, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 237-249

Problem-solving strategies in depressed and nondepressed college students

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The efficiency and style of problem solving for rules of varying difficulty was examined in a depressed college group. The depressed group and a control group of nondepressed students did not differ in the time required to solve conceptual problems. There were differences for the more difficult problems in the number of cards required for solution and problem-solving efficiency (defined as a strategy score).Both groups were able to improve their performance scores between problem (rule)learning and identification phases of the study. Expectations for and ratings of performance did not show a comparable pattern of results to the problem-solving measures; whereas the depressives had fixed perceptions of their performance, the nondepressed group altered their perception of performance in keeping with the improvement in the second phase of the study. The results implicated both a problem-solving deficit and a conservative problem-solving style in depression. The importance of the task difficulty as an intermediary variable in problem-solving studies was also discussed.

Thanks are extended to Brian Shaw, Jim Neufeld, Hans Breiter, and an anonymous reviewer for their comments. This research was conducted while the first author held an Ontario Mental Health Foundation studentship.