Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 415–429 | Cite as

Negative Cognitive Biases Predict Subsequent Depression

  • Stephanie S. Rude
  • Carmen R. Valdez
  • Susan Odom
  • Arshia Ebrahimi


We administered the Scrambled Sentences Test (SST; R. M. Wenzlaff, 1993), a measure of cognitive processing bias, to a large sample of college students at Time 1. Participants completed a portion of the SST under cognitive load (holding a six-digit number in memory) and a portion without load. At Time 2, 18–28 months later, we conducted diagnostic interviews with a subset of the original participants. As expected, SST scores (proportion of negative solutions) in the cognitive load condition predicted diagnoses of major depression during an 18–28 month follow-up period, even after controlling for self-reported Time 1 depression symptoms and worst lifetime symptoms. No significant prediction of depression was obtained using SST scores from the no-load portion of the task.

depression depression vulnerability cognition information-processing prospective study 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alloy, L. B., Abramson, L. Y., & Francis, E. L. (1999). Do negative cognitive styles confer vulnerability to depression? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8, 128-132.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, A. T. (1967). Depression: Clinical, experimental, and theoretical aspects. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561-571.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bumberry, W., Oliver, J., & McClure, J. (1978). Validation of the Beck Depression Inventory in a university population using psychiatric estimate as the criterion. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46, 150-155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Eaves, G., & Rush, A. J. (1984). Cognitive patterns in symptomatic and remitted unipolar major depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 93, 31-40.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Fennell, M. J. V., & Campbell, E. A. (1984). The Cognitions Questionnaire: Specific thinking errors in depression. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 23, 81-92.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Galambos, N. L., Leadbeater, B. J., & Vitunski, E. T. (2001). Gender differences in and predictors of depression in Canadian adolescents: A four-year longitudinal study. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
  8. Galambos, N. L., Leadbeater, B. J., & Barker, E. T. (in press). Gender differences in and risk factors for depression in adolescence: A four-year longitudinal study. International Journal of Behavioural Development.Google Scholar
  9. Gilboa, E., & Gotlib, I. H. (1997). Cognitive biases and affect persistence in previously dysphoric and never-dysphoric individuals. Cognition and Emotion, 11(5/6), 517-538.Google Scholar
  10. Gotlib, I. H., & Cane, D. B. (1987). Construct accessibility and clinical depression: A longitudinal investigation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 96, 199-204.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Gotlib, I. H., & Krasnoperova, E. (1998). Biased information processing as a vulnerability factor for depression. Behavior Therapy, 29, 603-617.Google Scholar
  12. Hamilton, E. W., & Abramson, L. Y. (1983). Cognitive patterns and major depressive disorder: A longitudinal study in a hospital setting. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 92, 173-184.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Hammen, C. (1980). Depression in college students: Beyond the Beck Depression Inventory. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48, 126-128.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hedlund, S., & Rude, S. (1995). Evidence of latent depressive schemata in formerly depressed indivi-duals. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104(3), 517-525.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Hollon, S. D., Kendall, P. C., & Lumry, A. (1986). Specificity of depressotypic cognitions in clinical depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95, 52-59.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Ingram, R. E., Bernet, C. Z., & McLaughlin, S. C. (1994). Attention allocation processes in depressed individuals. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 18, 317-332.Google Scholar
  17. Ingram, R. E., Miranda, J., & Segal, Z. V. (1998). Cognitive vulnerability to depression. NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  18. Judd, L. L. (1997). The clinical course of uniploar major depressive disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54, 989-991.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Kessler, R. C., McGonagle, K. A., Zhao, S., Nelson, C. B., Hughes, M., Eshleman, S., Witcthen, H. O., & Kenderl, K. S. (1994). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of DSM-III-R psychiatric disorders in the United States: Results from the national comorbidity survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51, 8-19.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Krantz, S. E., & Rude, S. S. (1984). Depressive attributions: Selection of different causes or assignment of dimensional meanings? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 193-203.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Lewinsohn, P. M., Allen, N. B., Seeley, J. R., & Gotlib, I. H. (1999). First onset versus recurrence of depression: Differential processes of psychosocial risk. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108, 483-489.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Lewinsohn, P. M., Steinmetz, L., Larson, D. W., & Franklin, J. (1981). Depression-related cognitions: Antecedents or consequence? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 90, 213-219.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Marcel, A. J. (1983). Conscious and unconscious perception: An approach to the relations between phenomenal experience and perceptual processes. Cognitive Psychology, 15, 238-300.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Metalsky, G., Abramson, L. Y., Seligman, M., Semmel, A., & Peterson, C. (1982). Attributional styles and life events in the classroom: Vulnerabilty and invulnerability to depressive mood reactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43(3), 612-617.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Miranda, J., Gross, J. J., Persons, J. B., & Hahn, J. (1998). Mood matters: Negative mood induction activates dysfunctional attitudes in women vulnerable to depression. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 22(4), 363-376.Google Scholar
  26. Miranda, J., & Persons, J. B. (1988). Dysfunctional attitudes are mood-state dependent. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 76-79.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Miranda, J., & Persons, J. B., Byers, C. N. (1990). Endorsement of dysfunctional beliefs depends on current mood state. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99(3), 237-241.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84, 231-259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Paulsen, A. S., Crowe, R. R., Noyes, R., & Pfohl, B. (1988). Reliability of the telephone interview in diagnosing anxiety disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 45, 62-63.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Pennebaker, J. W. (1994). Psychological bases of symptom reporting: Perceptual and emotional aspects of chemical sensitivity. Toxicology and Industrial Health, 10, 497-511.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Persons, J. B., & Rao, P. A. (1985). Longitudinal study of cognitions, life events, and depression in psychiatric inpatients. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94, 51-63.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Rude, S. S., Covich, J., Jarrold, W., Hedlund, S., & Zentner, M. (2001). Detecting depressive schemata in vulnerable individuals: Questionnaires versus laboratory tasks. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 25(1), 103-116.Google Scholar
  33. Rude, S. S., Krantz, S. E., & Rosenhan, D. L. (1988). Distinguishing the dimensions of valence and belief consistency in depressive and nondepressive information processing. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 12, 391-407.Google Scholar
  34. Rude, S. S., Wenzlaff, R. M., Gibbs, B., Vane, J., & Whitney, T. (2002). Negative processing biases predict subsequent depressive symptoms. Cognition and Emotion, 16(3), 423-440.Google Scholar
  35. Sakado, K., Sato, T., Uehara, T., Sato, S., Kameda, K. (1996). Discriminant validity of the Inventory to Diagnose Depression, Lifetime Version. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 93, 257-260.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Sato, T., Uehara, T., Sakado, K., Sato, S., Nishioka, K. & Kasahara, Y. (1996). The test—retest reliability of the Inventory to Diagnose Depression, Lifetime Version. Psychopathology, 29, 154-158.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Schneider, W., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1977). Controlled and automatic human information processing: I. Detection, search, and attention. Psychological Review, 84, 1-66.Google Scholar
  38. Segal, Z. V. (1988). Appraisal of the self-schema construct in cognitive models of depression. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 147-162.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Segal, Z. V., Gemar, M., & Williams, S. (1999). Differential cognitive response to a mood challenge following successful cognitive therapy or pharmacotherapy for unipolar depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108(1), 3-10.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Silverman, J. S., Silverman, J. A., & Eardley, D. A. (1984). Do maladaptive attitudes cause depression? Archives of General Psychiatry, 41, 28-30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Spitzer, R. L., Williams, J. B. W., Gibbon, M., & First, M. B. (1990). User's guide for the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-III-R. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  42. Squire, L. R. (1994). Declarative and nondeclarative memory: Multiple brain systems supporting learning and memory. In D. L. Schacter & E. Tulving (Eds.), Memory systems(pp. 203-232). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  43. Onstad, S. I., Torgersen, S., & Kringlen, E. (1991). High interrater reliability for the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R Axis I (SCID-I). Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 84, 167-173.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Teasdale, J. D. & Dent, J. (1987). Cognitive vulnerability to depression: An investigation of two hypotheses. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 26, 113-126.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Wells, K. B., Burnham, M. A., Leake, B., & Robins, L. N. (1998). Agreement between face-to-face and telephone-administered versions of the depression section of the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 22, 207-220.Google Scholar
  46. Wenzlaff, R. M. (1988, May). Automatic information processing in depression. Paper presented at the International Conference on Self-Control, Nags Head, NC.Google Scholar
  47. Wenzlaff, R. M. (1993). The mental control of depression: Psychological obstacles to emotional well-being. In D. M. Wegner, & J. W. Pennebaker (Eds.), Handbook of mental control(pp. 239-257). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  48. Wenzlaff, R. M., & Bates, D. E. (1998). Unmasking a cognitive vulnerability to depression: How lapses in mental control reveal depressive thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1559-1571.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Wenzlaff, R. M., Rude, S. S., Taylor, C. J., Stultz, C. H., & Sweatt, R. A. (2001). Beneath the veil of thought suppression: Attentional bias and depression risk. Cognition and Emotion, 28(1), 32-40.Google Scholar
  50. Wenzlaff, R. M., & Wegner, D. M. (2000). Thought suppression. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 59-91.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Wilkinson, I. M., & Blackburn, I. M. (1981). Cognitive style in depressed and recovered depressed patients. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 20, 283-292.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Williams, J. M. G., & Nulty, D. D. (1986). Construct accessibility, depression and the emotional stroop task: Transient mood or stable structure? Personality and Individual Differences, 7, 485-491.Google Scholar
  53. Zimmerman, M., & Coryell, W. (1987). The Inventory to Diagnose Depression, Lifetime Version. Acta Psychiatrical Scandinavia, 75, 495-499.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie S. Rude
    • 1
  • Carmen R. Valdez
    • 1
  • Susan Odom
    • 1
  • Arshia Ebrahimi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Texas at AustinAustin

Personalised recommendations