Journal article
Dissecting Dispositionality: Distance Increases Stability of Attribution

Publication Details
Körner, A.; Moritz, S.; Deutsch, R.
Publication year:
Social Psychological and Personality Science
Pages range:

Causes of behavior are often classified as either dispositional (e.g., personality) or situational (e.g., circumstances). However, the disposition–situation dichotomy confounds locus (internal vs. external) and stability (unstable vs. stable) of attribution, rendering it unclear whether locus or stability drives changes in dispositionality. In the present research, we examine the dispositional shift—that is, psychologically distant (vs. near) events are attributed to dispositional (vs. situational) causes. Using construal level theory, we hypothesize that the dispositional shift is caused by a change in stability (but not necessarily locus) of attribution. Two experiments support this hypothesis. In Experiment 1, distant (vs. near) future events were attributed to more stable causes. In Experiment 2, actions by a socially distant person (vs. oneself) were also attributed to more stable (but also more internal) causes. Thus, important psychological manipulations, here psychological distance, can influence causal dimensions selectively, supporting the independence of stability and locus of attribution.

Last updated on 2019-25-10 at 09:25