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Causal Attribution  

Ahogni N'gbala and Denis Hilton

Attribution theory is an area of research in social psychology, which deals with how people perceive and interpret the causes of their own and others’ behavior. Attributional theory deals with how the observer’s causal perceptions and interpretations guide his/her own subsequent behavior. In recent years, work in the area has been broadened to include new theoretical models concerned with the explanation of intentional behaviors and responsibility, and blame assignment, along with counterfactual thinking, where mental simulations of changes in the causal structure of events have been shown to affect emotional reactions. As such attribution(al) theory overlaps with research in cognitive, developmental, and moral psychology, and its concepts have been applied to a wide variety of domains such as clinical psychology, marketing, and organizational behavior.