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Generality of the relationship between attributions and depression across attributional dimensions and across samples

Authors
Disciplines
  • Medicine

Abstract

Two hypotheses implicit in the use of composite measures of attributions in tests of learned helplessness theory (but not implicit in the theory itself) were tested: the hypotheses that relationships between depression and the three types of attributions are equal in magnitude, and linear. To test these hypotheses, data from three published studies of the reformulated learned helplessness theory of depression (Abramson, Seligman, & Teasdale, 1978) were reanalyzed. The hypothesis that internal, stable, and global attributions are equally related to depression was tested and rejected. Increases in internal attributions were related to depression in one sample: increases in global attributions for negative events were related to depression in two samples: stability attributions for negative events were unrelated to depression. The relationship between attributions and depression was nonlinear .in one of the three populations studied. Finally, a third hypothesis was tested: the hypothesis that the relationship between attributions and depression is equal across samples. The hypothesis was rejected: attributions for negative events were more highly related to depression in a psychiatric sample than in normal populations. Implications of these findings for learned helplessness theory and for the use of composite measures of attributional style are discussed.

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