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date: 13 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Attribution is concerned with how we make sense of our world. We often wonder why people say and do the things they do. This chapter summarizes the main contributions of attribution research, particularly as it helped to shape the development of social cognition. Beginning with the person perception insights of Fritz Heider (1944, 1958), classic attribution theories were proposed (Bem, 1967; Jones & Davis, 1965; Kelley, 1967) and applied to almost every area of social psychology. Around 1980, cross-fertilization began between attribution and social cognition models of dispositional inference which incorporated automaticity (Gilbert, Pelham, & Krull, 1988; Trope, 1986). The chapter also covers biases in the attribution process such as naïve realism and recent advances in mindreading (which concerns inferences about mental states such as beliefs, intentions, and motives) as well as the application of neuroscience to attribution.

Keywords: attribution, social cognition, person perception, dispositional inference, automaticity, naïve realism, intention, mindreading, neuroscience

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