The impact of attributions on academic performance: A test of the reformulated learned helplessness model

Mary Morris, Marika Tiggemann

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    Abstract

    This series of two longitudinal studies represents a comprehensive and systematic attempt to investigate the tenets of the reformulated learned helplessness model in a non-clinical undergraduate student population. These studies specifically addressed the diathesis-stress and mediation components of the model in an attempt to replicate and extend the findings of Peterson and Barrett (1987). A total of 661 undergraduate students completed the AASQ, real event attributions scales, a grade aspiration scale and a grade satisfaction scale. Performance outcome measures and G.P.A. were obtained from official university records. Without exception, the present studies could not replicate the findings of Peterson and Barrett. Despite repeated attempts, no support for any component of the reformulated learned helplessness model was obtained when the theoretical tenets were applied to academic performance. In fact, significant positive correlations were observed between the generality dimension and the specific performance outcome measures. Consistent with the results reported by Houston (1994), it would appear high achieving students tend to make stable and global attributions for negative academic events. Alternately, it may be that academic performance differs in some way from performance outcome measures previously used to support the reformulated model and may, therefore, be unsuitable to test the predictions of the model. Notwithstanding these concerns, this study failed to replicate the results of Peterson and Barrett (1987) and found only minimal support for the reformulated learned helplessness model.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3-15
    Number of pages13
    JournalSocial Sciences Directory
    Volume2
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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