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Using attribution theory to understand resilience for looked after children.

Kelly, C.; (2006) Using attribution theory to understand resilience for looked after children. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Children and young people in Public Care are one of the most at risk groups for educational failure and poor life outcomes (NCH, 2005). There is now a wealth of literature detailing predictive risk factors across a range of populations and outlining factors which contribute to resilient, adaptive outcomes in the face of risk factors (e.g. Rutter, 1990 Fonagy et al., 1994). In addition, an understanding of the processes and mechanisms involved is necessary in order to identify which, if any, of the many attributes and/or circumstances that correlate with resilience may be critical targets for effective prevention and intervention. Attributions, the causes given to events, are considered to be powerful determinants of our future actions (see Fosterling, 2001). Drawing on attribution theory and conceptualisations of optimism and self-efficacy, this research uses the Leeds Attributional Coding System (LACS) to compare high and low resilience looked after youngsters' perceptions of positive and negative events in educational, social and home contexts. Resilience was associated with how positive events were construed. High resilience (HR) youngsters made more positive attributions and tended to perceive the causes of positive outcomes optimistically, i.e. causes were relatively unchanging and wide reaching. Low resilience (LR) youngsters saw these causes as unstable and specific. HR adolescents tended to make self-efficacious controllable attributions for internal causes. LR young people were more negative about peer and carer/parent relationships, and views of school, suggesting that perceptions of more everyday contexts are more influential in resilience than major life events, such as changing school or placement, and that relationships are a key factor in positive adaptation. Furthermore, looked after adolescents tend to see themselves more frequently than non-looked after adolescents as the target of others actions. However, HR looked after youngsters are more likely to view others' actions positively.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Using attribution theory to understand resilience for looked after children.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592204
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1444894
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