External attribution is an individual's belief that factors in their life for good or bad are controlled by forces and circumstances outside of themselves. This is also called external locus of control. This point of view keeps the individual from taking the credit or blame for their actions and is sometimes viewed as a "failure to take personal responsibility."
This attribution style is common to people, adults and children both, that believe that they have no ability to take control of their own lives or have any faith in themselves. This is often seen in special education classrooms where children feel overwhelmed by academics, teachers and authority figures and in the populations of homeless people and abused spouses who feel unable to control the forces and circumstances of their lives.