Minding the Gap

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1994, Vol 39(2), 162–163. Reviews the book, Explaining One's Self to Others: Reason-Giving in a Social Context edited by Margaret L. McLaughlin, Michael J. Cody, and Stephen J. Read (1992). McLaughlin et al's goal is to unite attribution theoretical and account-based approaches in the analysis of why and how people explain themselves to others. Attribution theory focuses on the rules that guide the decision between several plausible causes, and it models everyday explanations after scientific cause-effect analyses. The motivation to engage in causal attribution is primarily epistemological. A common theme in the 15 contributions to this volume concerns the antecedents of reason giving. Attributional activity increases after negative life events and experiences of loss and failure. Similarly, research on account making concentrates on the explanation of failure or objectionable behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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