Time and Space
The frequency with which individuals attribute negative events externally when an internal attribution is, theoretically, more appropriate has generated the concept defensive attribution. However, the phenomenon itself is real and must be taken into account in a theory of causal attribution. It should be clear that this cost-benefit analysis results in the acceptance of a negative self-attribution only if people believe they are capable of coping with the problem once the cause of that problem is known. The relationship between self-focus, the ability to reduce an intraself discrepancy, and attributional tendency was in the predicted direction and entirely understandable. Increasing self-focus presumably increased the negativeness of the intraself discrepancy for subjects in both camera conditions. When coping was impossible, the increased negativeness enhanced the tendency to engage in defensive attribution. A scatterplot of the data indicated that the difference between the measures taken before and after the manipulation did not require a covariance analysis.