Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Mark Pancer

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis had three purposes: the first was to develop a self-report scale that measures the attributional complexity of university students; the second was to examine the relationship between attributional complexity and university adjustment; and the third was to examine the relationship between attributional complexity and coping styles. In study 1, 217 students completed the newly developed 20-item College Attributional Complexity Scale (CACS), and several self-report measures used to assess its validity. Results showed that the scale had good internal consistency and test-retest reliability. Also, a principal components analysis revealed that the scale had one main factor. Results concerning the scale's validity showed that students with higher scores on the CACS tended to think more about different aspects of university life, and described more causal attributions in response to an open—ended attribution task than did students scoring lower on the scale. In addition, results showed the CACS was not related to social desirability. In study 2, a group of students making the transition from high school to university completed the CACS, and a series of self—report adjustment measures, at various times during their first six months at university. Results showed a significant negative relationship between the CACS and university adjustment. Higher scores on the CACS were associated with decreased personal-emotional adjustment, and increased depression, stress, and daily hassles. In study 2L a coping styles inventory and the CACS were administered to 148 students. Results showed that those students who scored high on the CACS tended to have emotion-oriented and avoidance—oriented coping styles. The findings of study 1 suggest the CACS is more strongly related to adjustment in a college environment than is Fletcher's attributional complexity scale. The findings of study 2 are discussed in terms of the control motivational] social information-processing hypothesis proposed by Pittman and Pittman (1980). The findings of study 3 add support to the negative relationship found between the CACS and adjustment in study 2.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Psychology Commons