Causal attributions: bias in the nurse-patient relationship.

J. F. Karshmer, G. Kornfeld-Jacobs, A. Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The study relates the social psychological concept of attribution to professional nursing practice. Namely, dispositional vs. situational causal attribution as affected by position (nurse/patient) and role (actor/observer) and its impact on the therapeutic relationship. Contrary to most studies in this field this one moves out of the laboratory and tests actual psychiatric patients and correspondent nursing staff. Twenty nurses and twenty patients responded to statements representing situational and dispositional causal attributions about 22 behaviors of nurses and 22 behaviors of patients. Both patients and nurses tended to attribute the behavior of patients to causes inherent in their personality more often than to external factors. Nurses also tended to give more internal causation to their own behavior while patients gave equal numbers of external and internal causes to nurses' behavior. The findings which support an information processing approach to understanding perceptions are discussed as to their implications for the nurse-patient relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-30
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of psychiatric nursing and mental health services
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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