When Social Outcomes Aren′t Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences

Sally Blount*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

501 Scopus citations


Building upon recent models of social utility theory, this paper outlines a theoretical framework for examining the effect of causal attributions on choice in social decision making. The results of three empirical studies are reported, which identify two dimensions of external attribution that affect how individuals weight absolute versus comparative payoffs. These dimensions are whether the causal agent is perceived to be human versus non-human (e.g., an act of nature) and the degree to which human agents are perceived to have an interest in the outcome of the decision. Together, these findings have implications for social welfare policies, dispute resolution, and game theoretic models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-144
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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