What triggers causal attributions? The impact of valence and subjective probability

Bohner G, Bless H, Schwarz N, Strack F (1988)
European Journal of Social Psychology 18(4): 335-345.

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Journal Article | Published | English
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Various field studies and experimental simulations demonstrated that causal reasoning increases after unexpected as well as after unpleasant events. However, unpleasant events are seen as less likely than pleasant ones in everyday life. Accordingly, the subjective probability of the event and its hedonic quality were naturally confounded in these studies. To isolate the contribution of both determinants, the subjective probability and the valence of an event were independently manipulated in a laboratory experiment. Subjects completed an ostensible professional skills test and received either success or failure feedback in relation to a criterion set by the experimenter. The subjective probability of success was varied by informing subjects about the distribution of success and failure in a comparable population (either 23 per cent or 77 per cent were said to meet the criterion). The results indicate a pronounced valence effect: The intensity of causal reasoning and the number of possible reasons reported for the outcome was greater after negative than after positive feedback, independent of the a priori probability of the outcome. No evidence for an increase in causal explanations after unexpected, as compared to expected, events was obtained. Several mediating processes are discussed.
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Bohner G, Bless H, Schwarz N, Strack F. What triggers causal attributions? The impact of valence and subjective probability. European Journal of Social Psychology. 1988;18(4):335-345.
Bohner, G., Bless, H., Schwarz, N., & Strack, F. (1988). What triggers causal attributions? The impact of valence and subjective probability. European Journal of Social Psychology, 18(4), 335-345.
Bohner, G., Bless, H., Schwarz, N., and Strack, F. (1988). What triggers causal attributions? The impact of valence and subjective probability. European Journal of Social Psychology 18, 335-345.
Bohner, G., et al., 1988. What triggers causal attributions? The impact of valence and subjective probability. European Journal of Social Psychology, 18(4), p 335-345.
G. Bohner, et al., “What triggers causal attributions? The impact of valence and subjective probability”, European Journal of Social Psychology, vol. 18, 1988, pp. 335-345.
Bohner, G., Bless, H., Schwarz, N., Strack, F.: What triggers causal attributions? The impact of valence and subjective probability. European Journal of Social Psychology. 18, 335-345 (1988).
Bohner, Gerd, Bless, Herbert, Schwarz, Norbert, and Strack, Fritz. “What triggers causal attributions? The impact of valence and subjective probability”. European Journal of Social Psychology 18.4 (1988): 335-345.
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