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Title: Emotional reactions to negative life events : testing the hopelessness theory of depression
Author: Rance, J. Y.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1999
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The hopelessness theory of depression (Abramson et al. 1989) considers hopelessness to be a subtype of depression. A causal chain is proposed which starts with the perceived occurrence of a negative life event, at which point inferences can be made about (i) why the event occurred, (ii) its consequences and (iii) characteristics about the self. In particular, the hopelessness theory predicts that: (a) each cognitive diathesis will interact with subsequent stress to produce symptoms of hopelessness depression (diathesis x stress component); (b) each causal factor in the model still contribute to the next in a proximal direction (causal mediation component). This thesis presents four studies examining the main predictions of hopelessness theory. Studies 1 and 2 utilised student samples (n=100) and cross-sectional designs. In Study 1, the role of the three sets of inferences was examined using hypothetical events. Some support was found for both the diathesis x stress and the causal mediation components. In Study 2 inferences for real events were considered. The results provided minimal support for the diathesis x stress component, and no support for the causal mediation component. In Study 3, the main predictions were tested more fully using prospective measurement in a 5-week follow-up of students (n=100). The diathesis x stress component was not supported and the causal mediation component received only partial support. In Study 4 the utility of the hopelessness theory in predicting post-natal depression was examined among a sample of primiparous women (n=172). Measures were taken during the third trimester of pregnancy, and at 4 and 12 weeks postpartum. Little evidence was found to support the diathesis x stress component. However, considerable support was found for the causal mediation component. Overall, the four studies produced contradictory evidence for the hopelessness theory. Implications for future research on the hopelessness theory of depression are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available