Day 44 – Attribution theory

I read the most interesting piece in my Psychology book this morning. It was talking about the attribution of behavior that humans make on a daily basis.

Humans have a nasty tendency to blame our troubles on those around us, even if we don’t do it intentionally. Sometimes I have customers who come to the store with the biggest frowns and the meanest attitude.

These are the sort of people who use attribution for their bad days or bad luck. They assume that outside factors are the reasons for their misfortune.

This however is not always the case. An example of an external misfortune would be if the wind from a violent storm caved in the roof of your new summer home. That is when, if you so choose, you can blame the outside world for your troubles and bankruptcy.

But this is very unlikely to happen, one since we are in Canada (who has a summer home in a place where there is eight months of winter) and two because there are no violent storms headed our way.

The attribution theory follows either internal or external attribution following a behavior. For internal attributes, people look at their personality, their mood or attitudes. For external, people look for environmental or situational changes.

These behaviors could be by choice, social desirability, accidental, noncommon effects (which is when the behavior of another person changes your own) or hedonistic (which is when an individual intends to hurt or help you, making the situation personal to react to).

I usually attribute my behavior to internal factors. For example, when I am sad, I cry as most people would. When I am angry, I punch something (but I try to avoid other people). When I am tired, I sleep. When I am confused or anxious, I write. These are just some example that for the most part are universal.

But we humans have a terrible habit of attributing the wrong behavior to the wrong things. So next time you want to blame something that isn’t yourself for your mistakes, think again. Because you aren’t helping yourself by looking on the outside for the answers about you.

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