Causal attributions for outcome in School Certificate English : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University

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Massey University
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Attributions offered for success and failure in School Certificate English were investigated with 400 Fifth Form pupils. The effect of confirmation or disconfirmation of expectations for examination outcome were examined and the results were analysed for sex differences (male/female), and ethnic differences (Māori/Pakeha). As predicted, pupils whose expectations were confirmed (pass-pass or fail-fail) attributed their results more to stable/internal causes. Unexpectedly, they also attributed their results to unstable/internal causes more than pupils whose expectations were disconfirmed (pass-fail or fail-pass). The direction of outcome (pass or fail) for pupils whose expectations were disconfirmed, did not significantly affect their causal perceptions. As predicted, males who failed made significantly more unstable/external attributions than females. In addition, males also made stronger attributions to stable/internal causes for failure than females. Males who succeeded, in contrast to what was predicted, did not make stronger attributions to stable/internal factors than females. No significant sex differences in attributions made for success were evident. There was no significant difference in causal attributions offered by Maoris for their successes and failures, and those offered by Pakehas. Analysis of both the structured and the open-ended sections of the questionnaires showed that pupils attributed their results (success or failure) more to effort (stable and unstable) than to any other causes. The findings were discussed in terms of their application to educational settings, and their relationship to other studies.
Attribution (Social psychology), Causation -- Psychological aspects