Cultural differences in athlete attributions for success and failure: The sports pages revisited

Lynley Aldridge, Mir Islam

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Self-serving biases in attribution, while found with relative consistency in research with Western samples, have rarely been found in Japanese samples typically recruited for research. However, research conducted with Japanese participants to date has tended to use forced choice and/or reactive paradigms, with school or university students, focusing mainly on academic performance or arbitrary and/or researcher-selected tasks. This archival study explored whether self-serving attributional biases would be shown in the real-life attributions for sporting performance made by elite Olympic athletes from Japan and Australia. Attributions (N = 216) were extracted from the sports pages of Japanese and Australian newspapers and rated by Australian judges for locus and controllability. It was hypothesised that Australian, but not Japanese, athletes would show self-serving biases such that they attributed wins to causes more internal and controllable than the causes to which they attributed losses. Contrary to predictions, self-serving biases were shown to at least some extent by athletes of both nationalities. Both Australian and Japanese men attributed wins to causes more internal than those to which they attributed losses. Women, however, attributed wins and losses to causes that did not differ significantly in terms of locus. All athletes tended to attribute wins to causes that were more controllable than the causes to which losses were attributed. Results are inconsistent with a large body of research suggesting that Japanese do not show self-serving biases in attribution, and are discussed in the light of differences in methodology, context and participants that may have contributed to these effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-75
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


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