The author is grateful to Harry T. Reis and Joseph F. Porac for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. Appreciation is also due to Associate Editor Stephen G. West for his detailed editorial advice.
Attribution of success and failure revisited, or: The motivational bias is alive and well in attribution theory
Version of Record online: 28 APR 2006
Journal of Personality
Volume 47, Issue 2, pages 245–287, June 1979
How to Cite
Zuckerman, M. (1979), Attribution of success and failure revisited, or: The motivational bias is alive and well in attribution theory. Journal of Personality, 47: 245–287. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1979.tb00202.x
- Issue online: 28 APR 2006
- Version of Record online: 28 APR 2006
- Manuscript received September 14, 1977
Do causal attributions serve the need to protect and / or enhance self-esteem? In a recent review, Miller and Ross (1975) proposed that there is evidence for self-serving effect in the attribution of success but not in the attribution of failure; and that this effect reflects biases in information-processing rather than self-esteem maintenance. The present review indicated that self-serving effects for both success and failure are obtained in most but not all experimental paradigms. Processes which may suppress or even reverse the self-serving effect were discussed. Most important, the examination of research in which self-serving effects are obtained suggested that these attributions are better understood in motivational than in information-processing terms.