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Title:The Influence of the Observer-Actor Relationship on Causal Attributions for Behaviors
Author(s):Futoran, Gail Clark
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):McGrath, Joseph E.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Abstract:Two studies investigated the influence that the observer-actor relationship and behavior positivity have on causal attributions for interpersonal behaviors. In previous research on the actor-attribution relation, little has been done to systematically vary levels of acquaintance and behavior positivity to assess their influence on attributions. The first, exploratory study focussed on attribution prevalence, but also addressed attribution content. The first question addressed was whether attribution prevalence would be affected by the ease of making attributions, or by the attributor's need to deal with inconsistencies in the actor-behavior relation. The second question concerned whether attribution content would be affected by the actor-behavior relation. Participants completed sentences that began with behaviors hypothetically performed by people whom they knew at 7 different levels of acquaintance. The hypothesis that attributions are made when it is easy to do so was supported: Explanations were more frequent for neutral behaviors, and less frequent for negative behaviors. Level of acquaintance had an influence on attribution content: More internal causes were given for good friends than for acquaintances, while no differences were found for self or stranger. The second study focussed on attribution content. Taking a balance theory approach, it was predicted that attributions would be to internal, stable characteristics of the actor when liking and the positivity of behaviors were consistent, but to external features of the environment or to internal, variable actor characteristics when liking and behavior positivity were inconsistent. Participants wrote reactions to behaviors performed by an actor at one of 10 levels of acquaintance. Participants and independent raters coded the written protocols, and participants made attribution ratings. The 3 panels of data converged on the finding that a balance hypothesis accounted for the acquaintance-attribution relation: Liked actors were seen as responsible for positive but not for negative behaviors; the reverse was true for disliked actors. It was recommended that a multiple-method and multiple-causal category approach be used to explore further the acquaintance-attribution relation.
Issue Date:1987
Description:149 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8803046
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1987

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