The link between attributions and happiness in close relationships: the roles of depression and explanatory style

Garth J. O. Fletcher, Julie Fitness, N. M. Blampied

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examines whether depression and attributional style mediate the link between causal attributions and relationship happiness in close relationships. Seventy-one subjects (35 men and 36 women) in long-term premarital relationships were asked to imagine 20 hypothetical interactive behaviors within relationships that varied in terms of valency and self- or partner initiation. Subjects then completed a spontaneous attribution probe by stating what they would think and feel in response to each behavior, and these verbal protocols were taped. Causal attributions that occurred in these protocols were later coded as relationship-positive attributions or relationship-negative attributions. Causal judgments were also later directly elicited for each behavior on eight causal dimensions. Replicating previous research, results from both the spontaneous attribution probe and the causal scales suggested that happy partners produce attributions that enhance relationship quality, whereas unhappy partners produce attributions that maintain their current levels of distress. Moreover, regression analyses revealed a unique relation between relationship happiness and attributions that was not mediated by depression or explanatory style, indicating that neither depression nor explanatory style account for the link between attributions and relationship happiness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-255
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Volume9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

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