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Attribution Theory

In the 1950s, Fritz Heider posited that people were naive psychologists who try to make sense of the world around them. Part of that quest for sense making involves people seeking to explain how and why events happen. For instance, a person sees a news story on television about a plane crash and automatically seeks to explain the cause of the crash. People can generate cause-and-effect relationships based on little evidence and may create such relationships where none actually exists. Returning to our example, the person might think the crash was a result of terrorist activities based simply on limited evidence from initial reports about the crash. Right or wrong, people regularly assign causation to events they encounter.

Heider noted two trends about the attribution of ...

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