Imagine two students, one depressed and one not, who have both done well on a paper. Using the dimensions of attribution compare the depressed student's attributions to that of the non-depressed student and explain how their attributions correspond to their degree of depression. As "na " ive psychologists" (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002), we make assessments about our environment and come to conclusions about events and behaviour we experience. These attributions we make effect how we feel about situations and our "expectations about future events" (model ling... paper). In the context of failure and success, a non-depressed person will generally attribute success to their own efforts (internal) and attribute failure to circumstantial dimensions (external).
This correspondence bias serves to maintain and protect self-esteem in a healthy person (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002). A depressed person will make the opposite attributions. Making internal attributions in the event of failure and external attributions in the event of success allows the person to maintain negative perceptions of themselves and the world and allows the continuation of low self-expectations. (Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1985) The non-depressed student, in the role of actor, is likely to make internal attributions for their success on a paper e. g. their grade is due to their intelligence and / or effort made in that subject.
This is an example of a self-serving bias, more specifically, a self-enhancing bias (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002). The non-depressed student is not likely to consider any external factors toward their success as valid as this will enable them to "maintain self-esteem and ego" (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002). The depressed student is typically going to make opposite attributions to the non-depressed student. In the role of actor, the depressed student will attribute their success to external causes e. g. they were 'lucky' or the paper was particularly easy (Albery et al.
, 2004)? ? The depressed student will focus on external explanations for their success when "behaviour is inconsistent with the perceives expectations" e. g. when they do well on a paper, but expect to do poorly. (CITE! ) Weiner claimed we use 3 causal dimensions of locus, stability and controllability, when making an attribution (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002). "Locus concerns whether the cause is perceived as being internal or external to the actor; stability refers to whether the causes are temporary or permanent in nature; and controllability concerns whether the cause is perceived as being controllable or uncontrollable" (Albery et al.
, 2004). Using Weiner's attribution model of motivation (1986, 1995), the non-depressed student will view their success as an internal, stable and controllable attribution, as they believe their grade is due to their own intelligence and effort, which is a permanent factor in their environment and can be repeated. The depressed student will see their success as an external, unstable, uncontrollable attribution. They believe their grade is due to an easy paper, or 'luck', which is a temporary factor and may not be repeated. (Albery et al. , 2004; Hogg & Vaughan, 2002) The non-depressed student will engage in a self-enhancing bias in order to maintain and enhance their self-esteem, the self-enhancing bias is essentially ego serving (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002).
The internal attributions made by the non-depressed student will make them feel pleased with themselves, proud of their success and generally happy as their ego and self-esteem have been improved. The depressed student will make external attributions for their success as it will "encourage negative affect" (Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1985). The external attributions allow the student to discard their success as an anomaly in their perceived negative environment and will promote their negative self-image and low self-esteem (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002; Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1985). The non-depressed student, as in most people not suffering from low self-esteem, will expect to succeed. This expectation, coupled with the outcome of success leads the student to believe that their success is to do with their effort, ignoring any possible or probable external causes (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002). This again, maintains self-esteem and ego.
The depressed student, in sync with their negative self-perceptions, will expect failure, so when success occurs, they make external attributions in order to maintain low self-expectations. This also allows the student to continue making negative self-evaluations (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002). The self-enhancing bias, used by the non-depressed student, causes the student to believe they have more control over their own success than they actually do. The student will attribute their success internally as they immediately associate it with their effort and so believe their success was entirely of their own doing. The depressed student will prefer to believe that success is out of their control as to accept responsibility for success would mean revising their negative self-perceptions (Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1985). The external attributions of the depressed student preserve their negative perceptions about themselves and the world, as described in Beck's negative cognitive triad, (Field, 2003).
Beck claimed that the negative schema, developed in the student's early life, make up the negative cognitive triad, which is made up of 3 global views: pessimistic view of the self; pessimistic view of the world and pessimistic view of the future (Field, 2003). The external attributions made by the depressed student correspond to this model and allow the student to indulge in further negative views. (Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1985) Greenberg and Pyszczynski's study on self-focusing stimuli (1986; 1985) corresponds closely to the use of attribution in depressed and non-depressed students after success or failure. The use of self-focusing stimuli can be linked to the use of attribution i.
e. internal attribution / enjoy self-focusing stimuli, external attribution / dislike of self-focusing stimuli. The 1985 study (Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1985) showed that depressed students used the self-focusing stimuli more after failure and the non-depressed students used the self-focusing stimuli more after success. These results mirror the use of internal and external attribution as well as supporting the theory behind the use of attribution after success and failure in depressed and non-depressed students. The depressed student will make external attributions after success in order to protect their negative beliefs toward themselves and their experiences (Greenberg & Pyszczynski, 1986; Pyszczynski & Greenberg, 1985). By attributing success to an anomalous convergence of causal dimensions beyond their control, the student explains the inconsistency with their low expectations (Greenberg & Pyszczynski, 1986).
The student also avoids having to accept that their negative self-image may be incorrect. This strange form of 'protection' makes it easier for the student to cope with their success and maintain the negative cognition's associated with depression e. g. low expectations of self, low self-esteem, feeling lack of control over environment, feelings of low self-worth etc. The non-depressed student will make internal attributions in order to take responsibility for their success and congratulate themselves for doing well (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002). The self-enhancing bias maintains or improves ego and self-esteem, allowing the student to feel good.
The disregard for external causal dimensions makes it easier for the student take full responsibility for successes and makes them feel more in control of the situation (Hogg & Vaughan, 2002). Though very different, both uses of attribution in this context, serves to protect each individual's self-perception and self-expectations. Each student uses a bias to accept the positive outcome of the paper and uses their attributions to maintain their current view of themselves. Albery, I. , Chandler, C. , Field, A.
, Jones, D. , Messer, D. , Moore, S. , et al. (2004).
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