There is a strong need to understand what is going on in our world and the type of explanations endorsed will shape future behavior. Attribution Theory demonstrates how people create attitudes or beliefs or behaviors depending upon the explanations they make. Influencing how people understand and explain what is going on around them, controlling the attributions people make, maps out their future behavior. An external attribution assigns causality to an outside agent or force, internal attribution assigns causality to factors within the person. While attributions to external sources are less likely to change attitudes, through internal attribution it is highly probable that targets will come to view themselves differently. People making an internal attribution for their actions also tend to change their attitudes and beliefs about themselves, they turn into "that type" of person and the desired behavior follows consequently. Capture their minds and their hearts and souls will follow.
People need consistency in their lives and in explaining their world and Consistency Theory illustrates that there is also a tendency to expect consistency. Facing inconsistencies creates a state of dissonance and this experience of dissonance drives an urge to restore consistency. A way to get rid of this dissonance is to change the way one thinks. Reevaluation or denial are just two possibilities but both involve some mental work that changes the way of thinking about things. Avoidance of dissonance also explains opinion based on selective exposure where largely, information that might be contrary to existing views is not pursued. Dissonance is experienced as a result of subjective inconsistency while the reaction to a perceived external inconsistency or unfair restriction is referred to as reactance. Both reactance and dissonance are powerful motivating agents and cause highly agitated states and emotional stress.