Bright Ideas: a school-based program teaching optimistic thinking skills in pre-adolescence


Brandon, Cathy M.; Cunningham, Everarda G.; Frydenberg, Erica

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Research into the areas of depression and resilience suggests that an optimistic attributional style is a key factor in coping effectively with stressors and functioning adaptively despite adversity. This study evaluates the effectiveness of a program designed to increase positive thinking skills, through awareness and practice, to pre-adolescent children who have been identified as exhibiting a more pessimistic explanatory style. From a total of 110 Year 5 and 6 students, 38 students were selected to participate in the program because they exhibited a more pessimistic explanatory style. Program participants were administered the Children's Attributional Style Questionnaire (CASQ) at pre-, post-, and 3-month post- program. Non-program participants completed the CASQ at pre- and 3-month post- program. Results indicated that program participants significantly improved their attributional style scores post program, and that these improvements were maintained at 3-month post-program follow-up. When attributional style difference scores at pre- and 3- month post program were compared, improved scores for program participants were significantly greater than changes in attributional style scores for those students who were not in the program. Given the links between attributional style, depression, and a range of behaviours, such promising results warrant further investigation into the effects of such a program on other outcome measures. The findings provide support for the benefits to be gained by developing positive attributional style during the pre-adolescent years.

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Publication type

Journal article


Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, Vol. 9, no. 1 (Aug 1999), pp. 147-157




Australian Academic Press


Copyright © 1999 Australian Academic Press. The published version is reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.