In more common language, you could think of attribution as ascribing "blame," especially when looking for the cause of someone's behavior. There are a variety of applications of this concept. For instance, the fundamental attribution error - one of the most well-known social psychological concepts - is a cognitive bias that deals with attributions of our own behaviors (and other people we consider part of our in-group) versus the behavior of others (the out-group).
If we see someone else, especially someone very dissimilar from ourselves (the out-group), do something mean or hurtful, we are more likely to attribute that behavior to personality: That is person is mean and hurtful. On the other hand, if we do something mean or hurtful, we are more likely to attribute that behavior to the situation: I was having a bad day. The reverse is true for positive behaviors. The behavior of the other is attributed to the situation: That person must be having a good day; while our own behavior is attributed to personality: I'm just a nice person. This tendency explains why, even after observing others engaging in positive behavior, we can still hold prejudicial views toward certain groups, because we explain away the good behaviors and over-emphasize the bad behaviors.
These are just a few examples of the ways we attribute behaviors and events, but attribution is something we all engage in multiple times a day. Sometimes our attributions are accurate, other times they can be horribly biased.
That was a very interesting, thought provoking read. I have to admit I do hate the victim blaming that goes on in the sexual assault cases you speak of.ReplyDelete
It makes it hard for victims to report the rape, as they know they will be blamed for it in the end. This kind of thinking is deeply seeped into society and our collective way of thinking.
The effort that many make to change that collective is going to pay off in the end, I am certain of it.
Have a wonderful A to Z,
Sylvia van Bruggen
Thanks, Sylvia! I'll be blogging more about victim blaming later this month, since it's a really important social psychological concept (and something I care a lot about, especially when it comes to victims of sexual assault). I've always told my students if they want to see victim blaming in real life, read the comments section on news articles.Delete
Hi, that was really interesting, and totally belied your blog title. I will definitely be back to see what else you write about. Have a great A to ZReplyDelete
martine @ silencing the bell
Thanks, Martine! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on future posts as well!Delete
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