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Abstract

An experiment was conducted to investigate the influence of evaluative factors upon preference for situational and dispositional attributions. Subjects listened to a tape recording of a group discussion on smoking, two actors presenting arguments in favour of smoking and two actors arguing against smoking. Subjects were then asked to explain in attributional terms the actors' behaviour and their own smoking behaviour, their evaluation of smoking being separately assessed. Results provided no support for a general self-other attributional difference; subjects did not explain their own behaviour in more situational terms while explaining the behaviour of others in more dispositional terms. Findings indicated that individuals generally attributed positively evaluated behaviour to dispositional factors and negatively evaluated behaviour to situational factors, regardless of attributor role (actor or observer). The results are interpreted as offering support for a positivity bias in attributional preference.