Depression and cognitions of significant life events
Master of Science
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The present study examined a number of relevant underlying cognitions of depression, within the context of learned helplessness theory, and more specifically, reformulated learned helplessness theory. Previous research has found mixed support for the possibility that locus of control, moderates the effects of life stress on depression. Externality is theoretically linked to helplessness and in order to elucidate the role of controllability in depression, the Levenson IPC scales (Levenson, 1974) were employed in the present study. The attributional reformulation of learned helplessness theory proposes that depressives make more attributions to internal, stable, global causal factors over negative events than do non-depressives. In addition to an assessment of maladaptive attributional style, Harvey (1981) included a controllable - uncontrollable dimension of causes in his questionnaire and found that depressives also made attributions to controllable causes. This finding, using student subjects, minimized the central importance of helplessness as related to depression. The present study attempted to test the above findings. Subjects included 126 college students and 26 out-patient counselling subjects. Each was given a Beck Depression Inventory (Beck, 1967), the Levenson IPC scales (Levenson, 1974), a Life Events Inventory (Cochrane and Robertson, 1973), and an Attribution Style Questionnaire (Hammon & Mayol, 1982). A multiple classification of analyses of variance revealed that male out-patients make attributions to internal, stable, global factors; while female out-patients, the highest scoring BDI group, made attributions to external, stable, global factors. There was partial support for the maladaptive attributional style, but several questions and issues were raised. In contrast to the findings of Harvey (1981), females whether depressed or not, attributed the cause of stressful events to external factors. Finally, a series of step-wise multiple regression analyses were conducted on the data to examine the relative contribution of the attributions generated from the Attribution Style Questionnaire and the three locus of control scales. Results reveal the Uncertainty, Powerful other and Chance scales are the best overall predictors of depression. The above findings lend support to the learned helplessness model of depression rather than a negative self-attitude model (Beck, 1967).