DD317 Units: Block 2
Approaches: Behaviorist, Cross-cultural, (Challenged by Sociocultural).

In psychology “attribution” describes the process by which “we”* assign causes to behaviour. These causes are commonly split in to two groups (i) internal  dispositional factors and (ii) external situational factors.

*“we” designates “lay people”, and tends to imply that attributions are common to a universal subject. The “foundations” for attribution theory were lain by Fritz Heider (1958) whose “naive psychology” tried to theorise the processes by which an “untrained obsever, or naive psychologist”, made sense of the physical and social world (Hewstone, 1996).

  • Introduced Austrian-born US psychologist Fritz Heider (1958).
  • See also Kelley (1967) and Weiner (1986)


“Most important, all [attribution theories] share a concern with commonsense explanations and answers to the question “why?””

(Hewstone 1996)

“The assignment of causes to behaviour, or the perception or inference of the causes of behaviour, such causes including (i) personal dispositional factors and (ii) external situational factors.”

(Colman, 2015)

[See also actor–observer difference, attributional bias, attribution theory, covariation principle, false-consensus effect, fundamental attribution error, Kelley’s cube, person perception, positivity bias (1), self-serving bias.]

Colman, A. (2015)  ‘attribution’ In A Dictionary of Psychology, Oxford University Press. Available at: (Accessed 26 Nov. 2017)

Heider, F. (1958) The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York, Wiley

Kelley, H. H. (1967) Attribution theory in social psychology. In D Levine (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation, 15, p. 192–238

Weiner, B. (1986). An attributional theory of motivation and emotion. New York: Springer-Verlag.


DD317 Units: Block 3
Approaches: Sociocultural, Social Representations, Constructionist Social Psychology.

Contemporary “actor-oriented” social constructionist approaches to citizenship distinguish it from those simply designating a form of membership of a political community (usually – the [nation] state).

1. Formal definition:

This notion of citizenship hails from ancient Greece and Rome, was developed by modern liberal political theories such as Rousseau’s (1712-78) social contract theory based on an autonomous, equal, individual “who can consent or withhold consent to rulers” (Bealey, 1999).

The other side of the coin is non-citizenship; in the UK citizenship was denied to all property-less until the 19th Century and all women until the 20th Century. Citizenship is essentially exclusive, and thus is still denied, and made conditional, today.

a. basic version

The definitive normative liberal definition of citizenship is the one given by the sociologist T.H. Marshall (Lazar, 2009) in the mid-twentieth century:

“Citizenship is a status bestowed on those who are full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is endowed.”

(Marshall 1983 [1950]: 253)

On the basis of this definition we can already distinguish two axes:

  • Citizen / Non Citizen (degree of access to “full member” status)
  • Good / Bad Citizen (with respect to ‘rights and duties’)

    (Andreouli and Manning, 2017, p. 249-50)

b. tripartite version

Marshall also offered a more detailed tripartite historical definition, based on the development of “rights, duties and institutions” in the UK including:

  • ~ 18th Century: Civil / legal domain. Legal status / rights. Legal system. “right to fair trial”.
  • ~ 19th Century: Political domain. Political rights. e.g. “right to participate in exercise of political power”.
  • ~ 20th Century: Social domain. Social rights. Right to education, healthcare, social services etc.”from the right to [the least] economic welfare and security to [at most] the right to… social heritage, [civilized] life”.

    * Crossley suggests we might add a “cultural domain” in the 21st Century.

    (Crossley, 2005)

It may be that we’d disagree with this periodisation, and what strikes one as a social democratic and teleological optimism that neoliberalism has made a mockery of, but nonetheless it is useful to think of citizenship in terms of its civil, political and social registers.

c. conflict in the tripartite model?

Crossley points out libertarian and right wing critiques of the social dimension of citizenship. These thinkers claim that there is a conflict between social rights and individual civil rights for example.

Furthermore, crossley points out citizenship-based critiques of “international governing bodies” such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organisation. These bodies seem to wield power over nations, and citizens within them, but lack any ‘direct’ ‘accountability. Critics argue that this means that citizens political rights are undermined. In response, there have been calls by citizens for global rights from these governing bodies. (see Roche, 1992).

d. left critiques of citizenship

Crossley points out Foucault’s work on ‘discipline’ and his terms ‘biopolitics’, and ‘body-power’/’bio-power’. He claims that these “call into question the practices of the welfare state”.

2. Social-constructionist definition:

1. Citizenship and identity:

2. Citizenship and everyday practices and talk:

3.Citizenship and space:

Andreouli, E., and Manning, R. (2017) ‘Studying contemporary citizenships’. In Andreouli, E. and Taylor, S. (Eds.), DD317 Advancing Social Psychology. Milton Keynes, The Open University

Bealey, F. (1999) ‘Citizenship’. In The Blackwell dictionary of political science. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.

Benhabib, S. (2004) The Rights of Others: Aliens, Residents and Citizens, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Crossley, N. (2005) ‘Citizenship’. In Key concepts in critical social theory. London, UK: Sage UK.

Lazar, S. (2009). ‘Citizenship’. In A. Barnard, & J. Spencer (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social and cultural Anthropology (2nd ed.). London, UK: Routledge.


DD317 Units: Block 2
Approaches: Cross-cultural, Sociocultural

The term “culture” is given many definitions. Most widely, the Encyclopedia of Social Psychology defines culture as “the sum total of our worldviews or of our ways of living” (Halloran, 2007). This definition emphasises social psychology’s attention to “mundane” everyday practices, common-sense understandings (of self and the world), and the values, ideas and tools, shared by specific groups of people, over the relatively limited sphere of “high-culture” (Andreouli and Sammut, 2017, p. 153).

More specifically perhaps, the Encyclopedia of Identity (Kashimi, 2010) defines culture as:

a collection of information (or meanings) that is (a) non-genetically transmitted between individuals, (b) more or less shared within a population of individuals, and (c) maintained across some generations over a period of time.

The focus on “non-genetic” transmission marks a strong distinction between “natural information” (such as genetic code, and certain traits) and “cultural meaning”. This brings to the foreground a sense of culture as being the non-genetically determined information that codifies human characteristics, attitudes, languages, values, creative products, values etc.

Eleni Andreouli and Gordon Sammut (2017). “Chapter 5: Contemporary cultures and intercultural encounters”, in Andreouli, E. and Taylor, S. (Eds.) DD317 Advancing Social Psychology: Book 1, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 107-148

Halloran, M. J. (2007). Culture. In Encyclopedia of Social Psychology [Online], Thousand Oaks, Ca, SAGE. Available at the OU Library online

Kashima, Y. (2010). Culture. In R. L. Jackson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of identity. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Retrieved from


Ecological Validity

DD317 Units: Block 1
Approaches: Experimental Psychology

The extent to which research findings can be generalised to the “settings typical of everyday life” (Wegener and Blankenship, 2007). Ecological validity is a specific kind of external validity. Whilst external validity concerns how far conclusions can be generalised across people, space and time, ecological validity more specifically concerns whether they can be generalised to a specific context – “settings and people common in today’s society” (Wegener and Blankenship, 2007).

For example, in experimental psychology conclusions are drawn from data produced by experiment, often within an artificial laboratory situation. Thus, ecological validity is the question of whether the conclusions can be transposed to a different setting

Wegener, D & Blankenship, K. (2007) ‘Ecological validity’, in Baumeister, RF & Vohs, KD (eds), Encyclopedia of social psychology, SAGE Publications, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 276, viewed 30 October 2017, doi: 10.4135/9781412956253.n167.


DD317 Units: Block 2

Lewin’s B = ƒ(P, E)
DD317 Units: ?
Approaches: Interactionism, Group Dynamics, Applied Psychology
In interaction with: Behaviourism, Functionalism, Gestalt Psychology etc.



DD317 Units: Block 1
Approaches: Discursive social psychology, critical social psychology

Used by Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, in A Thousand Plateaus, as an “image of thought”, or of philosophy, or of a [their] book. The rhizome is contrasted to the “aborescent” image of the tree and its roots. Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome, like its botanical counterpart “connects any point to any point”, has no “beginning nor end”, and “multiple entryways”.

… unlike trees or their roots, the rhizome connects any point to any other point, and its traits are not necessarily linked to traits of the same nature. [ …] It is composed not of units but of dimensions, or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills. [ … It] operates by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoot … it has multiple entryways and its own lines of flight.

(Deleuze and Guattari 1987/2005, p. 21)

In social psychology, Jette Kofoed (2014), has applied the rhizome to an ethnographic understanding of the narrative and discursive field of the school classroom, to make sense of the multiple and contradictory understandings of the occurrence of cyber-bullying held by it’s different members. In particular, Kofoed analyses the non-linear movement of representations of victim-perpetrator relations, and how violence, precarity, and loss of accountability circulate in both physical and cyber-space.

It would be interesting to think about the implications of Kofoed’s applying of this “image of thought” (Deleuze and Guattari, 2005, p. 16) to “concrete empirical analysis” (Kofoed, 2014, p. 161).

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (2005). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Scizophrenia. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press.

Kofoed, J. (2014). ‘Non-simultaneity in cyberbullying’. In D. M. Søndergaard & R. M. Schott (Eds.), School bullying: new theories in context (pp. 159–184). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Reference Group

DD317 Unit: Block 2
Approaches: Group social psychology

“Any group that an individual takes as a standard in adopting opinions, attitudes, or patterns of behaviour or in self-judgement of social standing.”

(Colman, 2015)

The US psychologist Harold H. Kelley (1921–2003) distinguished between normative reference groups, which set standards that individuals use as positive or negative models, and comparative reference groups, which are used by individuals to judge their own income, status, education, and so on.

Colman, A.(2015). reference group. In A Dictionary of Psychology. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 27 Nov. 2017, from


Situated Knowledge

DD317 Units: Block 1
Approaches: Critical/Discursive social psychology.


“research and knowledge production are embedded within their historical and social contexts. The theoretical frameworks researchers use and the questions they ask, how they define the phenomena or topics they investigate, and what research methods they choose, will all relate directly to the historical time and place in which they live, work and conduct their research, whether or not the relations are acknowledged.”

(Course Book 1, p. 76)

“This term refers to how the knowledge or information which is obtained in a particular situation will be shaped or influenced by that situation, including by the point of view of the person who obtains it (e.g.a researcher). By emphasising that all knowledge claims are imperfect and incomplete, the concept therefore challenges the possibility of universal knowledge which incorporates no viewpoint or a ‘God’s eye’ view.”

(Course Book 1, p. 377)

The concept of “situated knowledge” is developed by Donna Harroway, in a 1988 essay, “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective”.

“Feminist objectivity means quite simply situated knowledges.”

“I would like to insist on the embodied nature of all vision and so reclaim the sen­sory system that has been used to signify a leap out of the marked body and into a conquering gaze from nowhere.”

In this essay Harroway asserts a feminist, embodied, situated, objectivity, against the disembodied objectivity that lays claim to the view “from nowhere”.

See my blog-post: Harroway, situated knowledge


Social Representations

DD317 Units: Block 2 and 3
Approaches: Sociocultural

See “Approaches: Social Representations”