ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Solving Relationship Problems -Attribution Bias

Updated on May 8, 2018

Attribution theory and relationships



Solving Relationship Problems. Who is to blame when problems arrive, as they surely will in any relationship?

It is important to realize that in marriage (or any serious relationship) acceptance of the fact that you are dealing with two imperfect humans is perhaps the most important realisation that will make that relationship work. While we often come to the understand that our partner is not as perfect as we once believed them to be, the acceptance that we are not quite as perfect as we think we are, is not quite so obvious.

In order to maintain our own ego and image of ourselves as a "good" person we overlook the actual reality that our behaviour is probably a part of the relationship that needs to change.

Social Psychologists refer to attribution as "the process by which we observe others behaviour and then infer the causes behind it in a relatively systematic way." The cues that we observe are both verbal and non-verbal with the latter often being more important. It is how we make sense of our world. “I am what I think” the famous statement goes. I develop an image of myself as I interact with others. So I decide who I am because of the messages that I receive from my world. If someone smiles at me I receive a different message than if that same person frowns at me.

We are somehow selective in which messages we take note of and in so doing we protect our feeling about ourselves. If I behave in a certain way and I receive positive messages I increase those behaviours in order to receive more of those messages.


Attribution bias occurs in a relationship, and specially in one that is facing serious challenges. It takes place when the partners ascribe to the other person negative behaviour as the cause of the problems. They then see their own behaviour as the result of conditions outside their control. So the couple in a conflict marriage situation will feel that if only their partner will change their negative behaviour, everything will get better. "It is because of his/her behaviour that we have problems".

Men will often complain that their partner is emotionally unstable. Woman will respond in claiming that their partner is controlling and not able to understand how they feel. So the situation develops where each person blames the other person for the crises that they are facing. To protect their ego they lay the blame of the breakdown squarely at the door of the bad behaviour of the other. What is happening is not their fault, but rather the result of factors beyond their control. In this way they make sense of their world and protect their self image (ego).

So the conflict continues and because each blames the other, or conditions outside their control, it continues to be a war zone. “If only he/she will change” puts one into a lose/lose situation because thing are probably not going to change in the way that we would like them to.


Because of this a different mindset has to be developed. "I am responsible for my own behavior. How I behave is not dependent on the circumstances that I find myself. If I feed into the situation a positive input it could in fact improve and change our situation. If my behavior is based on a knee jerk response to what happens around me I am in trouble. If I can avoid any negative behavior that hurts others and therefore ultimately myself, then my world will become a better place".


Changing my world has to start with the only person I really have control over and that is me. In counseling we call this 'the change first' principle. But it is so difficult to accept responsibility for my own behaviour. It is much easier to blame the situation on someone else or the circumstances that I find myself in. Sometimes the only way to cope is to run away, but this is usually not the best option.

Here the help of a trained counsellor can come in handy to help each person to listen carefully to how their partner feels. If the pattern of negative behaviour (attribution bias) can be broken then improvement is possible.

Here a 'caring days' approach often has dramatic impact. Both Stuart and Wright outline this relatively simple counselling technique that really is powerful.

References: Stuart, R.B. Helping Couples Change.

Wright, H.N. Marital Counselling - A Biblical Based Behaviour Cognitive Approach.



Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 5 years ago from Florida

      Johan Smulders..first off in any relationship there are the takers and the givers..I say if they switch roles..ther relationship may survive , but only if they are willing..it takes two to make a relationship and sometimes they grow sour, just like a garden if you don't maintain..and some use the excuse of growing older to justify their negative actions...I think sometimes it's just too much work for some to be flexible..that's why I just answer " yes and no" who can argue with that ?

      Loved your hub, found very interesting...alot to think about..hmmm

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It is necessary to face things head-on and not lay blame. Laying blame only causes negative emotions and solves nothing.

    • Johan Smulders profile image
      Author

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Amen, well said!

    • abbykorinnelee profile image

      Abigayle Malchow 5 years ago from Ripon Wisconsin

      The worst thing my psych professor told us is to assign blame to anyone in a relationship. That when you assign blame to one person, that it damages the relationship and creates further problems. And to think you aren't to blame at all is egotistical in my opinion...it takes two to tango

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)