Attribution Theory

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  • A framework for explaining the process with which people explain behavior. According to Harold Kelley and other researchers, understanding attributions requires the investigation of three key variables: consensus (the degree to which other people's behavior is similar to the actor's), consistency (the degree to which the behavior is the same across time and/or situations), and distinctiveness (the extent to which an actor's response to one situation stands out from responses to similar situations). Kelley's theory suggests that people are most likely to make internal attributions (i.e., stressing the disposition of the person) to the causality of an actor's behavior when there is low consensus (i.e., other people do not behave like this), high consistency (the actor always behaves like this in different situations), and low ...

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