Distortion in control attributions for real life events

Mark H. Wright, Alex J. Zautra, Sanford L. Braver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A pool of life events was prerated as either positive or negative and likely or unlikely to recur. Undergraduate subjects then rated their control over their own life events and the average student's control over his/her life events. As predicted, subjects self-attributed more control over positive than negative events and self-attributed more control than they attributed control to others for positive events. However, self-attributions and attributions to others of control for negative events did not differ. Results thus provided support for self-enhancement but not for self-protection. It was also predicted that control motivation would lead subjects to (a) self-attribute more control for recurrent than nonrecurrent events, (b) self-attribute more control than they attribute to others over all events, and (c) self-attribute more control than they attribute to others for recurrent but not nonrecurrent events. The first and second of these predictions were confirmed, providing support for the operation of control motivation on real life events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-71
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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