Commonsense attribution versus the covariation principle

Charles E. Kimble1
1University of Dayton, United States
Cite this article:  Kimble, C. E. (1985). Commonsense attribution versus the covariation principle. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 13(2), 127-136.

Volume 13 Issue 2 | e475 | Published: August 1985 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1985.13.2.127

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Kelley (1967) indicated that low consensus information should lead to person attributions and that high distinctiveness should lead to stimulus attributions. Hansen (1980) stated that low distinctiveness should more readily lead to person attributions than low consensus and high consensus, to stimulus attributions than high distinctiveness because they involve cognitively simpler processes. To examine these positions, we asked subjects to read two descriptions of an actor responding positively toward a target person with different patterns of information accompanying them. In one description, the subject was the target person. The results showed that Hansen's conditions yielded stronger predicted attributions than Kelley's conditions. However, another comparison between two-dimension information patterns implied that these results occurred only when distinctiveness or consensus information was absent and that the results were dependent on assumed covariation of the missing dimension with behavior.
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