Depressogenic Attributional Style and Depressive Symptoms in Chinese University Students: The Role of Rumination and Distraction

  • Junyi Wang
  • Xiaoyu Wang
  • Chad M. McWhinnie
  • Jing XiaoEmail author


The objective of the current study was to test the hypothesis that rumination and distraction mediate the relationship between depressogenic attributional style and depressive symptoms. 1017 university students recruited from two universities (90.0% Han and 10.0% ethnic minority) in China, completed questionnaires that measured depressogenic attributional style (Cognitive Style Questionnaire), depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale) and rumination and distraction (Response Styles Questionnaire). Direct effects and the mediation model were evaluated via both linear regression analyses and Sobel tests. The rumination subscale of the RSQ was significantly positively correlated with the CESD and subscales of CSQ. However, the distraction subscale of the RSQ was significantly negatively correlated with the CESD and all subscales of the CSQ, except for the subscale of self. Higher levels of depressogenic attributional styles were associated with higher levels of rumination response style. In contrast, lower levels of CSQ-cause, CSQ-consequences, and CSQ-total were associated with higher levels of distraction response style. Higher levels of rumination response style were associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. However, higher levels of distraction response style were associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms. The obtained results of Sobel tests confirmed that rumination partly mediated the relationship between depressogenic attributional style and depressive symptoms. The present results suggest that rumination but not distraction may mediate the relationship between depressogenic attributional style and depressive symptoms; additionally, rumination contributes to the negative outcomes of depressive symptoms.


Rumination Distraction Attributional style Depressive symptoms Mediation 



This study was supported by Beijing Key Laboratory of Learning and Cognition, and MOE (Ministry of Education in China) project of Humanities and Social Sciences (Project No. 16YJA190008) awarded to Prof. Jing Xiao, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31771223) awarded to Prof. Jing Xiao, and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education (TJSH20161002801) awarded to Jin Luo.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junyi Wang
    • 1
  • Xiaoyu Wang
    • 1
  • Chad M. McWhinnie
    • 2
  • Jing Xiao
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Beijing Key Laboratory of Learning and Cognition and Department of PsychologyCapital Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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