Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 303-335

First online:

Hopelessness Theory of Depression: Tests of the Symptom Component

  • Lauren B. Alloy
  • , Caroline M. Clements

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This study used a short-term prospective designin an unselected sample of undergraduates to test fivehypotheses derived from the symptom component of thehopelessness theory of depression (Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989). In congruence withhopelessness theory, hopelessness was uniquelyassociated both concurrently and prospectively withsymptoms of depression but not anxiety. The hypothesizedhopelessness depression symptoms correlated with one anothermore highly than they correlated with other depressivesymptoms not hypothesized to be part of hopelessnessdepression or with symptoms of other psychopathology. Hopelessness predicted prospectively four ofthe eight symptoms hypothesized to be part of thehopelessness depression symptom profile and showed atrend (p < .05) to predict an additional twohopelessness depression symptoms. Hopelessness did notpredict any nonhopelessness depression symptoms or anysymptoms of anxiety disorders (somatic anxiety, phobias,obsessions/compulsions). In addition, the attributional diathesis-stress interaction featured in thetheory predicted hopelessness depression symptomsprospectively and specifically, and was mediated byhopelessness. However, at odds with the theory,hopelessness failed to predict two of the symptoms (sadness,low energy) hypothesized to be part of hopelessnessdepression and it did predict some symptoms of otherpsychopathology, primarily psychoticism, and,marginally, hostility and paranoia.