Excuses in the making: A test and extension of Darley and Goethals' attributional model

Michael H. Kernis, Bruce D. Grannemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Darley and Goethals' (1980) attributional model holds that (a) excuses can be meaningfully grouped into the attributional categories of power, motivation, and task-difficulty and (b) that within each category, excuses vary in the extent to which they are short- or long-term. The present research examined the use of these types of excuses following performance on a college examination and the relation between these excuses and affect among poor performers. Not surprisingly, individuals who performed poorly made more excuses than did individuals who performed well. More importantly, for poor performers who were dissatisfied with their performance, excuses based on power or task-difficulty factors were associated with greater negative affect. Pilot work indicated that these excuses were perceived to be moderate or low in controllability. On the other hand, for poor performers who were not dissatisfied with their performance, excuses based on highly controllable factors (i.e., motivation) were associated with lower negative affect and greater positive affect. These findings both support Darley and Goethals' model and suggest useful directions for further examination of excuse-affect relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-349
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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