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Title: The causal role of appraisal biases upon negative repetitive thinking and emotional reactivity
Author: Williams, Kate Victoria
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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Attributional style is hypothesised to causally contribute to depression vulnerability through influencing both emotional response and rumination following life events. Consistent with this hypothesis, Peters et al. (2011) found that training individuals towards a pessimistic attributional style, characterised by internal-stable attributions for negative events and external-unstable attributions for positive events, resulted in greater negative mood and emotional reactivity to perceived failure, relative to training a resilient attributional style characterized by the reverse pattern of attributions. To date, however, the relative contribution of the internal-external and stable-unstable dimensions, their interaction, and their application to positive or negative events upon influencing emotional response and, by theoretical extension, risk for depression, remains unresolved. To resolve this question, 80 participants received training manipulating attributional style along four dimensions (i.e., internal versus external attributions for negative events; internal versus external attributions for positive events; stable versus unstable attributions for negative events; stable versus unstable attributions for positive events) in a 24 orthogonal factorial design. Participants then completed a perceived failure induction task. Measures of emotion and state rumination were completed pre-manipulation, post- manipulation, and post-induction. The internality dimension for positive and, separately, negative events influenced both immediate emotional response and emotional reactivity. Stable attributions for negative events increased negative emotional response and moderated the effect of internal attributions for negative events: internal attributions to negative resulted in greater emotional reactivity relative to external attributions, but only in the context of stable attributions for negative events. Both internal and stable dimensions also had independent effects. These findings identifying the active components driving the effect of attributional style upon emotional reactivity suggest slight revisions and refinements to attribution models of depression vulnerability. Furthermore, it provides further evidence that attributional style can be modified and furthers understanding of how CBM-attribution training could be developed as a potential intervention for the treatment of depression.
Supervisor: Watkins, Edward Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Attribution ; Cognitive-bias-modification ; factor analyses ; emotion ; emotional reactivity ; rumination