Sex Roles

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 331–346

Gender differences in responses to depressed mood in a college sample


  • Lisa D. Butler
    • Department of PsychologyStanford University
  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema
    • Department of PsychologyStanford University

DOI: 10.1007/BF01420597

Cite this article as:
Butler, L.D. & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. Sex Roles (1994) 30: 331. doi:10.1007/BF01420597


Two studies tested the hypothesis that women are more likely than men to focus on themselves and their mood when in a depressed mood, and that this leads them to experience longer periods of depressed mood. In both studies subjects were predominantly Caucasian college students. In our first study, a laboratory study, females chose to engage in an emotion-related task significantly more often than did males, even when this lead them to focus on an existing sad mood. In the second study, a prospective naturalistic study, females were more likely than males to evince an emotion-focused ruminative style of coping with their moods. A ruminative response style at Time 1 was a significant predictor of depression scores at Time 2, even after initial levels of depressed mood were taken into account. Furthermore, once rumination levels were controlled for, gender was no longer a potent predictor of depression outcome. The implications of these response styles for treatment are discussed.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1994