Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 75–89 | Cite as

Attributional style in aggressive adolescent boys

  • Mark R. Fondacaro
  • Kenneth Heller


Past research suggests that aggressive children misattribute hostile intentions to peers during ambiguous provocative interactions. This study sought to extend the analysis of attributional differences between aggressive and nonaggressive boys to a sample of court-involved adolescents and their perceptions of interactions involving both peers and adults. Three groups of youngsters (nonoffenders, nonaggressive offenders, and aggressive offenders) participated in a structured interview and provided causal attributions for interpersonal problems commonly faced by teenagers. Results indicated that offenders were more likely than nonoffenders to attribute blame to others in ambiguous problem situations. Among offenders, external, person-centered blame attributions were.significantly related to aggressiveness. This relationship was found only in ambiguous situations, and the correlation between such person-centered attributions and aggressiveness was higher in adultoriented interactions than in peer-oriented ones. Overall, the results suggest that aggressiveness among offenders is associated with an attributional style that is characterized by the tendency to attribute blame for problems in ambiguous interactions to global, dispositional characteristics of others.


Past Research Structure Interview Problem Situation Causal Attribution Attributional Style 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark R. Fondacaro
    • 1
  • Kenneth Heller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyIndiana UniversityBloomington

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