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Chapter 18
Theories of Learning

CHAPTER 18

ATTRIBUTIONS pg 483

 

All of us probably have succeeded at something and probably failed at other things.

 

Do you know why you were successful at one and failed at the other?

 

People’s explanation for success and failure, and their beliefs about what caused what are attributions. (I didn’t write my paper because my computer was down)

 

Explanations of what causes what vary among individuals.  Consequently, it is important to know that attributes are as much a function of people’s Perception as of Reality.  For example, you might blame bad grades on the teachers poor teaching methods, when in reality it could be the results of poor study habits. 

 

“WHEN LOOKING FOR FAULTS USE A MIRROR NOT A TELESCOPE”

 

 

EFFECTS OF ATTRIBUTIONS pg 486

 

Attributes influence various aspects of our behavior.  They affect

 

     Emotional reaction to success or failure

     Expectations for future success or failure

     Effort and persistence

     Future choices

 

Let’s look at these aspects individually:

 

 

Emotional Reaction to Success or Failure:

 

Individuals are generally happy when they succeed at something.  But what causes a person to be proud at an accomplishment.

 

Individuals might be “grateful” rather than “proud” when they accomplish something due to the actions or assistance of another person.

 

However, individuals feel proud “only” when they can attribute success to something they themselves have done.

 

Likewise, people feel a certain amount of sadness after a failure.  When they believe their failure is due to others they are likely to feel angry and resentful.

 

When they believe their failure is due to their own lack of ability or effort, they feel guilty or ashamed

Expectations for future Success or Failure:

 

When people attribute their success and failure to stable factors, they will expect their future performance to be similar to their current performance.  In this sense, success leads to an anticipation of future success, and failure breeds an expectation of more failure.

 

Effort and Persistence:

 

When people believe that their failures are due to their own lack of effort….. that they do have the ability to succeed if they try hard enough….they are likely to exert more effort  in future situations and to persist in the face of difficulty.  When they instead attribute failure to a lack of innate ability (they couldn’t do it even if they tried), they give up easily and sometimes cannot even perform tasks they have previously accomplished successfully.

 

Future Choices:

 

As you might expect, individuals whose attributions lead them to expect success in a particular subject area are more likely to pursue that area.  Individuals who believe their chances for future success in an activity are slim will avoid that activity whenever they can.  And when people don’t continue to pursue an activity, they can’t possibly get better at it.

 

 

FACTORS INFLUENCING THE DEVELOPMENT OF ATTRIBUTIONS

 

Researchers have identified at least five variables that influence the development of different attributions for success or failure. The five variables are:

 

Past Successes and Failures

Reinforcement and Punishment

Situational Cues

Others’ Expectations

Others’ Attributions

 

 

Past Successes and Failures

 

Individuals who have succeeded at something tend to attribute the success to themselves and their failures to something outside of themselves.

 

Reinforcement and Punishment

 

When successes are reinforced and failures are not punished, individuals are likely to attribute cause to themselves.  Conversely, individuals are more likely to attribute causes to something or someone else when failures are punished and successes are ignored.

(In other words, people are more likely to accept responsibility for their failures if others don’t make a big deal of them).

 

Situational Cues

 

 The performance of others provide cues:  Failure is likely to be attributed to task difficulty if everyone else is failing, Where as, it is more likely to be attributed to oneself if others are succeeding.

 

Others’ Expectations

 

Other people communicate their beliefs about an individual’s ability.  Generally, teachers expectation of students are based on the students past performance.  Generally Students perform up to the level of teacher expectations.

 

Others’ Attributions

 

Other individuals may also communicate their attributions indirectly through the things they say and do.  For example

:

  • when teachers criticize and express anger about students’ performance, they convey the message that students have sufficient ability to master the task and simply aren’t trying hard enough.

 

  •  But when teachers express pity for the same performance, they communicate their belief that students’ low ability is the reason for their failure.

 

 

Other Cognitive factors which affect Motivation in this Chapter include:

 

COMPETENCE AND SELF DETERMINATION

INTERNALIZED MOTIVATION

EFFECTS OF CHALLENGE AND COMPETITION

PROMOTING COGNITIONS THAT MOTIVATE 

 

We know that motivation is important, because it is the impetus or drive that causes an individual to accomplish things.  When a person loses their motivation, they become depressed and chances of success in anything is more difficult to attain.

 

 

GOOD LUCK ON FINAL EXAM

 

 

 

 

 

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