Research investigating the relationship between attributional style and performance has documented the effects of a negative explanatory style in a variety of settings. However, the literature on the nature of a negative explanatory style and academic performance has not shown such a consistent pattern. The present study was designed to compare the predictive value of attributional style to more traditional predictors, such as scores on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and high school grade point average, in a sample of American undergraduate students. The Attributional Style Questionnaire was administered to 127 students enrolled in introductory psychology at a large research university during the third week of a 15-week semester. Among the traditional predictors of university performance, only SAT scores were related to performance on subsequent course-based objective examinations; attributional style and the other traditional predictors were not. These findings contradict much of the attribution literature, and suggest that despite their limitations, SAT scores may still be one of the most effective tools possessed by colleges and universities to anticipate academic achievement in undergraduate students.
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