Attributions in social interactions: A qualitative study
Barga, Lynne R.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate people's attributions in explaining ambiguously described behavior, and to discover whether and how those attributions reflect their social identities and social roles. A literature review grounded the study theoretically in Sociological Social Psychology. Qualitative methods of data collection and textual analysis were applied to open-ended questions about behavioral vignettes and a demographic information form. Five major themes of attributional derivation emerged, supported in the literature. (1) Personal experience; (2) Socialized norms, expectations, stereotypes; (3) Response to the vignette, not the behavior; (4) Impression management; (5) Thought complexity. Social roles and identities reflected four themes. (1) Relationships and human welfare—people in arts and humanities; (2) Behavioral perceptions—gays, lesbians, mixed ethnicities; (3) Political and religious ideologies (dualisms, role expectations, judgment)—conservatives and fundamentalists (4) Occupational characteristics. Future research should address other demographic or social characteristics, as well as asking entirely new questions.