Why we Ask Why: The Ways in Which Control and Stereotyping Biases Affect Internal Attributions
Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Arts
Committee Member/Second Reader
Committee Member/Third Reader
Since the idea of attributions was famously discussed by Fritz Heider (1958), a wide array of empirical research has focused on the phenomenon. Included within the sphere of attributional theories are internal attributions, which have been of particular interest to the psychological community for decades. Although there is no comprehensive theory for why people make these attributions, literature points to establishing control as a possible motivator. In addition, research suggests that people may make more extreme internal attributions about minorities, particularly when they are not aware they are relying on stereotypes. Participants (N = 377) observed a modified version of the quizmaster paradigm (Ross, Amabile & Steinmetz, 1977), which relies on the Fundamental Attribution Error. They first completed a control manipulation that either deprived their sense of person control or left it unaffected. Then, they watched a video depicting the quizmaster paradigm with either a black contestant or a white contestant. After the video, they rated quizmasters, contestants and themselves based on intelligence. Although the quizmaster paradigm proved to be robust, neither Race nor Control affected the strength of the internal attributions participants made. The lack of significant findings suggest that further research needs to be conducted to ascertain the causality of internal attributions.
Internal Attributions, Fundamental Attribution Error, Control, Racial Biases
Francis, T. (2018). Why we Ask Why: The Ways in Which Control and Stereotyping Biases Affect Internal Attributions. Psychological Science Undergraduate Honors Theses Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/psycuht/14