Relationships identified between emotions, attributions and interpersonal style of staff supporting people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour


There have been a number of studies testing attributions of support staff and their impact on helping behaviour when supporting people with learning disabilities anf challenging behaviour. We posted about one such study in January this year which looked at the impact of using vignettes to measure helping behaviour and used Weiner’s theory to explain the results.

Attribution Theory attempts to explain the world, seeking out the connections between cause and effect to help explain why people might behave the way they do in any given set of circumstances. Weiner’s attribution model identifies some basic attribution categories to explain success or failure, including stability, locus of causality and locus of control

The researchers in this study in the Netherlands were interested in looking at interpersonal styles and they set out to look at the influence of type of challenging behaviour on attributions, emotions and the interpersonal style of staff. They wanted to explore the relationships among staff attributions, emotions, and interpersonal style, and the mediating function of emotions in the relation between attributions and interpersonal style. They worked with 99 staff in support services.

They found a number of interesting relationships, for example – challenging behaviour aimed at the environment appeared to be related to higher levels of negative emotions, attributions and interpersonal styles such as controlling behaviour.

Whilst they found a relationship between emotions, attributions, and interpersonal style they found that  emotions had no mediating function in the relation between attributions and interpersonal style

They suggest that future research in this area should  focus on real staff behaviour and develop a broader, more dynamic, and systemic view of staff behaviour.

The relationship among attributions, emotions, and interpersonal styles of staff working with clients with intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviour, Zijlmans L et al., in Research in Developmental Disabilities 33,  5, 1484–1494

Share on Facebook Tweet this on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+
Mark as read
Create a personal elf note about this blog
Profile photo of John Northfield

John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

More posts

Follow me here –