Copyright

Attribution Theory and the Principle of Locus of Control

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Expectancy Value Theory: Age, Gender & Ethnicity Differences

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:30 Attribution Theory and Model
  • 4:05 Attributions Communicated
  • 5:19 Attributional Biases
  • 7:05 Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Melissa Hurst
What do you attribute your successes or failures to? Do you feel like luck and chance are involved, or do you feel like you're in control of your achievements and behavior? This lesson will provide you with an overview of attribution theory and the principles of locus of control.

Attribution Theory and Model

'An F! How could I make an F? Oh, that professor hates me! Maybe it was because I didn't get enough sleep last night? This information is just too hard! I'll never get it!' Does this sound like you? What do you attribute your successes and failures to?

Attributions are the perceived causes that individuals select or construct for events in their lives. A basic assumption of attribution theory is that a person's understanding of the causes of past events influences his or her future actions.

The psychologist Bernard Weiner developed an attribution theory that mainly focuses on achievement. According to Weiner, the most important factors affecting attributions are ability, effort, task difficulty and luck. He classified attributions along three causal dimensions. First is locus of control, where there are two poles: an internal locus versus an external locus. Next is stability - do causes change over time or not? Finally, there's controllability - the causes one can control, such as skills, versus causes one cannot control, such as luck and others' actions.

Weiner focuses on achievement in his attribution theory
Bernard Weiner Picture

There's a lot of information here, so let's take it dimension by dimension. Stability refers to how likely it is the probability of causes will change over time. For example, Allison failed her math test, but she attributed this failure to lack of sleep the night before. Allison might consider this situation unstable because the attributed cause - fatigue - would likely change in the future. Stability is directly related to one's expectancy for success.

Next, let's look at locus of control. This refers to one's belief that his or her behavior is guided by external factors, such as luck, fate, etc., or internal factors, such as ability and effort. The importance of an attribution that is internal, for example, is the influence on self-esteem. Success attributed to an internal cause (the person) is a source of pride. However, failure attributed to an internal cause is a source of disappointment. Success attributed to ability and/or effort is a source of pride because both ability and effort are internal attributions.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support