INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN THE CAUSAL PERCEPTION OF ACHIEVEMENT OUTCOMES
SORSCHER, BERNARD LARRY
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This study was designed to investigate the effects of subjects' locus of control orientation, outcome level, and prior expectancy upon subjects' causal attributions (internal-external). It was expected that subjects' beliefs about controllability over their rate of reinforcement may be related to perceptions of causality.;The locus of control scale (Rotter, 1966) was administered to a pool of 120 male, undergraduate college students. The most extreme internal (N = 40) and external (N = 40) subjects were randomly assigned to groups varying in prior expectancy (high or low) and outcome (success or failure). Practice anagram outcomes were experimentally controlled to establish high and low expectancies, and a manipulation check was performed. Next, the outcomes of test anagrams were experimentally manipulated. After receiving feedback, subjects attributed causality. Internal and external attributions were measured while maintaining the stability dimension constant. All subjects were debriefed.;The data revealed that expectancy groups did not differ significantly in their confidence ratings. Therefore, expectancy was eliminated from further investigation. The results indicated that locus of control orientation is not predictive of attributions (F = 1.40, df = 1, p > .05). Outcome level was significantly related to subjects' attributions (F = 28.36, df = 1, p < .01). Success was attributed to internal causes and failure to external causes. The interaction between locus of control and outcome was not significant (F = 3.15, df = 1, p > .05).;The locus of control findings suggest two implications. First, beliefs about personal controllability do not lead to predictable perceptions of causality. Second, personality factors do not seem as important in the attribution of I-E causes, as was previously considered. Outcome findings support a structural model in which situational factors (expectancy and outcome) are central for predicting attributions. The attribution model has been expanded for males and prediction to each of the four causal factors is possible. Specifically, expectancy confirmation is attributed to stable-internal causes following success, and stable-external causes following failure. Expectancy disconfirmation is attributed to unstable-internal causes following success, and unstable-external causes following failure. The generalizability of these findings are limited to males for achievement outcomes only.
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