Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Cooper, Robb, 1951-

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership in Educational and Sport Organizations


School superintendents--Illinois--Psychology; School principals--Illinois--Psychology; School business administrators--Illinois--Psychology; Communication in education--Illinois


The purpose of this dissertation was to determine whether or not educational leaders have a particular explanatory style. Explanatory style is a cognitive personality variable that reflects how people habitually explain causes for events. An individual's explanatory style can be placed on a continuum between an extremely pessimistic explanatory style on one end of the continuum and an extremely optimistic explanatory style on the other end of the continuum. This research was a quantitative, nonexperimental, ex post facto field study. In February 2002, the Attributional Style Questionnaire, a survey that measures explanatory style, was distributed to the 1,900 public-school superintendents, business managers, and principals in Boone, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Winnebago counties located in the northern part of Illinois. Six hundred surveys were returned within one month, and the data from those returned surveys were analyzed for this study. The data were analyzed to answer three research questions: (1) Collectively, do superintendents, business managers, and principals have a particular explanatory style? (2) Do the three leadership positions have different explanatory styles? and (3) Does gender interact with leadership position and explanatory style? The analysis of the data showed that, collectively, the superintendents, business managers, and principals had an explanatory style composite mean score of a positive 3.33, meaning that they would be labeled as having an optimistic explanatory style. There was not a significant difference in the explanatory styles of the superintendents, business managers, and principals. There was a significant difference between the explanatory style scores of the males and the females. However, the gender difference did not interfere with the conclusion that collectively as a group, superintendents, business managers, and principals had an optimistic explanatory style. The research in this dissertation was a preliminary study examining a possible relationship between educational leadership and explanatory style. The results of this study imply that further research examining the relationship of explanatory style to educational leadership would be worthwhile.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [103]-106).


viii, 176 pages




Northern Illinois University

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