Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 635–652

Sociotropy, Autonomy, and life event perceptions in dysphoric and nondysphoric individuals


  • David A. Clark
    • Psychology DepartmentUniversity of New Brunswick
  • Aaron T. Beck
    • University of Pennsylvania Medical School
  • Gregory K. Brown
    • University of Pennsylvania Medical School

DOI: 10.1007/BF01175404

Cite this article as:
Clark, D.A., Beck, A.T. & Brown, G.K. Cogn Ther Res (1992) 16: 635. doi:10.1007/BF01175404


This study investigates Beck's cognitive diathesis—stress model of depression by comparing dysphoric and nondysphoric subjects on the Sociotropy-Autonomy Scale (SAS) and a self-report life event measure specially developed to assess subjects' perceptions of sociotropic and autonomous life events. Despite reporting similar frequencies for both types of events, the dysphoric subjects rated their negative life experiences as significantly more upsetting, and perceived that the events involved more loss within the interpersonal and achievement domains than the nondysphoric control group. As predicted by the cognitive diathesis—stress model, sociotropy significantly interacted with negative social but not autonomously related life events in the prediction of dysphoria. Dysphoria was also associated with ratings of increased loss of social resources due to negative interpersonal events, and ratings of increased loss of personal goal attainment due to negative achievement events. Autonomy, however, failed to show any significant relation with dysphoria or type of life event experienced.

Key words

sociotropyautonomydysphorialife events

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992