Outcome expectancy, locus of attribution for expectancy, and self-directed attention as determinants of evaluations and performance

Charles S. Carver, Michael F. Scheier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Scopus citations


Are internal versus external attributions of responsibility for prior outcomes important determinants of subsequent performances? or is their effect limited to influencing the affective and evaluative experiences that are associated with the task outcomes? Recent theoretical statements appear to differ on this issue. The present study examined the question, while at the same time testing the influence of self-directed attention on the process under investigation. Subjects attempted a series of mazes in collaboration with an ostensible cosubject (actually a confederate). The pair experienced either three consecutive sucesses or three consecutive failures. Subjects were led to perceive the responsibility for these outcomes as residing primarily with themselves or primarily with their partner. Self-focus was manipulated (by a mirror) prior to attempting a fourth maze and completing a set of rating scales. Success-condition subjects performed better on the fourth maze in the mirror's presence than in its absence, whereas failure-condition subjects tended to perform more poorly in the mirror's presence than in its absence. The manipulation of internal versus external attributions did not influence behavior, but did influence subjects' affective and evaluative reactions to themselves and their partner. Discussion centers on the relationship between these findings and other recent findings in the areas of attribution and achievement-related behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-200
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1982


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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