, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 597-606

Depression and attributions in children and adolescents: A meta-analytic review

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This article presents a meta-analytic review of the association between attributional styles and depressive symptoms in children and adolescents. In 28 studies involving 7500 subjects, the correlations were consistent with those predicted by the reformulated learned helplessness model of depression. For negative outcomes, attributions along the internal, stable, and global dimensions were associated positively with depression. Conversely, higher levels of depressive symptoms were related to more external, unstable, and specific attributions for positive events. Additionally, overall composite maladaptive attributional patterns for positive and negative events were correlated with higher levels of depressive symptoms in youth. Effect sizes for these associations ranged from moderate to large (Cohen, 1977). Findings from the significance tests of the combined results support the theory. A large number of unretrieved studies revealing null effects would be needed to invalidate these findings.