Attributions in the sports pages

Richard R. Lau, Dan Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Extended the generality of attribution research by exploring several important issues in a highly involving real-world setting in which attributions naturally occur: athletic competition. 107 newspaper accounts of baseball and football games were coded for attributional content. These data support a motivational or self-enhancement explanation for the tendency to make internal attributions for success and external attributions for failure. No support was found for D. T. Miller and M. Ross's (1975) contention that this tendency is mediated by expectancies. It was also found that more attributions were made after unexpected, as opposed to expected, outcomes. There was a tendency for relatively more stable attributions to be given after expected outcomes. The advantages and disadvantages of studying attributions in archival data and the possibility of attributions justifying rather than explaining behavior are discussed. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1980
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • expectations of outcome, attributions of athletic competition successes & failures in newspaper accounts


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