Affect as a determinant of egotism: Residual excitation and performance attributions

Peter Gollwitzer, Walter B. Earle, Walter G. Stephan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Investigated the influence of outcome-related affect on subsequent causal attributions. After working on a social skills test, 66 male college students engaged in physical exercise. Ss were given success or failure feedback on the test 1, 5, or 9 min after the exercise. Excitation transfer theory suggests that the residual arousal from the exercise in the 5-min condition would elevate the positive and negative affective states elicited by success-failure feedback. Thus, increased attributional egotism in the 5-min condition was predicted. Findings show that Ss preferred internal factors to explain success, whereas external factors were blamed for failure. Ego-defensive attributions following failure and ego-enhancing attributions following success were more pronounced in the 5-min condition than in the other conditions. Results support the idea that outcome-related affect mediates egotistical performance attributions. (42 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-709
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1982


  • outcome-related affect, egotism in success/failure causal attributions, male college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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