Presentation Title

Attribution Styles and Waking Salivary Cortisol Levels in Adolescents

Advisor Information

Jonathan Santo

Location

Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library

Presentation Type

Poster

Start Date

7-3-2014 1:00 PM

End Date

7-3-2014 4:00 PM

Abstract

According to attribution theory, adolescents are motivated to find a meaningful relationship between causes and effects but may differ in interpretation of this meaning. These attributions reflect adolescents’ belief that events are either beyond personal control, indicating an external locus of control, or within personal control, indicating an internal locus of control. Research has demonstrated that an internal locus of control is associated with lower levels of perceived stress (Diehl & Hay, 2010), less physiological arousal as measured by heart rate (Houston, 1972), and lower serotonergic stress responses (Robbins, 2005). In further exploration of this relationship, the current study examined the relationship between attribution styles and the cortisol stress response in a sample of 114 early adolescents (Mage = 10.83, SD = .77; 53.9% male) from a public school in Montreal. Participants completed a measure of attribution style (created based on Dweck, 2002), in which social scenarios, both positive and negative, could be attributed to task difficulty, luck, global ability, a specific trait, or individual effort. Salivary cortisol levels were measured five times per day for four consecutive days. Adolescents who attributed social scenarios as resulting from their own effort exhibited lower levels of cortisol (b =-.07, p < .05) at waking. Other attribution styles were not significantly associated with salivary cortisol. These results suggest that a belief in an internal locus of control, as indicated by attribution of events to an individual’s own effort, may reduce daily physiological stress.

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Mar 7th, 1:00 PM Mar 7th, 4:00 PM

Attribution Styles and Waking Salivary Cortisol Levels in Adolescents

Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library

According to attribution theory, adolescents are motivated to find a meaningful relationship between causes and effects but may differ in interpretation of this meaning. These attributions reflect adolescents’ belief that events are either beyond personal control, indicating an external locus of control, or within personal control, indicating an internal locus of control. Research has demonstrated that an internal locus of control is associated with lower levels of perceived stress (Diehl & Hay, 2010), less physiological arousal as measured by heart rate (Houston, 1972), and lower serotonergic stress responses (Robbins, 2005). In further exploration of this relationship, the current study examined the relationship between attribution styles and the cortisol stress response in a sample of 114 early adolescents (Mage = 10.83, SD = .77; 53.9% male) from a public school in Montreal. Participants completed a measure of attribution style (created based on Dweck, 2002), in which social scenarios, both positive and negative, could be attributed to task difficulty, luck, global ability, a specific trait, or individual effort. Salivary cortisol levels were measured five times per day for four consecutive days. Adolescents who attributed social scenarios as resulting from their own effort exhibited lower levels of cortisol (b =-.07, p < .05) at waking. Other attribution styles were not significantly associated with salivary cortisol. These results suggest that a belief in an internal locus of control, as indicated by attribution of events to an individual’s own effort, may reduce daily physiological stress.