, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 321-344

Attributional Style, Daily Life Events, and Hopelessness Depression: Subtype Validation by Prospective Variability and Specificity of Symptoms

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Abstract

We utilized a short-term, prospective, behavioral high-risk design with a daily diary methodology for assessing daily life events and symptoms in order to examine whether attributional style and the attributional style × events interaction predicted level, within-day, and across-days variability in the depressive disorder subtype, hopelessness depression, but not other depression symptoms. Nondepressed participants at high or low risk for hopelessness depression symptoms based on their attributional styles for positive and negative events provided daily reports of their positive and negative life events and ratings of their highest, lowest, and average point for the day on 20 symptoms of depression vs. mania for 28 days. In accord with the hopelessness theory, attributionally high-risk participants exhibited higher levels and greater within-day variability and also tended to show greater across-days variability of hopelessness depression symptoms, but not other depression symptoms, than attributionally low-risk participants. Across-days variability of hopelessness depression sympotoms was further predicted by the interaction of attributional style and total events (positive + negative), whereas within-day variability was a function of the main effects of attributional style and total events. Finally, as predicted, hopelessness depression symptoms intercorrelated with each other more highly than they correlated with non-hopelessness depression symptoms. The findings are discussed with respect to their implications for the proposed hopelessness subtype of depression.