Sunday, July 8, 2012

Essay about Making Excuses

Essay on How to Make Excuses

An excuse basically may be described as a negotiation between the excuse maker and the audience, where the excuse-maker’s challenge is to tailor the excuse to fit the predilections of the audience. The purpose of this research is top describe the process of making excuses as well as to explain why people are more likely to react favorably to excuse-makers with whom they can identify. There is evidence that people with an external locus of control differ from those with an internal locus of control by using more consistency-lowering and distinctiveness-raising excuses following failure.


The research is designed to determine whether people with an internal versus external locus of control would react differently to an excuse-maker who gave either an internal or an external excuse after being caught cheating on a make-up test. It was expected that people would prefer an excuse maker who used a similar internal or external style to account for his or her actions. The research is also conducted to test the limits of excuse-making as an account strategy by comparing judgments of a test cheater who gave either an external or internal excuse with judgments of a test cheater who accepted responsibility for his transgression.

Most studies on excuse making have focused on a person’s excuses for failing to live up to certain standards and the effectiveness of these excuses for maintaining the person’s self-image. One finding that stands out in the data assessed here is that people with an internal locus of control are harsher with the cheater by judging his action as caused by him, by evaluating the cheating as more serious, and by recommending more severe punishment. The expectation that participants with an internal locus of control would favor an internal excuse and that participants with an external locus of control would favor an external excuse was not supported. This is probably because the test cheater is in a position in which no excuse is readily acceptable.

Three types of excuses identified by researchers as socially acceptable are those that deny intentionality, foreseeability, and controllability. Excuses denying intentionality and foreseeability are not valid sometimes because the cheater is caught “redhanded.” The cheater attempts to deny controllability by attributing the cause of the cheating to his fear of failure (internal excuse) or to the difficulty of the test (external excuse). Neither of these excuses appear to strike the audience as plausible.

The following conclusions can be suggested with regards to the process of excuse making. First, the attributional concepts are not independent; they have moderate correlations with each other. Second, it is suggested that in attributional studies of people who commit antisocial or illegal acts, measures of recommended punishment should always be included. Third, recommended punishment is generally correlated with perceptions of cause, intent, responsibility, and blame, and also with ratings of the transgressor’s character. What other factors influence recommended punishment for a transgressor? In studies of traffic accidents, severity of the accident is the most important factor determining recommended punishment. Other possible factors influencing amount of punishment recommended by the audience include personality factors (such as locus of control, guilt, and just world beliefs; see introduction), sentencing goals, and preferred models for determining responsibility.
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