Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 255–270 | Cite as

Cognitive deficit or cognitive distortion in childhood depression

  • Philip C. Kendall
  • Kevin D. Stark
  • Therese Adam


Three studies were conducted to evaluate cognitive disturbance and depression in children. In Study I, 47 sixth-grade children, including 17 who received a DSM-III diagnosis of depression, and their parents were independently interviewed with the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children, and they completed the Parent-Child Depression Inventory. Children completed the Children's Depression Inventory, the Matching Familiar Figures Test, and the My Standards Questionnaire. Results of Study 1 were consistent across raters and measures: Depression was associated with a negative style of processing self-evaluative information, while being unrelated to a processing deficit. A second study was initiated to replicate the results of Study 1 and to extend them to a wider age range of children. Thirty- eight third-, fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade children, half of whom were depressed and half of whom indicated a minimum of depressive symptomatology on the Children's Depression Inventory, completed the Matching Familiar Figures Test and the My Standards Questionnaire. Results were very similar to those found in Study 1. A third study was conducted to test whether the self-perceptions of depressed children were accurately negative or negatively distorted, as judged against their teachers' observations of them. Results supported the hypothesis that depressed children exhibit a distorted style of processing self-evaluative information. The implications of the results for theory and treatment were discussed.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip C. Kendall
    • 1
  • Kevin D. Stark
    • 2
  • Therese Adam
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Weiss HallTemple UniversityPhiladelphic
  2. 2.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of TexasAustin

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