Measurement and interpretation of situational and dispositional attributions

Frederick D. Miller, Eliot R. Smith, James Uleman

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Four problems with the measurement of situational and dispositional causality are reviewed. These are: the assumption that dispositional and situational causality are inversely linked; the diversity of the causes considered within the situational and dispositional categories; the difficulties of differentiating between causes internal and external to the actor; and the low convergent validity of various closed-ended attribution measures. A study reaffirms the lack of convergence among closed-ended measures and between closed and open-ended measures as well. In a second study, subjects' ratings of closed-ended attributions are taken as indicators that a freely chosen to not freely chosen dimension may better represent subjects' attributional thought than the internal/external dimension does. Open-ended data from the convergence study are recoded using this scheme and achieve significantly better convergence with closed-ended data. The implications of this redefinition for solving the various measurement problems are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-95
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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