Attribution theory and mild depression: a cognitive treatment approach

Sutcliffe, Judith Anne (1978) Attribution theory and mild depression: a cognitive treatment approach. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The study was designed as a cognitive modification approach to the treatment of mild or moderate depression, to test three hypotheses relating the theory of causal attributions to this behavior disorder. It was hypothesized first, that people with depressed feelings feel the locus of responsibility for their depressed feelings to be more internal than external; second, that depressed individuals make causal attributions concerning their own behavior in at least one of three characteristic manners or "patterns"; and therefore, third, that covert rehearsal of a statement designed to initiate causal attributions in a manner contrary to that of the predominant attribution pattern has the effect of reducing depressed feelings in these individuals. -- Thirty mildly depressed female subjects volunteered to participate in the project. Assessment of subjects consisted of the administration of three self-report depression rating scales, and three attribution scales designed to measure locus of responsibility, attribution pattern, and subjective level of depression. Ten subjects were randomly assigned to each of three experimental conditions. In the Treatment condition, subjects were initially assessed and interviewed; two days later they were given an attributional statement to rehearse for one week; and after that week were assessed again. Subjects in the Expectancy Control condition were initially assessed and interviewed; two days later they were given a non-attributional statement to rehearse for one week, and after that week were assessed again. The Waiting-List Control subjects were initially assessed and interviewed; they then waited one week before being assessed again, and were then given an attributional statement to rehearse for one week; and after the second week, they were assessed a third time. -- The results indicated that, although all subjects depression scales• scores decreased from pre-test to posttest, on one measure scores for Treatment subjects changed significantly more than scores for control subjects, indicating that Treatment subjects perceived themselves to be less depressed at post-test than control subjects. Treatment subjects also indicated that they felt less responsible at post-test for the problems which made them feel depressed than did subjects in the two control conditions. Scores on the scale designed to measure attribution patterns showed Treatment subjects changing more from pre- to posttest than control subjects. Finally, in general, pre- to post-test change scores on the measures of locus of responsibility and attribution pattern were found to be significantly related to change scores on depression rating scales for subjects in the Treatment condition only, suggesting that the concepts of locus of responsibility and of patterns of attributions are related to an already recognized part of depression. These results are discussed with respect to the potential of an attributional approach to the treatment of mild depression.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11500
Item ID: 11500
Additional Information: Bibliography : leaves 139-152
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: 1978
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Depression, Mental.

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