In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Meaning of Attribution 2. Theory of Attribution 3. Kelly’s Theory of Causal Attribution 4. Some Organizational Implications of Perceptual and Attributional Biases.
Meaning of Attribution:
Behavioural attributes (or behavioural competencies) are a way of describing a range of individual characteristics that can be measured and can be shown to differentiate effective and ineffective performance. A job role will usually require the post-holder to demonstrate both behavioural attributes and technical (or role specific) skills.
Behavioural attributes are made up of a range of motives, traits, skills and knowledge. In a given situation these are evidenced by the way an individual behaves, and can be a significant factor in helping to predict job performance.
Theory of Attribution:
The cognitive process by which people interpret the reasons or causes for their behavior is an area of study known as the attribution theory.
Attribution theory aids in perceptual interpretation by focusing on how people attempt to:
a) Understand the causes of a certain event
b) Assess responsibility for the outcomes of the event
c) Evaluate the personal qualities of the people involved in the event.
When individuals observe behavior, they attempt to determine whether it is internally or externally caused. Internally caused behaviors are those that are believed to be under the personal control of the individual. Externally caused behaviors is seen as resulting from outside causes.
Kelly’s Theory of Causal Attribution:
According to him, we base our judgments of internal and external causality on three types of information:
The extent to which other people behave in the same manner as the person we are judging.
If everyone who is faced with a similar situation responds in the same way, we can say the behavior shows consensus. If others do behave similarly, consensus is considered high; if they do not, consensus is considered low.
The extent to which the person we are judging acts the same way at other times.
Does the person respond the same way over time?
If the person does acts the same at other times, consistency is high; if he or she does not, then consistency is low.
The extent to which this person behaves in the same manner in other contexts. If he or she behaves the same way in other situations, distinctiveness is low; if he or she behaves differently, distinctiveness is high.
Attribution of Causality:
When consensus is high, consistency is low and distinctiveness is high, the person’s behavior is said to have stemmed from external causes: situational attributions.
When consensus is low, consistency is high and distinctiveness is low, the person’s behavior is said to have stemmed from internal causes: dispositional attribution.
a. Fundamental Attribution Error:
A tendency to underestimate the effects of external or situational causes of behaviour and to overestimate the effects of internal or personal causes. Fundamental attribution error. Applies to the evaluation of someone else’s behavior. Attributing success to the influence of situational factors. Attributing failure to the influence of personal factors.
b. Self-Serving Bias:
A tendency for individuals to attribute success on an event or project to his or her own actions while attributing failure to others. Self-serving bias. Applies to the evaluation of our own behavior. Attributing success to the influence of personal factors. Attributing failure to the influence of situational factors.
Some Organizational Implications of Perceptual and Attributional Biases:
1. Employment Interview:
Evidence indicates that interviewers make perceptual judgments that are often inaccurate.
(a) Interviewers generally draw early impressions that become very quickly entrenched. If negative information is exposed early in the interview, it tends to be more heavily weighted than if that same information comes out later.
(b) Different panel member’s views differ often regarding the evaluation of the same candidate.
(c) Agreement among interviewers is often poor; that is different interviewers see different things in the same candidate and thus, arrives at different conclusions about the applicant.
2. Problem Solving and Decision-Making:
A committee will blame other groups or departments when problems occur:
The self-serving bias, when faced with identifying problems to be solved in a complex business situation, managers has a tendency to define the problem in ways that reflect their own functional competence than other functional areas: to interpret them in terms of our own experiences and capacity to solve problems.
3. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:
If a manager expects big things from his people, they are not likely to let him down. If a manager expects people to perform minimally, they will tend to behave so as to meet those low expectations. Result: Expectations become reality.
4. Pygmalion Effect:
When one person inaccurately perceives a second person and the resulting expectations, it causes the second person to behave in ways consistent with the original perception.
5. Ethnic Profiling:
A form of stereotyping in which a group of individuals is singled out, typically on the basis of race or ethnicity, for intensive inquiry, scrutinizing, or investigation.