Causal attribution and coping with classmates’ isolation and humiliation in young adults with mild intellectual disability

Publication Date13 February 2020
Date13 February 2020
AuthorPaweł Kurtek
SubjectHealth & social care,Learning & intellectual disabilities,Offending behaviour,Sociology,Sociology of crime & law,Deviant behaviour,Education,Special education/gifted education,Emotional/behavioural disorders
Causal attribution and coping with
classmatesisolation and humiliation
in young adults with mild intellectual
Purpose The purpose of this study is to consider the role of causal attribution of isolation and
humiliationfrom classmates in the coping of young people withmild intellectual disability.
Design/methodology/approach The R-PI test (Kurtek, 2018) was administered to a sample of 151
transition-age students (age 18-22 years) in Poland. It consists of vignettes that describe stressful
situations in which classmates might engage in isolating or humiliating behavior directed at the
respondents.The respondents’ coping responses were interpretedaccording to a coding system based
on a multi-axisapproach by Hobfoll (1998) and Kelley’sattribution theory (1973).
Findings The results have revealedthat a majority of attributions are of defensive character.However,
it was found that the justifying attributions were significantly associated with prosocial coping and the
accusingattributions were related to antisocialcoping.
Research limitations/implications Because a vignettestudy is not based on actual interactions, the
resultsrefer to cognitive rather than behavioralperformance.
Practical implications The implications for supporting coping skills through attribution training,
especiallyfor youth with aggressive and passive behaviors,are discussed.
Social implications Promoting positive and situational attributions to stressful interactions with
classmatesincreases the likelihood of prosocialcoping.
Originality/value Applied cognitive approaches emphasize each respondent’s subjective
perspective in attemptingto explain humiliating and isolating incidents fromclassmates and the various
coping strategiesthey personally considered effective in these situations.The present study contributes
to the relativelysmall current literature availablein this area.
Keywords Causal attribution, Antisocial coping, Humiliation fromclassmates,
Isolation from classmates, Prosocial coping, Young adults with mild intellectual disability
Paper type Research paper
Everyday school life exposes young people with mild intellectual disability (MID) to various
social stress situations, tensions and conflicts resulting from interpersonal relationships
(Chimicz, 2015;Didden et al.,2009;Margalit, 2004;Mikrut, 2007). A considerable amount
of research indicates that students with MID experience humiliation and isolation from
classmates both in special and inclusion schools (Hurbert-Williams and Hastings, 2008;
Maiano et al.,2016). Such stressful situations lead individuals to develop copingstrategies,
both behavioral and internal, to reduce or minimize similar stressful experiences (Lazarus
and Folkman, 1984;Hobfoll, 1998). Such responses should be considered while taking into
consideration not only the individual’s costs and benefits but also their possible social
Paweł Kurtek is based at
The Jan Kochanowski
University in Kielce, Kielce,
Received 2 October 2019
Revised 9 January 2020
Accepted 11 January 2020
DOI 10.1108/JIDOB-10-2019-0019 VOL. 11 NO. 2 2020, pp. 101-115, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2050-8824 jJOURNAL OF INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES AND OFFENDING BEHAVIOUR jPAGE 101

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