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Summary


The author begins with a brief description about how the need for understanding African American youth in relationship to social and academic motivation. She goes in to discussing her experience in the school system and how despite efforts, the motivation of students remains low. The article suggests that along with the lack of competency, there is a lack of self-esteem and motivation.


The article provides three biases in relationship to the author being an attribution theorist. Graham (17) suggests that determinants of behavior are suggests to be attributed to causal attributions and cognition. The second bias is that attribution theory is based on common sense. The third bias is with the methodology being explained on a conceptual level. The method to gather information is based upon self-reports.


With these points in mind, the article demonstrates how causal attribution address why question (Graham 17). The article suggests that the attribution content is very subjective to the individual. Attribution is suggested to determine behavior. This leads to the analysis of motivation in African American youth in relationship to biased attributions to intent.


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The first study discussed started with a conceptual analysis (Graham 17). The sample included 00 seventh and eight graders in a low SES location. Using a teacher rating procedure and peer aggression literature, two groups were established. Members from an aggressive sample were placed with members of a non-aggressive sample. The sample used a short scenario and imagined a negative effect from the situation. Each participant then rated it on a prosocial, accidental, ambiguous, or hostile level being a causal condition (Graham 17). There were four perceived variables of each group Intentionally, anger, gets even, and have it out. The study suggested that the way aggressive and non-aggressive African American teens reason social dilemmas, their decision is largely impacted by the way they feel about the situation.


The second study presented was used to measure similar effects of aggression in relationship to intervention programs. There were 66 participants who were label aggressive according to teacher rating (Graham 17). One third of the boys were placed in a control group, one third in an experimental intervention program and the remainder in an attention-training program. The two experimental groups met twice weekly for six weeks and were taught by experienced African American teachers. Childrens intention attribution, emotional reaction of anger and aggressive action tendency in hypothetical social dilemmas were collected before and after the experiment (Graham 17). All groups varied minimum before, but showed change after the experiment. Mean Judgment decreased in all groups in measures of anger and aggressive behavior after the training. Their standard deviation from each other also decreased. The article suggests a promising impact on attribution interaction methods.


The next part of the article discusses the origin of these aggressive attributions. Information processing deficits are suggested to be a cause. The article suggests there is more of a cognitive process linked to the deviation of attribution between aggressive and non-aggressive children. The thought of on purpose is said to be stored at the top of the memory bin of aggressive children (Graham 17). The article presents another study where priming is used to project attribution on a scenario. A sample of 78 African America male middle schoolers was categorized into aggressive and non-aggressive groups. The children were randomly placed in one of three groups negative intent, benign intent, or a no-priming control group (Graham 17). The students were then asked to self-report inferences about a scenario. The results suggested early learning about judgements early in life to provide a framework for attribution. Under all three variables, both groups shared similar mean judgments under negative intent. Under the control and benign intent, both groups scored almost two standard deviations from each other under anger and blame. The research suggests a difference in upbringing and a foundation of attribution that may be passed down through generations.


The next experiment was with 40 mothers of aggressive sons and 0 mothers of non-aggressive sons (Graham 17). The mothers were read a scenario about their son with a negative outcome. The author was measuring whether or not the mother would attribute the scenario to the intentions of their sons. They were also asked to report how much anger, blame, and sympathy they may feel. The results suggested that the more aggressive the son, the more the mother would infer blame and intent on the son and his behavior. This suggested that the attribute of aggression in children might be more directly related to the mother.


The next study took a sample of younger and older children to measure aggressive responses to social transgression. The participants were given a scenario where they were to meet their mother or a friend and did not make the meeting due to controllable and uncontrollable causes. They were asked if they would tell the truth or give an alternative excuse, how angry they would be, and if they would think the participant would be responsible. The research suggested that the variables highly correlate with each other. These factors also suggested that aggressive youth lacked social skills that allowed them to limit potential anger of another. The relationship between the variables decreased with age. The older they were, the more aggressive attributes tended to influence cognition and behavior.


The next study examined how African American youth prescribed responsibility, either to the self or outside forces. Three hundred students were asked to nominate three classmates for four conditions who worked harder and received good grades, goof offs, followed school rules, and didnt follow school rules (Graham 17). All conditions were compared with attribution in question. The results showed that admiration and good behavior highly correlated, but unrelated or negatively correlates with the other conditions. SES and teacher rated behavior of students were also taken into consideration. The results suggested that males tend to nominate negative attributes as being desired and girls valuing positive attributes. The research suggested motivation to be a factor and outside sources supporting the stereotype, such as the media (Graham 17).


The author suggests a need for research in this area and the need for stronger theoretical principals to address these issues. Comparative racial studies are suggested to provide little intervention to the problems faced by African American youth. The article suggests attribution theory to provide a strong foundation, but further research is needed to pursue interventions of change.


Critique


The article provided a strong rationale for the research methods and theoretical models used to explore motivation in relationship to attribution theory of African American youth. The literature provides support for the need of more research and a stronger foundation of theoretical principals.


The statistical procedures were adequate for the experiments used. However, the article provided little or no results of statistical procedures. Graphs and charts were provided for visual aid, but with little reference to testing. The article failed to establish how an aggressive or non-aggressive child was measured for categorizing. The article focused mainly on low SES participants, which fails to allow generalization to occur among the African American youth population. Perhaps further research is needed to measure the motivation and attribution methods of African Americans to see if there is correlation behind the hypothesis and results of this article. I believe the internal validity is high among experiments because of the samples similarities. However, the external validity is questionable. No evidence was presented to make the same assumption. The results suggest that the reliability of these methods is average or high if duplicated with a similar sample, but the article failed to address this issue.


The article and its methods, as stated in the beginning, are very subjective. The observations were not controlled by structure, but were subjective to the experimenters opinion. This lowers the validity and reliability of the experiment. The methods of the experiments were unstructured and subjective. The self-report measures limit the experimenters control over the external factors. There is a high chance of reactivity in each experiment. The article lacked description of the settings of experiments, therefore again suggesting low validity and reliability.


However, the article presents a foundation of various methods used to measure attribution. It gave examples of how duplication could be possible and how the methods are interpreted. However, the interpretations are completely subjective. Even the tests designed to measure various variables were not discussed on structure or content. With more research in this area, it is suggested that the negative behaviors and attributions of African American children can be changed and relearned through intervention programs and positive modeling. The article did present several factors that may influence motivation, but failed to incorporate this concept into the sections of research. In addition, few operational definitions were presented for clarity.


Overall, the article was not presented clearly for the inexperienced reader. The layout and transitions lacked clarity. However, the article did present several points needing further research. The methods used call for more attention by the experimenter, but provide subjective insight to the aggressive and non-aggressive child. The article provides promise for interventions that could increase motivation in a classroom and home setting that may increase the success of African American children. I agree with the author that stronger and more structured theoretical principals and methods are needed to address the specifics of this situation.





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