The Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) measures individual differences in attributional style. According to the reformulated learned helplessness model, depressive symptoms are associated with an attributional style in which uncontrollable bad events are attributed to internal (versus external), stable (versus unstable), and global (versus specific) causes.
Participants are presented with 12 hypothetical events (half good, half bad) and are asked to imagine themselves in that scenario and decide what the major cause of the situation would be if it happened to the participant, and then rate the cause along a 7-point continuum for each of the three causal dimensions. The Attributional Style Questionnaire takes about 20 minutes to complete.
The Attributional Style Questionnaire has been shown to be a predictor of depression, physical health, and achievement in various domains.
Peterson, Semmel, Von Baeyer, Abramson, Metalsky & Seligman
Reliability and Validity
Research for the ASQ has encompassed over 500 studies and 100 universities providing validity for the instrument. Also, the test has been administered to over 400,000 employees. Peterson reported a composite Cronbach alpha coefficient for the three subscales – Locus, Stability, and Globability. The test-retest coefficient was calculated at .64.
Where to Purchase
To obtain permission to use this instrument, email the author, Dr. Martin Seligman, directly at SeligmanInfo@psych.upenn.edu.
Administration, Analysis and Reporting
Statistics Solutions consists of a team of professional methodologists and statisticians that can assist the student or professional researcher in administering the survey instrument, collecting the data, conducting the analyses and explaining the results.
For additional information on these services, click here.
Abramson, L. Y., Seligman, M. E. P., & Teasdale, J. D. (1978). Learned helplessness in humans: Critique and reformulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 49–74.
Carver, C.S. (1989). How should multifaceted personality constructs be tested? Issues illustrated by self-monitoring, attributional style, and hardiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 577–585.
Peterson, C. (1992). Explanatory style. In C. P. Smith & J. W. Atkinson (Eds.), Motivation and Personality: Handbook of Thematic Content Analysis (pp. 376–382). New York: Cambridge University.
Peterson, C., Semmel, A., Von Baeyer, C., Abramson, L. Y., Metalsky, G. I., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1982). The attributional style questionnaire. Cognitive therapy and research, 6(3), 287-300.
Seligman, M. P., et al. (1984). Attributional style and depressive symptoms among children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93, 235–238.