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Attribution Theory and Attribution Error

  • By: Se-Hoon Jeong
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Attribution theory was first developed by Fritz Heider and further advanced by Harold Kelley and Bernard Weiner. The theory assumes that individuals seek causal explanations of the events they encounter. Within the attribution framework, there are various models that explain how and why individuals make particular causal attributions.

Three Dimensions of Causal Attributions

The causal attributions people generally engage in involve three dimensions: locus of control, controllability, and stability.

The locus of control (i.e., internal-external) dimension of attribution has been extensively studied with regard to events or behaviors. For example, cancer or obesity could be explained in terms of internal (or personal) factors such as lifestyle choices or external (or societal) factors such as modern lifestyle or food marketing. The controllability dimension concerns the degree to which ...

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