Attributional Processes in Response to Social Displays of Depressive Behavior Academic Article uri icon


  • The present study examined spontaneous attributional processes in social responses to depression. Participants (n = 143) were randomly assigned to view a videotape of a person who displayed either depressed or non-depressed behavior. Attributional sets regarding the target were manipulated. In one condition, the target appeared physically disabled; in another condition, the target was described as having alcoholism. In the neutral condition, no such information was available. Subjects rated their subjective emotional experience on several visual analogue scales after viewing the target, and completed a thought listing measure that did not directly solicit subject thoughts about the target. Results indicated that depressed targets elicited higher levels of depression and pity among subjects. However, attributional sets had no effect on subject emotional experience. Subjects had significantly higher rates of attributional thoughts and control attributions after viewing the depressed targets regardless of attributional set. © 1991, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Elliott, T. R., & MacNair, R. R.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • February 1991