Attribution Theory


Attribution theory gives managers and employees an essential perspective on understanding the behaviour of others. The concept explains the types of mistakes we make in understanding others; details the strengths and drawbacks of the theory; and describes how the theory can be successfully applied and measured in practice.

Technique Overview

Attribution Theory

Attribution Theory Definition

Attribution theory describes how people use information to arrive at causal explanations of events. It examines what information is gathered and how it is combined to form a causal judgement (Fiske & Taylor, 1991). Heider (1958) believed that people are 'naive psychologists' trying to make sense of the social world. Sometimes people see cause and effect relationships even where there are none.

Attribution Theory Description *

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Business Evidence

Strengths, weaknesses and examples of Attribution Theory *

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Business Application

Implementation, success factors and measures of Attribution Theory *

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Professional Tools

Attribution Theory videos and downloads *

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Further Reading

Attribution Theory web and print resources *

Attribution Theory references (4 of up to 20) *

  • Burger,J.M. & Rodman,J.L. (1983). Attributions of responsibility for group tasks: The egocentric bias and the actor-observer difference. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 45, pp.1232-1242.
  • Diener, C. I. and Dweck, C. S. (1978). An analysis of learned helplessness: continuous changes in performance, strategy, and achievement cognitions following failure, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol.36, pp.451-462.
  • Fernandez-Ballesteros, R. (2002) Attribution Styles, Encyclopedia of Psychological Assessment, Sage, London.
  • Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

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