When unexpected behavior is attributed to the environment

Linda G. Bell, Robert A. Wicklund, Gary Manko, Chris Larkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Two experiments were conducted to investigate a modification of the Jones and Davis (1965) analysis of attribution. Subjects were confronted with a situation in which there were two possible causes for an event, and differential information about these causes was provided such that subjects were much more informed about the nature of one potential cause than the other. This information also imparted to the subjects a definite expectancy about the forthcoming event. When the event disconfirmed subjects' expectancies, responsibility was attributed to the cause about which least was known. This result was found in both experiments. In addition, Experiment II offered some suggestive evidence that a disconfirmed expectancy will lead the person to direct his attention toward potential causes about which he is uninformed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-327
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1976
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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