Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 325–336 | Cite as

Cognitive appraisal and attributional correlates of depressive symptoms in children

  • Nancy E. Meyer
  • Dennis G. Dyck
  • Ron J. Petrinack


This study examined differences in cognitive appraisal and causal attributions in response to a task among schoolchildren reporting high and low depressive symptomatology. From a sample of 361 fifth- and sixth- grade students, 72 children were classified as depressed or nondepressed on the basis of their scores on the Children's Depression Inventory. They were then presented with modified Picture Arrangement problems from the WISC- R and questioned about their performance. Pretask expectations, evaluations, and future expectations of performance for the self and that of same- aged peers were assessed, as well as causal explanations for solvable and unsolvable problems. Despite similar performance, the depressed group of children provided lower evaluations for themselves than for others on all three measures of self- appraisal, whereas the nondepressed group did not show this tendency. Further, the attribution results indicated that the two groups differed in their explanations for failure, with the depressed group emphasizing the importance of ability in failure and the nondepressed group emphasizing factors other than ability. Overall, the results provide support for the presence of negative cognitions and self- defeating attributional style among depressed relative to nondepressed children, as well as pointing to the importance of social comparison processes in depression.


Depressive Symptom Social Comparison Depressive Symptomatology Causal Explanation Causal Attribution 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy E. Meyer
    • 1
  • Dennis G. Dyck
    • 1
  • Ron J. Petrinack
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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