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Psychology (Optional) Notes & Mind Maps

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    1.1 Definition of Psychology
  2. 1.2 Historical antecedents of Psychology and trends in the 21st century
  3. 1.3 Psychology and scientific methods
  4. 1.4 Psychology in relation to other social sciences and natural sciences
  5. 1.5 Application of Psychology to societal problems
    2.1 Types of research: Descriptive, evaluative, diagnostic, and prognostic
  7. 2.2 Methods of Research: Survey, observation, case-study, and experiments
  8. 2.3 Experimental, Non-Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs
  9. 2.4 Focused group discussions
  10. 2.5 Brainstorming
  11. 2.6 Grounded theory approach
    3.1 Major Steps in Psychological research
    6 Submodules
  13. 3.2 Fundamental versus applied research
  14. 3.3 Methods of Data Collection
    3 Submodules
  15. 3.4 Research designs (ex-post facto and experimental)
  16. 3.5 Application of Statistical Technique
    5 Submodules
  17. 3.6 Item Response Theory
    4.1 Growth and Development, Principles of Development
  19. 4.2 Role of genetic and environmental factors in determining human behavior
  20. 4.3 Influence of cultural factors in socialization
  21. 4.4 Life span development (Characteristics, development tasks, promoting psychological well-being across major stages of the life span)
    5.1 Sensation
    2 Submodules
  23. 5.2 Attention: factors influencing attention
    1 Submodule
  24. 5.3 Perception
    11 Submodules
  25. 6. LEARNING
    6.1 Concept and theories of learning (Behaviourists, Gestaltalist and Information processing models)
  26. 6.2 The Processes of extinction, discrimination, and generalization
  27. 6.3 Programmed learning
  28. 6.4 Probability Learning
  29. 6.5 Self-Instructional Learning
  30. 6.6 Types and the schedules of reinforcement
  31. 6.7 Escape, Avoidance and Punishment
  32. 6.8 Modeling
  33. 6.9 Social Learning
  34. 7. MEMORY
    7.1 Encoding and Remembering
  35. 7.2 Short term memory
  36. 7.3 Long term memory
  37. 7.4 Sensory Memory - Iconic, Echoic & Haptic Memory
  38. 7.5 Multistore Model of Memory
  39. 7.6 Levels of Processing
  40. 7.7 Organization and Mnemonic techniques to improve memory
  41. 7.8 Theories of forgetting: decay, interference and retrieval failure
  42. 7.9 Metamemory
    8.1 Piaget’s theory of cognitive development
  44. 8.2 Concept formation processes
  45. 8.3 Information Processing
  46. 8.4 Reasoning and problem-solving
  47. 8.5 Facilitating and hindering factors in problem-solving
  48. 8.6 Methods of problem-solving: Creative thinking and fostering creativity
  49. 8.7 Factors influencing decision making and judgment
  50. 8.8 Recent Trends in Thinking and Problem Solving
  51. 9. Motivation and Emotion
    9.1 Psychological and physiological basis of motivation and emotion
  52. 9.2 Measurement of motivation and emotion
  53. 9.3 Effects of motivation and emotion on behavior
  54. 9.4 Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
  55. 9.5 Factors influencing intrinsic motivation
  56. 9.6 Emotional competence and the related issues
  57. 10. Intelligence and Aptitude
    10.1 Concept of intelligence and aptitude
  58. 10.2 Nature and theories of intelligence: Spearman, Thurstone, Guilford Vernon, Sternberg and J.P Das
  59. 10.3 Emotional Intelligence
  60. 10.4 Social Intelligence
  61. 10.5 Measurement of intelligence and aptitudes
  62. 10.6 Concept of IQ
  63. 10.7 Deviation IQ
  64. 10.8 The constancy of IQ
  65. 10.9 Measurement of multiple intelligence
  66. 10.10 Fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence
  67. 11. Personality
    11.1 Definition and concept of personality
  68. 11.2 Theories of personality (psychoanalytical, sociocultural, interpersonal, developmental, humanistic, behaviouristic, trait and type approaches)
  69. 11.3 Measurement of personality (projective tests, pencil-paper test)
  70. 11.4 The Indian approach to personality
  71. 11.5 Training for personality development
  72. 11.6 Latest approaches like big 5-factor theory
  73. 11.7 The notion of self in different traditions
  74. 12. Attitudes, Values, and Interests
    12.1 Definition of attitudes, values, and interests
  75. 12.2 Components of attitudes
  76. 12.3 Formation and maintenance of attitudes
  77. 12.4 Measurement of attitudes, values, and interests
  78. 12.5 Theories of attitude change
  79. 12.6 Strategies for fostering values
  80. 12.7 Formation of stereotypes and prejudices
  81. 12.8 Changing others behavior
  82. 12.9 Theories of attribution
  83. 12.10 Recent trends in Attitudes, Values and Interests
  84. 13. Language and Communication
    13.1 Properties of Human Language
  85. 13.2 Structure of language and linguistic hierarchy
  86. 13.3 Language acquisition: Predisposition & critical period hypothesis
  87. 13.4 Theories of language development: Skinner and Chomsky
  88. 13.5 Process and types of communication – effective communication training
  89. 14. Issues and Perspectives in Modern Contemporary Psychology
    14.1 Computer application in the psychological laboratory and psychological testing
  90. 14.2 Artificial Intelligence and Psychology
  91. 14.3 Psychocybernetics
  92. 14.4 Study of consciousness-sleep-wake schedules
  93. 14.5 Dreams
  94. 14.6 Stimulus deprivation
  95. 14.7 Meditation
  96. 14.8 Hypnotic/drug-induced states
  97. 14.9 Extrasensory perception
  98. 14.10 Intersensory perception & simulation studies
  99. 15. Psychological Measurement of Individual Differences
    15.1 The nature of individual differences
  100. 15.2 Characteristics and construction of standardized psychological tests
  101. 15.3 Types of psychological tests
  102. 15.4 Use, misuse, limitation & ethical issues of psychological tests
  103. 15.5 Concept of health-ill health
  104. 15.6 Positive health & well being
  105. 15.7 Causal factors in mental disorders (Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia, and delusional disorders; personality disorders, substance abuse disorders)
  106. 15.8 Factors influencing positive health, well being, lifestyle and quality of life
  107. 15.9 Happiness Disposition
  108. 16. Therapeutic Approaches
    16.1 Introduction: Overview of Therapeutic Approaches and Their Importance in Mental Health
  109. 16.2 Psychodynamic therapies
  110. 16.3 Behavior Therapies
  111. 16.4 Client centered therapy
  112. 16.5 Indigenous therapies (Yoga, Meditation)
  113. 16.6 Fostering mental health
  114. 17. Work Psychology and Organisational Behaviour
    17.1 Personnel selection and training
  115. 17.2 Use of psychological tests in the industry
  116. 17.3 Training and human resource development
  117. 17.4 Theories of work motivation – Herzberg, Maslow, Adam Equity theory, Porter and Lawler, Vroom
  118. 17.5 Advertising and marketing
  119. 17.6 Stress and its management
  120. 17.7 Ergonomics
  121. 17.8 Consumer Psychology
  122. 17.9 Managerial effectiveness
  123. 17.10 Transformational leadership
  124. 17.11 Sensitivity training
  125. 17.12 Power and politics in organizations
  126. 18. Application of Psychology to Educational Field
    18.1 Psychological principles underlying effective teaching-learning process
  127. 18.2 Learning Styles
  128. 18.3 Gifted, retarded, learning disabled and their training
  129. 18.4 Training for improving memory and better academic achievement
  130. 18.5 Personality development and value education, Educational, vocational guidance and career counseling
  131. 18.6 Use of psychological tests in educational institutions
  132. 18.7 Effective strategies in guidance programs
  133. 19. Community Psychology
    19.1 Definition and concept of community psychology
  134. 19.2 Use of small groups in social action
  135. 19.3 Arousing community consciousness and action for handling social problems
  136. 19.4 Group decision making and leadership for social change
  137. 19.5 Effective strategies for social change
  138. 20. Rehabilitation Psychology
    20.1 Primary, secondary and tertiary prevention programs-role of psychologists
  139. 20.2 Organising of services for the rehabilitation of physically, mentally and socially challenged persons including old persons
  140. 20.3 Rehabilitation of persons suffering from substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, criminal behavior
  141. 20.4 Rehabilitation of victims of violence
  142. 20.5 Rehabilitation of HIV/AIDS victims
  143. 20.6 The role of social agencies
  144. 21. Application of Psychology to disadvantaged groups
    21.1 The concepts of disadvantaged, deprivation
  145. 21.2 Social, physical, cultural, and economic consequences of disadvantaged and deprived groups
  146. 21.3 Educating and motivating the disadvantaged towards development
  147. 21.4 Relative and prolonged deprivation
  148. 22. Psychological problems of social integration
    22.1 The concept of social integration
  149. 22.2 The problem of caste, class, religion and language conflicts and prejudice
  150. 22.3 Nature and the manifestation of prejudice between the in-group and out-group
  151. 22.4 Causal factors of social conflicts and prejudices
  152. 22.5 Psychological strategies for handling the conflicts and prejudices
  153. 22.6 Measures to achieve social integration
  154. 23. Application of Psychology in Information Technology and Mass Media
    23.1 The present scenario of information technology and the mass media boom and the role of psychologists
  155. 23.2 Selection and training of psychology professionals to work in the field of IT and mass media
  156. 23.3 Distance learning through IT and mass media
  157. 23.4 Entrepreneurship through e-commerce
  158. 23.5 Multilevel marketing
  159. 23.6 Impact of TV and fostering value through IT and mass media
  160. 23.7 Psychological consequences of recent developments in Information Technology
  161. 24. Psychology and Economic development
    24.1 Achievement motivation and economic development
  162. 24.2 Characteristics of entrepreneurial behavior
  163. 24.3 Motivating and training people for entrepreneurship and economic development
  164. 24.4 Consumer rights and consumer awareness
  165. 24.5 Government policies for the promotion of entrepreneurship among youth including women entrepreneurs
  166. 25. Application of psychology to environment and related fields
    25.1 Environmental psychology- effects of noise, pollution, and crowding
  167. 25.2 Population psychology: psychological consequences of population explosion and high population density
  168. 25.3 Motivating for small family norm
  169. 25.4 Impact of rapid scientific and technological growth on degradation of the environment
  170. 26. Application of psychology in other fields
    26.1 [Military Psychology] Devising psychological tests for defense personnel for use in selection, Training, counseling
  171. 26.2 [Military Psychology] Training psychologists to work with defense personnel in promoting positive health
  172. 26.3 [Military Psychology] Human engineering in defense
  173. 26.4 Sports Psychology
  174. 26.5 Media influences on pro and antisocial behavior
  175. 26.6 Psychology of Terrorism
  176. 27. Psychology of Gender
    27.1 Issues of discrimination
  177. 27.2 Management of Diversity
  178. 27.3 Glass ceiling effect
  179. 27.4 Self-fulfilling prophesy
  180. 27.5 Women and Indian society
Module 82 of 180
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12.9 Theories of attribution

I. Introduction

Definition of Attribution Theory

Attribution theory is an approach used to explain how people make sense of their world and what cause and effect inferences they make about the behaviors of others and of themselves. It is concerned with how individuals interpret events and how this relates to their thinking and behavior.

Importance of Attribution Theory in Social Psychology

Attribution theory is an important concept in social psychology because it helps us understand how people make sense of the world around them and how they attribute causes to behavior. Here are some reasons why attribution theory is important in social psychology:

  • Understanding how people make attributions: Attribution theory helps us understand how people make attributions about the causes of behavior. This can help us understand how people think and behave in different situations.
  • Overcoming biases: Attribution theory can help us overcome biases in our thinking and behavior. By understanding the different factors that influence attribution, we can work to make more accurate attributions about the causes of behavior.
  • Applications in different areas of life: Attribution theory has several applications in different areas of life, such as in organizations, politics, and everyday life. By understanding attribution theory, we can develop effective strategies for communication, motivation, and behavior change.
  • Research in social psychology: Attribution theory has been the subject of extensive research in social psychology. This research has helped us understand how people make attributions and how these attributions influence their behavior.

II. Types of Attribution

Situational Attribution

Situational attribution is the tendency to analyze a person’s actions according to the situation that they are in. It is the assumption that an individual’s behavior is influenced by external factors, such as the environment, circumstances, or other people.

  • Example: If someone is late for a meeting, we may attribute it to traffic or a delay in public transportation.

Dispositional Attribution

Dispositional attribution is the tendency to overlook the situations that people are in and judge their behavior based on what we assume is their personality or internal characteristics. It is the assumption that a person’s behavior reflects their internal dispositions, such as their personality, values, or beliefs.

  • Example: If someone is late for a meeting, we may attribute it to their lack of punctuality or irresponsibility.

Covariation Model

The covariation model is a theory of attribution that suggests that people make causal attributions by analyzing information about the consistency, distinctiveness, and consensus of the behavior. This model proposes that people make attributions based on:

  1. Consistency: How consistently the behavior occurs across time and situations.
  2. Distinctiveness: How distinct the behavior is from other behaviors of the person.
  3. Consensus: How similar the behavior is to the behavior of others in the same situation.

Correspondent Inference Theory

The correspondent inference theory is a theory of attribution that suggests that people make inferences about the intentions and dispositions of others based on their behavior. This theory proposes that people make attributions based on:

  1. Degree of Choice: The degree to which the behavior is freely chosen.
  2. Social Undesirability: The extent to which the behavior is socially undesirable.
  3. Non-common Effects: The production of non-common effects by the behavior.

III. Factors Influencing Attribution

Locus of Control

Locus of control refers to an individual’s belief about the extent to which they can control events in their lives. There are two types of locus of control:

  1. Internal Locus of Control: People with an internal locus of control believe that their actions and decisions can influence outcomes.
  2. External Locus of Control: People with an external locus of control believe that outcomes are determined by external factors such as luck or fate.


Stability refers to the degree to which the cause of a behavior is perceived to be consistent over time. Attribution of behavior can be influenced by stability:

  • If a behavior is seen as stable, it is attributed to a relatively permanent characteristic of the person.
  • If a behavior is seen as unstable, it is attributed to a temporary situation.


Controllability refers to the degree to which the cause of a behavior is perceived to be under the control of the person. Attribution of behavior can be influenced by controllability:

  • If a behavior is seen as controllable, it is attributed to the person’s own actions.
  • If a behavior is seen as uncontrollable, it is attributed to external factors.

Actor-Observer Bias

The actor-observer bias refers to the tendency for people to attribute their own behavior to situational factors, while attributing the behavior of others to dispositional factors. This bias occurs because:

  • People have more information about the situational factors that influence their own behavior.
  • People have less information about the situational factors that influence the behavior of others.

Self-Serving Bias

The self-serving bias refers to the tendency for people to attribute their successes to dispositional factors, while attributing their failures to situational factors. This bias occurs because:

  • People want to maintain a positive self-image.
  • People want to avoid taking responsibility for their failures.

Fundamental Attribution Error

The fundamental attribution error refers to the tendency for people to overemphasize dispositional factors and underestimate situational factors when explaining the behavior of others. This bias occurs because:

  • People tend to focus on the person’s behavior rather than the situation in which the behavior occurs.

IV. Attribution Theories

Heider’s Theory of Naive Psychology

Heider’s theory of naive psychology was the first psychological theory of attribution. According to this theory, people make attributions based on two types of causal information:

  1. Internal Dispositions: People infer that behavior is caused by internal dispositions, such as personality traits, values, or beliefs.
  2. External Situations: People attribute behavior to external situations or circumstances.

Jones and Davis’s Correspondent Inference Theory

Jones and Davis’s correspondent inference theory proposes that people make attributions based on three factors:

  1. Degree of Freely Chosen Behavior: People infer intentions and dispositions based on the extent to which behavior is freely chosen.
  2. Degree of Social Desirability: People make attributions based on the social desirability of the behavior.
  3. Degree of Non-Common Effects: People consider whether the behavior produces non-common effects, which are outcomes that are distinct or unique to the situation.

Kelley’s Covariation Model

Kelley’s covariation model suggests that people make attributions based on three types of information:

  1. Consensus: People consider the degree to which others behave similarly in the same situation. High consensus suggests external causes, while low consensus suggests internal causes.
  2. Distinctiveness: People assess the degree to which the behavior is unique to a particular situation. High distinctiveness suggests external causes, while low distinctiveness suggests internal causes.
  3. Consistency: People evaluate the consistency of the behavior over time and across situations. High consistency suggests internal causes, while low consistency suggests external causes.

Weiner’s Attribution Theory

Weiner’s attribution theory proposes that people make attributions based on three causal dimensions:

  1. Locus of Control: People assess the degree to which the cause of the behavior is perceived to be under the control of the person. It can be internal (within the person’s control) or external (beyond the person’s control).
  2. Stability: People consider the degree to which the cause of the behavior is perceived to be consistent over time. Stable causes suggest lasting dispositions, while unstable causes suggest temporary factors.
  3. Controllability: People evaluate the degree to which the cause of the behavior is perceived to be controllable by the person. Controllable causes are within the person’s control, while uncontrollable causes are beyond their control.

V. Biases in Attribution

Attribution biases refer to the systematic errors that people make when evaluating or trying to find reasons for their own and others’ behavior. There are several types of attribution biases:

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias refers to the tendency for people to seek out information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses, while ignoring information that contradicts them. This bias can impact attributions:

  • People may selectively interpret or remember information that supports their attributions.
  • They may overlook or dismiss evidence that challenges their attributions.

Illusory Correlation

Illusory correlation refers to the tendency for people to perceive a relationship between two variables that does not actually exist. This bias can influence attributions:

  • People may mistakenly attribute a behavior to a specific cause based on a perceived but false correlation.
  • They may see a pattern where none exists, leading to inaccurate attributions.

Ultimate Attribution Error

The ultimate attribution error refers to the tendency for people to make dispositional attributions about the behavior of members of other groups, while making situational attributions about the behavior of members of their own group. This bias can have social implications:

  • People may attribute negative behaviors of out-group members to their internal characteristics.
  • They may attribute negative behaviors of in-group members to external circumstances.

VI. Applications of Attribution Theory

Attribution Theory in Organizations

Attribution theory has found practical applications in organizational settings. Some examples include:

  • Understanding Employee Behavior: Attribution theory helps managers understand how employees make attributions about their own and others’ behavior in the workplace. This understanding can shed light on employee motivation, job satisfaction, and performance.
  • Improving Employee Performance: By recognizing the attributions employees make, managers can develop strategies to enhance employee performance. For instance, providing feedback that emphasizes controllable factors can empower employees to take ownership of their actions.

Attribution Theory in Politics

Attribution theory has also been applied in the realm of politics. Here are a few applications:

  • Voter Behavior: Attribution theory helps political strategists understand how voters make attributions about political candidates and their behavior. This understanding can shape campaign strategies and messaging to effectively influence voter perceptions.
  • Candidate Evaluation: Applying attribution theory can assist political analysts in evaluating how voters attribute success or failure to candidates. This knowledge can provide valuable insights into electoral outcomes and inform future political campaigns.

Attribution Theory in Everyday Life

Attribution theory has practical implications in various aspects of everyday life. Some notable applications include:

  • Interpersonal Relationships: Understanding how people make attributions about their own and others’ behavior can foster effective communication and empathy in relationships. Recognizing the role of situational factors versus dispositional traits can enhance understanding and reduce conflicts.
  • Education: Applying attribution theory can aid educators in understanding student attributions for success or failure. This knowledge can guide instructional strategies and interventions that promote motivation and resilience.
  • Health and Wellness: Attribution theory can help individuals reflect on their attributions for health-related behaviors, such as exercise and diet. By recognizing controllable factors and addressing situational barriers, individuals can adopt healthier lifestyles.

Incorporating attribution theory into various domains of life allows for a deeper understanding of human behavior and can lead to more informed decision-making and improved outcomes.

VII. Conclusion

In conclusion, attribution theory is a social psychology theory that explains how individuals make sense of the world around them and how they attribute causes to behavior. The theory emphasizes people’s core social motive to understand each other and to have some control. Attribution theory assumes that people try to determine why people do what they do, i.e., attribute causes to behavior. The theory has several applications in different areas of life, such as in organizations, politics, and everyday life. By understanding the different factors that influence attribution, we can work to overcome biases and make more accurate attributions about the causes of behavior.


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