British Journal of Clinical Psychology

Skip to Search

Skip to Navigation

Volume 39 Issue 3 (September 2000), Pages 223-328

Self‐discrepancies and causal attributions: Studies of hypothesized relationships (pages 255-273)

The self‐concept and causal attributions are both centrally implicated in psychological disorders including depression and paranoia. In two investigations of the dynamic relationships between causal attributions and self‐representations, non‐patient participants completed questionnaires derived from Higgins (1987) Self‐Discrepancy Theory before and after completing a measure of causal attribution. In Study 1, consistent with cognitive models of depression, external attributions for negative events were associated with reductions in self‐actual: self‐ideal discrepancies. Study 2 revealed significantly different effects on self‐discrepancies of three types of causal attributions. Internal attributions led to increased self‐actual: self‐ideal discrepancies as well as increased discrepancies between selfperceptions and the believed views of others about the self (self‐actual: other‐actual discrepancies). External situational attributions led to no changes in either self‐actual: self‐ideal or self‐actual: other‐actual discrepancies. External personal attributions led to no changes in self‐actual: self‐ideal discrepancies but increased self‐actual: other‐actual discrepancies. These findings point to the value of distinguishing between different kinds of external attributions. They show that self‐representations and causal attributions are closely coupled cognitive domains. The results also suggest that paranoid ideation might be specifically associated with external‐personal attributions for negative events.

Add This link

Bookmark and Share>