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Relations among Autonomy, Attribution Style, and Happiness in College Students

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Research suggests that a personal sense of autonomy supports individuals' success in a variety of domains, but information regarding these processes remains unclear. This paper attempts to establish a link between personal autonomy and cognitive processes, in the form of attributions for success and failure, in establishing a sense of subjective well-being, or happiness. One hundred and forty-one, primarily white (57%), college students (69% female) ranging in age from 17-27 (M=18.8) responded to a series of questionnaires. Using bootstrapping analysis, autonomy was revealed to mediate attribution styles related to happiness, CI = .05-.31; the reverse was also true, CI = .14-.86, suggesting that these two processes are bidirectional. It may be that happiness relies, at least in part, on both a sense of control and a positive explanatory style for events in one's life.
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Keywords: attribution style; autonomy; emerging adulthood; happiness; subjective well-being

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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  • College Student Journal publishes original investigations and theoretical papers dealing with college student values, attitudes, opinions, and learning. Topics include the areas of undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, and may also include selected contributions dealing with college preparation.

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