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Title: Putting it in context : negative overgeneralisations in depression
Author: Jacoby, N. M.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis explores the characteristics, role and manipulation of negative overgeneralisations in depression. The empirical studies conducted as part of this thesis set out to fulfil three main objectives: firstly, to investigate whether overgenerality to positive and negative cue words is a function of the autobiographical memory test (AMT) itself, rather than an accurate representation of memory recall in depression. The second objective was to explore the mechanism proposed in Brewin's dual representation theory (DRT 1989). A sad mood induction procedure followed by a scrambled sentences paradigm were used to investigate whether reducing access to generalised negative situationally accessible memories, by encouraging participants to consider their mood within a broader context, could reduce the effects of negative primes on despondent mood. Thirdly, building on the previous objective of using contextual information to reduce despondency, a training paradigm was developed to assess whether currently-dysphoric participants' despondent mood could be reduced by inducing a contextual interpretation bias. In line with prediction, data suggest that overgeneral thinking in response to positive cue words may be an artefact of the AMT, or of a particular style of thinking induced by experimental tasks rather than a stable characteristic of depression. In relation to the second and third objectives, findings were mixed and limited support for Brewin's DRT found. Successful reduction of despondency using tasks that encourage participants to consider contextual information about negative events was confounded by several limitations. Limitations of the methods employed are discussed and the implications of the findings in relation to current research are considered. The incorporation of contextual training tasks, after further development, in to therapy for depression is suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available