Dispositional Attribution
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Dispositional Attribution

Dispositional Attribution
Dispositional Attribution 2

What is Dispositional Attribution?

Dispositional Attribution is a branch of Social Psychology which deals with interpersonal relations of humans. By psychologists all over the world the most popular term used for Dispositional Attribution is ‘Internal Attribution’.

Dispositional Attribution or Internal Attribution plays an important role in analyzing the causes of a particular human behavior by a certain individual. According to the experiments conducted by psychologists, behaviors are caused by either external stimuli or internal characteristics.

Internal characteristics

Internal characteristics are what is known as internal attribution which is that the cause of a certain behavior or event is attributed or inferred to the personal qualities of an individual whereas behaviors caused by external stimuli are termed as situational attribution which is that a particular situation or environmental aspect is blamed for the cause of a certain event.

According to the psychologists, Dispositional Attribution is further divided into sources which are most likely to produce a reaction by an individual. These include traits, feelings and abilities.

Traits are the inherited qualities of an individual and are the basic building blocks of his or her personality which further shapes his reactions in different types of events. These reactions can be positive or negative according to the developed personality.

However, traits are not something that an individual is completely bound with since according to the studies conducted by experts of social psychology, a trait can cause a person to either react or respond to a particular situation.

For either of the possible responses, an individual will give a different explanation for his or her behavior.

For example, if an old woman who is trying to pass a road is suddenly bypassed by a high speed vehicle, the most probably behavior that will be triggered by her is an outburst of anger with several incoming abuses targeted at the vehicle’s driver. This is her reaction.

However there can be a second scenario in which the old woman, instead of becoming infuriated, ponders upon the situation and tries to analyze why is showing such a harsh reaction.

In such a case, internal attribution would be only applied to the second case where the old woman responds instead of reacting.

For someone seeing this scene directly or indirectly by a narration, he or she will certainly attribute it to the old woman’s internal personality of ignorance towards the traffic which caused her to cross the road without seeing the incoming vehicles.

Ironically, in either cases of respond or react, the outsider will anyway still attribute it as the ignorance and inattentiveness of the old woman due to which she tried to cross the road without being aware of the incoming traffic.

External Stimuli

Feelings are the emotional states of an individual and can be affected by both his traits and external stimuli. Even in dispositional attribution, situation attribution can play a part when it comes to the sensitivity of an individual.

A person who has had a bad time with his or her boss at office is more likely to ruin the entire day compared to a person who has had a good time. Due to this, one of the most common psychological therapies today are behavioral therapies which aim to treat the unfavorable reactions of an individual that are triggered by a hateful stimuli or past experience.

However this ‘past’ experience does not necessarily need to be something that happened years ago but surprisingly every day, every minute and even every second that passes is considered to be in the ‘past’.

With each passing word you read here, the previously read word is considered to be read in the past.


Last but not least, the third possible cause of a human behavior is an ability. Abilities refer to the certain behaviors that have been learned or experienced by an individual throughout his life.

For example, a child who had fallen off his bike the first time he attempted to ride it may have a developed a fear and a negative ability or in other words, the in-ability to ride the bicycle in the future.

Though abilities are not one of the most important reasons of a human behavior, they certainly do play an essential part because they are linked with past experiences and the lessons that were learnt at that particular time.

The fear of being unable to do a particular act in the present or in the future is something extraordinarily common.

With every negative event in a human’s life, one fear is developed. Unless this fear is dealt with at that particular time or thoroughly ignored, it can have a long-lasting effect on that individual’s behavior.

Therefore, in the field of Social Psychology and in the study of human behavior, ‘Internal Attribution’ has a priceless role in finding out the exact root cause of a reaction in relation with a person’s personality.

Psychologists have used Dispositional Attribution to help thousands of people reform their personality by helping them find out the exact causes of their behaviors in certain events and then informing them of the possible trigger or source of that particular response or reaction which can be either an inherent quality, emotional sensitivity or the individual’s experience with the ability to deal with that particular situation. 

Conclusively, an internal attribution is the explanation of the cause of a human behavior in relation with the internal environment of the individual.

So to summarize, this internal environment can be the cause of inherited traits, negative or positive feelings developed by past experiences or abilities or inabilities developed by the events that have occurred throughout the individual’s life.

The attribution theory states that the possible reason behind an event or behavior of an individual can be internal or external. Internal factors for a behavior are classified under the term of ‘Internal Attribution’ or ‘Dispositional Attribution’ where ‘Disposition’ refers to the temperament or character of the individual and attribution is a process by which people judge a situation by the behavior of the individual by blaming the cause of the reaction or response of the individual on his personality.

Fundamental Attribution

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