Do People Agree about the Causes of Behavior? A Social Relations Analysis of Behavior Ratings and Causal Attributions

Richard W. Robins, Joanie B. Connell, Gerald A. Mendelsohn, Sau Kwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Two studies examined consistency and agreement in behavior ratings and causal attributions. In Study 1, participants (N = 280) engaged in a series of getting-acquainted conversations in one of 3 communication media (face-to-face, telephone, computer mediated); in Study 2, participants (N = 120) engaged in a competitive group task. In both studies, participants rated themselves and their interaction partner(s) on a set of behaviors and then made attributions about the causes of those behaviors. The major findings were that (a) participants consistently favored some causal factors over others in explaining both their own and their partners' behavior, supporting the existence of generalized attributional styles; and (b) participants showed moderate self-partner and partner-partner agreement about behavior but virtually no agreement about the causes of behavior. Thus, in brief interactions people tend to see themselves and others through the lens of their stable patterns of perceiving and interpreting behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)334-344
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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