Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Frederick X. Gibbons


This study examined how individual differences in attribution style affected one's preferences for particular forms of social support. The study also explored how one's attribution style influenced affective reactions to upward or downward social comparison. One hundred twenty-eight subjects were selected from a large pool of respondents who were administered the Janis-Field Feelings of Inadequacy Scale and an attribution style questionnaire was developed to assess subjects' assignment of responsibility for the cause and solution of their problems. This questionnaire also contained a measure of subjects' self-efficacy. Subjects completed several self-report measures and were presented with social comparison information in the form of a bogus statement. Statements varied according to how well the targets were coping and what attribution style they adopted. Results revealed a strong positive correlation between subjects' self-attribution of responsibility for causing and solving problems and self-efficacy. There was a strong negative correlation between subjects' self-attribution of responsibility for causing problems and their self-esteem. Subjects who either assumed responsibility for solving their problems or did not assume responsibility for causing their problems were found to prefer support group members who provided them with information about their problems. Subjects' attributional style was not related to their willingness to utilize a support group. Following social comparison, subjects generally demonstrated a positive change in mood after hearing that peers were coping well with their problems. There was also a significant interaction between subjects' attribution style, target's attribution style, and social comparison. The implications of the study regarding help-seeking and help-giving were discussed.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Thomas Leo Diana



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File Size

119 pages