Today’s Daily Shoring tip is more about thinking than doing.  Our thoughts, and the way we interpret events, greatly influence our mood.

positive vs negative attribution styles

Let’s look at Attribution Styles:

People with a Positive Attribution Style believe positive outcomes are due to their own effort.

If things do not go their way, they either chalk it up to temporary bad luck or identify concrete things they can do differently the next time to bring about a more favorable outcome.  Examples:

  1. “I received a promotion at work because of my hard work and diligence.”
  2. “I didn’t receive a promotion at work because they needed someone with experience in X, and my experience is in Y.  It might work out for me next time, though.”
  3. “I didn’t receive a promotion at work because I haven’t completed the certification I need.  I’ll focus on the certification process and I’ll have a better chance next time.”

People with a Negative Attribution Style identify themselves as the cause for negative outcomes, and they believe these causes are permanent.  If a positive outcome occurs, they believe it’s a fluke.  Examples:

  1. “I received a promotion at work, but that’s a fluke–it’s nothing I earned.  They just didn’t have anybody else with experience in X.”
  2. “I didn’t receive a promotion at work–typical.  Nothing I can do, that’s just the way it is.”

People with a Positive Attribution Style are more resilient and much less likely to suffer from depression.

Likewise, people with a Negative Attribution Style feel hopeless and helpless–they feel no control over their fate, which leads to “learned helplessness”–not trying because they don’t see a correlation between their efforts and the outcome.  They are much more likely to suffer from depression.

If you have a Positive Attribution Style, you’re in good shape!

If you have a Negative Attribution Style, try one of these strategies:

  1. Think of something you accomplished in the past (you already have something in mind from Remember an Accomplishment, right?).  Acknowledge what you contributed in that situation–your effort, skill set, natural abilities or attitude.  You played a part in that success–it didn’t just happen.
  2. Think of a recent disappointment–what could you have done differently?  Taking responsibility for suboptimal effort on your part actually increases self esteem because you realize your efforts can influence the outcome!

Want to learn more about your attributional style?  Click here for an online quiz from Psychology Today.  


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