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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 277-283

The role of “Attributions” in social psychology and their relevance in psychosocial health: A narrative review

1 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Psychology, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi, India
3 Department of Psychiatry, JSS Medical College and Hospital, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Debanjan Banerjee
Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_315_20

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Assigning motives or reasons to situations and actions have been the basic premise of human existence. Attributing cause to an action makes it logical and easier to comprehend. In social psychology, attribution is the process through which individuals explain the causes of behavior and events. Various theories and models have been proposed to explain this concept, starting from the early works of Fritz Heider in the early 20th century and further advances by Harold Kelley and Bernard Weiner. Attributional concepts can be used in a wide arena of behavioral science ranging from mental health stigma-related interventions to consumerism, corporate and jury psychology, and finally, attributional bias in psychosis and learned helplessness in depression. Attribution theories are viewed as the relevant concepts in the exploration and explanation of a wide repertoire of psychopathologies, especially for culture bound syndromes. Research into the translational use of attributional theories has declined in the recent years, the models being criticized for being mechanistic and reductionistic in approach. Nevertheless, the role of “attributions” in social psychology remains equally important today to explore the various facets of human behavior and reactions. The article explores the relevance of attributions in the fields of psychosocial health. It discusses various theoretical perspectives and frameworks premised on attributional models and narrates the understanding as well as the applications of the relevant theories in the realms of stigma research and consumerism. The criticism and implications in mental health are highlighted thereafter.

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