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Attributions

Definition

The term attribution has several distinct meanings. In the 1920s, Austrian philosopher and psychologist Fritz Heider originally referred to attribution as a central process in human perception that helped solve a philosophical puzzle of the time. According to this puzzle, the mind perceives objects that exist in the world, but the perception itself exists in the mind; how, then, can people experience objects as “out there” rather than “in here,” in their own minds? Heider argued that humans engage in a psychological process of attributing their subjective experiences to objects in the world. That is, the objects are cognitively reconstructed to be the causal sources of perceptual experiences. By contrast, when people try to imagine (rather than perceive) an object, they attribute this experience to ...

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