The study of human cause and effect is called “attribution.” At the heart of attribution theory is the question of what factors contribute to outcomes: internal factors within our control (often referred to as dispositional) and external factors (also called situational or contextual) that are outside our control. We often tend to overemphasize the role of internal factors while minimizing the impact of situational ones. We blame ourselves for failures when complex systemic issues held us back, or take credit for successes that were aided by people or forces we may be unaware of. Better understanding of attribution is a powerful tool for change in our own lives and society as a whole. Moving Up Media Lab has created some tools that allow you to better assess your own attribution. Other pieces of advice: Reflect on the lives of others. Tell better stories. Judge less. Work with people’s beliefs.

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