Why do individuals lie? Why do people behave so differently in the same situations? These questions are constantly asked, and inferences are thereby made to try and answer such questions. Social psychologists have researched these questions and the results have shown that individuals form perceptions of one another and the environment. Social perceptions are picked up on through interactions with others, and observing one’s behaviour’s, appearance and communication; both verbally and non-verbally.
Individuals who tend to attribute their failures to internal, stable and controllable factors are more vulnerable to develop clinical depression. People with major depression are also vulnerable to mood problems, such as; anxiety, self-mutilation and other forms of self-harm. Individual differences in one’s attributional styles affect the health of said individuals. An individual suffering with depression has very low sense of self in all aspects. Trying to change a person’s negative attributional style into a positive one can prove very challenging; however, it is possible.
The first step is to increase an individual’s awareness. Depression finds subtle, yet persistent ways that allow individuals to explain perceived failures as being entirely their fault, without considering potential external causes. Any successes are dismissed without being given a second thought. Focusing on one’s awareness enables the person to understand their characteristic ways of thinking, in other words one’s attributional style. This style is generally working against the person. The next step is to practice daily, a different attributional style. This process requires a lot of work; however, it is very effective once the awkward first stage is passed. This process allows individuals to accept credit for their successes instead of dismissing them and to withhold blaming themselves solely for failures.
Studies have been done regarding depression and attributional styles. Each research shows the results that a negative attributional style is linked with depression. Depressed and lonely individuals viewed their interpersonal failures as unchangeable characteristics within themselves. Negative attributional styles increased an individual’s vulnerability which allowed them to be taken advantage of and this thereby lowered one’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth drastically. So take the time to get to know an individual for who they truly are before making assumptions regarding the person’s character.