Causal attributions for deafness in a multicultural society

Mary T. Westbrook, Varoe Legge, Mark Pennay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Noise exposure is a major cause of deafness. Industrial workers, many of whom frequently come from ethnic communities, are most vulnerable. Cultural differences in causal attributions made for mid-life hearing loss were examined in a survey of 665 health practitioners from the Chinese, German, Greek, Italian, Arabic speaking and Anglo Australian communities. They reported on community usage of 18 explanations. Significant differences were found in the endorsement of 14 explanations. The attributions of the Chinese differed most from those of Anglo Australians. All communities except the Arabic speaking, included the majority of scientific explanations within their main attributions. However the role of heredity and aging were overemphasised, drugs were discounted and chance was a favoured explanation. The Italian, Chinese and Arabic communities were less aware of the dangers of noise and together with the Greeks were most prone to use supernatural explanations. Implications for hearing protection programs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology & Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • attribution
  • cultural differences
  • Deafness
  • ethnicity
  • noise-induced hearing loss

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Causal attributions for deafness in a multicultural society'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this