chapter  7
22 Pages

Defensive Attribution

Our theory of causal attribution as articulated and applied to the dimensions of time, space, focalization, and affect implies that the only factor that “biases” causal attribution is the motive to max­ imize simplicity within consciousness. This state of affairs leaves us slightly uneasy. In particular, the theory we have presented sug­ gests that a person would not hesitate to attribute a negative event (e.g., failure) to self if this attribution were in line with the con­ sistency principle. In fact, in Chapter 2 we present data indicating that people will attribute very negative events to self if the focaliza­ tion of self is increased (Duval, Duval, & Neely, 1979). However, experience indicates that we often attribute a negative outcome to external causes when the consistency principle calls for an attribu­ tion to self.