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Title:Emotional Correlates of Attributions for Academic Success and Failure: Sex Differences
Author(s):Mccabe, Shaaron Lee
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Abstract:Two hundred seven students in a junior high and high school program for gifted children served as subjects in a study of the relationships among attributions for success and failure, sex, achievement, and three dysfunctional affective states (depression, hostility, and anxiety). The purpose of the study was to extend previous attribution theory and research to the additional variables presented in Weiner's (1979) expanded taxonomy, with special attention paid to affective correlates of attributional patterns and to sex differences.
Achievement was defined objectively (grade-point averages--GPA) and subjectively (students' ratings of satisfaction with school progress). Intellectual ability was determined by means of scales 2, 4, and 7, respectively, of the Faschingbauer Abbreviated Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (FAM, Faschingbauer, 1974). The attributional variables of interest were those presented by Weiner in his expanded taxonomy (1979). The importance of these variables as determiners of academic success and failure was measured by means of nine-point independent rating scales (after Elig and Frieze, 1979). Measures of expectancy for future academic success, satisfaction with current progress in school, and the value of academic success to themselves, their parents, and their peers were also obtained by means of nine-point rating scales. In addition, students were asked to estimate their intellectual ability as compared to other high school students, nationally, and other students in the school.
Many of the expected sex differences did not emerge. It was reasoned that the selection of a homogeneous sample for the purpose of controlling levels of ability, achievement, and sociocultural background resulted in the students being more like one another on the variables of interest than unlike one another on the basis of sex. This factor, however, makes the differences which did emerge, especially the sex differences, particularly striking.
First, in spite of no sex differences in ability estimates or the degree to which ability was credited for success, even this group of highly able, high-achieving and, apparently, confident girls blamed lack of ability for failure to a greater extent than boys did. Second, intrapersonal variables were negatively associated with dysfunctional affect for boys and interpersonal variables were negatively associated with dysfunctional affect for girls.
Based on these and other findings, the following suggestions were made for future research. First, re-examination of previous research appears to be necessary in light of an expanded taxonomy. Second, personal meaning must not be controlled for (by random sampling, etc.) in attributional research but must, itself, be studied. Third, among the principal determinants of personal meaning are gender and gender-based expectations as incorporated in the individual's belief system and the effects others' expectations of us have on our beliefs and behavior. Among the beliefs so affected are beliefs about causation. Among the behaviors so affected are emotional responses to achievement, to our beliefs about causes of achievement, and future achievement-related behaviors which derive from those responses. Thus, future research in attribution and achievement must more thoroughly investigate and more thoughtfully interpret differences and their implications. Specific suggestions are made for directions such research might take.
Issue Date:1981
Description:430 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203524
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1981

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