Attribution Examples in Sports

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The goal of attribution theory is to explain what goes on in our heads, specifically why people behave or act the way they do. The dimensions of attribution come into play when attempting to comprehend it. Stability, controllability, and locus of control are the three.
There are two types of situations in the stability category: stable and unstable. In sports, a person’s intelligence represents a stable situation, while a player’s mood represents an unstable situation.
Internal and external loci of casualty exist; the former entails investigating the inner factors that influence one’s behavior. In sports, for instance in football, a person may play the game without passing the ball to anyone whenever he or she gets it because of selfishness attributed to his or her personality. By external locus of causality we try to understand the external circumstances that cause someone to behave or conduct in a certain way. These factors may be situations or events, especially those that do not come from within an individual but externally and mostly attributed to the environmental settings (Kelley & Michela, 1980). In sports, a harsh or favorable environment can be used to describe external factors that beyond a person’s control and hence are out his or her regulation. For example, severe environmental condition such as extreme cold may lead to a poor performance in sports.

In locus of control, an individual focuses on those factors that are within his or her influence. These aspects can be described as the acquired behaviors and perception towards something which may be altered or changed to suit a particular situation. In sports, fear is an example of a locus of control as a player is able to manage it.

Helping Lucille Regain her Motivation

The case of Lucille is not new as most of the young people tend to be focused on success only and often forget to analyze the real reasons behind the outcomes, especially when they fail. Therefore, when the expectations are not met, the majority of people are experiencing feelings of remorse and disappointment (Zelen, 1991). Lucille has been training a lot since she is determined to reach her set goals of becoming the fastest, the best scorer, and the most robust player. When Lucille receives a scholarship to play division one soccer, she must have become very excited and felt as if her dreams had come true. It is also imperative to note that upon winning the scholarship, Lucille had some other expectations. As the preparation, she had chosen to perfect her running, assisting, and scoring skills. All her hopes and competencies are dependent and affected by both internal and external attributions that she ought to critically evaluate to improve what is within her control, moreover, recognize and embrace what is out of her control.

The case study states that Lucile had difficult times at college since her shooting and passing skills were not proficient. This limitation affected her negatively. Nevertheless, the girl should realize that perfecting her passing and shooting skills is something that she could control and therefore improve. Hence, Lucille needs to continue practicing harder to develop her abilities. There is not guarantee that she will perform correctly and therefore the reason she has to learn how to accept her mistakes positively, as they are nothing more than an experience, moreover Lucille should understand that perfection is not achieved overnight. For this reason, the girl is better to stop letting her dream become shattered, but instead stay challenged whenever she does reach her targets. I would encourage Lucille to be more persistent and motivated. Additionally, the girl should avoid building up higher expectations of better results but accept and appreciate how she currently performs as she seeks improvement every day.

Still on the Lucille case, there some of the conditions that are beyond or she has little control over (Florida State International Symposium on Attribution Theory, & Martinko, 2004). Lucile is found to be affected by injuries, though minor, she may be having little control over them as some may take a while to heal. Consequently, the injuries influence the performance of a player as it is in the case where Lucille cannot be able to play well. The girl should hence take this situation positively and become committed to seeking treatment until she is fully recovered to play in a good health condition. Playing time, the unwillingness of the teammates to pass, and field conditions are other situations she has little or no influence over. The best thing Lucille can do is to speak with the team management to find out how the playing time can be adjusted to fit everyone’s schedules; she could also talk to the teammates to encourage them to engage in teamwork which ensures efficient passing and appreciation of every member in the team.


It is vital to note that everyone understands attribution differently. Some people will reason an event where a person may behave in an odd way on the basis of their arguments from scientific attribution theory knowledge. However, others build their judgment in an irrational way. Hence, people should be encouraged not to be quick in forming the opinion conclusion without critically analyzing the situations.


Florida State International Symposium on Attribution Theory, & Martinko, M.J. (2004). Attribution theory in the organizational sciences: Theoretical and empirical contributions. Greenwich, CT: IAP-Information Age Pub.

Kelley, H.H., & Michela, J.L. (1980). Attribution theory and research. Annual Review of Psychology, 31(1), 457-501.

Zelen, S.L. (Eds.). (1991). New models, new extensions of attribution theory: The third attribution-personality theory conference, CSPP-LA, 1988. New York, NY: Springer.

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