Anderson, C.A. (1991).

Attributions as decisions: A two-stage information processing model.

In S. Zelen (Ed.) New models, new extensions of attribution theory: The third attribution-personality conference, CSPP-LA, 1988 (pp. 12-54). New York: Springer-Verlag.


This chapter, from a conference on attribution theory in honor of Bernie Weiner's contributions to the area, presents a two-stage model of how attributions are made. First, comparisons are made between normative attribution modelsÑwhich have focused on how people should make attributionsÑand true process modelsÑwhich examine how people actually make attributions. The two-stage process model contradicts three commonly held assumptions. First, it has been assumed that people apply a standard place of attributions to every attributional situation that arises, but the two-stage model assumes instead that people have both specific and generic knowledge structures about situations that include a small set of "most-likely" causes for that type of situation. Second, many scholars have assumed that deep hidden needs and motivations directly influence the attribution process, but the two-stage model suggests that such needs and motivations influence final attribution outcomes only via indirect processes. Third, recent theoretical developments have assumed that the location of a cause in multidimensional space (i.e., locus, stability, controllability) determines its effects, but the two-stage model suggests that attributional effects derive more directly from attribution categories, and that people do not typically engage in dimensional thinking. Data supporting these notions are presented.

© 1988 by Craig A. Anderson.

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