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Title: Making sense of negative outcomes : the role of perceived attributional stability
Author: Janbakhsh, Melika
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 5431
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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When receiving a negative outcome (e.g., rejection in a job interview), people tend to attribute it to different causes. For members of stigmatised groups, discrimination is a plausible cause for a negative outcome. However, because discrimination has become relatively subtle (Ellemers & Barreto, 2015), members of stigmatised groups always live in an attributional ambiguity where they constantly wonder whether discrimination was the cause of the received negative outcome. Some researchers argue that this attributional ambiguity leads members of stigmatised groups to make attributions to discrimination. In doing so, individuals would protect themselves by discounting their own role in the negative outcome they received. In other words, in order to protect their sense of competence, members of stigmatised groups prefer to make attributions to discrimination rather than their lack of deservingness (i.e., attributions to lack of ability; Crocker & Major, 1989; Major, Kaiser, & McCoy, 2003). On the other hand, other researchers argue that making attributions to discrimination is not necessarily self-protective as perceived discrimination can have negative consequences for individuals. It has been suggested that attributional stability plays a key role in determining the extent to which attributions to discrimination and to lack of ability are perceived as a threat to individuals (Branscombe & Schmitt, & Harvey, 1999; Schmitt & Branscombe, 2002; Dweck & Leggett, 1988). In three studies, I examined the extent to which attributions to discrimination and to lack of ability are threatening/challenging as a function of stability of those attributions. Threat and challenge were measured both via self-reported data and cardiovascular markers. The results confirmed the role of attributional stability in perceived threat/challenge. In addition, in another study I examined whether attributional stability influences the extent to which attributions to discrimination and to lack of ability are made. However, the results of this study did not confirm my expectations, instead, participants consistently made more attributions to their lack of ability irrespective of information about attributional stability.
Supervisor: Barreto, Manuela ; Scheepers, Daan ; Rabinovich, Anna Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Attributions ; Stability ; Discrimination ; Lack of ability ; Threat ; Challenge ; Cardiovascular