The attributional theory of achievement motivation: Cross-cultural considerations

Joan L. Duda, Maria T. Allison

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Scopus citations


    Based on data collected from the Navajo Indian and other comparative investigations, limitations in previous cross-cultural attributional analyses of achievement motivation are proposed. First, it is suggested that the present comparative attribution literature is characterized by several conceptual perspectives which may be ethnocentric in nature, namely (a) the definitions of success and failure assumed, (b) the causal elements which are imposed, and (c) the tendency to classify causal attributions within bi-polar taxonomic dimensions which may not be meaningful to the culture of interest. Research directions for future cross-cultural attribution work which should assist the comparative investigator in overcoming these conceptual limitations are provided. Second, it is argued that the attributional theory of achievement motivation has several epistemological assumptions inherent within it concerning perspectives of time, individualism, and the nature of causation. These assumptions might lay the basis for a theory which reflects a culturally-specific cognitive process. Further research on the nature and frequency of the attributional process among diverse cultures is advocated.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)37-55
    Number of pages19
    JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1989

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Business and International Management
    • Social Psychology
    • Sociology and Political Science


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