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Negative Explanatory Style


Updated February 25, 2006

Definition: Pessimists have a negative explanatory style, or negative way to explain the events in their lives. They believe that negative events are caused by them (internal), believe that one mistake means more will come (stable), and mistakes in other areas of life are inevitable (global) because they are the cause. They see positive events as flukes (local) that are caused by things outside their control (external), and probably won’t happen again (unstable). A pessimist would see a promotion as a lucky event (external) that probably won’t happen again (unstable and local), and may even worry that she’ll now be under more scrutiny! Being passed over for promotion would probably be explained as not being skilled enough (internal and global), and therefore expect to be passed over again (stable).
Also Known As: Negative Attributional Style

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