Can you give a real work example of attribution theory ?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One distinct way in which the attribution theory can be present in a work example is in how employees perceive management.  If an employee has a challenging relationship with management, one in which trust is not readily evident, the decisions that management make, especially if they are not advantageous to said employee, will be analyzed in a light of negative causality.  "I am not liked," "Management plays favorites," "That person got the promotion and is not nearly as qualified," are all examples of this negative causality.  The way that employees talk about management when management is not around could be one of the most striking examples of attribution theory in action at the workplace. 

The idea behind the theory is that people are looking for reasons where none might exist.  This desire to play "Junior Psychologist" can manifest itself into a very unhealthy work atmosphere in the workplace setting.  Those in the position of power have to understand the potential presence of attribution theory.  It might require management to possess even greater sensitivity in ensuring that such a condition does not afflict the productivity and health of the workplace setting.   In addition to this, management might have to ensure that the establishment of transparency is present with each decision and action taken.  While this might not guarantee complete offsetting of the theory, it can help in dealing with some of its presence.