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External forces

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Excuses > External forces

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Blame something outside yourself, such as the weather, temperature or other forces of nature. The cause can be animals who got in the way or who caused problems. It can be failure of physical objects such as doors that break and shelves that fall. It can be all kinds of events over which you have no control.

You can also blame governments, organizations and society at large for the rules they make, the things they do and consequently what they make you do. Blaming individuals and smaller groups is also an external attribution, although beware of pointing at people who may subsequently defend themselves or take revenge on you.

Example

The table collapsed and cut my leg, so I had to go to the doctor.

The rain was so bad, I thought it safer to wait until it had eased up a bit.

Sorry, but Union rules prevented me from doing that.  

Discussion

The term 'external forces' encompasses the principle well. Being external, the cause is nothing to do with your character and personality. And, as a force, it can seen as acting to compel you into doing something that you did not want to do and would not normally do.

The 'overjustification effect' is a theoretical explanation of why we do this, seeking to put the cause of problems outside ourselves. A reason for this is because we have fragile identities that cannot handle criticism, and so we tend to project our 'bad stuff' at other people.

See also

Theories about attribution

 

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