Anderson, C. A. (1983).

Motivational and performance deficits in interpersonal settings: The effect of attributional style.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1136-1147.


An attributional model of motivation and performance following failure was tested. College students were preselected on the basis of their attributional styles for interpersonal failures, as measured by the Attributional Style Assessment Test (Anderson, Horowitz, & French, 1983). Subjects in the two preselected groups (character-style versus behavioral-style attributors) were randomly assigned to one of three experimental manipulations of attributions for failure at an interpersonal persuasion task: (a) no manipulation, (b) ability/trait manipulation (which parallels the character style), or (c) strategy/effort manipulation (which parallels the behavior style). Subsequently, subjects engaged in a blood drive task over the telephone, trying to persuade other students to donate blood. Success expectancies, motivation, and actual performance were assessed. As predicted, subjects who made strategy-/effort-type attributions, whether by experimental manipulation or by preselection, expected more success, expected more improvement with practice, displayed higher levels of motivation, and performed better at the task than did subjects who made ability-/trait-type attributions. Implications for the treatment of clinical symptoms such as loneliness and depression are discussed.

©1983 by the American Psychological Association.

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