Attribution theory examines the ways that people determine retrospective causes for their own and for others’ behavioral outcomes (Kelley, 1967, 1973; Weiner, 1985, 1986, 2010). The theory seeks to explain how people’s perceived causes for their past successes or failures contribute to their current and future attitudes, motivation, and expectations for future successes or failures (Weiner, 1974). People tend to automatically ask “why” when noticing behavioral outcomes even when they have not been prompted to do so (Wong & Weiner, 1981).
The theory has two related sides: intrapersonal causal attribution and interpersonal causal attribution (Weiner, 2000). The intrapersonal process examines how a person determines the cause ...