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Causal attribution and coping with classmates’ isolation and humiliation in young adults with mild intellectual disability

Paweł Kurtek (The Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce, Kielce, Poland)

Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour

ISSN: 2050-8824

Article publication date: 18 February 2020

Issue publication date: 30 April 2020




The purpose of this study is to consider the role of causal attribution of isolation and humiliation from classmates in the coping of young people with mild intellectual disability.


The R-PI test (Kurtek, 2018) was administered to a sample of 151 transition-age students (age 18-22 years) in Poland. It consists of vignettes that describe stressful situations in which classmates might engage in isolating or humiliating behavior directed at the respondents. The respondents’ coping responses were interpreted according to a coding system based on a multi-axis approach by Hobfoll (1998) and Kelley’s attribution theory (1973).


The results have revealed that a majority of attributions are of defensive character. However, it was found that the justifying attributions were significantly associated with prosocial coping and the accusing attributions were related to antisocial coping.

Research limitations/implications

Because a vignette study is not based on actual interactions, the results refer to cognitive rather than behavioral performance.

Practical implications

The implications for supporting coping skills through attribution training, especially for youth with aggressive and passive behaviors, are discussed.

Social implications

Promoting positive and situational attributions to stressful interactions with classmates increases the likelihood of prosocial coping.


Applied cognitive approaches emphasize each respondent’s subjective perspective in attempting to explain humiliating and isolating incidents from classmates and the various coping strategies they personally considered effective in these situations. The present study contributes to the relatively small current literature available in this area.



Kurtek, P. (2020), "Causal attribution and coping with classmates’ isolation and humiliation in young adults with mild intellectual disability", Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 101-115.



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