Dysphoric attributional style: An interactional approach

Janet Ellen Eschen, Fordham University


The present study suggested several possible modifications to the attributional reformulation of learned helplessness theory. The present study assessed these modifications using similar subjects (105 college students), and measures (Attributional Style Questionnaire; Beck Depression Inventory; Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale) as previous research, in order to enhance comparability of the findings. LH theory postulates that dysphoric mood is more likely to occur when subjects make internal, stable, and global attributions for negative events. Well documented correlations have been found between dysphoria and each of the dimensions, as well as a composite formed by adding the three dimension scores. However, self-blame research has suggested that internal attributions for negative events may be negatively correlated with dysphoria if these attributions are behavioral, as opposed to characterological. An association between self-blame and the stability and globality dimensions has been suggested by previous authors. This indicates that the composite score, which assumes that the dimensions contribute in an additive manner to dysphoria, may not be the most valid use of the data. Behavioral and characterological self-blame indices were developed in order to test this hypothesis. The composite score, as a general measure of attributional style, was also assessed, using multiple regression techniques. The multiple regression analysis supported the inadequacy of the composite score, but the results of analysis using the self-blame indices did not support the behavioral - characterological distinction. Post hoc analyses did indicate that the correlations of internality and globality with dysphoria were both dependent on the stability of the subject's attributions. An additional attributional dimension, controllability, has been suggested as having a stronger correlation with dysphoria than the original three dimensions. The present study's finding did not support this, but did suggest that controllability attributions for positive events may have a negative association with dysphoria. Finally, expected relationships between self-esteem and positive event attributions were not found.

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Recommended Citation

Eschen, Janet Ellen, "Dysphoric attributional style: An interactional approach" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8910756.