Haynes et al., 2006: Attributing academic failure as unstable and controllable improved grades among highly optimistic undergraduate
Undergraduate introductory psychology students who reported being relatively less successful in their psychology course so far and either at the top or bottom third of a dispositional optimism scale took part. In the treatment condition, students received a handout containing two lists of possible attributions for poor academic performance, one external/uncontrollable attributions (e.g., “I failed the test because it was too difficult”) or controllable attributions (e.g., “I failed the test because I did not study enough”). The experimenter then described changing the former attributions to the latter. Next, participants summarized the main points of the handouts and described how it applied to their own academic experiences. As compared to a randomized control condition, this treatment increased final grades in psychology and first-year grade-point average for over-optimistic students.