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Vulnerability Factors for Bipolar Disorders as Predictors of Attributions in Ability-Based and Chance-Based Tests

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Thomas Meyer, Dr Stephen Barton, Dr Gabriele Jordan



The role of attributional style in bipolar disorder has received empirical support. Research suggests that a pattern of global, stable, and possibly internal attributions for positive events might even trigger mania. We tested whether hypothesized risk factors for bipolar disorder are associated with such attributions after feedback of success in an ability-and chance-based test. University students (n = 115) completed the Behavioral Inhibition and Behavioral Activation Scales (BIS/BAS) and the Hypomanic Personality Scale (HPS) to assess risk for bipolar disorder. In addition, participants were interviewed using the Structured Clinical Interview. All participants performed an ability-based (intelligence) test and a chance-based (dice-throwing) test, and success was induced by providing positive feedback regardless of their actual test performance. Attributions of perceived success were assessed after each test. Results showed that high scores on the BAS scale were generally predictive of self-serving attributions in the ability-based test, while scores on the HPS predicted a more global and self-serving attributional style in the chance-based test. Current depression, lifetime affective disorder, BIS, or the dysregulation of the BAS did not consistently predict attributions on either test. Despite some methodological limitations, results suggest that anticipated or experienced success in skill-related contexts triggers self-serving attributions in individuals scoring high on the BAS scale, while perceived positive outcome in chance-related, more unrealistic contexts triggers similar attributions in individuals scoring high on the HPS. Future research has to examine whether these overly positive attributions after positive, chance-related situations are a stable characteristic with respect to vulnerability to mania.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Meyer TD, Barton S, Baur M, Jordan G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Individual Differences

Year: 2010

Volume: 31

Issue: 1

Pages: 29-37

Date deposited: 17/09/2010

ISSN (print): 1614-0001

ISSN (electronic): 2151-2299

Publisher: Hogrefe Publishing Corp.


DOI: 10.1027/1614-0001/a000004


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