Attribution - this is the endowment of one individual by another with characteristics and qualities that cannot be seen in the immediate field of perception. With the help of attribution, one person analyzes and reflects on the reasons for the behavior of the second, evaluates his personality. Attribution in psychology is a mechanism for explaining individual behavior. It arises because the information coming from direct observation is not enough to adequately interact with the environment. Therefore, people often “think out” facts that they could not find out or could not directly perceive. One person, following the actions of another, comes to a conclusion about the potential causes of behavior. The observer bases his conclusions on situational factors (conditions, setting) and subjective factors (efforts, abilities).

Social psychologists have developed a theory of attributive characteristics, explaining the rules that people use when they judge the behavior of others, thereby defining attribution styles.

Attribution is rarely objective, it is also not always an exact process, it is hampered by certain attributive distortions (attitudes, goals, motives). These distortions affect the way people assess their own behavior and the actions of others.

Often they talk about causal attribution, which means the interpretation of the behavior of the interlocutor, through the nomination of certain assumptions about possible intentions, reasons, motives of the individual, with their further endowment to the partner of communication.

Causal attribution most of all determines the social perception of a person if information is insufficient and needs to be recognized from somewhere. The findings of the attribution process may contribute to the creation of social stereotypes and patterns. This allows the person himself to more easily perceive and learn other people, contributes to the development of prejudices regarding representatives of different social categories and groups (ethnic, age, professional).

What is attribution

In psychology, attribution is a cognitive process of explaining the behavior of outsiders and their own actions. It is mainly expressed in the explanation of the actions of others through their own judgments, since many qualities cannot be perceived directly by social perception under direct observation, but are attributed to them.

Attribution is an attempt to interpret some object, its actions, to understand the motives of behavior in the conditions of marriage of information using speculation. Attribution is the cognitive processes occurring in the lives of millions of people who are studied by social psychology. In attributive studies, compared with studies of the perception by one person of another, an increase in the intellectuality index of the phenomena mastered occurs.

The simplest classification of attributions is divided into dispositional and situational.

There is such a psychological term as the defensive hypothesis; it refers to a belief system belonging to an individual, which has a function of its own defense against external anxiety. Defensive attributions usually occur when a person witnesses a horrifying picture. Attribution of responsibility in such situations, the creation of personal conclusions, will be related to the severity of failure and the degree of internal and situational similarity of a person and a victim.

Many people know examples of defensive attribution, for example, the well-known hypothesis, which says that good things happen only with good people, bad things with bad people. There are people who believe in this, because they feel their vulnerability and the inability to control the situation completely. This leads to the reproaches of others, even in the case of the tragic situation of the victim himself.

So, people can hear that hooligans beat up someone, they are taken to think that if he didn’t go where he doesn’t need, he would give a reason. Or they heard the news of a car accident, they begin to attribute all the blame to the driver (for example, he was drunk), and at the same time they are urging themselves to believe that this will not happen to them.

People often believe that positive events happen to them more often than others, respectively, negative things happen less often.

Examples of attribution: a heavy smoker thinks he is much less likely to get sick with cancer than other smokers.

Types of attribution

Based on the value criteria, there are three types of attribute characteristics - these are positive, negative, and mixed (positive-negative). Positive is a combination of those characteristics that in the ethno-cultural environment are found to be positive, that is, socially approved, desirable.

Negative - include characteristics that in the ethnocultural environment, all are considered negative, negative, undesirable and disapproving.

Mixed - appear if negative and positive characteristics are expressed to the same extent, which are partially perceived by the ethnocultural environment.

When observing the behavior of people, it can be concluded that the bases of this behavior are localized in the person himself or in the world. This is called the "locus of control".

Locus control is the ability to attribute one's own successes either to failures to an internal (here an internal locus) or external (here an external locus) to factors.

Internal factors are the characteristics of a person - efforts, qualities, traits, knowledge, skills.

External factors - the circumstances of the situation, conditions, framework. The tendency to external attribution makes a person more helpless, because it does not reveal the ability and potential.

Attribution styles are ways of interpreting various events that have occurred to a person. Attribution styles: internal (personal); external (situational).

An internal style is present when there is a connection between the behavior of an individual and its characteristics and qualities, if a person acts under the influence of internal motives and attitudes. For example, if a person fails for a long time, he begins to write off everything that he is incapable, therefore, is doomed to failure, and this person starts to apply less force for his achievements.

Examples of personal attribution: "We did not have time to arrive on time, because you were late"; "He always leaves everything because he is a sycophant."

Examples of attribution situational: "He does so, because the conditions force it."

External style is the connection of behavior with the current situation. An individual who is faced with a case of failure, understands that there are certain circumstances that interfere with this or consider it an accident.

There are two more important types of attribution. Heteroattribution is the attribution of certain motives, qualities, and traits to other individuals or groups. Self-attribution or auto-attribution is the attribution of a variety of features, attitudes, behavioral motives to oneself. Self-attribution plays an important role in creating the self-identity of the individual.

These species are well interrelated. Some scientists have investigated that an individual who perceives a person as bad, respectively, ascribes negative traits to him, while giving himself a positive, that is, opposite. This is a psychological pattern of the interconnected development of several processes. Here, negative and positive attributions are interrelated processes that flow together.

The types of attribution of each other give rise to, support and produce absolutely opposite ideas about the psychological features that the individual ascribes to others and to himself.

The individual, in an active state, pays acute attention exclusively to the situation and situation. He understands better than the observer himself how the current situation arose, how he himself turned out to be what he would do or figure out. He has better knowledge of his own knowledge, goals, attitudes, and abilities with which he is endowed.

The observer pays more attention to the individual, his way of behavior. He ignores the situation, although he usually has little information about the history of its occurrence, without understanding the essence of a social object. This contributes to the fact that there is asymmetry in the attributions themselves. This asymmetry is expressed in explaining the ordinary or unusual, desired and undesirable behavior of the individual. Therefore, heteroattribution is considered more rational than self-attribution.