Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 605–620 | Cite as

Social-cognitive and cognitive correlates of depression in children

  • Nadine J. Kaslow
  • Lynn P. Rehm
  • Alexander W. Siegel


The present investigation examined depression and its social-cognitive and cognitive correlates in a sample of 108 elementary school children: 36 children in each of grades 1, 4, and 8. Children were classified as depressed and nondepressed according to their scores on the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI). Depression appeared stable over a 3-week time interval. Depressed children reported a higher number of “masking” symptoms, were rated as more depressed by their teachers, and perceived their family environment to be more distressed. As posited, when compared to nondepressed children, depressed children have lower self-esteem, a more depressive attributional style, and more self-control deficits. Further, they have impaired performance on some cognitive tasks (block design, coding digit span) but not all (vocabulary). The prediction that depression would be manifested differently in first-, fourth-, and eighth-graders was not supported.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abramson, L. Y., Seligman, M. E. P., & Teasdale, J. (1978). Learned helplessness in humans: Critique and reformulation.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 87, 49–74.Google Scholar
  2. Achenbach, T. M. (1978). The child behavior: profile I. Boys aged 6–11.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 46, 478–488.Google Scholar
  3. Alloy, L. B., & Abramson, L. Y. (1979). The judgement of contingency in depressed and nondepressed students: Sadder but wiser?Journal of Experimental Psychology, General, 108, 441–485.Google Scholar
  4. Anthony, E. J. (1975). Childhood depression. In E. J. Anthony & T. Benedek (Eds.),Depression and human existence (pp. 231–277). Boston: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  5. Beck, A. T. (1967).Depression: Clinical, experimental and theoretical aspects. New York: Hoeber. (Republished asDepression: Causes and treatment. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1972.)Google Scholar
  6. Beck, A. T. (1976).Cognitive therapy and emotional disorders. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  7. Beery, K. E. (1967).Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI). Monograph, Follett Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. Bemporad, J. (1978a). Manifest symptomatology of depression in children and adolescents. In S. Arieti & J. Bemporad (Eds.),Severe and mild depression: The psychotherapeutic approach (pp. 87–106). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  9. Bemporad, J. (1978b). Psychodynamics of depression and suicide in children and adolescents. In S. Arieti & J. Bemporad (Eds.),Severe and mild depression: A psychotherapeutic approach (pp. 185–207). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  10. Bowlby, J. (1969).Attachment and loss. (Vol. 1). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  11. Coopersmith, S. (1967).The antecedents of self-esteem. San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  12. Cytryn, L., & McKnew, D. H. (1972). Proposed classification of childhood depression.American Journal of Psychiatry, 129, 149–155.Google Scholar
  13. Dweck, C. S., & Repucci, N. D. (1973). Learned helplessness and reinforcement responsibility in children.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 25, 109–116.Google Scholar
  14. Engle, G., & Reichsman, F. (1956). Spontaneous and experimentally induced depression in an infant with gastric fistula.Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 4, 428–456.Google Scholar
  15. Friedman, S., Rogers, P. P., & Gettys, J. (1975). Project Re-ed: Increase in self-esteem as measured by the Coopersmith Inventory.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 40, 165–166.Google Scholar
  16. Frommer, E., Mendelson, W. B., & Reid, M. A. (1972). Differential diagnosis of psychiatric disturbances in pre-school children.British Journal of Psychiatry, 121, 71–74.Google Scholar
  17. Kashani, J. H., Husain, A., Shekim, W. O., Hodges, K. K. Cytryn, L., & McKnew, D. H. (1981). Current perspectives on childhood depression: an overview.American Journal of Psychiatry, 138, 143–153.Google Scholar
  18. Kaslow, N. J., & Rehm., L. P. (1983). Childhood depression. In R. J. Morris & T. R. Kratochwill (Eds.),The practice of child therapy: A textbook of methods (pp. 27–52). New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  19. Kaslow, N. J., Schultz, H. T., & Rehm, L. P. (1980).Social cognitive inventory. Unpublished manuscript, University of Houston.Google Scholar
  20. Kaslow, N. J., Tanenbaum, R. L., Abramson, L. Y., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1983). Problem solving deficits and depressive symptoms among children.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 11, 497–502.Google Scholar
  21. Kaslow, N. J., Tanenbaum, R. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1978).The KASTAN: A children's attributional styles questionnaire. Unpublished manuscript, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  22. Kovacs, M. (1981). Rating scales to assess depression in school-age children.Acta Paedopsychiatrica, 46, 305–315.Google Scholar
  23. Kovacs, M., & Beck, A. T. (1977). An empirical-clinical approach toward a definition of childhood depression. In J. G. Schulterbrandt & A. Raskin (Eds.),Depression in childhood: Diagnosis, treatment, and conceptual models (pp. 1–25). New York: Raven Press.Google Scholar
  24. Lefkowitz, M. M., & Burton, N. (1978). Childhood depression: A critique of the concept.Psychological Bulletin, 85, 716–726.Google Scholar
  25. Leventon, B. G. (1982).Childhood depression: Symptoms and their relationship to depression. Unpublished master's thesis, University of Houston, Houston, Texas.Google Scholar
  26. Mahler, M. S. (1966). Notes on the development of basic moods. In R. Lowenstein, L. Newman, M. Schur, & A. Solnit (Eds.),Psychoanalysis: A general psychology (pp. 152–168). New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  27. Malmquist, C. P. (1977). Childhood depression: A clinical and behavioral perspective. In J. G. Schulterbrandt & A. Raskin (Eds.),Depression in childhood: Diagnosis, treatment, and conceptual models (pp. 33–59). New York: Raven Press.Google Scholar
  28. McConville, B. J., Boag, L. C.,& Purohit, A. P. (1973). Three types of childhood depression.Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, 18, 133–138.Google Scholar
  29. Miller, W. R., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1975). Depression and learned helplessness in man.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 84, 228–238.Google Scholar
  30. Morrison, T. L., Thomas, M. D., & Weaver, S. J. (1973). Self-esteem and self-estimates of academic performance.Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 41, 412–415.Google Scholar
  31. Nissen, G. (1971).Depressive syndrome im kindes- und jugendalter. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  32. Philips, I. (1979). Childhood depression: Interpersonal interactions and depressive phenomena.American Journal of Psychiatry, 136, 511–515.Google Scholar
  33. Piaget, J., & Inhelder, B. (1969).The psychology of the child. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  34. Poznanski, E. O., & Zrull, J. P. (1970). Childhood depression: Clinical characteristics of overtly depressed children.Archives of General Psychiatry, 23, 8–15.Google Scholar
  35. Rapaport, D., Gill, M. M., & Schafer, R. (1968).Diagnostic psychological testing. New York: International Universities Press.Google Scholar
  36. Rehm, L. P. (1977). A self-control model of depression.Behavior Therapy, 8, 787–804.Google Scholar
  37. Reitan, R. M., & Davison, L. A. (1974).Clinical neuropsychology: Current status and applications. New York: Winston-Wiley.Google Scholar
  38. Renshaw, D. C. (1974). Suicide and depression in children.Journal of School Health, 44, 487–489.Google Scholar
  39. Seligman, M. E. P. (1975).Helplessness: On depression, development, and death. San Franciso: Freeman.Google Scholar
  40. Seligman, M. E. P., Peterson, C., Kaslow, N. J., Tanenbaum, R. L., Alloy, L. B., & Abramson, L. Y. (1984). Explanatory style and depressive symptoms among school children.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93, 235–238.Google Scholar
  41. Simon, W. E. (1972). Some sociometric evidence for the validity of Coopersmith's self-esteem inventory.Perceptual and Motor Skills, 34, 93–94.Google Scholar
  42. Smith, R., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1979).Black and lower class children are more vulnerable to impairment of problem solving following helplessness. Unpublished manuscript, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  43. Spatz, K., & Johnston, J. O. (1973). Internal consistency of the Coopersmith self-esteem inventory.Educational and Psychological Measurement, 33, 875–876.Google Scholar
  44. Spitz, R. (1946). Anaclitic depression.Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 5, 113–117.Google Scholar
  45. Toolan, J. M. (1962). Depression in children and adolescents.American Journal of Orthopsy-chiatry, 32, 404–414.Google Scholar
  46. White, S. H., & Fishbein, H. D. (1971). Children's learning. In N. B. Talbot, J. Kagan, & L. Eisenberg (Eds.),Behavioral science in pediatric medicine (pp. 188–227). Philadelphia: Saunders.Google Scholar
  47. White, S. H., & Siegel, A. W. (1976). Cognitive development: The new inquiry.Young Children, 31, 425–435.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadine J. Kaslow
    • 1
  • Lynn P. Rehm
    • 1
  • Alexander W. Siegel
    • 1
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of Houston

Personalised recommendations