Attribution Theory

Definition of Attribution Theory:

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Attribution theory (B. Weiner) explains how individuals interpret events and how this relates to their thinking and behavior.

This theory has been used to explain the difference in motivation between high and low achievers. According to attribution theory, high achievers will invite rather than avoid tasks that could lead them to success because they believe success results from high ability and effort, and they are confident of their ability and effort. However, they believe failure is caused by bad luck or a poor exam, i.e. things that are beyong their range of control. Thus, failure doesn’t affect their self-esteem but success builds pride and confidence.

On the other hand, low achievers avoid success-related actions because they tend to doubt their ability and/or assume success is related to luck or influence or to other factors beyond their control. Thus, even when successful, it isn’t as rewarding to the low achiever because he/she doesn’t feel responsible. Suceess does not increase his/her pride and confidence.

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