Cognitive schemata, information processing, and causal judgment: Implications for a three- phase attribution model

The present study proposes a three-phase model of the causal attribution process. Within the framework of this model it is assumed that (1) differential causal schemata are evoked by the situational cues, and (2) these schemata interfere with the detection of covariation between cause and effect relationships which result in (3) differential judgments regarding the causal factors believed to be responsible for the observed effect. In conjunction with concepts derived from the Weiner, Frieze, Kukla, Reede, Rest, and Rosenbaum (1971) analysis of achieved related behavior, it was hypothesized that information as to the difficulty of a test would evoke differential causal schemata regarding the role of ability, effort, luck, and test difficulty in producing a successful performance. Furthermore, it was expected that these schemata would interfere with the detection of covariation between effort expenditure and trial outcome. Finally, it was predicted that the resulting causal judgments would be affected by both the evocation of schemata and the detection of co-variation information. (See more in text.)