Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 623-634

First online:

Stress and attributional style as predictors of self-reported depression in children

  • J. Faye DixonAffiliated withDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Medical College of Pennsylvania/Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute
  • , Anthony H. AhrensAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, The American University

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Attributional approaches to depression, such as hopelessness theory (Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989), suggest that a stable, global attributional style for negative events combined with failure to achieve a highly valued outcome will lead to depression. The current study assessed the ability of the interaction of attributional style and daily negative events to predict self-reported depression in children. Eighty-four children between the ages of 9 and 12 participated in this longitudinal study. Self-reported depression symptoms were assessed before and after exposure to stressful events. The data analysis consisted of stepwise hierarchical multiple-regression procedures. While attributional style alone did not predict change in self-reported depression symptoms following stressful events, the interaction of attributional style with stress did predict them. Stress predicted depression symptoms as well.

Key words

depression attributional style childhood depression