Cognitive deficit or cognitive distortion in childhood depression
- Cite this article as:
- Kendall, P.C., Stark, K.D. & Adam, T. J Abnorm Child Psychol (1990) 18: 255. doi:10.1007/BF00916564
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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.