Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Attribution theory:

Attribution theory:

  • Our perception of people differs from our perception of inanimate (non-living) objects like desk, objects, machines, buildings.
  • Non-living objects are subject to the law of nature, they have no belief, motives, or intensions, (people do).
  • We attempt to develop explanations of why they behave in certain ways
  • Our perception and judgment of a person’s action, therefore, will be significantly influenced by the assumptions we make about that person’s internal state.
  • Attribution theory has been proposed to develop explanations of the way in which we judge people differently, depending on what meaning we attribute to a given behavior.
  • When we observe an individual’s behavior we attempt to determine whether it was internally or externally caused.
  • The determination largely depends on three factors:
    • Distinctiveness
    • Consensus
    • Consistency
  • Internally caused behavior: those are believed to be under the personal control of the individual. (e.g. lateness due to night party)
  • Externally caused behavior: resulting from outside causes; the person is seen as having been forced into the behavior by the situation. (e.g. lateness due to accident or traffic on the road)
  • Distinctiveness: refer to whether an individual displays different behavior in different situation. E.g. : Arriving late--àcomplaints by coworkers, blunders, mistakes.
    • If yes (behavior of late employee is unusual), observer is likely to give the behavior external attribution.
    • If no ( behavior of late employee is usual: behavior is judged as internal attribution)
  • Consensus: everyone in same situation response in the same way, consensus in behavior
    • All employees from same route , also late, high consensus, mean external attribution
    • All other employee from same route reached at time: internal attribution.
  • Consistency: person respond the same way over time
    • 10 minutes late consistently (regularly): behavior is internally caused.
    • Not late for several month, any day late: externally cause

Findings from attribution theory: there are errors or biases that distort attribution.

  • Fundamental Attribution Error: the tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of internal factors when making judgments about the behavior of others.
    • Poor sales performance by agents, because of lazy agents, Internal factors
    • Innovation product line by competitors, External factors.
  • Self-serving bias: the tendency for individuals to attribute their own success to internal factors while putting the blame for failures on external factors.
    • Success: own ability or efforts
    • Failure: bad luck, coworkers.
 (Ref: Organization Behavior by SPRobbins)

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