Coping With Academic Problems: An Empirical Examination of Brickman et al.'s Models of Helping and Coping1


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    We thank Mark Snyder, Arthur Stukas, and Abraham Tesser for reading and commenting on earlier versions of this manuscript.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to E. Gil Clary or Thomas J. Thieman, Department of Psychology, College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN 55105. E-mail: gclary@stkate.ed.


According to Brickman et al. (1982), people facing problems make attributions about responsibility for causing and for solving the problem. Four models of helping and coping emerge. The present investigation examined 2 key questions. First, do individuals assign responsibility exclusively to the person or external forces, or do they exhibit a pattern of distributing responsibility among several causes? And second, do the models provide superior explanatory power relative to the individual attributions? College students provided information about their assumptions about causes and solutions to their own academic problems. Students revealed all 3 patterns. Furthermore, those making self-attributions of responsibility for solutions had higher grade point averages (GPAs) than did those making other attributions. Implications for the Brickman et al. analysis and framework are discussed.