Attribution Theory

People share a great thirst to understand the causes of situations they encounter and often attempt to explain—to themselves or others—why a specific situation occurred. Attribution theory explains the connection between perceived causes of situations and the psychological consequences of these perceptions. The main idea of the theory is that all causes share three basic, underlying properties: locus, controllability, and stability; these properties determine the psychological consequences of perceived causes. Perceived causes have crucial emotional and behavioral consequences, including those related to the context of achievement motivation.

Much of the existing understanding of the process explained by attribution theory comes from research conducted in the context of school achievement. Individuals’ attempt to understand the causes of their achievement in school often determines their reactions to these ...

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