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ERIC Number: ED234293
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Reference Count: 0
The Relationship of Self-Concept to Causal Attributions.
Shaha, Steven H.
When people experience failures they search for an explanation of why the failure occurred. The process of seeking an explanatory cause is the basis of attribution theory. Causal attributions include the dimensions of locus of causality (internal or external), stability of the cause over time, and the degree of personal control over the outcome. These variations reflect self-concept, i.e., a person's perception of him/herself as formed through experience with the environment and the interpretation of such experiences. In failure events, internal locus (recognizing oneself as the cause of events) has been associated with low self-esteem. However, if meaningful others also fail, the cause of failure is perceived as outside of oneself (external locus). Stability is related to self-concept since successive failures result in ever increasing attributions of lack of ability (an internal, stable cause) accompanied by ever decreasing self-concept; but if failure is attributed to a stable but external cause, self-concept does not necessarily decrease. Thus, failure itself is not sufficient for learned helplessness; one must also perceive him/herself as the locus of causality. A perceived lack of control over a failure event would theoretically help maintain self-esteem; however, research indicates that successive though uncontrollable failure still leads to self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. (WAS)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper copy not available due to marginal legibility.