Anderson, C. A., Jennings, D.L., & Arnoult, L.H. (1988).

Validity and utility of the attributional style construct at a moderate level of specificity.

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 979-990.


The validity and utility of attributional style has been questioned in recent years. Major criticisms are that attributional style is not cross-situationally consistent, is not measured appropriately, has little construct validity, and contributes little to the prediction of important social behaviors. This article examines these issues with data primarily related to the several different attributional style measures found in Anderson's Attributional Style Assessment Tests. We examined previously published and new data. The results show evidence of convergent and discriminant validity for attributional styles assessed at an intermediate level of specificity. Also, attributional style effects were as large as parallel attribution manipulations in complex social settings. We conclude that both the extreme pessimism of some recent researchers and the broad, sweepingly optimistic claims of some proponents are unwarranted, and that further work on specifying the appropriate level of assessment for attributional style would be useful.

©1988 by the American Psychological Association.

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