Neural correlates of suspiciousness and interactions with anxiety during emotional and neutral word processing
The self-concept and causal attributions are both centrally implicated in psychological disorders including depression and paranoia. In two investigations of the dynamic relationships between causal attributions and self-representations, non-patient participants completed questionnaires derived from Higgins' (1987) Self-Discrepancy Theory before and after completing a measure of causal attribution. In Study 1, consistent with cognitive models of depression, external attributions for negative events were associated with reductions in self-actual:self-ideal discrepancies. Study 2 revealed significantly different effects on self-discrepancies of three types of causal attributions. Internal attributions led to increased self-actual:self-ideal discrepancies as well as increased discrepancies between self-perceptions and the believed views of others about the self (self-actual:other-actual discrepancies). External situational attributions led to no changes in either self-actual:self-ideal or self-actual:other-actual discrepancies. External personal attributions led to no changes in self-actual:self-ideal discrepancies but increased self-actual:other-actual discrepancies. These findings point to the value of distinguishing between different kinds of external attributions. They show that self-representations and causal attributions are closely coupled cognitive domains. The results also suggest that paranoid ideation might be specifically associated with external-personal attributions for negative events.