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 *

* The full technique overview is available for free. Simply login to our business management platform, and learn all about Attribution Theory.

Business Evidence

Attribution Theory Strengths *

Attribution Theory Weaknesses *

Examples of Attribution Theory *

* The business evidence section is for premium members only. Please contact us about accessing the Business Evidence.

Business Application

Attribution Theory Implementation *

Success Factors of Attribution Theory *

Measures of Attribution Theory *

* The business application section is for premium members only. Please contact us about accessing the Business application.

Professional Tools

Attribution Theory Videos *

Attribution Theory Downloads *

* The professional tools section is for premium members only. Please contact us about accessing the professional tools.

Further Reading

Attribution Theory Web Resources *

Attribution Theory 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.

* The further reading section is for premium members only. Please contact us about accessing the further reading.


Learn more about KnowledgeBrief Manage and how you can equip yourself with the knowledge to succeed on Attribution Theory and hundreds of other essential business management techniques

Other members were also interested in...

Related Concept: Neuroscience

Neuroscience offers a deep understanding of the way we think and act. Case studies present the solutions adopted by companies to implement these new findings in their organisation, improving performances and results.