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Greitemeyer, Tobias; Weiner, Bernard (2003): Asymmetrical Attributions for Approach Versus Avoidance Behavior. In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 29, Nr. 11: S. 1371-1382




Five studies examined responsibility inferences and/or person and situation attributions in positively versus negatively valenced motivational contexts. In Experiment 1, participants received information about a teaching assistant who was promised a reward or threatened with a punishment when asked for compliance with a requested transgression. The teaching assistant was perceived as more responsible for complying given the positive than the negative incentive. This finding was replicated in Experiment 2 using different vignettes and incentives. Experiment 3 revealed that the effect of incentive valence on perceived responsibility for compliance remains significant when statistically controlling for perceived compliance rates. Experiment 4 then demonstrated that there are not only greater responsibility judgments given a positive than a negative incentive but also greater dispositional attributions. Finally, Experiment 5 revealed that a similar incentive valence effect is found in other appetitive versus aversive motivational contexts. Theoretical explanations of this phenomenon are discussed.