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Fatalism and Depressive Symptoms: Active and Passive Forms of Fatalism Differentially Predict Depression

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Abstract

Classic fatalism is the belief that regardless of actions, events are predestined to occur (Straughan and Seow 1998). Researchers have found that fatalism is positively correlated with depression symptoms and higher endorsement of an external locus of control. Although fatalism is thought to be a unitary construct, based on the current literature, we hypothesized fatalism may take on other forms. We defined active fatalism as the belief in a predestined personal and global future, combined with the belief that one must do their part to bring this predestined future into fruition. Therefore, we predicted that active fatalism will be negatively correlated with depression symptoms, external locus of control, and negative coping skills. We recruited a sample of religious participants online (n = 282; 49.3% female) who completed self-report scales measuring depression symptoms, classic fatalism, active fatalism, coping skills, and locus of control. We found that while classic fatalism was significantly and positively associated with depression and negative coping, active fatalism was positively correlated with positive coping skills, and negatively correlated with depression and external locus of control. Finally, the present study found that active fatalism explained variance in both depression and anxiety symptoms above and beyond the classic form of fatalism. This confirmed our hypotheses and suggested that there may be several forms of fatalism, each differentially predicting mental health processes and outcomes. The significant positive correlation of positive coping and negative correlations of depression and external locus of control with active fatalism offer evidence in support of the notion that this form of fatalism may in fact be associated with protective mechanisms against depression. Differential assessment of these varying concepts may be appropriate for assessment and psychotherapy.

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Shahid, F., Beshai, S. & Del Rosario, N. Fatalism and Depressive Symptoms: Active and Passive Forms of Fatalism Differentially Predict Depression. J Relig Health 59, 3211–3226 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-020-01024-5

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