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Attribution Theory

  1. Bernard Weiner

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0098

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Weiner, B. 2010. Attribution Theory. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of California, Los Angeles

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Attribution theory refers to a field of study rather than to a specific scientific conception. The heart of this area of investigation includes assumptions, hypotheses, and theories regarding how laypersons arrive at answers to “why” questions such as: “Why did I fail my exam?” and “Why did Jim and Mary break up?” Note, then, that this approach grapples with both self- and other perception. In addition, there also is concern with the consequences of causal beliefs, including their emotional and motivational significance. Although attribution inquiry is typically included under the domain of social psychology, it has had impact in the areas of clinical, cognitive, developmental, educational, personality, and motivational psychology as well, thereby providing a general foundation for psychology.