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You know what Attribution Theory is, right?
It's the way that we explain events or behaviors.
In class, you'll probably talk about two kinds of Attributions:
1. Internal attributions
2. External attributions
Internal attributions happen when we believe that someone's behavior was caused by something internal, like personality, or personal effort.
1. I got an A on my test because I'm a smart person.
2. She yelled at me today because she's a nasty person, who hates everyone.
External attributions happen when we believe that someone's behavior was caused by something external, and outside of their personality.
1. I got an F on that test because my teacher hates me, and didn't teach us everything we needed to know.
2. He didn't say "hi" to me in the hallway today, because he was late for class, and he was probably in a rush.
So you see the difference between internal and external attributions?
They affect the health and quality of relationships in very important ways.
Attribution is very important when we look at conflicts, in relationships.
Every relationship has conflicts.
And the health of the relationship greatly depends on how two people handle their conflicts.
I'll show you how it works.
Let's take a look at Mike and Julie.
They're a married couple.
These are two people that I've made up.
I'm also going to make up a conflict that they're having.
JULIE: "You forgot to take out the trash today. It's gonna pile up, Mike."
MIKE: "Yeah look I know. My boss gave me a ton of paperwork today, and I had to skip lunch. I was so hungry and tired by the time I got home, I guess it slipped my mind."
JULIE: "You forgot to take out the trash because you're lazy and forgetful. You always have been. And this is the reason for why you forget everything else
MIKE: "Come on. Do we need this right now? Why are you prodding me with this?"
JULIE: "You're not the only one who had a long day at work."
MIKE: "No. You know what your problem is? You're an angry, irritable person. Is that ever going to change?"
So, that was a hypothetical conflict, between two people in a marriage.
And there are a TON of things that could have been said and done in a better way.
But I wanna talk about how Mike and Julie attributed each other's behavior.
Julie believed that Mike forgot to take out the trash
because he's "lazy and forgetful."
Mike thought that Julie was nagging at him
because she's an "angry, irritable person."
They both made INTERNAL attributions to each other's behavior, you see?
They both believed that the other person's behavior was caused by personality. Something internal.
Do you see how Internal Attribution can harm relationships, during conflict?