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Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Certainty in Pessimistic Predictions about the Future

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This study examined whether symptoms of GAD and depression were differentially associated with predictions individuals made about their future. Sixty-five undergraduates completed the BDI-II and GAD-Q-IV, predicted whether positive and negative events would happen to them in the future, and indicated their level of certainty about these predictions. Both higher GAD and depression symptoms were associated with an increased tendency to anticipate that negative events would happen. However, only depression was associated with the tendency to predict that positive events would not occur, even after adjusting for GAD symptoms. In addition, GAD and depression scores were positively associated with pessimistic certainty about negative events, but only depression was associated with increased certainty about both the occurrence of negative outcomes and a lack of positive outcomes, even after adjusting for GAD symptoms.

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  1. We use the term depression to refer to symptoms of unipolar depression. However, given that these symptoms were assessed by one self-report measure, we are unable to distinguish participants whose symptoms might fall in the bipolar spectrum.

  2. Due to an error, item 1 of the version of the GAD-Q-IV used in this study read, “Do you experience worry,” rather than “Do you experience excessive worry?” (as in Newman et al., 2002). While this might have led to an over-estimation of GAD symptoms, such over-estimation was expected to be small.

  3. Indeed, it should be noted that the standardized regression coefficients for the model were in the .20–.23-range and thus not zero.


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Correspondence to Regina Miranda.

Appendix A: Future-events task

Appendix A: Future-events task

The following is a list of future events used in the study, in the order presented on the questionnaire. Positive items are in italics (but were not italicized on the questionnaire).

1. Be socially inadequate?++

2. Have an inspiring conversation? ++

3. Be admired by people? **

4. Have an important promise broken?++

5. Regret a major life decision?+

6. Feel misunderstood by people?**

7. Have a successful career? ++

8. Have hard work acknowledged in class? ++

9. Get the blame for things going wrong?**

10. Achieve all the things that set out to do? **

11. Suffer a great financial loss?+

12. Be rejected by a significant other?**

13. Have things not work out as hoped?**

14. Be stuck in an unfulfilling job?+

15. Experience a moment of great insight? ++

16. Be honored for a major achievement? ++

17. Have lots of good times with friends? **

18. Be able to cope easily with pressure? **

19. Be thought of as a failure by people?*

20. Have confidence in facing the world? ++

21. Have many long-lasting friendships? **

22. Be excluded by friends?**

23. Have a serious disagreement with a good friend?**

24. Have the respect of colleagues? ++

25. Fall badly behind in work?**

26. Be unable to confide in anyone?**

27. Experience life as fulfilling? ++

28. Be unable to cope with responsibilities?*

29. Succeed in a complicated negotiation?++

30. Be very lonely when old?+

31. Often have work go smoothly? ++

32. Have family disapprove of life choices?++

33. Experience regular career advancement? ++

34. Be considered an excellent listener? ++

  1. +Indicates an item adapted from Andersen et al. (1992) or Andersen and Limpert, (2001)
  2. *Indicates an item adapted from MacLeod et al. (1991)
  3. **Indicates an item adapted from MacLeod et al. (1996)
  4. ++Indicates an item from Miranda & Andersen (2006)

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Miranda, R., Mennin, D.S. Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Certainty in Pessimistic Predictions about the Future. Cogn Ther Res 31, 71–82 (2007).

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