Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The dimensionality underlying causal attributions to nonacademic behaviors (an accomplishment, an emotion, and an opinion) was investigated in four studies varying antecedent information (presence or absence) and response format (rating scale or open ended). In the information present conditions, subjects given consensus, distinctiveness, consistency, and incentive information rated the importance of ten causes provided (Study 1) or generated their own causal attributions (Study 3). As Kelley's (1967, 1973) model predicts, in both studies, high consensus information led to increased external attributions and low consensus to increased internal attributions; high consistency information led to increased stable attributions and low consistency to increased unstable attributions. When globality was considered, high distinctiveness information led to increased specific attributions and low distinctiveness to increased general attributions. Incentive information did not have the expected influence in Study 1 but the responses in Study 3 indicated that incentive information itself was often given as a "reason" for the behavior. In both studies, the information provided was used selectively and four basic causal schemata were typical of all three target behaviors: stimulus attributions (given high consensus information), personal attributions (given high consistency and low distinctiveness information), circumstantial attributions (given low consistency information), and interactional attributions (given high consistency and high distinctiveness information). Subjects' causal schemata about each target behavior in the absence of specific information cues were investigated in Studies 2 and 4. For accomplishments, the dominant causal attributions were general and internal (person); for emotions, unstable and situation-specific (circumstantial); and for opinions, interactional and qualitatively more reason-like. Principal components analyses of the rating scale data (Studies 1 and 2) yielded Locus, Stability, Intentionality/Controllability (Weiner, 1974, 1979), and Globality (Abramson, Seligman, & Teasdale, 1978) factors (in various combinations) underlying the causal attributions for the three behaviors. The factor structures were more clearcut when information cues were provided as in Study 1.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.