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Attributional Styles


Depressive attributional style; Explanatory style; Negative attributional style; Optimistic attributional style; Pessimistic attributional style; Positive attributional style


Attributional style, sometimes known as explanatory style, refers to the ways in which people explain the cause of events within their lives. When people experience positive or negative events, they often wonder why the event occurred. In order to answer this question, people make causal attributions based upon three basic dimensions: internal-external, stable-unstable, and global-specific. The internal-external domain refers to who or whatis responsible for the event – in particular, whether something unique about the person (internal) versus something about the situation (external) caused the event. The stable-unstable domain refers to the perceived permanence of the cause. In other words, the cause of an event can be viewed as constant and likely to happen again (stable) or malleable and...

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Correspondence to Heather K. Terrell .

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Leighton, K.N., Terrell, H.K. (2020). Attributional Styles. In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

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