The association of negative attributions with irritation and anger after brain injury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Objectives: Study objectives were to examine associations of irritation and anger with negative attributions, and associations of negative attributions with trait aggression in participants with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Participants: Forty-eight participants with moderate to severe TBI participated in this study. Participants were primarily male (68.8%), and on average, approximately 5 years postinjury. Design: Prospective study using a quasi-experimental design. Main measures: Participants were presented with 21 vignettes that hypothetically led to negative consequences for the participant. Stories portrayed characters' actions as benign, ambiguous, or hostile. After each vignette, participants rated how irritated and angry they would be, and how intentional, hostile, and blameworthy they perceived the characters' actions. Participants' trait aggression was evaluated with the aggression questionnaire. Results: Irritation and anger ratings were strongly correlated with intent, hostility, and blame ratings of the character (p < .001). Trait aggression was significantly associated with attributions of intent, hostility, and blame (p < .001). Conclusion: These preliminary findings suggest that irritation and anger after TBI may be linked to the negative attributions they make about others' behaviors. Findings further indicate a relationship between negative attributions and trait aggression. Thus, individuals with TBI who have higher trait aggression may have a tendency to make more negative attributions about others' behaviors, and in turn, have stronger feelings of irritation and anger as a response. Future studies with healthy controls and larger sample sizes are needed to build upon this clinically relevant topic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-161
Number of pages7
JournalRehabilitation Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Aggression
  • Anger
  • Attribution styles
  • Irritation
  • Social cognition
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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