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date: 26 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter is concerned with the role of language in mediating attributions, conceived as speech acts that explain other people’s and one’s own behavior. Attributions entail judgments about causes and reasons, motives and goals of action, about guilt, responsibility, authorship, and origins of emotions. As explained in the linguistic category model and in construal-level theory, strategic shifts between abstract and concrete language use can account for fundamental attribution error, actor-observer bias, egocentric bias, linguistic-intergroup bias, and behavioral phenomena associated with psychological distance. Language can also trigger the attribution of truth and suspicion. The reviewed research highlights the fact that attributional inferences are wired into the semantic meaning of lexical stimuli, in particular verbs, adjectives, and nouns.

Keywords: abstractness, actor-observer bias, concreteness, consensus, consistency, construal-level theory, distinctiveness, fundamental attribution error, linguistic category model, linguistic intergroup bias, truth assessment

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