Achievement attributions are associated with specific rather than general learning delays

Kimberley C. Tsujimoto, Jan C. Frijters, Richard Boada, Stephanie Gottwald, Dina Hill, Lisa A. Jacobson, Maureen W. Lovett, E. Mark Mahone, Erik G. Willcutt, Maryanne Wolf, Joan Bosson-Heenan, Jeffrey R. Gruen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The causal attributions that children make for success and failure have been associated with later reading motivation and ability perceptions, which have the potential to impact future task engagement. Few studies have investigated whether such attributions are domain specific, that is linked with the specific skill in question, or a general motivational set. Even fewer studies have examined these relationships among diverse racial and ethnic subgroups. The present study examined differences in success and failure attributions among children with and without reading delay (RD) and general language impairments (LI), in a predominately Hispanic and African American sample. Participants were 1311 children, 8 to 15 years old. Significant differences in ability attributions were observed between participants with and without RD and LI, with no additive effect for cases with co-occurring reading and language impairments. When reading and vocabulary were evaluated continuously, significant and substantial positive relationships were observed between skill and ability attributions in situations of success, and negative associations observed in situations of failure. Weaker relationships were observed for vocabulary, though vocabulary did function as a moderator in the relationship between reading skill and ability attributions, with stronger associations at higher vocabulary levels. Overall, the findings suggest that ability attributions for reading success and failure are linked with reading skill and/or deficits, and not with general language impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-21
Number of pages14
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
StatePublished - May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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