, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 337-352

Dysfunctional Attitudes and Vulnerability to Depressive Symptoms: A 14-Week Longitudinal Study

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Abstract

Beck's acute-onset model of depression proposesthat initially asymptomatic individuals with high levelsof dysfunctional attitudes (DA) will become depressedwhen stressors occur. Using a large student sample (n = 275), we conducted a 14-weeklongitudinal study aimed at testing Beck's model as anacute-onset model. Consistent with past studies (Monroe,Bromet, Connell, & Steiner, 1986; Roberts & Monroe, 1992), a DA Stress interaction did notobtain when all subjects (both symptomatic andasymptomatic) were included in the data analyses.However, when analyses were restricted to initiallyasymptomatic subjects, the predicted DA Stress interactioneffect did obtain. Specifically, under conditions ofhigh stress, initially asymptomatic subjects with highlevels of dysfunctional attitudes showed greater increases in depressive symptoms than initiallyasymptomatic subjects with low levels of dysfunctionalattitudes. Follow-up analyses revealed that this DAStress interaction was specific to females and not males. Possible reasons for the female-specificeffect are discussed. In general, these findings callattention to the fact that subject selection proceduresmay affect a researcher's ability to predict future onset of depression.