Article

Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 21-36

Anxiety disorders, depression, and attributional style: A further test of the specificity of depressive attributions

  • Richard G. HeimbergAffiliated withCenter for Stress and Anxiety Disorders, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany
  • , Janet S. KloskoAffiliated withCenter for Stress and Anxiety Disorders, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany
  • , Cynthia S. DodgeAffiliated withCenter for Stress and Anxiety Disorders, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany
  • , Richard ShadickAffiliated withCenter for Stress and Anxiety Disorders, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany
  • , Robert E. BeckerAffiliated withMedical College of Pennsylvania at EPPI
  • , David H. BarlowAffiliated withCenter for Stress and Anxiety Disorders, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Albany

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Abstract

This study examined the specificity to depression of the attributional style hypothesized by the reformulated model of learned helplessness. Scores on a modified version of the Attributional Style Questionnaire of patients with dysthymic disorder were compared with those of anxiety disorder patients (social phobic, agoraphobic, and panic disorder) and normal subjects. While dysthymic patients demonstrated more internal, global, and stable attributions for negative events than normals, they did not systematically differ from social phobic or agoraphobic subjects. All groups differed from all the other groups on the Beck Depression Inventory. Analysis of covariance that controlled for depression scores suggested that depression contributed substantially to attributional style, but anxiety disorder diagnosis also exerted a significant effect on some attributional measures. These findings are discussed in terms of their meaning for the reformulated model of learned helplessness and the role of attributional processes in anxiety disorders.

Key words

depression anxiety disorder attributional style