Law school performance predicted by explanatory style

Behav Sci Law. 1997 Winter;15(1):95-105. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-0798(199724)15:1<95::aid-bsl255>;2-y.


The explanatory styles of 387 law students were assessed prior to law school using the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ). Longitudinal performance measures were collected throughout law school and related to each student's initial explanatory style. In contrast to studies with undergraduates, students who made stable, global, and internal attributions for negative events combined with the converse attributions for success (typically called pessimists) outperformed more optimistic students on measures of grade point averages and law journal success. We discuss the limitations of current attributional research methodologies and suggest the prudent and cautious perspective necessary for law or skill-based professions may account for our findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Education*
  • Female
  • Helplessness, Learned
  • Humans
  • Jurisprudence*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Psychological Theory
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Perception*
  • Students / psychology*