Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 287-299

First online:

The attributional Style Questionnaire

  • Christopher PetersonAffiliated withUniversity of Pennsylvania
  • , Amy SemmelAffiliated withUniversity of Pennsylvania
  • , Carl von BaeyerAffiliated withUniversity of Saskatchewan
  • , Lyn Y. AbramsonAffiliated withState University of New York
  • , Gerald I. MetalskyAffiliated withState University of New York
  • , Martin E. P. SeligmanAffiliated withPsychology Department, University of Pennsylvania

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Of current interest are the causal attributions offered by depressives for the good and bad events in their lives. One important attributional account of depression is the reformulated learned helplessness model, which proposes that depressive symptoms are associated with an attributional style in which uncontrollable bad events are attributed to internal (versus external), stable (versus unstable), and global (versus specific) causes. We describe the Attributional Style Questionnaire, which measures individual differences in the use of these attributional dimensions. We report means, reliabilities, intercorrelations, and test-retest stabilities for a sample of 130 undergraduates. Evidence for the questionnaire's validity is discussed. The Attributional Style Questionnaire promises to be a reliable and valid instrument.