Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 83–104 | Cite as

Cognitive Reactivity, Suicidal Ideation and Future Fluency: Preliminary Investigation of a Differential Activation Theory of Hopelessness/Suicidality

  • J. M. G. WilliamsEmail author
  • A. J. W. Van der Does
  • T. Barnhofer
  • C. Crane
  • Z. S. Segal
Original Article


The authors investigated whether the re-emergence of hopeless/suicidal cognitions over time can be explained within a differential activation framework. Studies 1 (N = 146) and 2 (N = 136) showed that individuals who reported suicidal ideation when depressed in the past had higher scores on the hopelessness/suicidality subscale of a measure assessing cognitive reactivity to low mood, the LEIDS. Study 3 (N = 32) demonstrated that self-reports on this subscale predicted changes in generativity for positive future events, an experimental measure of processes underlying hopelessness/suicidality, following sad mood induction. The results provide preliminary evidence that history of suicidal ideation is related to a specific cognitive response pattern, which may be reactivated by mild fluctuations in mood.


Depression Suicide Recurrence Cognitive reactivity Rumination Hopelessness Future thinking Vulnerability Differential activation theory 



The authors wish to thank Danielle Duggan, Melanie Fennell, Silvia Garnsey and Wendy Swift for help with this research. This research was supported by the Wellcome Trust GR067797


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. G. Williams
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. J. W. Van der Does
    • 2
  • T. Barnhofer
    • 1
  • C. Crane
    • 1
  • Z. S. Segal
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryOxford University, Warneford HospitalOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyLeiden UniversityLeidenNetherlands
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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