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The effect of result publicity on self-serving attributional bias —— a social comparison perspective

Shanshan Wen ()
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Shanshan Wen: Shenzhen University

Frontiers of Business Research in China, 2018, vol. 12, issue 1, 1-12

Abstract: Abstract Self-serving bias suggests that people tend to attribute success to internal factors and attribute failure to external factors (Bradley, J Pers Soc Psychol 36:56–71,1978; Miller and Ross, Psychol Bull 82:213–225,1975). However, the results of the attribution of failure are not always consistent. Some studies have found that people attribute failure to external factors (Snyder, Stephan, & Rosenfileld, 1976) and others suggest that people attribute failure to internal factors (Ross et al., J Pers Soc Psychol 29:609–618,1974). I tested self-serving bias in two different contexts in mainland China: in one, test results were public (students had access to each other’s test results) and in the other, test results were private (students only had access to his/her own results). When a context triggers individuals to compare themselves to others, individuals may alter their attribution of failure in order to preserve their self-image and self-esteem. Data were analyzed by repeated measure ANOVA, and the results show that in a public context people tend to attribute failure more to external factors than to themselves. Also, results suggest that people attribute failure less to themselves in a public context than in a private context.

Keywords: Self-serving bias; Failure attribution; Success attribution; Public context; Private context; Internal attribution; External attribution (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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