Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 633–649

Explanatory Style as a Risk Factor for Traumatic Mishaps


  • Christopher Peterson
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Michigan
  • Michael P. Bishop
    • School of Public HealthUniversity of Michigan
  • Christopher W. Fletcher
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Michigan
  • Mara R. Kaplan
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Michigan
  • Erika S. Yesko
    • Department of PsychologyCase Western Reserve University
  • Christina H. Moon
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Kansas
  • Joshua S. Smith
    • Departments of Psychiatry and SurgeryUniversity of Michigan
  • Claire E. Michaels
    • MindBody Medicine of Portland
  • Andrew J. Michaels
    • Department of SurgeryEmanuel Hospital

DOI: 10.1023/A:1012945120821

Cite this article as:
Peterson, C., Bishop, M.P., Fletcher, C.W. et al. Cognitive Therapy and Research (2001) 25: 633. doi:10.1023/A:1012945120821


Six studies investigated a possible link between hopeless explanatory style—that is, the habitual explanation of bad events with stable and global causes—and risk for traumatic injuries. In samples of college students, dancers, athletes, and trauma patients (total n = 2274), stable and global explanations for bad events correlated with the occurrence of mishaps. The link appeared to be mediated in part by a preference for potentially hazardous settings and activities in response to negative moods associated with hopelessness. Taken together, these findings suggest that catastrophizing individuals may be motivated to escape negative moods by preferring exciting but risky courses of action.

explanatory styletraumaaccidents

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001