specific, and due to other people or events
Sample scenarios posed by the ASQ attempt to assess how different people make
sense of either positive or negative situations, such as:
> You go out on a date and it goes badly.
> You apply for a job that you really want
and you get it.
> You meet a new acquaintance that acts
hostile toward you.
> You do a project that is highly praised.
For each positive or negative hypothetical
scenario, respondents are asked to reflect
on how they make sense of the situation.
They are asked:
> Is the cause due to something about you
or about other people or circumstances?
> Is the cause something that just influences
this situation, or does it also influence
other areas of your life?
Using either the positive and negative
situations listed above, or other situations
you can think of, try and ask yourself how
you typically explain them to yourself. Do
you take credit when things go your way,
or do you attribute it to luck and circumstance? When things work out for you is it
a stable state you expect, or just temporary
relief from the challenges of life? If you
have trouble coming up with situations to
test your attributional style, take advantage
of the upcoming holiday. Thanksgiving is
not only a time to reflect on gratitude; it
also tends to be a time when our positive
attitudes are tested by potentially stressful
gatherings of family members. This year,
use the holiday to analyze your attributional style. Sit back and observe your thoughts
about others and about yourself. What
patterns do you see? Compare your perceptions with others to observe the attributional styles of people close to you. And, if
you’re worried about finding out that you
tend to make negative attributions, don’t
be. It just means you’ll have to work a little
harder on gratitude than your friends who
wear rose-colored glasses. Here’s some
practice at thinking on the positive side:
You’ll already have a New Year’s resolution, two months early.
Dr. Carrie Hutchinson is a professor at Santa Barbara
City College and the author of Interpersonal Communication:
Navigating Relationships in a Changing World.