Assignment # 1 – Attribution (Winter Semester Course) Forming attributions is a major part of daily life. Consider this column written to Ann Landers â€œDear Ann Landers: Iâ€™m writing to you in desperation, hoping you can help me with a problem I am having with my mother. A little over a year ago, I moved in with my boyfriend, despite my motherâ€™s protests. She has never liked â€œKevin.â€ Iâ€™ll admit heâ€™s far from perfect and weâ€™ve had our problems. Heâ€™s an alcoholic, has a bad temper, is mentally abusive, is a compulsive liar, and cannot hold a job. I am in debt over my head because of him, but my biggest problem is that my mother is obsessed with my situation. I understand her concern, but I can only take so much â€¦ OVER-MOTHERED IN MICHIGANâ€ To which Ann Landers replied: â€œDear Overly-Mothered: Your mother didnâ€™t write to me. You did. So youâ€™re the one who is going to get the advice. Get some counseling at once and find out why you insist on hanging onto an alcoholic, abusive, unemployed liar â€¦â€ As you can see, the letter writer says her biggest problem is her mother (relying on external factors) while Ann Landers made a dispositional attribution about the letter writer (â€œget into counselingâ€). You can watch the attribution process in action, too. All it takes is a friend (or a group of friends) and an interesting topic to discuss. Get into a conversation with at least one other person (a friend, group of friends, significant other, or family member NOT in this class), and listen to him or her. Your friend will probably tell you about an interesting encounter he or she had with another person that day, or your group might be talking about a mutual friend who is not currently present in the group, but everyone in the group knows. As this other person talks, your assignment is to pay very close attention to what they say. There is a good chance your friend(s) will be trying to figure out why the person being discussed did what they did, or said what they said. In other words, they will be making attributions about someone not currently present. Your job is to keep track of their comments (without them knowing you are working on an assignment) and later write about the attributional strategies they are using. WRITE ABOUT A CONVERSATION YOU HAVE NOT HAD YET. I want to see you interact with your new knowledge, not recalling a past event. In particular, is your friend(s) making internal attributions about another personâ€™s character or personality, or are they making situational attributions about non-personality variables that may have contributed to the personâ€™s response? Does your friend(s) seem to prefer making one type of attribution over the other? If their interpretation is dispositional (they focus on the personâ€™s character or personality), what happens when you suggest another possible interpretation, one that is situational? If their interpretation is situational, what happens if you suggest a dispositional cause? Do they agree or disagree with you? What kinds of information do they offer as â€œproofâ€ that their attribution is correct? Observing people when they are making attributions in real conversation will show you just how common and powerful this type of thinking is when people are trying to understand each other. Using the questions on the next page, write about your observations. Attribution Assignment Worksheet Instructions: Answer the following six questions about a discussion you have with your friends or family. Make sure you answer ALL questions thoroughly. My suggestion is to have at minimum 1 sentence per point. So, if a question is worth 3 points, have a minimum of 3 sentences!
1. Briefly describe the setting. How many people are in this conversation? How many are male/female? Are they friends, family or coworkers etc.? (3 points)
2. Briefly describe the event you were discussing that led your friend(s)/family to make attributions (if there are many events, just focus on one). (3 points)
3. Does your conversation partner(s) seem to be making dispositional or situational attributions?
First, define what you mean by dispositional or situational. Second, describe their actual attribution in detail. Third, tell me WHY it was dispositional or situational. (8 points). This is an important one worth 8 points, so be specific!
4. What happens when you suggest the opposite attribution (if THEY focus on a dispositional attribution, then YOU suggest a situational attribution, or vice versa)? (4 points)
5. What kinds of â€œproofâ€ do they offer to support their attribution? You can cheat a bit here and point out some similar items from #3 and #4 above, but only if they use it as proof. (4 points)
6. Now tell them about the assignment, and see if they agree or disagree with your insights. Make sure to explain the concepts of dispositional and situational attributions to them. Do they think they tend to engage in one or the other more often? Why? (3 points)
My grading rubric is on the next page Grading Rubric (Applies to each of the questions above) Poor (0% of points) Fair (50% of points) Good (100% of points) Content/Idea Development Up to 2 points (questions 1, 2, 6) Up to 3 points (questions 4, 5) Up to 7 points (question 3) – No key elements are present – No understanding of material – No analysis of content – Some key elements are present – Little understanding of material – Little analysis of content – All key elements are present – Content is accurate – Clear understanding of material – Strong analysis of content Style/Mechanics & Organization Up to 1 point each question – Lots of grammar or spelling mistakes – Did not follow directions – Few or no grammar or spelling mistakes – Followed all of the directions An â€œExampleâ€ of a good paper turned in by a prior student of mine is on the next page Attribution Assignment (Assignment #1) â€“
Example of a â€œGoodâ€ Student Paper
1. Briefly describe the setting. How many people are in this conversation? How many are male/female? Are they friends or coworkers etc.? (3 points) There were five people in all in the setting. There were two males and three females including myself. Three out of five of the individuals are related while the fifth individual and myself are friends of their family. We were sitting on couches in the family home.
2. Briefly describe the event you were discussing that led your friend(s) to make attributions (if there are many events, just focus on one). (3 points) We were discussing a night out that we all shared with each other the night before. We went to a nightclub and one of the females in the group (my friend) sat down by a couple of people that she didnâ€™t know. After sitting there for about five minutes a young lady asked her to move and told her that the section was paid for and the people that paid for it didnâ€™t know her, so she couldnâ€™t sit there. I listened to everyone discuss the situation and every one of my friends said that the section was not paid for by those individuals. In fact they all believed that my friend was told to move for no apparent reason and that the young lady that told her to move was very rude for doing so even though she insisted that she was not trying to be rude. The group of my friends came to the consensus that not only did the young lady lie about why my friend couldnâ€™t sit there but she was also being rude and therefore, was a rude and confrontational person.
3. Does your friend(s) seem to be making dispositional or situational attributions? Describe. (8 points) My friends were making dispositional attributions because they werenâ€™t taking into consideration the reasons why the young lady didnâ€™t want my friend to sit in the section that they were in. It could have been for many different reasons. Yet, it was interpreted by the conversation that my friend had with the young lady instead of what could have led up to their exchange of words.
4. What happens when you suggest an alternative attribution (they are focused on dispositional attribution, and you suggest a situational attribution, or vice versa)? (4 points) I told my friends that maybe the young lady wanted only her friends to sit next to her because they were celebrating something intimate and that she probably wasnâ€™t trying to be rude, however they disagreed. They felt as though no matter what the young lady was rude for saying what she said. I even said that maybe there were other individuals that werenâ€™t a part of the young ladyâ€™s group that sat there before my friend did and ruined their celebration in some way, which caused her to want their celebration to remain intimate. That would be a good enough reason to not want anyone else to sit next to them and ruin their night. Therefore she wasnâ€™t being rude, but instead just expressing her preference. Of course they werenâ€™t going for that either.
5. What kinds of â€œproofâ€ do they offer to support their attribution? (4 points) The â€œproofâ€ they offered was that we made it inside the club around or at the same time that the young lady and her friends got there. Therefore, there was no group of tyrants that sat next to them and rubbed them the wrong way prior to my friend sitting next to their group. With that being said my situational disposition went out the window.
6. Now tell them about the assignment, and see if they agree with your insights. How did they respond to the assignment? (3 points) When I told them about the assignment they still did not agree that something could have led up to the young ladyâ€™s request. They insisted that she was just a rude individual in a club that wanted to be a snob by choice. However, they did agree that maybe in other situations they would assess a situation through the different forms of attribution that I told them about instead of making a rash opinion.