Causal Dimension Scale

 The Causal Dimension Scale was designed to assess the perceptions of causal attributions for events, in terms of the underlying dimensions identified by Weiner (1979) in his model of attribution processes.  In the original version of the scale (Russell, 1982) causal explanations for events were rated on nine scales, which yielded measures of locus of causality, stability, and controllability.  More recently, the scale has been revised, with the controllability dimension being separated into internal-controllable and external-controllable dimensions (McAuley, Duncan, & Russell, 1992).  Due to this revision of the measure, the scale now consists of 12 rating scales.

 Scores on the Causal Dimension Scale have been found to predict a variety of affective and cognitive variables, in both achievement and non-achievement settings.  It should be noted that this measure is designed to assess perceptions of the cause or causes of a specific event, in contrast to measures designed to assess attributional style (see discussion by Russell, 1991; Cutrona, Russell, & Jones, 1984).

 A copy of the most recent version of the scale can be obtained in the article by McAuley et al. (1992).  That paper also presents extensive psychometric information on the scale and analyses of the factor structure of the measure.  Reprints of that paper or any other papers by our research group can be obtained sending an e-mail message to Be sure to include your mailing address along with an indication of the materials you would like to receive.  We do request that, if you use the measure in your research, you send us a summary of your findings once you have completed your work.

Related Publications

            Chwalisz, K. D., Altmaier, E. M., & Russell, D. W.  (1992).  Causal attributions, self-efficacy cognitions and coping with stress.  Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 11, 377-400.

            McAuley, E., Duncan, T. E., & Russell, D.  (1992).  Measuring causal attributions:  The Revised Causal Dimension Scale (CDSII).  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18, 566-573.

            Russell, D.  (1991).  The measurement of attribution processes:  Trait and situational approaches.  In S. Zelen (Ed.), New models - new extensions of attribution theory:  The Third Attribution - Personality Conference (pp. 55-83).  New York:  Springer-Verlag.

            McAuley, E., Russell, D., & Gross, J.  (1990).  The emotional consequences of winning and losing in table tennis.  In J. Bond & J. Gross (Eds.), Australian sport psychology:  The eighties (pp. 20-27).  Canberra, Australia:  Australia Institute of Sport.

            Russell, D., McAuley, E., & Tarico, V. (1987).  Measuring causal attributions for success and failure:  A comparison of methodologies for assessing causal dimensions.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1248-1257.

            Russell, D. & McAuley, E. (1986).  Causal attributions, causal dimensions, and affective reactions to success and failure.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 1174-1185.

            Russell, D., Lenel, J., Spicer, C., Miller, J., Albrecht, J., & Rose, J. (1985).  Evaluating the disabled:  An attributional analysis.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 11, 23-31.

            Cutrona, C.E., Russell, D., & Jones, R.D. (1984).  Cross-situational consistency in causal attributions:  Does "attributional style" exist?  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1043-1058.

            McAuley, E., Russell, D., & Gross, J.B. (1983).  Affective consequences of winning and losing:  An attributional analysis.  Journal of Sport Psychology, 5, 278-287.

            Cutrona, C. E.  (1983).  Causal attributions and perinatal depression.  Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 92, 161-172.

            Russell, D. (1982).  The Causal Dimension Scale:  A measure of how individuals perceive causes.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 1127-1135.

            Lau, R.R., & Russell, D. (1980).  Attributions in the sports pages.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 29-38.

            Peplau, L.A., Russell, D. & Heim, M. (1979).  The experience of loneliness.  In I. Frieze, D.Bar-Tal, & J.S. Carroll (Eds.), New approaches to social problems:  Applications of attribution theory (pp. 53-78).  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.

            Weiner, B., Russell, D., & Lerman, D. (1979).  The cognition-emotion process in achievement-related contexts.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1211-1220.

            Weiner, B., Russell, D., & Lerman, D. (1978).  Affective consequences of causal ascriptions.  In J.H. Harvey, W.J. Ickes, & R.F. Kidd (Eds.), New directions for attribution research (Vol. 2, pp. 59-90).  Hillsdale, N.J.:  Erlbaum.