Classroom Management Main Page -  EDEL 414  -  EDSE 415


Excuse and Responsibility Psychology


What excuses do

·         Shift causal attribution away from self (it is not my fault)

·         Protect self-image (I am not the kind of person who would . . .)


Excuses that don’t work (they make others feel angry and less respecting)

·         Internal (I could not find it)

·         Controllable (I ran out of time)

·         Intentional (I did not feel like going)


Excuses that work (they make people feel like they want to give you a break)

·         External (My mother wouldn’t let me leave the house).

·         Uncontrollable (an earthquake knocked out the power).

·         Unintentional (I got on the wrong bus by mistake).


Why people are motivated to make excuses

·         Impression management

·         Want to impress someone significant

·         Gap between real and ideal or imagined self


·         The situation calls for it

·         The teacher/parent acts as the judge of good and bad excuses

·         An excuse could improve the outcome.

·         Self-image is put in jeopardy by threat


Fostering Responsibility to decrease excuse making

·         Teach cause and effect - help students learn that actions have consequences and we can grow from our both successes and failures.

·         Be consistent with your management and how you deliver consequences.

·         Build-up self-esteem (competence, belonging, and especially internal LOC).

·         Eliminate the need for students to make excuses – don’t ask for them.

·         Eliminate the use of all blame. Blame is external and past oriented.  Responsibility is based on an internal LOC and future oriented.

·         Do not accept any “victim language.” Eliminate all learned helplessness.

·         Do not be the judge of good or bad excuses.

Classroom Management Main Page -  EDEL 414  -  EDSE 415