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Summary

Two experiments are reported which examine causal attributions in achievement-related contexts Subjects were provided with information about an achievement-related activity (the immediate outcome of the action, percentage of prior success and failure at the same and similar tasks, percentage of success and failure of others, time spent at the task, task structure, and whether the achievement activity was undertaken by oneself or others) The subjects were required to attribute the immediate performance outcome (success or failure) to the causal factors of ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck The data revealed that the achievement cues were systematically utilized both as main effects and in configural patterns Included among the significant findings were that success is more likely to be attributed to internal factors (ability and effort) than is failure, consistency with the performance of others results in task ascriptions, whereas inconsistency is attributed to ability, effort and luck, and consistency with one's own past performance is ascribed to ability and task difficulty, while inconsistent outcomes give rise to luck and effort attributions Individual data analyses revealed considerable systematic yet idiosyncratic usage of the achievement information The results suggest a confounding in the locus of control literature, and new directions for the study of achievement motivation