.
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