Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 563–579 | Cite as

Attributional Style and Self-Esteem in Vulnerability to Adolescent Depressive Symptoms Following Life Stress: A 14-Week Prospective Study

  • Diana Southall
  • John E. Roberts
Article

Abstract

This study tested G. I. Metalsky, T. E. Joiner, T. Hardin, and L. Abramson's (1993) integrated model of attributional style, self-esteem, and life stress in vulnerability to depressive symptoms among adolescents (N = 115) using a 14-week prospective design. This model posits that individuals with both a negative attributional style and low self-esteem are particularly sensitive to developing depressive symptoms subsequent to life stress. Results of hierarchical multiple regression analyses were consistent with this hypothesis for initially asymptomatic participants, but not for those who were already experiencing mild levels of symptoms at the start of the study. Specifically, among initially asymptomatic participants, the three-way interaction between attributional style, self-esteem, and life stress predicted changes in depressive symptoms; initially asymptomatic participants who had a negative attributional style, low self-esteem, and high life stress showed the greatest increase in depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that self-esteem and attributional style play a role in vulnerability to the onset of depressive symptoms, though different pathways seem to be involved in determining the course of already existing symptoms.

depressive symptoms adolescence self-esteem attributional style life stress 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Abramson, L. Y., Metalsky, G. I., & Alloy, L. Y. (1989). Hopelessness depression:Atheory-based subtype of depression. Psychological Review, 96, 358–372.Google Scholar
  2. Alloy, L. B., & Clements, C. M. (1998). Hopelessness theory of depression: Tests of the symptom component. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 22, 303–335.Google Scholar
  3. Alloy, L. B., Just, N., & Panzarella, C. (1997). Attributional style, daily life events, and hopelessness depression: Subtype validation by prospective variability and specificity of symptoms. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 21, 321–344.Google Scholar
  4. Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Garbin, M. G. (1988). Psychometric properties of the Beck Depression Inventory: Twenty-five years of evaluation. Clinical Psychology Review, 8, 77–100.Google Scholar
  5. Bennet, D. S., & Bates, J. E. (1995). Prospective models of depressive symptoms in early adolescence: Attributional style, stress, and support. Journal of Early Adolescence, 15, 299–315.Google Scholar
  6. Bernet, C. Z., Ingram, R. E., & Johnson, B. R. (1993). Self-esteem. In C. Costello (Ed.), Symptoms of depression (pp. 141–159). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, G. W., Bifulco, A. T., & Andrews, B. (1990a). Self-esteem and depression: III. Aetiological issues. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 25, 235–243.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, G. W., Bifulco, A. T., & Andrews, B. (1990b). Self-esteem and depression: IV. Effect on course and recovery. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 25, 244–249.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, G. W., & Harris, T. O. (1978). Social origins of depression:Astudy of psychiatric disorder in women. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cole, P. M., & Kaslow, N. J. (1988). Interactional and cognitive strategies for affect regulation: Developmental perspective on childhood depression. In L.B. Alloy (Ed.), Cognitive processes in depression (pp. 310–343). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  11. Compas, B., Ey, S., & Grant, K. (1994). Taxonomy, assessment, and diagnosis of depression during adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 323–344.Google Scholar
  12. Cook, J. M., Ahrens, A. H., & Pearson, J. L. (1995). Attributions and depression in Alzheimer's disease caregivers. Journal of Clinical Geropsychology, 1, 119–132.Google Scholar
  13. Davila, J., Bradbury, T. N., Cohan, C. L., & Tochluk, S. (1997). Marital functioning and depressive symptoms: Evidence for a stress generation model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 849–861.Google Scholar
  14. Dent, J., & Teasdale, J. D. (1988). Negative cognition and the persistence of depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 29–34.Google Scholar
  15. Dixon, J. F., & Ahrens, A. H. (1992). Stress and attributional style as predictors of self-reported depression in children. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16, 623–634.Google Scholar
  16. Dykman, B. M., & Johll, M. (1998). Dysfunctional attitudes and vulnerability to depressive symptoms: A 14-week longitudinal study. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 22, 337–352.Google Scholar
  17. Edelman, R. E., Ahrens, A. H., & Haaga, D. A. F. (1994). Inferences about the self, attributions, and overgeneralization as predictors of recovery from dysphoria. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 18, 551–566.Google Scholar
  18. Follete, V. M., & Jacobson, N. S. (1987). Importance of attributions as a predictor of how people cope with failure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1205–1211.Google Scholar
  19. Gladstone, T. R., & Kaslow, N. J. (1995). Depression and attributions in children and adolescents: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 23, 597–606.Google Scholar
  20. Haaga,D. A. F., Ahrens, A. H., Schulman, P., Seligman, M. E. P., DeRubeis, R. J., & Minarik, M. L. (1995). Metatraits and cognitive assessment: Application to attributional style and depressive symptoms. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 19, 121–142.Google Scholar
  21. Hammen, C. (1988). Self-cognitions, stressful events, and the prediction of depression in children of depressed mothers. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 16, 347–360.Google Scholar
  22. Hammen, C. (1991). Generation of stress in the course of unipolar depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 555–561.Google Scholar
  23. Hammen, C. (1992). Cognitive, life stress, and interpersonal approaches to a developmental psychopathology model of depression. Development and Psychopathology, 4, 189–206.Google Scholar
  24. Hammen, C., & Goodman-Brown, T. (1990). Self-schemas and vulnerability to specific life-stress in children at risk for depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 215–227.Google Scholar
  25. Hammen, C., Marks, T., deMayo, R., & Mayol, A. (1985). Self-schemas and risk for depression:Aprospective study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 49, 1147–1159.Google Scholar
  26. Harrington, R., Fudge, H., Rutter, M., Pickles, A., & Hill, J. (1990). Adult outcomes of childhood and adolescent depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 47, 465–473.Google Scholar
  27. Hilsman, R., & Garber, J. (1995). A test of the cognitive diathesis-stress model of depression in children: Academic stressors, attributional style, perceived competences, and control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 370–380.Google Scholar
  28. Hunsley, J. (1989). Vulnerability to depressive mood: An examination of the temporal consistency of the reformulated learned helplessness model. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 13, 599– 608.Google Scholar
  29. Johnson, J. G., Crofton, A., & Feinstein, S. B. (1996). Enhancing attributional style and positive life events predict increased hopefulness among depressed psychiatric patients. Motivation and Emotion, 20, 285–297.Google Scholar
  30. Johnson, J. G., Han, Y., Douglas, C. J., Johannet, C. M., & Russell, T. (1998). Attributions for positive life events predict recovery from depressionamongpsychiatric inpatients:Aninvestigation of the Needles and Abramson model of recovery from depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 369–376.Google Scholar
  31. Johnson, J. G., & Miller, S. M. (1990). Attributional, life event, and affective predictors of onset of depression, anxiety, and negative attributional style. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 417–430.Google Scholar
  32. Joiner,T. E., & Rudd, D. M.(1996). Toward a categorization of depression-related psychological constructs. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 20, 51–68.Google Scholar
  33. Joiner, T. E., & Wagner, K. D. (1995). Attribution style and depression in children and adolescents: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 15, 777–798.Google Scholar
  34. Kashani, J. H., Carlson, G. A., Beck, N. C., & Hoeper, E. W. (1987). Depression, depressive symptoms, and depressed mood among a community sample of adolescents. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 931–934.Google Scholar
  35. Kaslow, N. J., Rehm, L. P., & Siegel, A.W. (1984). Social–cognitive and cognitive correlates of depression in children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 12, 605–620.Google Scholar
  36. Kaslow, N. J., Tannebaum, R. I., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1978). The KASTAN: A children's attributional style questionnaire. Unpublished manuscript, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  37. Lewinsohn, P. M., Duncan, E. M., Stanton, A. K., & Hautzinger, M. (1986). Age at first onset for nonbipolar depression.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95, 378–383.Google Scholar
  38. Lewinsohn, P. M., Rohde, P., Seeley, J. R., & Hops, H. (1991). Comorbidity of unipolar depression: I. Major depression with dysthymia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 100, 205–213.Google Scholar
  39. Little, S. A., & Garber, J. (2000). Interpersonal and achievement orientations and specific stressors predicting depressive and aggressive symptoms in children. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 24, 651–670.Google Scholar
  40. Metalsky,G. I., Halberstadt, L., & Ambramson, L. (1987). Vulnerability to a depressive mood reaction.Toward a more powerful test of the diathesis × stress causal mediation components of the reformulated theory of depression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 386–393.Google Scholar
  41. Metalsky, G. I., & Joiner, T. E. (1992). Vulnerability to depressive symptomatology: A prospective test of the diathesis-stress and causal mediation components of the hopelessness theory of depression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 667–675.Google Scholar
  42. Metalsky, G. I., & Joiner, T. E. (1997). The Hopelessness Depression Symptom Questionnaire. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 21, 359–384.Google Scholar
  43. Metalsky, G. I., Joiner, T. E., Hardin, T., & Abramson, L. (1993). Depressive reactions to failure in a naturalistic setting: A test of the hopelessness and self-esteem theories of depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 101–109.Google Scholar
  44. Miller, P. M., Kreitman, N. B., Ingham, J. G., & Sashidharan S. P. (1989). Self-esteem, life stress and psychiatric disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 17, 65–75.Google Scholar
  45. Monroe, S. M. (1982). Life events and disorder: Event–symptom associations and the course of disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 91, 14–24.Google Scholar
  46. Monroe, S. M., & Roberts, J. E. (1990). Conceptualizing and measuring lifestress: Problems, principles, procedures, progress. Stress Medicine, 6, 209–216.Google Scholar
  47. Monroe, S. M., & Simons, A. D. (1991). Diathesis-stress theories in the context of life stress research: Implications for the depressive disorders. Psychological Bulletin, 110, 406–425.Google Scholar
  48. Needles, D. J., & Abramson, L. Y. (1990). Positive life events, attributional style, and hopefulness: Testing a model of recovery from depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99, 156–165.Google Scholar
  49. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Girgus, J. S., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1992) Predictors and consequences of childhood depressive symptoms: A 5-year longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101, 405–422.Google Scholar
  50. Potthoff, J.G., Holahan, C. J., & Joiner, T. E. (1995). Reassurance seeking, stress generation, and depressive symptoms: An integrative model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 664–670.Google Scholar
  51. Prieto, S. L., Cole, D. A., & Tageson C. W. (1992). Depressive self-schemas in clinic and nonclinic children. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 16, 521–534.Google Scholar
  52. Ralph, J. A., & Mineka, S. (1998). Attributional style and self-esteem: The prediction of emotional distress following a midterm exam. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 203–215.Google Scholar
  53. Roberts, J. E., & Gotlib, I. H. (1997). Temporal variability in global self-esteem and specific self-evaluation as prospective predictors of emotional distress: Specificity in predictors and outcome. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106, 521–529.Google Scholar
  54. Roberts, J. E., & Kassel, J. D. (1997). Labile self-esteem, stressful life events, and depressive symptoms: Prospective data testing a model of vulnerability. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 21, 569–589.Google Scholar
  55. Roberts, J. E., & Monroe, S. M. (1992). Vulnerable self-esteem and depressive symptoms: Prospective findings comparing three alternative conceptualizations. Journal ofPersonality and Social Psychology, 62, 804–812.Google Scholar
  56. Roberts, J. E., & Monroe, S. M. (1994). A multidimensional model of self-esteem in depression. Clinical Psychology Review, 14, 161–181.Google Scholar
  57. Roberts, J. E., & Monroe, S. M. (1999). Vulnerable self-esteem and social processes in depression: Toward an interpersonal model of self-esteem regulation. In T. Joiner & J. Coyne (Eds.), The interactional nature of depression: Advances in interpersonal approaches (pp. 149–187). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  58. Roberts, J. E., Shapiro, A. M., & Gamble, S. (1999). Level and perceived stability of self-esteem prospectively predict depressive symptoms during psychoeducational group treatment. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 425–429.Google Scholar
  59. Robinson, N. S., Garber, J., & Hilsman, R. (1995). Cognitions and stress: Direct and moderating effects on depressive versus externalizing symptoms during the junior high school transition. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 453–463.Google Scholar
  60. Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  61. Rose, D. T., & Abramson, L. Y. (1992). Developmental predictors of depressive cognitive style: Research and theory. In D. Cicchetti & S. L. Toth (Eds.), Developmental perspectives on depression. Rochester symposium on developmental psychopathology (Vol. 4., pp. 323–349). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  62. Rosenberg, M. (1979). Conceiving the self. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  63. Snyder, C. R., Ilardi, S., Michael, S. T., & Cheavens, J. (2000). Hope theory: Updating a common process for psychological change. In C. R. Snyder & R. E. Ingram (Eds.), Handbook of psychological change: Psychotherapy processes and practices for the 21st century (pp. 128–153). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  64. Stiensmeier-Pelster, J. (1989). Attributional style and depressive mood reactions. Journal of Personality, 57, 581–599.Google Scholar
  65. Strauss, C. C., Forehand, R. L., Frame, C., & Smith, K. (1985). Characteristics of children with extreme scores on the Children's Depression Inventory. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 13, 227–231.Google Scholar
  66. Thompson, M., Kaslow, N. J., Weiss, B., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1998). Children's Attributional Style Questionnaire—Revised: Psychometric examination. Psychological Assessment, 10, 166–170.Google Scholar
  67. Whisman, M. A., & Kwon, P. (1993). Life stress and dysphoria: The role of self-esteem and hopelessness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 1054–1060.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Southall
    • 1
  • John E. Roberts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University at BuffaloBuffalo

Personalised recommendations