Anderson, C. A. (1985).

Actor and observer attributions for different types of situations: Casual-structure effects, individual differences, and the dimensionality of causes.

Social Cognition, 3, 323-340.


In a within-subjects design, the effects of situation type (interpersonal vs. noninterpersonal x success vs. failure) and attribution perspective (actor vs. observer) on open-ended attributions were examined. The results were compared to findings from research on the casual structure of situations, actor-observer differences, and success-failure attributional asymmetries. As expected, observer attributions were virtually identical to the underlying causal structure of the situations, whereas actor attributions were also affected by other attribution-processing factors. In addition, actor attributions were more external and unstable than observer attributions. The motivational-bias position on success-failure asymmetries received no support, as observers showed a more "defensive" pattern of attributions than did actors. Finally, supplementary analyses yielded positive correlations between actor and observer attributional styles, and also revealed that casual dimensions usually treated as orthogonal are actually highly correlated. The implications of these results for the construction and testing of attributional theories are discussed.

© 1985 by the Guilford Press.

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