The Influence of Causal Attributions on Emotional and Behavioral Reactions of Care Workers towards Challenging Behavior among Persons with Deafblindness


  • Hanna Lembcke
  • Flemming Ask Larsen
  • Marleen Janssen


Challenging behavior, aggression, communication, attributions, emotions, deafblindness, staff well-being, interventions.


A large quantity of research on Challenging Behavior (CB) has focused on persons with intellectual disabilities. However, individuals with deafblindness also commonly engage in CB. The present study asked 63 staff members of institutions that work with persons with deafblindness in eight countries about their experiences with CB, in which situations CB occurs, and how they react in such situations. Furthermore, we investigated the relationship between staff members’ attributions to CB, i.e. the underlying reasons staff members ascribe to CB, and their emotional reactions. The main finding showed that those persons who endorsed communicative difficulties as underlying reason of CB were more likely to experience fear and anxiety than persons who endorsed other causal attributions. This was interpreted as a result from increased feelings of responsibility for the client. Nevertheless, confidence and comfort were the most common emotional responses. The present study is the first one that provides an overview of attributions and emotions to CB among care workers that work with persons with deafblindness. Influence of CB on care workers has been neglected in this field so far. This study is also the first that considered measuring a communicative attribution to CB next to attributions of behavioral processes, stimulation, environmental, emotional and biomedical explanations.