Date of Award

5-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Major Professor

David J. Woehr

Committee Members

Virginia W. Kupritz, Michael D. McIntyre, Michael C. Rush, Mary Sue Younger

Abstract

This dissertation examined the differential causal attributions of non-aggressive and aggressive individuals responding to incidents of subordinate success and failure. Participants (N = 407) were presented with 16 vignettes (eight describing subordinate success and eight describing subordinate failure) that utilized unique combinations of consensus, distinctiveness, and consistency information. Participants made attributions regarding the cause of the subordinate’s behavior (i.e., person, task, circumstances, or any combination of the three) and indicated their preferred behavioral response (i.e., praise/reward, reprimand/punish, coach/train, redesign the task, or do nothing). When responding to incidents of subordinate success, the causal attributions of aggressive individuals were similar to those of non-aggressive individuals. However, when responding to incidents of subordinate failure, in an apparent attempt to make the subordinate more worthy of hostility, the causal attributions of aggressive individuals deviated from those of non-aggressive individuals for two information patterns (i.e., low consensus, high distinctiveness, and high consistency; low consensus, low distinctiveness, and low consistency). Moreover, for aggressive individuals, the processing of information relating to subordinate failure was considerably less complex than the processing of information relating to subordinate success. Implications, potential limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.

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