Attributional Style, Depression and Attribution of Blame In a Clinical Sample of Sexually Abused and Nonabused Girls

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jack L. Daniels

Advisor Department



Fifty girls between 8 and 16 years of age were included as subjects in this study. Twenty-six of the girls had been victims of childhood sexual abuse, and 24 of the girls had reported that they had not been sexual abuse victims. The two groups were assessed and compared for differences in attributional style, level of depression, and attribution of blame to self, mother and/or perpetrator/other for the abuse/presenting problem. It was hypothesized that sexually abused girls would exhibit a lower attributional style (higher learned helplessness) and higher levels of depression than the non-sexually abused girls. In addition, it was hypothesized that sexually abused girls would report significantly more blame of self and blame of perpetrator and would differ in their blame of mother for the abuse/presenting problem. No differences were found between the groups on attributional style, level of depression and attribution of blame of self and mother for the abuse/presenting problem. The sexually abused girls were found to report significantly more blame of perpetrator than the non-sexually abused girls did for blame of other. Results of a discriminant function analysis containing the variables of interest revealed that the discriminant function containing blame of perpetrator/other, blame of mother and blame of self, in order of contribution, was a significant predictor of group membership. These findings and their implications are discussed and suggestions for future research are made.