Full Text

Attribution Processes

Valerie Manusov


Attribution s are the cognitive and communicative processes involved in making sense of why someone acted the way he or she did. This →  sense-making usually revolves around attempts to determine the cause (i.e., why) and/or who is responsible for an action. Studied initially as a largely internal, psychological process (e.g., Heider 1958 ), researchers in communication often look to verbal explanations as examples of expressed or communicated attributions (e.g., Burleson 1986 ; Roghaar & Vangelisti 1996 ). Generally, attribution processes are considered an offshoot of people's tendency to want to understand the world around them. This sense-making transpires in our thoughts (cognitive attributions), and we talk it out with others (communicated attributions). In fact, as we talk about why we think someone acted as he or she did, we often change our minds about the attribution we originally held (→  Psychology in Communication Processes ; Cognition ). Early work focused on attributions of what Heider (1958) called causal locus , or the judgment of where a cause came from (i.e., internal or external to the person who engaged in the action). Since then, researchers, most notably Weiner (1995) , have identified a large number of other attributional dimensions, including assessments of a behavior's intentionality, controllability, stability, specificity, and valence. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top