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Encyclopedia of Social Psychology

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Encyclopedia of Social Psychology

Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs

Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.

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Attributional Ambiguity

Brenda Major

Attributional ambiguity is a psychological state of uncertainty about the cause of a person's outcomes or treatment. It can be experienced with regard to one's own outcomes or treatment or those of another person, and with regard to positive as well as negative outcomes or treatment. It occurs whenever there is more than one plausible reason for why a person was treated in a certain way or received the outcomes that he or she received. A variety of factors may contribute to attributional ambiguity. Most research on this topic has examined a particular form of attributional ambiguity: that which arises in social interactions between people who differ in their social identities or group memberships and in which there is uncertainty about whether an individual's treatment is based on his or her personal deservingness (such as abilities, efforts, personality, or qualifications) versus on aspects of his or her social identity (such ...

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