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Application of Attribution Theory

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David Hicks, an Australian, had been confined at Guantanamo Bay over six years. The reason that he was imprisoned is attempted to murder refusing to obey the law of war in 2001. According to the article “The case against David Hicks” on Sunday Mail by Akerman (2007), US Defence Departure presented that David Hicks “joined the terrorist organization Lashkar-e Tayyiba whose stated goals are attack and destroy Indians and their property in order to seize control of Indian-controlled Kashmir, and to violently oppose Hindus, Jews and Westerners.” (Akerman, 2007) Finally, the Northern Alliance captured him in Afghanistan in December of 2001. This essay will apply the attribution theory to the incarceration of David Hicks at Guantanamo Bay. It will examine the causes of how people perceive the event. Attribution theory is a study for understanding the causes of other’s performence or circumstances. It is stated by a psychologist, Fritz Heider, in 1958. He said that there are two types of attributions, which are internal and external. Internal attribution means the inside factor which is about the person, such as personality traits, efforts, intelligence and attitudes. External attribution means the outside factor which is about the situation, such as environment, luck, and even the level of task difficulty. People usually explain other’s failures by internal factors rather than external factors. We may have tendency to overvalue dispositional causes of other’s behavior without considering situational causes. That is because we tend to have bias in our perceptions. Therefore, the attribution errors exist. (Akerman, 2007) (Johnson, Mullick and Mulford, 2002)

For the causes on this event, people had different perceptions such as lacking of a fair trial, lacking of protection by government, influence of the background of his family, ignoring of human right in Cuba, or it is because his own choice to be a �terrorist’. (Despoja 2006) (Dutch 2007) (Rooney 2007) (Advertiser 2007)

Firstly, Despoja (2006) wrote that most of the Australian sympathize David Hicks because they “believe in the fundamental principle of a right to a fair trial”. Dutch (2007) pointed out that US government was holding David Hicks illegally for over five years because he had not gone any trials. They perceived that a fair trial should have been provided before confining David Hicks. In addition, Despoja implied that Australian government ought to have repatriated this citizen as many other countries did so. Also, Rooney (2007) said that the Australian government failed to uphold David Hicks’ human right. The author of вЂ?Release Hicks’ (Advertiser 2007) referred to the disrespect for David Hicks by Australian government. He spoke out that the government should have taken action to protect its own citizen, but Australian government did not do so. We can see that, those three authors were attributing David Hicks’ imprisonment to the responsibility of Australian government. According to вЂ?Release Hicks’ on Advertiser (2007), it is believed that the imprisonment of David Hicks is due to the background of his family. It pointed out that David would have a better treatment if he was the son of a professional man instead of working-class man. Moreover, it mentioned that Cuba is not a democratic country. So, they did not take notice of legal and human right problem. If they did so, David Hicks would not be confined for that long period of time. These causes are all external factors when they are about the situations but not the dispositional reasons. (Despoja 2006) (Dutch 2007) (Rooney 2007) (Advertiser 2007)

In вЂ?Hicks “lucky to be alive”’ (2007), the author named Hicks as “terrorists”. It indicated a bias on that. Furthermore, the author attributed the conduct David Hicks did was his own choice. Robinson (2006) thought that David Hicks should think about the result before his action. Both of those are internal factors. And there is no external factor. Also, the author of вЂ?Hicks “lucky to be alive”’ (2007) and Robinson (2006) also believed that вЂ?bad things happen to bad peopleвЂ?. So, people may perceive that the offender must face the consequence of his action. Thereby, attribution errors exist. They



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