ERIC Number: ED244216
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983
Reference Count: 0
The Deferent Self: Attributions of Personal Causality to "Impersonal Forces."
Shaver, Kelly G.; Fleming, John H.
Current social psychological analysis of the self is characterized by three principles: the self is bounded and concrete; the opinions of others are valued for self-definition, self-evaluation and the maintenance of self-esteem; and the road to fame is paved with one's own actions. Attributions of causality for one's actions traditionally have followed one of three philosophical viewpoints, i.e., regularity theory, necessity theory, or activity theory. Under regularity theory, knowledge is assumed to be derived from experience, based on repeated observations of contiguous events. Necessity theory assumes an a priori knowledge of succession in time, as seen in casual chains, process models, and structural equation analyses. Activity theory regards human agency as the paradigmatic instance of causality. A social psychological analysis of causality must include three themata: (1) human agency; (2) single instances; and (3) true cause as a subset of the events' antecedents. Recent literature proposes an integrative model that places attribution for success and failure in the social context of presenter and audience, in which the presenter assumes more credit for success than blame for failure. However, exclusive concentration on self-presentational effects in attribution presents an incomplete picture of the human condition. In many instances, attribution for success must be shared with impersonal forces outside the self. Some evidence exists for the attribution of positive achievements to superphysical causes. Laboratory research must now demonstrate that the self will share its accolades with an intangible impersonal force. (BL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Society of Social Psychologists (Winston-Salem, NC, 1983).