Self-Image Bias in Drug Use Attributions

Monk, Rebecca and Heim, Stephan Derek (2011) Self-Image Bias in Drug Use Attributions. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 25 (4). pp. 645-651. ISSN 0893164X

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The aim was to examine the degree to which people's personal drug use affects how they perceive other drug users, with a view to investigating the possibility that drug use attributions are a function of self-image bias. University students (n = 60), categorized post hoc as drug users or nonusers, completed questionnaires assessing locus, control, and stability attributions about their own personal drug use or imagined drug use. Attributions pertaining to presented vignettes of light and heavy drug use by others were also assessed. Heavy drug use elicited the most “addicted” attributions (dispositional locus, low control, and high stability) and drug-using participants made more addicted attributions about their own personal drug use than did nonusing participants about their imagined use. Additionally, attributions made by non-drug users regarding their imagined personal drug use were similar to those they made for the light drug use described in presented vignettes. Conversely, drug users made attributions which were similar for their personal drug use and for the heavy drug-use vignette. These data lend support to conceptualizing addiction as a product of the functional attribution process—“addict” attributions being applied mainly where drug use is more problematic (heavy) and thus in need of explanation. The data also lend support to the notion that a self-image bias is operating in drug use attributions when people can identify with the behavior of others.

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