In social psychology, the manner in which people explain others’ behaviors. Internal attributions refer to something about the person in question, such as his or her personality, whereas external attributions implicate the situation the person was in.
Example: A cashier at a grocery store has an unpleasant interaction with an extremely rude and difficult new customer. Is the customer just a jerk (an internal attribution), or was he or she having a terrible day (an external attribution)?
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2008