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Stress and attributional style as predictors of self-reported depression in children

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Abstract

Attributional approaches to depression, such as hopelessness theory (Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989), suggest that a stable, global attributional style for negative events combined with failure to achieve a highly valued outcome will lead to depression. The current study assessed the ability of the interaction of attributional style and daily negative events to predict self-reported depression in children. Eighty-four children between the ages of 9 and 12 participated in this longitudinal study. Self-reported depression symptoms were assessed before and after exposure to stressful events. The data analysis consisted of stepwise hierarchical multiple-regression procedures. While attributional style alone did not predict change in self-reported depression symptoms following stressful events, the interaction of attributional style with stress did predict them. Stress predicted depression symptoms as well.

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This paper was based on the dissertation of J. Faye Dixon under the direction of Anthony Ahrens at The American University. Portions of this research were presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association Convention, Chicago, May 1991. We wish to thank Rebecca del Carmen, Mary Parpal, and Jon Rolf for their service as members of the dissertation committee. Further thanks go to Trail Blazers Camp for their cooperation in the collection of these data. Thanks also go to Emily Hauck, Dave Jobes, and Maureen Lyon for their help in coding data, and to Constance Hammen and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on a prior draft of this paper.

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Dixon, J.F., Ahrens, A.H. Stress and attributional style as predictors of self-reported depression in children. Cogn Ther Res 16, 623–634 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01175403

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