Understanding Our Own Biology: The Relevance of Auto-Biological Attributions for Mental Health


Journal Article (Review)

© 2017 American Psychological Association. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., on behalf of the American Psychological Association As knowledge of the neurobiological basis of psychopathology has advanced, public perceptions have shifted toward conceptualizing mental disorders as disorders of biology. However, little is known about how patients respond to biological information about their own disorders. We refer to such information as auto-biological—describing our own biological systems as a component of our identity. Drawing on research from attribution theory, we explore the potential for auto-biological information to shape how patients view themselves in relation to their disorders. We propose an attributional framework for presenting auto-biological information in a way that encourages agency, rather than destiny. We argue that this framework has the potential to change expectations and improve outcomes in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • MacDuffie, KE; Strauman, TJ

Published Date

  • March 1, 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 50 - 68

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-2850

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0969-5893

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/cpsp.12188

Citation Source

  • Scopus