Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Faculty of Education

First Supervisor

Peter Cole

Second Supervisor

Dr Richard Berlach


The purpose of this study was to compare low and high self-concept students to ascertain whether they differ in the causes they attribute to their performance on a problem-solving task. The relationships of gender to self-concept and gender to attribution preference were also examined. This study differed from previous studies examining relationships with causal attributions by focusing on students' attribution preferences for a task with an equivocal outcome as opposed to tasks with success and failure outcomes. Eighty-two year seven students from four Perth metropolitan primary schools participated in this study. The study was conducted using a 2 x 2 factorial design, with two levels of self-concept (low and high) and two gender groups (male and female), and four dependent variables. The dependent variables were the four causal attributions (ability, effort, luck, and task difficulty). The Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale was used to measure students' global self-concept. An interrupted task procedure was developed to measure students' attribution preferences for an equivocal outcome. Quantitative statistical analyses were applied to the data collected to test for significant differences between the means of the relevant variables. The results from these analyses indicated that low and high self-concept students do not differ in the causes they attribute to their performance on a problem-solving task with ·an equivocal outcome. Males were found to attribute their performance more to ability than females. However, no other gender differences in attribution preference were found. There was also no significant difference between the mean scores of males and females on the global self-concept measure. A number of conclusions were made based on the findings from this study. First, that global self-concept is not predictive of differences in students' attribution preferences for an equivocal outcome. Second, that males more than females take more responsibility for their task outcomes by attributing their performance more to their own ability. Finally, that gender is not a mediator for global self-concept.