Causal Attributions Predict Rate of Immune Decline in HIV-Seropositive Gay Men

Suzanne C. Segerstrom, Shelley E. Taylor, Margaret E. Kemeny, Geoffrey M. Reed, Barbara R. Visscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Research has suggested that attributions - the perceived causes of events - may affect psychological and physical health and the immune system. The authors hypothesized that attributions reflecting negative beliefs about the self, the future, and control would affect helper T cell (CD4) decline and onset of AIDS in individuals with HIV, either directly or through associations with psychological states such as depression. HIV+ gay men (N = 86) participated in a structured interview from which causal attributions were extracted and coded. Attributing negative events to aspects of the self significantly predicted faster CD4 decline over 18 months following the interview, controlling for potential psychological, behavioral, social, and health mediators such as depression and health behavior. However, attributions did not predict AIDS diagnosis during the study period. The results support the idea that causal attributions related to beliefs about the self may have an influence on the immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-493
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1996


  • Attributions
  • HIV
  • Immune decline
  • Self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Causal Attributions Predict Rate of Immune Decline in HIV-Seropositive Gay Men'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this