Attributional complexity: An individual differences measure.
This article details the development of a scale that measures the complexity of attributional schemata for human behavior--the Attributional Complexity Scale. In Study 1, we administered the scale to 289 subjects. The results showed that the scale had adequate internal reliability and test-retest reliability. In addition, a factor analysis yielded one major factor. Study 2 tested the discriminant and convergent validity of the scale. As predicted, attributional complexity was not related to social desirability, academic ability, or internal-external locus of control, but it was positively related to the need for cognition. Study 3 confirmed our prediction that psychology majors would have more complex attributional schemata than natural science majors. Studies 4 and 5 provided evidence for the external validity of the scale: Attributionally complex subjects, compared with attributionally simple subjects, spontaneously produced more causes for personality dispositions and selected more complex causal attributions for simple behavioral events. The implications for various issues in social cognition are discussed.