Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 119–132 | Cite as

Explanatory style as a risk factor for illness

  • Christopher Peterson


Some have speculated that explanatory style puts an individual at risk for illness. Study 1 supports this hypothesis by showing that college students who believe that stable + global factors caused bad events experienced more days of illness in the following month and visited physicians more frequently in the following year than students who explain bad events with unstable + specific causes. These findings held even when level of previous illness was controlled. Study 2 explores some of the possible links between explanatory style and poor health. College students who believe that stable + global factors caused bad events reported more unhealthy habits, lower efficacy to change these habits, and more stressful occurrences than students who explain bad events with unstable + specific causes.

Key words

explanatory style health illness 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Peterson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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