, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 361-378

The Hopelessness Theory of Depression: A Test of the Diathesis-Stress Component in the Interpersonal and Achievement Domains

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Two prospective studies tested the diathesis-stress component of the hopelessness theory in the interpersonal and achievement domains. In Study 1, 149 high school seniors applying to the University of Pennsylvania completed measures of mood and three cognitive vulnerability factors (cognitive diatheses about self, consequences, and causes) 1–8 weeks before receiving their admissions decision (Time 1). They also completed measures of mood shortly after they received their admissions decision (Time 2), and 3 days later (Time 3). In Study 2, 77 college students rushing fraternities/sororities completed similar measures 1–8 weeks before rush (Time 1), shortly after they received their rush outcome (Time 2), and 3 days after receiving their rush outcome (Time 3). Consistent with the diathesis-stress component of the hopelessness theory, in both studies, all three vulnerability factors predicted increases in depressed mood immediately following a negative outcome (Time 2). None of these factors, however, predicted enduring depressed mood after a negative outcome (Time 3).