Perception is also closely linked with another process called attribution. Attribution is a mechanism through which we observe behaviour and then attribute certain causes to it. According to Attribution theory, once we observe behaviour we evaluate it in terms of its consensus, consistency and distinctiveness. Consensus is the extent to which other people in the same situation behave in the same way. Consistency is the degree to which the same person behaves in the same way at different times. Distinctiveness is the extent to which the same person behaves in the same way in other situations. The forces within the person (internal) or outside the person (external) lead to the behaviour.

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For instance, if you observe that an employee is much more motivated than the people around (low consensus), is consistently motivated (high consistency), and seems to work hard no matter what the task (low distinctiveness) you might conclude that internal factors are causing that particular behaviour. Another example is of a manager who observes that an employee is late for a meeting. He might realize that this employee is the only one who-is laic (low consensus), recall that he is often late for other meetings (high consistency), and subsequently recall that the same employee is sometimes late for work (low distinctiveness). This pattern of attributions might cause the manager to decide that the individual’s behaviour requires a change. At this point, the manager might meet the subordinate to establish some disciplinary consequences to avoid future delays.

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