Anderson, C. A. (1983).

The causal structure of situations: The generation of plausible causal attributions as a function of type of event situation.

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 19, 185-203.


The causal structures for each of four types of situations-interpersonal failure, noninterpersonal failure, interpersonal success, and noninterpersonal success-were explored and compared. A first group of subjects generated plausible causes for five specific situations in each of the four general types of situations. A second group of subjects provided similarity data on these causes, which were used in a cluster analysis of the causes. A third group of subjects rated the generated causes on each of six dimensions reported in the attribution literature: changeability, locus, stability, intentionality, globality, and controllability. Analyses of the clusters of causes and the ratings revealed (a) different types of causes were generated for different types of situations, (b) different types of situations led people to generate causes that differ in dimensional location, (c) the various causal dimensions were highly intercorrelated. These findings were applied to A. W. Kruglanski's (Psychological Review, 1980, 87) model of attribution processes. In addition, implications for the study of interpersonal situations and for the cognition-motivation debate over "self-serving" bias in attribution were discussed. Finally, several methodological issues were examined.

©1983 by the Academic Press.

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