, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 245-260

An Experimental Analysis of the Role of Cognitive Errors in the Development of Depressed Mood Following Negative Social Feedback

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This study compared the extent to which negative and positive cognitive errors, dysfunctional attitudes, and self-reported symptoms of depression predicted change in college students' depressed mood and social self-esteem following an experimentally arranged negative social event. The amount of negative cognitive errors, the ratio of negative-to-positive cognitive errors, the amount of dysfunctional attitudes, and the amount of depressive symptoms obtained several weeks earlier each separately predicted change in depressed mood following the receipt of bogus negative social feedback. A subsequent 4-step hierarchical regression analysis found that the ratio of negative-to-positive cognitive errors contributed unique variance to the prediction of change in depressed mood after controlling for prior self-reported symptoms of depression and dysfunctional attitudes. Further, only the ratio score significantly predicted change in social self-esteem. Implications for Beck's cognitive model of depression, the limitations of the current study, and suggestions for further research are discussed.