Social attributions of social status groups: Implications for internalizing problems

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Clinical Psychology

First Committee Member

Annette M. LaGreca - Committee Chair


In an effort to better understand the cognitive and emotional self-perceptions of rejected children, the present study investigated the manner in which 292 sociometrically categorized fourth, fifth, and sixth grade children explained positive and negative outcomes to social events. Rejected and neglected children were compared to average and popular children on the Children's Attributional Style Questionnaire modified to assess the attributions for social situations. These social status groups were also compared on the Children's Depression Inventory, Loneliness Scale for Children, Harter's Global Self-Worth subscale and Social Acceptance subscale of the Self-Perception Profile for Children. Internalizing problems were operationalized as high levels of loneliness and depression, low levels of perceived social acceptance, and low levels of global self-worth.The relationship between social attributions and social status, between social status and internalizing problems, and between social attributions and internalizing problems were investigated. Although the findings did not support the relationship between attributional style and social status, the relationship between attributions and self-perceptions of social acceptance was partially supported. Children who perceived their peer acceptance to be low, attributed positive social events as due to significantly less I-S-G factors than children who had high perceptions of their peer social acceptance. This relationship did not hold true for attributions for negative social events. In addition, the results supported the relationship between peer rejection and internalizing problems. This finding was, however, only for difficulties specific to social functioning, such as loneliness and low perceptions of social acceptance. Neglected children reported levels of loneliness and perceptions of social acceptance comparable to average and popular children. The findings also supported the relationship between internalizing problems and different attributional styles. Children who made high levels of I-S-G attributions for positive events and those who made low levels of I-S-G attributions for negative events reported significantly higher levels of internalizing problems.As a result of the poor psychometric properties obtained on the social attribution measure, this study's examination of social attributional style is considered to be exploratory. Thus, the findings obtained with this measure are not viewed as conclusive, but rather suggest areas warranting further investigation. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)


Education, Educational Psychology; Psychology, Developmental

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