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Self-esteem, control beliefs, and cognitive problem-solving skill as risk factors in the development of subsequent dysphoria

Abstract

Low self-esteem, external control beliefs, and low social problem-solving skill have all been found to correlate with concurrent depressive symptoms, suggesting that they may function as risk factors for the development of future depression. But there have been very few investigations of whether these variables actually place persons at risk for future depression. This research was a 21/2-month prospective investigation of whether measures of these constructs could predict the development of dysphoria and to what extent these factors operated by moderating stressful life events. After initial symptom levels were controlled, personal control beliefs predicted subsequent dysphoria by moderating the effects of subsequent negative life events such that internal subjects were unaffected by life stress. Self-esteem, however, did not predict follow-up dysphoria. Persons with low cognitive problem-solving scores were more likely to experience subsequent symptoms regardless of stress level. In addition, coping styles involving high levels of advice seeking were also associated with increased subsequent dysphoria.

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A note of appreciation is extended to Cathy DeMonet, Sue Baldwin, Jill Epstein, Erica Anderson, Sue Morario, and Linda Lakey for serving as raters for the problem-solving measure. Russel H. Fazio, Kenneth Heller, Lee A. Jackson, James D. Johnson, Thomas F. Oltmanns, Jeffery L. Phillips, and anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on early drafts of this manuscript. Denise Fisher-Beckfield provided the scoring manuals for the problemsolving measure.

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Lakey, B. Self-esteem, control beliefs, and cognitive problem-solving skill as risk factors in the development of subsequent dysphoria. Cogn Ther Res 12, 409–420 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01173307

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Key words

  • depression
  • self-esteem
  • control beliefs
  • problem-solving skill