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Encyclopedia of Psychology Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, Editor-in-Chief

ATTRIBUTION THEORIES

The Self-serving Bias

People tend to take credit for their own successes. but deny responsibility for their failures. The self-serving bias involves making internal attributions to ability and effort for one’s own favorable outcomes, but external attributions to difficulty and luck for one’s unfavorable outcomes. This bias is functionally important because it serves to maintain positive affect and self-esteem

Culture and Attribution.

Western cultural groups perceive the person as an independent and autonomous entity with internal attributes that lead him or her to act. Non-Western cultural groups, on the other hand, view the person as fundamentally interdependent, intertwined in a social fabric involving roles, expectations, and interpersonal relationships that lead him or her to act.

More fundamentally, cultures also may differ in the extent to which they emphasize causality itself. Non-Western cultures may not share the Western emphasis on causality and its link to behavior, partially because they view causality as multidirectional, rather than unidirectional. Causal attributions may thus be less frequent among non-Western people

Emotional Problems in Living.

In contrast to the self-serving attributional style of nondepressed individuals, depressed individuals see their failures or negative outcomes as due to something internal, uncontrollable, stable, and global. Positive outcomes are often attributed to external, unstable, and specific factors. Thus, depressives appear to lack an important mechanism for maintaining and protecting self-esteem.

The attributions that depressed people make for various outcomes also tend to be more complex than those of non-depressed people.

AUDITORY IMPAIRMENT

Nearly 90% of all children experience one or more episodes of otitis media. Half of the children who experience otitis media before one year of age will have six or more episodes before age 2.


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