All About Attribution Theory and How it Relates to the Ability to Overcome Mental Health Problems

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What is Attribution Theory?

Attribution theory is the study of how we perceive or make sense of causality for the things that we experience in our lives and was developed by Fritz Heider some 80 years ago.

Bound to attribution theory is the idea of Locus of Control which is a measure of how much influence we feel that we have to determine our own outcomes.

When we have any particular experience we tend to believe that it was caused by either:

  1. Something that we did or that we were responsible for, or
  2. Something that happened to us that was outside of our own control.

These are known as internal or external attributions respectively.

Attribution theory has been criticised for being rather too black or white in arguing that attributions are either one (internal) or the other (external) and what we know today is that the social and cultural context can also have an influence of the way we attribute causality.

Attribution Theory and Mental Health

These days, many mental health problems have been attributed to faulty biological functions inside a person’s brain, what has become known as the chemical imbalance model.

In this sense, the biomedical models of mental illness attribute the cause of emotional distress internally ie. the individual’s ‘disordered’ brain chemistry.

The suggestion that emotional distress is the result of some sort of disorder leads many sufferers to believe that the only solution to their ‘problems’ is through corrective chemical intervention – psychiatric drugs.

However, it is aslo widely acknowledged that social inequalities (such as racial prejudice or gender inequality for example) are prime causes of mental distress.

These social factors are, of course, external factors in that a person can do very little about them.

In these cases, emotional distress can be rightly attributed to external influencers.

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If you’d like to find out more about attribution theory or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.


Applied Psychology Solutions

If you’d like to learn how to overcome your mental health problems but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences and the World around you with the CORE Programme.

If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

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We offer counselling for Mental Health problems for people living in:

  • Wombourne
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  • West Midlands
  • Shropshire
  • South Staffordshire
  • Telford
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You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.