attribution theory

noun

psychology
: a theory that attempts to explain the interpretive process by which people make judgments about the causes of their own behavior and the behavior of others
After studying how people explain others' behavior, Fritz Heider (1958) proposed an attribution theory. Heider noted that people usually attribute others' behavior either to their internal dispositions or to their external situations.David G. Myers, Psychology, 2001
Indeed, in accordance with tenets of attribution theory, teachers may be most apt to reject students whom they perceive as being able, yet unwilling, to control undesired behavior.Bryan G. Cook et al., Journal of Special Education, January 2007

Word History

First Known Use

1967, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of attribution theory was in 1967

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Cite this Entry

“Attribution theory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/attribution%20theory. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

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