If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:38

Attribution Theory - Basic covariation

Video transcript

so how do we go about try to explain the behavior of other people around us well we do it in a few different ways and one of the things that we do is try and break down our understanding and explanations of their behavior into factors about them and factors related to their environment and surroundings and as to terms for each one these are each in turn so if it's about then I want you to know internal another word for that would be dispositional and also external and another word for that would be situational and what we're really talking about here is a set theory called attribution theory and this is how we find explanations for the behaviors of others and I want you to actually pay attention to this blue line that I've drawn in the middle because in reality the behavior of other people is on a spectrum there may very well be a combination of internal and external factors so what bits of information can we use to determine whether we think that someone's behavior is attributed to internal or dispositional causes or it's related more to external factors in their situation and one of the things one of the theories that we can use is the covariation model so let us take our forever flaky friend and let us look at a calendar what we're trying to do with our friend is trying to go and watch a movie and what we find is our friend forever cancel songs we can't ever get them to go to the movie after wash my laundry have to dry my hair have to fix my car and over the course of a month we noticed that they have consistently displayed the same behavior over time and when there's a high level of this consistent behavior over time we are more likely to think that this is related to our friend being a forever flakey friend is more likely related to them as a person as opposed to the world working against them to stop them coming on coming and watching this movie with us so when consistency is high it's more we're more likely to attribute it towards the behavior towards internal factors now let us consider another one of our friends so Jen it's one of our most relaxed friendly warm friends we really don't have a friend that's more relaxed and more warm than Jim now one of the things that we find is one day Jim goes to get pizza and what happens is Jim becomes furious Jim becomes absolutely furious they get his order wrong they they drop a pizza on the floor he gets so mad it's really really really out of character and distinctive and really we're like wow this is such an unusual situation this is really out of character for Jim and in this case what we think is that this is much more related to the situation or the environment that we find ourselves in that this is much more related to the situation of being a pizza parlor we don't think that Jim is naturally this aggressive and hostile person but his behavior we're going to attribute to this situation works or these external factors and finally in the covariation model we have a third factor have you ever heard of the group lateness you probably haven't because I kind of just made that term up but what that means is that if you arrive late to a meeting but you're with 20 other people and they're all late there's a high degree of consensus and what that means is that a lot of people are demonstrating the same behavior and when a lot of people are demonstrating the saint's behavior we start to think that you know what if everybody's late it's probably something to do with their environment some probably to do with the situation there's no parking that weather was bad that elevator got stuck and in that case a high level of consensus means that we're more likely to attribute the behavior to a situational course as opposed to an internal factor so these are the three important cues of Kelly's covariation model