No man is a failure who has friends : the role of adaptive inferential feedback in hopelessness depression / Lize R. Jalbert. --
Jalbert, Lize Rachelle
SubjectDepressed persons - Treatment
Social networks - Psychological aspects.
Depression, Mental - Treatment
Adaptive inferential feedback (AFI)
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The theory of hopelessness depression (Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989) states that the presence of the psychological state of hopelessness is a sufficient cause for the development of a specific subtype of depression called Hopelessness Depression (HD). The state of hopelessness, in turn, develops through a combination of several contributory causes that include the lack of general social support and a specific type of social support called adaptive inferential feedback (AIF). AIF refers to the feedback from others to an individual that promotes optimistic, rather than pessimistic, inferences about the causes, consequences and meaning of negative events. The objective of the present study was to determine whether participants taught to give themselves AIF (i.e., given direct instruction on how to change pessimistic attributions to optimistic ones for actual negative life events) would experience larger changes in cognitive style, hopelessness, HD symptoms, but not non-HD depressive symptoms, relative to participants who did not receive this instruction. The study further sought to examine the relationship between maladaptive inferential feedback (MIF) from one's environment and changes in these variables. A group of undergraduate students with a pessimistic attributional style was randomly assigned to either a Treatment group or a no-treatment Control group. The Treatment group underwent an optimism training workshop and for 28 days thereafter, engaged in disputation techniques in response to actual negative events in their lives. Pre- and post-assessments of the cognitive style, hopelessness, and HD- and non-HD depressive symptoms of the two groups were carried out. Results indicate that AIF from the workshop predicted change in HD- and non-HD depressive symptoms and that this relationship was mediated by a change in cognitive style. Supplementary analyses indicated that practicing the disputation skills for one week predicted change in hopelessness, HD- and non-HD depressive symptoms. Implications for the role of AIF in alleviating hopelessness and depression as well as implications for the validity of the HD theory overall are discussed.