Causal attribution and depression
This thesis reports a series of experiments conducted to elucidate the nature of the relationship between attribution and depression. After an extended review of the literature on attribution and depression it was concluded that further research is needed to evaluate the aetiological importance of depressogenic attributions, and also to elucidate the nature of the relationship they may entertain with depression. A series of experiments and studies were performed to address these and other issues. In experiments l-3 subjects' attributions for success and failure were manipulated and their effects on subsequent mood, expectations and psychomotor performance were assessed. The results showed that depression and its correlates are causally influenced by negative self-attributions. A further study, in which depressed and non-depressed patients' attributions were assessed, also provided evidence in support of the aetiological importance of these kinds of attributions. Experiments 5 and 6 were designed to clarify the nature of the relationship between attributions and depressed mood. Experiment 6 showed that mood can affect attributions, suggesting that the relationship between these two variables is at least reciprocal. The implications of this finding for cognitive formulations of depression were discussed. Another part of the programme was concerned with the determinants of depressogenic attributions. Two studies investigated ways in which depressed and non-depressed subjects used information to formulate attributions. The results suggest that depressed subjects' maladaptive attributions may develop as a result of a tendency to use personal rather than environmental information. Finally, a multifactorial model was proposed, and its implications for the understanding of the aetiology and development of depression were discussed.